Introduction to Lean Thinking

Lean Thinking

Lean Thinking is whole systems approach to the development of processes and people to continuously improve Quality, Delivery, Cost,Service and Safety.

A team based methodology focussed on creating true Customer Value through systematically eliminating Waste to allow Customer Value to Flow


Lean was first developed in the USA and utilised by Henry Ford in his early production lines. Toyota later went to America to learn how to make cars and soon found the practices had good foundations and could be applied very well in Japan. They soon developed the philosophies that would define the Toyota Production System. That was over 50 years ago and Toyota has since developed those philosophies extensively and perhaps because of their much more disciplined approach to life has been extremely successful because of it.

It is now practised globally as people have learned that Lean Thinking is just that…. “Thinking about how to improve processes where ever they are”.

Because of its association with Toyota, some parts of the world have taken time to understand that it’s not about making cars – it’s about improving the processes used in every aspect of our work.


Value in Lean thinking terms is often difficult to grasp as we often think that everything we do in a process adds value. We often associate being busy with adding Value. But let’s look at it a different way.

As a Customer what do you consider you are willing to pay for? Or maybe look at it from the perspective of what you would not be willing to pay for. Here are some examples: looking for tools or materials, waiting on information to do the job, reworking defective parts, waiting for your order to progress through to planning, waiting on design changes to be made.

When analysing a process it is common to discover that often less than 10% of the process actually adds Value from the Customers perspective. That means that 90% is undertaking wasteful activities.