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lean culture

What is the Lean Culture ?

8 min read

History of LEAN

The idea was first championed by pioneers like Toyota. The principle on which they wanted to build, operate and develop their business was eventually adopted by all Japanese car manufacturers. Seeing the success of the Japanese automotive entrepreneurs, the western world will understand the value and potential of this approach for their respective organizations and operations and will adopt this approach.

Some refer to Lean Manufacturing as the Toyota Production System, or JIT (just-in-time) manufacturing.Taiichi Ohno  the founding father of the Lean approach, and an executive member of Toyota in the 1950s, paid particular attention to things like production flows, waste, value streams, Kaizen or Kaikaku.

lean culture

In any Lean approach and deployment of Lean Manufacturing processes, there are several elements to consider. There is discipline, planning, rigor, scientific approach, tools based on statistics... All of this is necessary and must be applied for entrepreneurs to succeed in this global and competitive economy.

Lean is more than a method, it is aculture of Japanese folklore that aims to guarantee a level of customer satisfaction by eliminating waste and inflexibility.

The master samurais of the workshops, wearing theirKimono, animate the rhythm of the production by working more simply and by privileging the ergonomics and the well-being of the operators in the land ofMangas

The principles of the Lean approach

The method of production management has been widespread for more than 20 years in industrial companies. Lean is based on the philosophy of theToyota Production System (TPS), originally called "just-in-time production". The Lean approach is a production management method based on the search for performance through continuous improvement and the elimination of waste.

Lean therefore begins with an analysis of the field, of the reality, of the teams to act in the best way. But it is not enough to apply simple methods such as Kaizen or to change production to just-in-time without reinforcing quality. Lean is above all a state of mind. It is therefore essential that the production teams and the management work together to achieve this project. The Lean approach sets up a continuous learning process, allowing the development of all the employees and thus strengthening the company.

Over time, Lean has been separated into several categories: Lean Management, Lean Manufacturing, Lean Office, automation with Industry 4.0 and employee well-being through Ergonomics. Each of these approaches is based on a similar philosophy and mindset, but uses different tools

Today, it is important that all the actors of the company can know the LEAN principles and transmit them to the new employees. For this purpose, training games can be set up. Presented in the form of a playful simulation aimed at management, employees or operators, the participants are trained on one or more LEAN themes such as the 5S method or Six Sigma for example. This allows the whole team to work together towards the same goal and in a more efficient way.

Lean Manufacturing will help you in your business to take a serious look at the visible causes and effects in your company. Some aspects should attract your attention:

  • storage
  • movements and shifts
  • waiting or queuing
  • broken or missing machines or tools
  • dirt and clutter
  • noise

TIMWOOD (Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Overproduction, Overprocess & Defect)

7 wasted
7 wastes

The 7 Wastes = Muda in Japanese

Visible items, such as obvious waste, or inefficiencies draw attention and require immediate action. This is where Lean Manufacturing comes in and makes a difference. It addresses the problems that you can actually SEE and gives you the tools to solve them.

Even the streetwear world ofHarajuku applies Lean to better organize its life and its ultra trendy style!

The 14 Principles of the TOYOTA Model

The 14 principles of TOYOTA are explained in the book "The Toyota Way" by Jeffrey LIKER. It is a framework to follow to become the dragon of the industry and make an impact in the world.

The 14 principles of Toyota are a bit like the principles ofJapanese Kung Fu  with rules, respect, learning that will involve performance.

There are 4 sections:

  • Long term philosophy
  • The right process to produce the right results
  • Improve the organization by developing people
  • Continuous problem solving to improve


Principle 1: Base your decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.

You have to look at the long term and not just look for short term profit.

2nd principle: Organize processes in a piecemeal flow to uncover problems.

Processes are improved from a piece-meal production perspective to reveal and therefore eliminate waste.

Principle 3: Use pull systems to avoid overproduction.

The goal is to provide the customer with what they want, when they want it and in the quantities they want it. You must produce at the rhythm of the customer's demand and not on forecasts.

4th principle: Smooth out production.

We must work to try to level out production and thus avoid peaks and troughs. This objective must be shared by all: from the sales department to the logistics department, including production.

5th principle: Create a culture of immediate problem solving, of first time quality.

Stop production as soon as a problem appears, and put in place a system that supports rapid problem resolution.

Principle 6: Standardization of tasks is the foundation for continuous improvement and employee empowerment.

Use stable methods. Incorporate best practices. Allow for employee creativity. Allow for knowledge transfer.

Principle 7: Use visual control so that no problem remains hidden.

Use simple visual checks to detect problems. This is the principle of 5S and visual management.

Principle 8: Use only reliable, time-tested technologies that serve your people and your processes.

Use proven technologies. Test before implementing. Integrate proven technologies to improve the process

Principle 9: Develop leaders who know the work inside out, live the philosophy and teach it to others.

Develop leaders within the company who live the philosophy and know the work inside out.

Principle 10: Develop outstanding individuals and teams who live the company philosophy.

Create a company culture by training and involving individuals.

Principle 11: Respect your network of partners and suppliers by encouraging and helping them to grow.

Respect your partners. Set goals for them and help them achieve them. Think that by helping them to progress, you help yourself to progress.

12th principle: Go to the field to understand the situation.

Go to the field to understand and solve problems. Work with verified information in person. Know the field.

13th principle: Decide by taking the necessary time, by consensus, by examining all options in detail. Implement decisions quickly.

Consider all options. Reach consensus. Remain cautious in implementing a solution.

Principle 14: Become a learning organization through systematic reflection and continuous improvement.


The House of Lean

the house of lean

The house of Lean is a bit like the Japanese temple of production with foundations, pillars and a participative management which aims at the objectives of all companies "To deliver to the customer what he wants, when he wants it, with the minimum of resources".

It is a system of continuous improvement (Kaizen) of the processes of the value chain, animated by a participative management which is based on the commitment of the operator in his work.

The operator is an intelligent resource, an actor in the improvement of the company's performance.

Pillar: Just in time

Use pull flows to avoid overproduction,

Smooth production: Heijunka,

Organize processes in continuous flow to eliminate waiting,

Pillar: Total Quality

Organize to visualize anomalies as soon as they appear: 5S,

Standardize activities,

Create a culture of immediate problem solving: Andon,

Foundation: Participative Management

HOSHIN: Base your decisions on a long term vision,

Go to the field to understand the situation(Gemba Genchi Genbutsu),

Use only technologies that serve the operators and your processes,

Take time to think, implement decisions quickly,

Train managers who know the work of their employees perfectly,

Train teams that apply your company's philosophy,

Respect your network of partners and help them to progress,

Learn from your mistakes (hansei) and develop continuous improvement (kaizen).

THE 5S: The most famous tool in industry, at home, in restaurants but also in offices

Why "5S"?

The 5S method is composed of 5 steps so each one is the summary of a word beginning with the letter S in Japanese: Seiri (整理), Seiton (整頓), Seiso (清掃), Seiketsu (清潔), Shitsuke ().

The 5S method is a practice that reflects the desire to rid one's living or working environment of clutter, to keep it tidy, to keep it clean, and to establish the rigor necessary for quality and just-in-time. It works just as well for the factory as it does for the office and is based on common sense and simple rules that are often neglected. To successfully implement the 5S, you must apply them in the right order and follow them to the end.


What does the 5S mean?

The first S, Seiri, Eliminate : The first of the 5S, we must begin by getting rid of everything that is unnecessary. If it is important to keep, it is also important to throw away. But above all, we must know what to keep and what to throw away.

The second S, Seiton, Tidying: It is about positioning something in a precise place so that we can find it immediately when we need it and without wasting time looking for it. Objects must be positioned according to their frequency of use.

The third S, Seiso, Clean: Cleaning offices, workplaces and production facilities goes far beyond simple cleanliness. For machines and tools for example, it is a first step towards self-maintenance because it is during the cleaning that premature wear and tear and anomalies are detected.

The fourth S, Seiketsu, Standardize: During this step, the rules by which the workplace will remain free of unnecessary objects, tidy, clean are defined. Visual management is recommended in order to eliminate the risks of disorder.

The fifth S, Shitsuke, Respect: This is the last S, it defines that the rules previously established must be respected and thus encourage the staff to adhere to them. It is advisable to always do the right thing so that the 5S becomes a habit.

The advantages of the 5S method

It is a simple method that allows the involvement of all the personnel and that applies to all the positions, from the factory to the offices and even to the personal home with for example the arrangement of your famous  Bento Box. How is your kitchen, your garage or your dressing room organized? How much time is wasted looking for his electric whip, his 12" key or his blue pants?

The implementation of a field approach brings the proof that progress is permanently possible, especially when it is proposed by the users.

Objectives of the 5S approach

If all the actors commit themselves together, progress becomes possible.

This collective commitment begins by taking into account the working environment of each person (store, line, office, laboratory, etc.)

More than a simple technique of order, the 5S are especially a method of participative management allowing to make the personnel responsible in the improvement of the organization of a site.

The participation of all hierarchical levels is necessary for this action.

To start a continuous improvement process, it is essential to have the 5S as a prerequisite because it allows to share the state of mind necessary for continuous improvement.

The 5S method is based on the observation that a tidy and clean space is conducive to good quality production.

lean S


The interest of 5S comes from the complementarity of 2 approaches:

The understanding and integration of work rules so that 5S becomes a routine.

The responsibility of each person is favored by the participative aspect of the whole staff.

 This notion of responsibility and understanding allows us to obtain many benefits.

To conclude, I suggest you apply the 5S in your life and make our products your own. They were designed by Japanese experts who have this culture of high quality, well-being and performance!