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The Four Cornerstones of Lean Management

Lean management is a widespread concept in leadership that primarily focuses on eliminating wastes and enhancing Continuous Improvements. the lean production system was a term first coined by Womack, Jones, and Ross in the book "The Machine That Changed the World". Published in 1990, this book is still a vital reference to delve into lean management.

The lean principles -in essence- are based on 4 cornerstones which provide the framework for it. Those are philosophy, culture, tools (technology), and commitment. So, Before we dive into How-to implement lean management in the workplace. First, we will explain those four pillars mentioned.



lean philosophy can be encapsulated in four items

1- increasing value and reducing resources

Lean philosophy is based on increasing value along with using as few resources as possible. Getting rid of all wasted resources will facilitate the flow of the process. So, Each time we decrease the time dedicated to a certain task we add some room to implement something else.

2- it's holistic

Since lean management is a holistic approach, it looks at the process of improvement with an inclusive perspective. It doesn't look at each component of the process separately, but as a cog in an integrated apparatus. If we make a refinement in some department, so we have to think of its impact on the overall departments.

For example, before deciding to shorten the cycle time of the product from 5 weeks to 2 weeks, we have to ask ourselves. Is the supply chain department have the capacity to transport the products at such time?

3. it's continuous

It means it's not a flavor of the month or a temporary approach that the administration can apply in some time then cease it. Lean management is a continuous process that requires looking at the departments, procedures, operations, or the way we make things generally and discerning any defects or bottlenecks that sabotage the entire process. Then thinking of how we can fine-tune it.

This attitude of thinking is constant to keep the flow of the process.



lean culture includes ethics and the core values of the organization. There're opposing impressions about lean culture. in fact, Some people think about it positively as an attitude aiming at raising quality and effectiveness. On the other hand, many people just define it as a way of reducing costs by cutting down employees.

either way, lean culture is based on four dimensions that we can explain as follows:-

  • customer satisfaction

lean culture focus on customer needs and how to deliver and satisfy those needs in the best forms with the highest quality. Hence, it builds a strong relationship with the customer of the organization and receives their suggestions about how to improve the product.

  • employee engagement

in order to get employees engaged in the process, there must be a clear vision provided by the management. Employees can't work to their fullest if there is no clear and obvious vision. So, keeping them informed about updates is necessary.

  • trust& respect
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for high performance, management has to trust and respect its employees and shows appreciation and encouragement for them. that seems opposite to the dominant stereotype about lean culture as being strict and scary.

  • callobaration& hard work

Callobarion and hard work are preeminent elements of the lean culture. Callorabation of all departments and engaging the customers can lead to problem-solving, and achieving the objectives of the organization

  • quality

as quality is the most coveted element, the products/outputs must be subjected to the highest standards of efficacity. that's why lean management applies several metrics to access the performance like queues and blockers ( We will discuss it later)


Tools (technology)

Lean management wields the most sophisticated applications and tools in order to push the organization to its fullest potentials. here we will discuss the four components of lean technology.

MRP, and ERP.

MRP is a computer-based program designed to access the quantities of raw materials required to deliver the final products. This term (MRP) is an acronym for material requirement planning. and it works on dismantling the final product into a list of requirements. Each of them is set to deliver a component of that final product in its determined deadline.

ERP is a software program used to collect data from all departments in the organization. It enables the management to track All progress in each department and any transfer of data from one department to another. it works through collecting transactional shared data from different sources and processing it.

ERP reduces the problems caused by information overlap, duplication. Also, it provides a united reliable form of data which acts as the primary source to it.


one of the most used methodological frameworks in problem-solving is PDCA. It's traced back to Edward Deming, his pioneering thoughts in quality improvement was the spark that boosted Toyota to raise the quality of its product and building a well-known durable brand. The framework of PDCA invented by Deming was based on four generic steps:-

plan: Before we put a plan on how to solve any problem, we should first define accurately what's the culprit behind it. Thus, comes the significance of collecting and measuring data. So, we dig deeper into the problem to reach an answer to what's wrong is happening. Is it happening at a certain time or over the days? What will happen if we fix this part or another?

We gather data through watching and observing the current statue, Then analyze this data so we can extract information from it. And from that information deducted, the management can set out a solution to fix it.

do: After planning, we exercise this plan or turning it into action. This is a significant step after detecting the original cause of the problem. You put a solution. You can come up with a list of solutions: Plan A, B, C, and you start to implement it

check: this is the final phase. Do you check the solution you already made and determine is it a success or a failure? did it work or not. So, reviewing your data, observing your metrics and changes are essential in this step


if your solution has succeeded, so it's time to standardize it into the whole process. it means executing this solution to bring about change or success. On the other hand, if the solution doesn't work, so it's time to rectify your plan.


Value stream mapping

Value stream mapping is a lean management tool that helps visualize the steps required for the product. Those steps begin from creation to delivering it to the end-customer. The inputs of value steam mapping include all the resources used in producing the product, and it provides you with a thorough overview of your business processes.

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