Do you want to produce a perfect product or service? Are you aiming to create a business that will satisfy both your clients as well as your employees? Then you are looking for a business with a lean business model. The main aim of lean planning and methodology is to deliver products faster. It uses shorter development cycles to do so. What you want to gain from these is to reduce market risks when building products or services through iterations.

The practice has its roots in 1951 with the Toyota Production System, which was pioneered by Taiichi Ohno, who modeled it on Henry Ford’s flow principles. The word “lean” was popularized 40 years later, in 1990 book The Machine That Changed the World. In the book, Womack and Jones defined five principles of lean manufacturing. These were later used to shape up the business world too, and this is what we will take a deeper dive into today.

1. Define Your Client’s Value

The first principle of lean planning requires you to define customer value. To do this, you first need to understand what value means. Simply put, it is something that your clients will pay for. To discover this “something,” you need to research the needs of your client base. This process is sometimes as easy as doing market research – or asking. Sometimes, however, it can be harder, because the clients might no know what they want either!

It is your job as the business manager to use surveys, interviews, and analytics to unscramble this and come to a conclusion. By the end of the first step, you need to have a firm grasp on what your clients want, how they want these to be delivered – and how much they are willing to pay.

2. Map the Value Stream

Once you know what the value is, you will want to map out the value stream. What this means is that you will want to identify all the activities that contribute to the client’s value. If something in your workflow does not add to it, then you will want to examine it carefully, because it is thought of as waste in the lean planning.

However, there are two types of waste here – necessary and unnecessary waste. The first is the activities you will want to keep but try to eliminate as much as you can. The second should be cut out completely. This way, you will ensure that the client is getting value, and you are wasting as little on resources and activities as you can. This is why this planning is called lean.

3. Create a Flow from Remaining Steps

Once you cut down on the resources you are using, you will want to ensure you spend the least time possible on developing your product or service. This is why you need to examine the remaining activities and ensure everything is smooth. In lean planning, no interactions should be happening. This way, you remove any possible delays.

There are multiple ways to make this happen. You can break activities down in steps or try to reconfigure steps you already have. Some businesses found it useful to level out the workload or to create cross-functional departments. Finally, training your employees in a variety of skills will always help with the process.

4. Establish a Pull-Based System

Another thing that can clog up your workflow is the inventory. In lean planning, the way you access your resources can be seen as the biggest waste! This is why you need to establish what is known as a pull-based system.

What this means is that all products you are using in your workflow are created just when you need them – and in the exact quantities that you need. This might seem complicated – but it really is not! All you need to do is to start from the value and retrace your steps back through your workflow. This way, you will establish a useful pull-based system, and you will also be able to meet the demands of your client.

5. Always Strive for Perfection

By following the previous four steps, you are able to remove all waste in your workflow. The final step of lean planning is to always pursue perfection in them. This might seem like something obvious, but many argue it is the most important step!

If you always strive to make the whole process better, then it will become an integral part of your office culture. Your employees will personally try to perfect their tasks, while you can overview the process as a whole. This way, you are a well-oiled machine.

Even more importantly, by aiming for the sky, your whole company will never stop learning. What this means is that you will always try to improve and be better than your competition. This approach is what made lean planning so popular in today’s business culture!

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