Process improvement

What is Lean methodology and how can you implement a Lean project

17.12.2017 at 21:47 h / Edited 26.12.2017 at 21:53 h

Mirel Baila Change Leader at UBS



I'm working with a team that want to improve by using the "Lean" methodology. I would be curious to see what methodologies do you know about and how can you apply "Lean" principles in a real transformation project.

Much appreciated!



Answer the challenge

Marieta Lean Consultant Legal Sector


16.02.2018 at 22:27 h / Updated 29.04.2018 at 21:02 h

Hi Mirel, 

Hi Bogdan,


I agree with the thorough approach of Bogdan.


What I can add is that for a short project (less than 6 months) my practice always shows that it is good to go with (DMAIC).



  • Create High-level map/s (SIPOC)
  • Create Detailed process map with all the steps, decision boxes, loops, documents created etc.



  • Time per step, Waiting time in between steps etc.
  • Roles and people involved in the process.
  • Challenges and issues in the process
  • Improvement ideas if any now in the team/s



  • Value-added steps is what % of the total time
  • The Business Non-Value-added steps (regulations and compliance)
  • The Non Value-added steps.
  • How much time is spent on Non-Value-added steps?
  • People (FTEs) involved



  • Non-value steps to be eliminated as much as possible.
  • Create a shared place/document for ideas gathered and promote idea generation
  • Introduce Whiteboards - I personally like the 4 quadrants People, Performance, Plan and Problem-solving
  • Create or improve the Key Performance Indicators
  • Implement new Standard Level Agreements that are up to date with the new process
  • Robotics is a way to improve manual repetitive tasks.



  • Start coaching them with the Continuous Improvement concept
  • Ideas generation to be checked and actioned on a regular basis.


You do 1 DMAIC cycle and verify what is working and what not, and then you can repeat the cycle again.  


In that case, you can distribute all the 5 DMAIC elements in an A3 sheet in Excel. 


You can leave a place to add the Root cause analysis with a diagram and the Team that will be involved in the project.


Of course, you always need due dates and timeline. 


And at the end:


Recognise and praise the team success! Think whether you can use what you have learnt to other similar processes in the company.


Good luck!



Bogdan Efficiency Project Manager (Lean expert, Agile, RP


18.12.2017 at 18:39 h / Updated 26.12.2017 at 21:53 h

Hi Mirel, 

Please see my article related to the topic. 


If you google “lean” things like: JIT, 5S, MIFA, OPF, TPM, TT or CT start to appear on your screen, or the alternative: Jidoka, Poka Yoke, Heijuka, Kanban and so on … It feels a bit like learning Klingonian or at least Japanese.

More reader friendly articles support the idea that: Lean is a way of living, Lean is about the people, Lean is about the customer, Lean is about … basically any topic that you could think of.  

 It’s no wonder that one might get confused about what Lean actually is. But, before we answer the question, maybe let’s see what Lean can do for us.

 Across different industries Lean is used to: reduce operational cost, improve quality, increase productivity and therefore improve customer satisfaction and, hopefully, employee satisfaction as well.

 Is Lean maybe a magic wand that once used all things transform?

You can see Lean as collection of tools used to analyses current state with the purpose of highlighting strong points and inefficiencies, and, another collection of tools used to design future state with the purpose of reducing or eliminating inefficiencies, preserving strong points and increasing overall performance.  

 The entire Lean methodology can be divided into four different pillars, or four different dimensions, each having tools for diagnostic and two of them also for design:

Voice of the customer (VoC). Refers to how customers perceive current performance in comparison with their own expectations.

Operating System (OS). Focuses on how the processes are designed, what are the resources needed in order to make them run and how the working layout is supporting everything;

Management Infrastructure (MI). Focuses on how people are managed in order to deliver best possible performance. This pillar is like a bridge between operating system and the last pillar of Lean.

Mindset and Behavior (MB). Which refers to how employees behave and what is the mindset that is driving such behavior.  

These four dimensions are meant to give a logical grouping for the tools based on the intended purpose of usage. It is not a mandatory division but it will structure your thinking along the implementation path.

Voice of the Customer is centered around customer feedback regarding the performance of all other three pillars, while Mindset and Behavior is the pillar that highlights the level of satisfaction and commitment of employees and it’s directly impacted by the way Operating System and Management Infrastructure pillars are performing. 

So, just to recap, Lean is a methodology that has the purpose of improving a current “as is” situation along Voice of the Customer, Operating System, Management Infrastructure and Mindset and Behavior pillars through the usage of diagnostic and design tools. It is not a magic wand, but it can deliver significant impact if implemented the right way.

 A Lean transformation can also be seen as a journey that goes along five phases, or five stages, but remains focused on all the four pillars at all times.

1. Preparation. Is the stage in which aspirations are set, data collected, communication prepared, roles and responsibilities defined and the change team formed;

2. Diagnostic. During this phase awareness is instilled through diagnostic tools and a sense of urgency is created so that the need for change is understood and accepted by stakeholders. Every pillar has its own diagnostic tools designed to create transparency regarding potential problems and highlight the route causes. One important thing to understand is that issues can be found in any pillar. If customers or employees are not complaining about something it doesn’t mean that things can’t be improved. Also, only at the end of this phase the maximum potential for improvement can be measured and final targets can be set.

3. Design. During this phase the change team and stakeholders work together to create an improved future state during one or multiple workshops called Kaizen events. Although all issues found in Diagnostic are always to be addressed in OS and MI pillars, we can say for sure that all the four pillars will be ultimately impacted. We fix the processes, resource allocation, layout and management principles in order to have dedicated employees and satisfied customers.

To better explain this let’s take the following examples:

- In diagnostic you can discover that customers might be unsatisfied with the long waiting times related to your product delivery. But in order to fix this you need to either improve the process (OS) or might be that the process is fine, but performance of employees needs improving (MI).

- In another example you could have employees being unhappy with the continuous extra hours that they need to perform and therefore leaving the company. This can be caused by many different factors such as: poor allocation of resources (OS) or demotivating incentive system (MI).

Whatever improvement initiatives you generate will be implemented in OS or MI but the final impact will be on your customers and on your employees.

4. Implementation. During this phase the initiatives generated during Kaizen events are finally to be tested and implemented according to the Tactical Implementation Plan (TIP) which follows the prioritization given by the 80/20 Pareto principle. What are the 20% initiatives that will generate 80% of the impact?

5. Continuous improvement. This phase stays at the core of a Lean transformation and even if it is the last phase from the chronological point of view, it is in fact the ultimate purpose of Lean. From preparation and throughout diagnostic, design and implementation the change team will focus on passing the Lean knowledge and mindset to the people within the organization so that they will continue generating improvement ideas and they will prevent inefficiencies from appearing without any future guidance. So the goal is to equip people with the right skills and empower them to shape the way OS and MI pillars are looking like.

 Even if the five stages described might seem very similar to a “Waterfall” project rather than an “Agile” project, this doesn’t mean you need to wait until implementation to actually implement low hanging fruits. You can start implementing quick wins right from the Diagnostic phase. This will be extremely beneficial to the Lean transformation, as it will ensure you will have buy-in from the team transformed early on in the project

 So there you have it! Lean is a methodology that focuses on raising customer and employee satisfaction through improving the the way processes are designed, resources allocated and people managed.  It has five different stages and the ultimate goal is to instill a Continuous Improvement mindset among all employees.

 Best of luck!

New answer

Propose an answer for

What is Lean methodology and how can you implement a Lean project

Drop files here or

New challenge

Drop files here or


Continue with Facebook Continue with LinkedIn


Reset lost password

Request Assistance

Select a challenge to notify or upgrade to contact Consulthons freely and benefit all the features of Consuthon +

Promote challenge

  • Promote for 1 day


    Visible on the Homepage
    Featured tab for 1 day.

    Reward for the user who solves
    the challenge - 10 points

    Promote your challenge
  • Promote for 3 days


    Visible on the Homepage
    Featured tab for 3 days.

    Reward for the user who solves
    the challenge - 25 points

    Promote your challenge
  • Promote for 7 days


    Visible on the Homepage
    Featured tab for 7 days.

    Reward for the user who solves
    the challenge - 50 points

    Promote your challenge
  1. 1
  2. 2

Request a call with

Request a call with one of our consultants

Your booking request has been sent.

We will get back to you soon to arrange this call.

Request a call with ?

Would you like to arrange a call with ?

Report Abuse

By submitting your report you agree to the terms and conditions

Current subscriptions

For consultants willing to try Consulthon for unlimited time

Confirm deletion

Please consider leaving this content for the benefit of all Consulthons.

Confirm deletion

Are you sure you want to delete your profile?

This action is irreversible and you will loose all your data on the site.

We will sent an email with confirmation. Please follow the instructions to complete profile deletion. Please consider leaving this content for the benefit of all Consulthons.

Promote Consulthon

Refer a business that needs an advisory call and receive £50

Promote us

What's your challenge today?

What challenge is your business facing today? Post your challenge and test advice from 300 hand-picked experts.

What's your challenge today?

This website uses cookies to improve service. By using this site, you agree to this use.
Cookie Policy


Your account has been activated successfully. Thank you for registering on Consulthon - the digital age consulting platform.

You can now find solutions to your business problems or help others with their business questions.

Promote us

Refer a business that
needs an advisory call
and receive £50

Promote Consulthon


Your account has been activated successfully. Thank you for registering on Consulthon - the digital age consulting platform.

You can now find solutions to your business problems or help others with their business questions.