Lean Management

Taking small steps to make big changes

Have you heard of lean management?

If you work in the industry, very likely. Otherwise, maybe not yet. “Lean” literally means spare or thin, but lean management goes further.

Appreciating what others have to offer and value creation

Lean is above all a mind-set. As a management concept, it is assumed that humanity and economy are mutually dependent, that the experiences and knowledge of employees are fully utilised. These clear and implementable tools and methods not only enhance the problem-solving skills of employees, but also their motivation. This allows, for example, to shorten set-up times, to optimise production lines and to reduce waste. Together as a team, flexibility can be increased, over-time reduced and the workload rationalised. Simple organisational methods result in stable and efficient processes which lead to high-quality products and services.

Focusing on customer benefit or customer value creation is a top priority. This means that organisation, management, collaboration and communication are aligned accordingly.

Lean management has existed for more than 20 years

With the fundamental change in corporate culture, inspired by the leader of the Japanese car industry, the focus is increasingly on people and the routine of daily improvement rather than on hierarchical leadership methods. Knowing that, especially with increasing automation and digitisation, skills in dealing with technology are becoming decisive factors for success.

The Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) organises practice-oriented seminars on this topic in order to facilitate the exchange between experienced lean managers and beginners. "Lean management can be different for every company; it has to be tailored to the corporate culture. The process starts on a small scale, but if it is lived with enthusiasm, it leads to a good corporate culture, to quality improvements and long-term success,” says an impressed participant after such a seminar. Proderma was also there. We were pleased to note that we already practiced lean management, without having given it that name. We have already defined further concrete steps to optimise our value chain. It will not only affect production but the whole organisation.

To conclude, we often use this Asian proverb: "He with great ambitions must begin by taking small steps".