Henry Ford defined the lean concept in one sentence: “We will not put into our establishment anything that is useless.”
Lean manufacturing is a system of techniques and activities for running a manufacturing or service operation. The techniques and activities differ according to the application at hand but they have the same underlying principle: the elimination of all non-value-adding activities and waste from the business.
Lean enterprise extends this concept through the entire value stream or supply chain: The leanest factory cannot achieve its full potential if it has to work with non-lean suppliers and subcontractors.
Excerpted from William A. Levinson and Raymond A. Rerick, Lean Enterprise: A Synergistic Approach to Minimizing Waste, ASQ Quality Press, 2002, pages xiii-xiv, 38.