Enhancing Value

Why you should integrate lean principles and practices into management systems

by Jessen Yeoh

Lean is a systematic approach to identifying and eliminating nonvalue-added activities in operational processes—also known as waste. But it’s not just about less—it’s also about efficiency. Lean doesn’t seek to do more with fewer resources. It seeks to achieve excellence by focusing resources on highly effective processes by eliminating waste.

Lean has the greatest potential to initiate significant improvement in management systems and business performance through its five principles:

  1. Specifying the value of the product or service.
  2. Identifying the value stream for each product or service.
  3. Making value flow without interruption.
  4. Letting customers pull value from the producer.
  5. Pursuing perfection.1

Many management system processes are established without asking whether they add value to the process owners. Integrating lean principles and practices into a management system is a systematic way to identify and eliminate waste in those processes. It is an effective way to gain buy-in from top management for the leadership and resources needed to improve management system performance.

There are many benefits to integrating lean into management systems, such as:

  • An easily maintained management system.
  • Organizational cultural changes.
  • Increased productivity and quality.
  • Improved communications with employees.
  • Visually attractive work environment.
  • Operations with minimized wastes, such as reduced:
    • Wait time and bureaucracy.
    • Inventory.
    • Floor space.
    • Lead time and cost.

And all these benefits add value to organizations.

Online Table 1 shows how lean can be integrated into an ISO 9001:2015 quality management system to improve its performance. While lean can be helpful, applying lean thinking has the greatest potential to begin a significant change in the management system’s performance.

Online Table 1

Management system standards and lean are intended to improve an organization’s processes: Lean gives management system implementation a context, and management systems give lean a discipline to sustain.

Integrating lean principles and practices into management systems provides an opportunity to build on the value already delivered by the management system. Management system standards and lean should be integrated to drive the organization toward achieving its business results. In fact, integrating lean into management systems isn’t costly—it’s not being lean that costs the organization.


  1. James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones, Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, second edition, Free Press, 2003.

Jessen Yeoh is a principal advisor of business improvement services at Lloyd’s Register Quality Assurance in Melbourne, Australia. A senior memberof ASQ, Yeoh is an ASQ-certified quality manager. He also is a lean Six Sigma Black Belt, lean bronze certification sensei, TRIZ practitioner, and an International Register of Certificated Auditors quality management system, environmental system and occupational health and safety principal auditor.

This raises a very good point as poor quality is only one of the Toyota production system's Seven Wastes, and the only one that stands up and makes its presence known.
--Bill Levinson, 11-28-2019

Thanks for this usefull article, is so usefull to compare the ISO requeriment with Lean tools and practices.
--Rafael Mejia, 11-22-2019

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