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Learn About Quality


Quality Glossary Definition: Lean

Lean is defined as a set of management practices to improve efficiency and effectiveness by eliminating waste. The core principle of lean is to reduce and eliminate non-value adding activities and waste.


Lean manufacturing, or lean production, 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.

Implementing Lean Example
Implementing Lean Example

What are the Seven Types of Waste (Muda) in Lean Manufacturing?

Waste, or muda in Japanese, is defined as the performance of unnecessary work as a result of errors, poor organization, or communication.

Quality professionals often debate whether or not there are seven or eight wastes of lean. The eighth waste of lean is unique from the original seven because its elimination can directly benefit the employees, as well as the employer.

The eight lean manufacturing mudas can be remembered using the acronym DOWNTIME.

  1. Defects
  2. Overproduction
  3. Waiting
  4. Non-utilized talent
  5. Transportation
  6. Inventory
  7. Motion
  8. Extra-processing

Lean Resources

You can also search articles, case studies, and publications for lean resources.

Related Topics


Leaning Toward Green (Quality Progress) Lean practitioners have for many years called attention to the conventional seven deadly wastes in actions taken to transform raw material into a finished product. However, if they would use a broader perspective to include material and energy sources used to create the product, more waste and cost savings could be realized.

The Value of a Lean Culture (Journal for Quality and Participation) Many organizations try to recognize employee effort with incentive programs, but often this recognition achieves the opposite of what is intended by not giving employees the opportunity to empower themselves. A shift to lean culture is a great vehicle to make that happen.

A Systematic View (Lean & Six Sigma Review) In a kaizen blitz, an improvement team is isolated until the problem-solving activities are complete or near completion. However, in many organizations, it's not feasible to take key employees away from their daily activities for very long. This is where Modular Kaizen comes into play.

Case Studies

Marie Kondo and the Art of Lean (Lean & Six Sigma Review) Lots of organizations face resistance during lean project implementations, partly because with these improvement projects, underlying change management must also be carried out to maintain the new systems. This is where Marie Kondo and her KonMari method really shine, as the underlying principle is to change the mindset, rather than simply decluttering once.

Establishing a Lean Initiative (Journal for Quality and Participation) Organizations of all types have embraced lean practices and are developing their own programs for fostering education, training, and application of the associated concepts and methods. This is the first installment of a two-article series that presents the concepts and process that were used to establish the framework for a lean program.

Pitch Perfect (Lean & Six Sigma Review) In order to keep customer satisfaction high, organizations must be able to identify problems as they occur and deal with them appropriately, even making changes to the system if necessary. This can be done by calculating process capability and using capability analysis. These tools are used to ensure that products or services continuously meet customer expectations and do not fall below those expectations.


Lean Kaizen: A Simplified Approach to Process Improvements

The Joy of Lean

Lean Six Sigma in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

More lean books


Lean Six Sigma in the Age of Artificial Intelligence Michael L. George, Sr., CEO of AI Technologies, using practical manufacturing examples and a case study, explains what artificial intelligence is, why it’s important for analyzing big data and shedding light on dark data, and how it can be applied to your lean Six Sigma and continuous improvement efforts to give you a substantial competitive advantage.

Neuro-Lean: Becoming Resilient To Disruptive Technologies And Recessions Ankur Chaturvedi, the author of "Thought Leadership: Theory of Zero Salary," discusses the impact of Industry 4.0, and how organizations can leverage techniques such as neuro-lean to create a more resilient workforce.

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