This is a primer intended to give an overview and an introduction about the lean production, partly based on a small e-book: Lean Primer by Craig Larman and Bas Vodde.
Lean thinking is a large system originally started by Toyota for product and project development and then spanning to service, sales, HR and so on.
The first page sets the tone: take a relay race, where runners have to wait for the baton from their running colleague. Such a waste and under-utilization.
Traditional management would try to “optimize the resource utilization”, maybe asking them to run more races in parallel.
In contrast, the central idea in lean thinking is:
watch the baton, not the runners.
Several tools (like the Kanban) have been popularized by Toyota but they are not the pillars of the lean system.
Rather the power behind is a company’s management commitment to continuously invest in its people and promote a culture of continuous improvement.
Toyota’s real advantage was its ability to harness the intellect of ‘ordinary’ employees.