Implementing manufacturing based ‘lean’ principles in a Service environment

Most of us understand ‘Lean’ as traditionally applied in a manufacturing environment. The principles of cutting waste from business processes in that industry are considered fundamental.

But if the benefits are that good, then should we not apply these principles to all our business processes, regardless of industry? Irrespective of front or back office?

Many people would like to, but surprisingly they believe that ‘lean’ is a collection of ‘black arts’, and like any unknown territory, they keep well clear.

However just as surprising is how closely most of us adhere to the principles of 5S in our everyday lives, purely through common sense.

By way of example, at home we have storage for our possessions. Organised people place these possessions in the correct storage place to keep things tidy. They then visually inspect the area to ensure they haven’t missed anything. They only store those items that are supposed to be there. They have items close to where they’re needed. They keep the area clean and tidy. Other people who share their home with them also know where things belong and all of them work together to maintain the status quo on an on-going basis

Unless of course they can come up with a way to improve it; then they just naturally do so.