lean management puts the company on a dry run

Dominique, who sells second-hand books, decides to buy fewer worthless books because she knows they won’t sell and will stay in her stash. In an office building in a business district, Ulysses decides to place the toilets in the center of the open space, so that employees take less time to get there (time is money) . Finally, Stella, plant manager, decides to replace five faulty machines with a single new one. All of them have in a way put their business on a diet, so that it runs at full speed: they have “done lean”.

Lean is originally an industrial organization system, born in Japan in Toyota factories in the 1950s. It is often credited with the “5 zeros”, a large victory for the Toyota team against failure: zero defect, zero paper, zero failure, zero stock, zero delay. The aim of the system is to increase profitability and customer satisfaction by reducing the sources of waste that waste time. Thirty years later, American researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) put a word on the Japanese method: this management is “lean”, literally “lean”, “light”.

For its defenders, “lean” goes further than this weight reduction worthy of a fat-free yogurt: it is a management of time and material, but also of the teams, all committed to the fight against these small grains of sand. that seize the machine. Defect removal is not limited to the production line, and the philosophy also seeks to improve working conditions. Employees are invited to take initiatives to aim for the continuous improvement of the company, the famous “kaizen” spirit.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Office slang: the “kaizen” or the praise of regularity

More generally, “lean” asserts itself in problem solving but also focuses on high value-added operations, to optimize them, to ensure that they are executed more quickly and “just in time”, according to customer demand. ” There is no point running ; we must leave on time ”, as La Fontaine’s famous fable says: the company will gradually find the optimal rhythm between hare and turtle.

Semantic shifts

The “lean” spirit has attracted many followers. In France, it conquered automobile manufacturers (the famous’ lean Renault Which is not a singer of the 1950s, or that of Peugeot-Citroen), but also banks and insurance companies.

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