Understanding Value

The first Lean improvement principle talks about specifying what creates value from the customers perspective. The focus of this is to help identify what is value adding and non value adding in order to clearly see the waste involved with processes and then set about on the systematic removal of that waste.

However, if we only focus on the reduction of waste then what happens?

When we remove waste it is clear that the remaining value adding work can be undertaken with less people. This is great in that it creates capacity, however if we cannot utilise that capacity we create a different kind of waste in terms of not utilising the talent of your workforce. This is extremely demoralising for your workforce and will cause problems for future improvement endeavours.

To counter act this, as well as waste removal you should also continually enhance the value of your product or service. Ideally link your improvement programme to a growth strategy that will allow you to use that extra capacity with new products, services or markets.