A Beginner’s Guide to Lean Management: Updated for 2022 & Beyond

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Delivering better products faster at and low cost is not just a dream. With lean management, you can make it a reality.

Lean management or lean development is a product management approach for a complete beginner. It aims to maximize customer value by minimizing waste and increasing productivity. Hence, the approach has been around for decades to help businesses realize their maximum potential. 

What is Lean Management: Understanding the Approach & Its Key Pillars

In general, Lean Management focuses on identifying and removing processes that do not bring any value. Therefore, it reduces waste and improves the time-to-market. Following are three pillars on which the lean management approach is based:

  • Delivering value to your customers.
  • Identifying & eliminating wastes.
  • Continuously improving the processes to serve customers better.

You can remove processes that don’t bring value with these critical pillars. Therefore, you can create an efficient business with no wastage.

Five Principles of Lean Management 

Five principles guide the lean management approach, which we will learn in detail below:

Principle 1: Identify Value

The first step in lean management is to identify value, i.e., a problem your target customer wants to solve or a feature they would happily pay for. An activity or process that doesn’t add value would be considered waste, and hence you should remove it immediately.

Principle 2: Map the Value Chain 

In this second principle of lean management, we map the workflow of your business and see how each action leads to delivering the end product. In other words, our end end goal is to identify how you generate value in your product and remove mundane processes that don’t add value.

Once we have mapped the value chain, it will also be easier to identify which process belongs to which team and who is responsible for monitoring, evaluating, and improving each process.

Principle 3: Create a Continuous Workflow

The third lean management principle ensures a smooth workflow and no bottlenecks and interruptions happen. For this, all the cross-functional teams must work together and have strong communication. It takes time, but with practice, you can nail the teamwork.

Another impressive way to create a smooth workflow is to break a task into smaller chunks and see how each step leads to our end goal. This way, you can quickly identify and remove obstacles.

Principle 4: Develop a Pull System

A pull system will ensure stability in the workflow, and the team can deliver work faster without stress. A pull system eliminates waste by providing that you start new work only when there is demand. It ensures there are no unnecessary overhead costs.

Example: We can understand a pull system with the analogy of a restaurant. You visit a restaurant and place your order. Then the restaurant owner takes your order and prepares your meal. They don’t prepare the meal in advance because if there is no demand, the entire meal will go to waste. In other words, a Pull system is a practical approach in lean management.

Principle 5: Continuous Improvement

The fifth lean management principle is about continuous improvement. Here, the idea is to ensure we keep improving to deal with new challenges that may arise in your workflow. There are several ways you can do this, like daily meetings, brainstorming sessions, etc.

Why Should I Choose Lean Management: 4 Compelling Benefits

The compelling benefits of the Lean Management approach are why it is insanely popular, and you should also choose it. Here are four significant benefits of lean management:

1. Improved Focus

We can reduce waste and focus on activities that bring real value to your customers with the lean management approach.

2. Increased Productivity

By eliminating mundane processes and helping you focus on the ones that deliver real value, lean management can help you become more productive.

3. Better Resource Use

Lean management can help you prevent resources from getting wasted by ensuring we are using them only when there is customer demand. 

4. Smarter Process (Pull System)

With a more innovative process like a pull system, you can deliver work only when there is demand. As a result, you can ensure you are not overdoing things.

These little benefits will work together to make your team more flexible, and therefore you can adapt to consumer needs. It will also boost your performance and help you deliver high-quality products faster.

How to Implement Lean Management: Different Tools

Tools play a critical role in lean management like any other software development approach. If your team adapts to them, we expect to see the results. Here are a few such tools that we can use in lean management:

1. The 5S Method

The 5S Method (Sort, Set in Order, Standardize, and Sustain) is a five-step process to ensure continuous improvement. Here, we go through all the items in a workflow, remove mundane ones, organize the items in a defined order, and perform maintenance. Finally, we repeat the process until it becomes a habit. It results in reduced costs, fewer defects, and more productivity.

2. Six Sigma

Six sigma is a set of tools and techniques to improve the workflow process. In other words, the idea is to review the defects and try to eliminate them. Following are the steps we follow in the six sigma approach:

Step 1: Define the problem and your key objectives.

Step 2: Measure your current process to identify the gaps for improvement.

Step 3: Identify the root cause of the problem and its potential causes.

Step 4: See how we can improve the process and implement the improvement process.

Step 5: Use active maintenance to ensure the improvements will last.


A Japanese business philosophy. In Kaizen, we see productivity as a gradual and methodological process. Following are five critical elements of the KAIZEN approach:

  • Teamwork
  • Discipline
  • Improved Morale
  • Quality Circles
  • Suggestions for improvements


SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Die) is a lean approach for reducing waste during complete changeovers. The idea is to minimize the changeover/update time so that we can accomplish the entire thing in less than 10 minutes.

5. Value Stream Mapping (VSM)

Value stream mapping (VSM) is a lean management tool in which we document each step of the process. The end goal is to use available resources and time and maximize our productivity efficiently.

In a Nutshell

Creating better products faster at reduced costs is possible with lean management. Although, the process will take time. Lean is not a magic wand to instantly make your team more productive. It’s a continuous process where little actions add up to grant you the desired results. Establishing a culture of trust within your team is equally important. Keep grinding and believe in the process. You will eventually see the results.

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James Wilson

James Wilson is a seasoned Content Writer at Net Solutions, New York, for ten years with an expertise in blogging, writing creative and technical copy for direct response markets, and B2B and B2C industries. Born and brought up in New York, James holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. He has worked for industries like IT, software product design and development, Lifestyle, and written some great insights on technologies like user experience design, mobile app development, eCommerce, etc. Besides his technical background, he is not very disconnected from the digital in his free time – he loves to binge-watch Netflix.

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