lean management

Lean manufacturing consists of five principles: Customer value, Value Stream, Flow, Pull and Continuous improvement. These principles are described by Womack, Jones, and Roos in two successful Lean-books titled: ‘The machine that changed the World’ (1990) and ‘Lean thinking’ (1996).

Both books cover the revolution in the industry and give a detailed description of the ‘Toyota Production system’. They compare this way of working with the traditional mass production as it was applied by other companies in the western world. They described the following five principles in their book ‘Lean Thinking’, based on what they had observed at Toyota:


Lean-principles Description
Value Define what the value is for the customer
Value stream Define the value stream; Eliminate waste
Flow Create a constant flow
Pull Only produce based on demand
Perfection Continuous improvement

In our books from the ‘Climbing the mountain’ series, these principles and adherend techniques are extensively described. Also, examples showing how applying these principles and Lean-techniques result in shorter turnaround times and better quality are described.

Toyota has developed the ‘Toyota Production System’ (TPS). The TPS used ideas from Ford, but the ‘Just In Time’ philosophy was subsequently developed by Toyota to prevent problems of high inventories. The system goes beyond a summarization of technical and logistical tools. It also includes principles about vision, cooperation and management. A detailed description of the system and the 14 principles are described in the book ‘The Toyota Way’ (Jeffrey K. Liker, PhD, 2004).

toyota productie systeem


  1. Base management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even if this is at the expense of short-term financial goals


  1. Realise a continuous Flow to make problems visible (Flow).
  2. Deliver on customer demands to prevent overproduction (Pull).
  3. Ensure an equal workload (Heijunka).
  4. Stop the process at quality problems (Jidoka).
  5. Standardize tasks for continuous improvement.
  6. Avoid problems by visual management.
  7. Use only trustworthy and proven techniques.

Employees & Partners:

  1. Develop leaders that understand the processes and carry out the philosophy (Walk the Talk).
  2. Respect, develop and challenge employees and teams.
  3. Help suppliers to improve and challenge them.

Continuous improvement:

  1. Go to the workfloor to understand the problems well (Go to Gemba).
  2. Take decisions carefully on the basis of consensus by weighing all options. Carry out the decisions quickly afterward.
  3. Become a learning organization by reflecting ceaselessly (Hansei) and continuous improvement (Kaizen).