The tools of Lean Management: Improve the performance of your company
Publié le 17 May 2023

The tools of Lean Management: Improve the performance of your company

What are the tools of lean management?

At the end of the 19th century, the world of work was revolutionized by a new mode of organization: Taylorism, which radically changed working methods and practices, in particular the relationships between individuals. Since then, other types of organizations have developed based on this model, such as Fordism and Toyotism. If lean management was mainly focused on the industrial sector, it now applies to all types of companies.

Lean management is a method of organizing and managing work which aims to continuously improve the quality and performance of a company. The desired end is customer satisfaction and the shortening of lead times. It makes it possible to meet the needs for quality and profitability and to avoid sources of waste.

Reactive Executive reveals the different tools used in Lean Management.


The key principles of Lean Management for a more efficient company

Lean Management is based on five main principles to concretize and explain management:

  1. Identify the value of the company: sales of products or services? Who will be the stakeholders (internal or external) to the project?
  2. Map the value chain: in this step, you need to know which people will be involved and which actions will be implemented in the form of a diagram. We want to eliminate in this phase the waste that occurs at each stage of the process, in order to optimize efficiency.
  3. Create a continuous process or workflow: Once the value chain is established, your plan will need to be reassessed at each stage of the process based on the risks that may arise in the production chain. The goal is to eradicate the problem.
  4. Create a pull system: Your process is now stable, allowing tasks to be completed faster and more smoothly. In addition, resource capacity is optimized.
  5. Last principle, continuous improvement: even if your process system is stable and balanced, problems and evolutions can always appear. As a manager, you must anticipate constraints.

Lean management aims to:

  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Improve the performance and quality produced by the company
  • Develop employee involvement and better meet their needs
  • Avoid waste, i.e. losses linked to resources


Lean Management, an approach popularized by Toyota in the 1950s, has become a fundamental pillar of the philosophy of efficiency and operational performance within companies around the world. The benefits of Lean Management are countless, and they have been demonstrated many times over the years:

  • Cost reduction : Savings in raw materials, labor, inventory and energy.
  • Improved quality : By reducing errors and identifying problems at the source, businesses can produce higher quality products and services.
  • Reduction of lead times : by eliminating non-productive activities and optimizing workflows, Lean Management helps reduce cycle and production times.
  • Increased flexibility : Lean Management encourages employee versatility, meaning they are able to adapt more easily to variations in demand and production.
  • Employee engagement : By involving employees at all levels of the organization in continuous process improvement, Lean Management promotes a more motivating work environment, where employees feel valued.
  • Better customer satisfaction : By providing higher quality products, meeting deadlines and being more responsive to customer needs, companies practicing Lean Management improve their reputation and strengthen customer loyalty.

Sources of waste

Before observing the tools of lean management, it is important to consider the notion of waste. There are several:

  • Overproduction: it inevitably leads to losses and therefore waste
  • Overstocking: it mobilizes all by itself, space, financial fixed assets and thus waste.
  • Unnecessary transport which must be reduced to a minimum
  • Unnecessary movements: waste of time in lean management
  • Manufacturing defects
  • waiting times
  • Lack of optimization of resources: whether human or financial (e.g. excessive workload on one person)

Become a leading company with Lean Management tools

Become a leading company with Lean Management tools

In lean management, the tools make it possible to increase the performance of your company and to overcome the problems of waste. There are several that meet the different needs of the company.

1) The 5S

One of the most comprehensive lean management tools is 5S . This method aims to improve quality and productivity at work. It includes 5 steps, and each represents an action:

  • Sort : by this we mean eliminating what is superfluous or unnecessary in the work environment. Sorting allows you to better visualize things and highlights the dysfunctions that can be resolved.
  • Store all work tools (files, documents) to reduce waste of time and energy.
  • Clean in order to keep the environment in which we work in good condition. A tidy and uncluttered work is easier to clean.
  • Standardize : simplify the use of tools and correct errors by certain rules
  • Sustain : keep what is acquired and continue to progress continuously

This tool alone meets several of the objectives targeted by Lean Management. It applies to any type of business and business sector, in production plants as well as in offices.

2) PDCA (plan, develop, control, adjust)

The ambition of the PDCA tool is to solve problems for continuous improvement. This tool is organized around 4 stages:

  • plan: analyze the problems of the process
  • develop: jointly find solutions to problems
  • control: check if the methods provided are effective and reschedule in case of non-adaptation
  • adjust

The PDCA or Deming wheel method generally applies in sectors such as management and strategic poles. Human and material resources (eg transport) and project management regularly use this Lean Management technique.

Its application results in the establishment of the resources to be exploited by a common process. Writing specifications helps in planning and measuring the results obtained.

3) SMED (single minute exchange of die)

Like the 5S, the SMED tool aims at the quality and productivity of work. It makes it possible to arrange the distribution of work by modifying the distribution of tasks.

Although lean management was born in the automotive industry, it is now booming, and used in all types of business such as metallurgy or printing.

Other lean management tools exist to meet different process needs. This type of management being in constant development, it gives rise to the emergence of new tools.

4) Flow map

The flow map, also known as VSM mapping, is an analysis and representation tool for the practice of lean management. It makes it possible to map the issues and possible changes in order to be more efficient and effective in the future. It allows you to identify areas for improvement. The flow map or VSM (value stream Mapping) comprises three types of flow:

  • Material flows
  • Information flows
  • Flows concerning time

The objective of this tool is to bring added value to the customer by avoiding losses at each stage. The flow method is used in particular in the logistics sectors and all types of companies that have to deal with demand.

5) Kanban

Appeared in 1940 by the creator of Toyota, Taiichi Ohno, to respond to customer demand by changing from a pushed flow to a pulled flow. The objective was to move from a system where the products are on the market to the creation of products according to market demand. Thus, this method made it possible to reduce the level of stock.

This lean management tool was then developed in the different companies by the distribution of tasks according to the availability of each. The Kanban method is thus adapted to allocate tasks according to the different available resources.

In practice, Kanban boards make it possible to visualize all the work in order to limit the tasks in progress and thus improve and better manage the flows. These tables distribute the missions in the form of columns (to do, in progress, finished).

Industrial production companies often use this type of tool to avoid mass stock.

By adopting Lean Management, your company can not only improve its performance, but also position itself solidly to face the challenges of the future and thrive in an increasingly competitive business environment. Reactive Executive is ready to support you in this process, by providing you with transition managers who will be able to guide you at each stage of this transformation.

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