The Real Meaning of Lean
LEAN, THE practice of continually identifying and eliminating waste in an organization, is very often a misunderstood term or phrase. Too many people associate it with the phrase "Lean and Mean," which has become a euphemism for laying people off, working with too few staff, working staff long hours and micromanaging every activity to lower costs—often at the expense of quality. It's ironic, then, that the practice of Lean is the exact opposite of the phrase "Lean and Mean. Many credit Henry Ford for inventing the Lean concepts. Others say you have to go back to the Greek or Roman Empires. Wherever it started is interesting, but somewhat academic. What is important is how to use this powerful methodology and philosophy to improve any organization. Whether it's an in-plant, a hospital or a government agency, all can use Lean to give a better quality product or service at a low cost with on-time delivery.