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Lean Principles and Application


“Lean”, as a concept, gained wide popularity in the early 1990s partly as a result of a study undertaken by MIT to understand why Japanese companies were so much more successful than their Western counterparts in competing in the auto motive sector. Since then there has been a proliferation of “lean initiatives” often focussing on the adoption of tools and techniques intrinsic to the Toyota Production System and occasionally seeking to apply “lean thinking” to processes and sectors outside of the “medium variety / low order size” manufacturing environment typical of the auto motive sector. The driving force behind these “initiatives” is often to reduce the cost base through the re moval of waste.

The latest thinking, however, is that it is insufficient to “lean out” isolated parts of the organisation and a supply chain view, which includes suppliers and customers, should be taken (a “lean” enterprise). Moreover, these enterprises should be seeking to create “lean enterprise” capability where not only is current customer value clearly understood and being effectively delivered, but new and emerging values can be identified and delivered efficiently and effectively.

This module examines the principles, techniques, key tools of “Lean” and how they might apply in a variety of processes and sectors. The strategic importance of creating “lean enterprise” is explored as well as the challenges associated with achieving and sustaining this. The module also provides scope for participants to explore how they might appropriately apply Lean in their own organisations.


On completion of this module, participants will be able to:

  • Discuss a framework for “Lean Thinking” and the benefits a Lean approach can afford.
  • Apply appropriately an approach to creating, identifying & capitalising on opportunities for “Lean Enterprise”
  • Identify, select and apply appropriately relevant tools and techniques to support “Lean Enterprise”
  • Critically evaluate how “Lean Thinking” might apply in different sectors, processes and levels within the enterprise.
  • Determine an appropriate approach to implementing sustainable Lean enterprise


  • The Evolution of Lean
  • Framework for Lean Thinking
  • Creating Lean Enterprise
  • Illustrations of “Lean” in different sectors
  • Lean implementation
  • Tools and techniques