Reflection on Lean Principles to Improve Processes

The primary purpose of this assessment task is to help focus student attention on the discipline of Operations Management and provide an opportunity to reflect on how the discipline relates to jobs and careers in management. 

The secondary purpose of this assignment is to give students an early opportunity to develop generic academic writing skills within the framework of reflective discourse. This paper should be written in first person language. 

There is a huge demand for lean specialist in the market and I truly believe that learning lean course will really boost my career prospects going forward. Lean has its root from Ford production system, Toyota production systems and Japanese manufacturing industry. Benefits of lean are well documented by many organizations like Toyota, GE, 3M. One of the reasons I think Lean is very popular these days is that it application has been recognized in service industry. Although its application is very well known in manufacturing industry, it is gaining popularity in service industry also. I believe as any country progresses towards development, service sector increases faster as compared to manufacturing industry. All this makes me believe that knowledge of lean principles has very huge demand in the market. There is wide application of lean in healthcare industry, service industry, software technology.

Also, these days the focus has been shifting on maximizing the value to the customers while minimizing the waste and this is exactly what the leans principles are all about. With increasing competition in all the spheres of life, there is pressure on the organizations to keep the cost of their products low compared to the competitors and as a result this is affecting their margins. At this point of time, Lean principles come to the rescue and help the companies to reduce the cost by avoiding various types of wastages. Not only this, during recession of 2008, while is there is reduction of jobs by most of the organizations, there is huge increase in the demand of lean specialist. It is because lean specialists are experts in identifying the waste in the system as well as eliminating it and such jobs become critical at challenging times.

I think this course is very important part of the curriculum of the operations management. It is because operation managers are responsible for cutting the costs and improving and managing the processes. Knowledge of Lean empowers them with suitable skillset to apply the lean principles in their day-to-day operations. Also, I believe knowledge of lean principles to improve the business processes is actually like accompaniments that every individual should posses besides his/her main competency/skill-set. No matter what work we are doing, I think lean principles can be applied anywhere as their purpose is to create more value simply by reducing waste.

I think detailed knowledge of lean principles will help me to differentiate clearly between the value adding and non-value adding activities in any process. There are tools like value stream mapping that helps us to split the processes into sub-processes and activities. Once the higher level processes are split into activities, all the activities can be classified as value adding or non-value adding. It is a very simple step but it has huge impact because either the activity is adding value or not adding value. There is no other option. Lean principles have revolutionized the industry by classifying the non-value activities as different types of wastes and focuses on ways to reduce these non value-adding activities. I think all the managers should have this skill because by reducing the non-value adding activities and wastes in the processes they are dealing with, they will be able to reduce the resources of the organization. As per lean, activities like Transportation, waiting, inventory, over production, over processing, defects and Movements are wastes. Though transportation is a necessary but it is important to understand that it is a waste, it is not adding any value and there is also a risk of damage to the products. So, it is better to reduce the transportation activity. Also, excess inventory, which is waiting for the next process to be operated, is actually a waste. Lot of money is tied up into inventory, which is actually the waste. There are some very powerful concepts like drum buffer theory which means that there is no use of improving the different resources of the organization without working on the bottleneck resource because the whole organization is producing at the rate as bottleneck resource is working. Lean is also associated with Total quality System (TMS) and six sigma. Lean principles also taught how waits and delays, which were considered once, as mandatory activities are actually the wastage of the resource and all efforts, must be to reduce waiting and delays. Thus lean principles have direct relation with productivity and efficiency of the employees as avoiding waste will improve the output and thus improving the revenue/employee. Apart of this, I think there are many other tools like 5S, which simply states that keeping the workplace neat and clean in a standardized way will help reducing wastage as employees will find things more quickly. There are tools like SMED, standardization, Heijunka, workload leveling and other numerous tools that can be applied anywhere.

I think the best part about Lean technique is that it is pretty simple and straightforward and has huge benefits. For instance, making a cleaner workplace can have drastic effect on individual’s performance. According to market experts and strategists, the demand of lean specialists and application of Lean principles will going to increase with time as there is more and more pressure to increase the margin and cutting the costs and thus this course will really boost my career prospects. Large scale companies like GE, 3M, Toyota, Ford have achieved huge cost benefits by applying lean and gradually mid and small scale enterprises are also embracing the idea of the lean and thus Knowledge of lean principles will help me to excel in my future role. Sometimes, I also believe that not only operations management but every field should include the course of lean tools and techniques as they are quite general in nature. 

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