What is Lean?
The first thing to say about Lean is that it's very different from traditional process improvement approaches. "Scientific Management" focuses on the productive parts of the process - where useful work is being done on the product. This is the work that the customer is willing to pay for - the things that add value. The problem with this approach is that these activities typically make up less than 5% of the total lead time. If you focus only on these value-adding activities then you limit the potential for significant improvements in lead time and overall efficiency.
The Lean approach instead concentrates on reducing the non-value-adding elements of your business processes. By analysing and eliminating waste, you can achieve massive improvements in Quality, Cost and Delivery. You'll find that people start working 'smarter not harder'. The other good news about Lean is that most improvements cost little or no money. All that you need is the right time and effort from your greatest asset - your people.