Last week, I was on the plane heading out to facilitate for one of our Financial Service clients.  The gentlemen sitting next to me asked about my trip.  When I said I was going to teach Lean to a financial service team, he replied, “Lean for a Bank?”  My response was an enthusiastic yes, Lean for Service!

Historically Lean has been applied to the manufacturing floor:

  • Eliminating factory floor chaos
  • Increasing labor productivity
  • Simplifying production control and flow
  • And, decreasing inventory

While many companies have excelled at reducing waste in their production processes, their offices are filled with inefficiencies. Lean is catching on as a key productivity factor to streamline and eliminate waste from administrative processes and to achieve bottom line savings. It makes sense, considering that 60% – 80% of all costs related to meeting a customer demand are administrative or non-production related functions.

A Lean office can impact administrative processes at all levels of an organization.  At the enterprise level, it streamlines and accelerates those processes that touch external customers and suppliers such as order entry, customer service, accounts payable, marketing and sales, and research and development.  At the organizational level, Lean can help streamline key support processes, for example IT, HR, engineering or purchasing.  It helps identify internal customer requirements and what is important to them, improves communication and cross functional cooperation.  At the department level Lean reduces activities that add time but have little value.  And lastly, at an individual level you can reduce paperwork, manual entries and errors using some of the Lean techniques in your own job.

Still Not Convinced? Let’s look at an example from my class and how they saw Lean tools applying to their work environment.

Applying the Spaghetti Diagram

A spaghetti diagram is a simple paper and pencil mapping tool. It gives you a visual overview of the flow of the people working, or of the work unit flowing through the process. In an inefficient process, the movement lines drawn on this diagram come to resemble a pile of tangled spaghetti. This tool is very easy to image when we think about a production line.

spaghetti diagram

I asked the class where it would apply in a service environment?  One of their ideas was how information it sent electronically through a process.  Can you see it? Consider one process you commonly do.

  • Draw a diagram of all the people who need to receive information in that process.
  • Now draw the lines of how that unit of information moves through the process.

What does it look like?  Does information go back and forth a lot?  Does the same information have to transfer to multiple people? If so, I bet your seeing a bowl of spaghetti.  This is a process that could benefit from applying lean.

Acuity Institute has worked with many organizations, training their teams and helping them achieve Lean. Contact us today to learn more about Lean Certification.  Would you like to more about lean?  For the rest of October, Acuity Institute is offering our Lean Foundations course free! That is a savings of $175. Simply click here to start your enrollment and enter coupon code: OctoberLean to receive this amazing discount.