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Table 1 Five Key Principles of Lean [34]

From: Lean and leadership practices: development of an initial realist program theory

Identify customers and specify value

This principle acknowledges that only a small proportion of the time and effort in any organization adds value for the customer. Value for a specific product or service must be clearly defined from the customer’s perspective. Non-value activities are considered “waste” and targeted for removal.

Identify and map the value stream

The value stream represents the whole set of activities across all parts of an organization involved in jointly delivering the product or service. Once there is understanding of what the customer wants, the organization moves on to identifying how the delivery is occurring.

Create flow by eliminating waste

Eliminating waste results in the product or service seamlessly “flowing” to the customer without detours, interruption or waiting.

Respond to customer “pull”

The process is created based upon the organization’s understanding of customer demand, producing what is wanted when it is wanted

Pursue perfection

As radical reorganization occurs, gains becoming increasingly significant when all the steps link together. Perfection is the theoretical end-point, occurring when every asset and action adds value for the customer