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Lean: the importance of flow

Posted by Stephen Parry on Nov 13, 2015 5:39:26 PM

It’s all about the flow.

In Lean, ensuring a smooth flow of work is a key goal and the corollary of that is the matter of errors and how to manage them.

The main error types to focus on to improve flow are:

  • Rework Errors
  • Errors that increase delays
  • Unclean work (incomplete work provided by another department)
  • Non-standard work – The current process was not designed to deal with this type of work
  • Large batched non-automated work – Test with small batches first, increasing production only when proven to be error free. A Lean ideal is always a batch size of one.


During their day-to-day work Managers and their staff need to actively identify and remove the causes of errors in the flow of work. This is a behavior that requires staff, upon identifying errors caused by other departments, to contact them immediately to resolve the errors.

The person causing the error may be completely unaware they have caused problems and would continue to do so save for the notification. notified. If the error cannot be corrected easily, then it may become a candidate for a more general discussion an operational review.

There are a number of Lean Methods available to surface errors during daily work. The best, specific method for a team to utilize is determined during the implementation of visual management in the work environment.

Topics: Customer Value Principles