ICIPS Institute for Continuous Improvement
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Can I use standard lean tools in a non manufacturing workplace?


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"The short answer is yes. In my opinion all tool were created to help solve a problem/issue or understand current working practices. The key to using improvement tools is to understand what they were originally developed for (the underlying principles), and then you can decide if it can be used as it is or if it needs to be modified for your organisation/context.

For example the 5S tool has been used in several National Health Service (NHS) organisations but has had a 6th S (Safety) added to it so that safety became more explicit. I have used the 5S tool in several non-manufacturing areas such as an Administration department, Information Technology Team, on hospital wards, in an Accident and Emergency department, Maternity Units etc.

Far too often I see people struggling with improvement tools, which then take energy and effort away from their project. If you feel like you are ‘shoehorning’ an improvement tool into your activity I would suggest the tool is wrong for your situation. If this is the case, take a step back, have a look at what you are trying to achieve and how you wish to achieve it. Then have a look at the improvement tool and either modify the tool, find a more appropriate improvement tool or create a new one to ensure that it achieves what you need it to."

Richard Wylde
ICiPS Expert

06 Mar 2017

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