Womack & Defining Lean

Recently, I saw Jim Womack give two talks at the Global Lean Healthcare Summit. One was a talk that could have applied, about Lean in a general sense, to a manufacturing audience as well as a healthcare crowd.

One point Jim kept bringing up was the need for simple definitions of Lean. Most of you are probably familiar with the five principles of Lean from the book Lean Thinking.

Not that it was a terribly complicated definition, but now Jim is talking about Lean as three principles. As he puts it, “If you like the definition, use it, otherwise you can come up with a different one.”

  • Purpose – start with a definition of your purpose, why are you in business?
  • Process – define your processes and work toward perfection constantly, focus on your processes, not just on results
  • People – Involve and develop your people.

It’s reminiscent of a different Toyota “3P” model.

What models or frameworks do you use for giving people a brief overview into the Lean approach?

Updated: Here is a link to the LEI page with videos of Jim talking about these 3 P’s.


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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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4 Comments on "Womack & Defining Lean"

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  1. mike t says:

    If it increases flow and it decreases waste…., its Lean

  2. Jon Miller says:

    It’s good.

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