Principle 2 in Lean Management : The Flow

Create continuous process Flow to bring problems to the surface.

Stop the production when a problem occurs. Like this, people are forced to think together and to solve the problem immediately.

Create a Flow and shorten the elapsed time from raw materials to finished goods will lead to the best quality, lowest cost, and shortest delivery time.

Lower the « Water Level » of inventory

Traditional business processes have the capacity to hide vast inefficiencies and problems without anyone noticing. People just assume that a typical process takes days or weeks. They don’t realise that a lean process might take hours or minutes.

Focus on the ideal Flow to provide a clear direction. The customer’s order triggers the process of obtaining raw materials which flows immediately to the next step.

No one produces anything before it is needed by the next person.

Put everyone in the same department (engineering, purchasing and accounting)

People must be multi-skilled

Create a cell

Create work cells grouped by product, rather than by process.

Traditional batch processing example: 10 (creation) > 10 (assemblage) >10 (test). That means 30 min to create 10 products and the first product ready after 21 min.

Continuous flow example : 1>1>10. That means 12 minutes to create 10 products and the first product ready after 3 minutes.

Faster is better

Defects occurs rapidly in a flow and can be directly fixed.

Use Takt Time = rhythm in German, like on the boat. Everyone must keep the same rhythm.


It improves moral : people see immediately the results and that gives a sense of accomplishment.

Better quality, higher productivity, less costs and more space for inventory.


The content of this post is inspired by the book “The Toyota Way” – Jeffrey K. Liker

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