35 Lean Management Terms for Business

35 Lean Management Terms for Business

35 Lean Management Terms for Business



Welcome to our guide on lean management terms for business!

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of lean management, it is a business methodology that focuses on maximizing value and minimizing waste in processes. It has gained popularity in recent years as businesses strive to become more efficient and competitive.




  1. Lean Management:

    A systematic method for waste minimization within a manufacturing system without sacrificing productivity.


  2. 5S:

    A workplace organization method that uses a list of five Japanese words: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke (Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain).


  3. Kaizen (Continuous Improvement):

    A strategy where employees at all levels of a company work together proactively to achieve regular, incremental improvements to the manufacturing process.


  4. Value Stream Mapping:

    A lean-management method for analyzing the current state and designing a future state for the series of events that take a product or service from its beginning through to the customer.


  5. Kanban (Visual Signaling System):

    A scheduling system for lean manufacturing and just-in-time manufacturing (JIT).


  6. Just-In-Time (JIT):

    A methodology aimed primarily at reducing times within the production system as well as response times from suppliers and to customers.


  7. Muda (Waste):

    Any activity in your process that does not add value.


  8. Mura (Inconsistency):

    Unevenness or irregularity, especially in production levels.


  9. Muri (Overburden):

    Overburdening equipment or operators.


  10. Gemba (The Real Place):

    The place where value is created; the shop floor in manufacturing, the operating room in a hospital, the sales floor in a retail operation.


  11. Poka-Yoke (Error Proofing):

    A mechanism in lean manufacturing that helps an equipment operator avoid mistakes.


  12. Jidoka (Automation with a Human Touch):

    Automating machines or operations so that they automatically halt in the case of abnormal conditions.


  13. Pull System:

    A system where work is pulled only if there is a demand for it.


  14. Heijunka (Production Leveling):

    The process of smoothing out production over time, taking into consideration both customer demand and the company’s capacity.


  15. Takt Time:

    The average time between the start of production of one unit and the start of production of the next unit, when these production starts are set to match the rate of customer demand.


  16. Andon (Visual Aid):

    A visual feedback system for the shop floor that indicates production status, alerts when assistance is needed, and empowers operators to stop the production process.


  17. Hoshin Kanri (Policy Deployment):

    A method for ensuring that the strategic goals of a company drive progress and action at every level within that company.


  18. Standard Work:

    Detailed definition of the most efficient method to produce a product (or perform a service) at a balanced flow to achieve a desired output rate.


  19. Cellular Manufacturing:

    A process of manufacturing which is a subsection of just-in-time manufacturing and lean manufacturing encompassing group technology.


  20. Six Sigma:

    A set of techniques and tools for process improvement, focusing on minimizing variability in manufacturing and business processes.


  21. Lean Six Sigma:

    A methodology that combines the production and quality improvement benefits of both Lean and Six Sigma practices.


  22. Value-Added Activity:

    Any activity that increases the market form or function of the product or service (things the customer is willing to pay for).


  23. Non-Value-Added Activity:

    Activities that take time, resources, or space but do not add to the market form or function or are not necessary.


  24. Continuous Flow:

    Producing and moving one item at a time (or a small and consistent batch of items) through a series of steps.


  25. Genchi Genbutsu (Go and See):

    The practice of going to the source to find the facts to make correct decisions.


  26. A3 Problem Solving:

    A structured problem-solving and continuous-improvement approach, first employed at Toyota and typically used by lean manufacturing practitioners.


  27. Bottleneck Analysis:

    The process of identifying the stage in a process flow that reduces the overall throughput due to its limited capacity.


  28. Root Cause Analysis:

    A method of problem solving used for identifying the root causes of faults or problems.


  29. SMED (Single-Minute Exchange of Dies):

    A system for dramatically reducing the time it takes to complete equipment changeovers.


  30. KPI (Key Performance Indicator):

    A type of performance measurement that evaluates the success of an organization or of a particular activity in which it engages.


  31. Process Kaizen:

    Focused improvement in one workstation or area.


  32. Kaizen Event:

    A focused, short-term project to improve a process.


  33. Cycle Time:

    The total time from the beginning to the end of your process, as defined by you and your customer.


  34. WIP (Work In Progress):

    Materials and components that have begun their transformation to finished goods but are not yet completed.


  35. Flowcharting:

    The use of diagrams to represent the flow of activities within a process, often used in process improvement.






Understanding these terms is crucial for any business looking to implement lean management practices to improve efficiency, reduce waste, and increase productivity.

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