Tag Archives: strategy

Lean Office & Management Training

The training referred to below is currently being revised and upgraded. Please visit our new website www.Levantar.co.uk or go directly to Lean Office Management Services page on the website.


Despite the inflationary pressures and ups and downs of the wider UK economy, UK manufacturing has continued to grow both in terms of outputs and productivity. Indeed in recent observations the most resilient manufacturing firms will be those exporting. This in a sector often more linked with exporting jobs not products!

Can service organisations and office departments learn from the manufacturing firms and departments? learn the continuous improvement techniques that have made these firms more efficient, more productive and more resilient?

learn how to

  • increase the capacity of their departments,
  • get through work faster,
  • reduce errors and
  • positively impact cash flow!

Can service organisations learn how to get more out of their current resources? How can non-manufacturing departments support the shop floor improvement initiatives?

Lean thinking techniques which have been prevalent in UK manufacturing for many years have been translated and applied in offices, distribution and retail environments by many companies including Tesco, Zara, HMRC, Starbucks etc so these continuous improvement techniques can be applied outside of manufacturing to departments such as marketing, sales, accounting, hr and they deliver results in the form of Lean Office and Lean Management.

It gets better in the UK if you’re in Yorkshire or Humberside, not only can you learn the techniques but you can get 50% towards the investment in training. There are no restrictions on sectors, business size or turnover, you must be privately funded though. (Public sector organisations and those outside the Yorkshire & Humber region can complete the course and get the qualifications but the funding is NOT available to them)

The training runs to a total of 24 hours of training (3 days or 6 half days) + a work based project and leads to a qualification for the attendees and the course is overseen by Leeds University Business School and MAS Yorkshire & Humberside.

The article Lean Office, Lean Management Training – Yorkshire and Humberside details the specific offer and how to get the training course (3 days, 6 half days etc) for an investment of just £750 per attendee.

Courses can be tailored to the specific needs of a company if it wishes to put a number of staff through a course.

The Lean Office course is one of  9 continuous improvement courses that follow a similar framework, 3 days of training, work based project and qualification via Leeds University Business School and Manufacturing Advisory Service through their Manufacturing Masters programme and they can all be funded.


Starbucks Lean Improvements

In case you missed it Starbucks claimed a TRIPLING of Profits and a DRAMATIC surge in customer satisfaction in recent weeks by using LEAN THINKING, but what exactly did they do?

According to this Lean Japanese Techniques story in The Wall Street Journal, they

  • Saved between 20 and 33% of the processing time in making coffee, which meant customers get a faster service
  • Used some of the time saved to engage with customers, driving customer satisfaction from 56 to 76%, in the branch cited.
  • Re-engineered deliveries to the stores to cut down on the 40 or so trips some staff had to make back and forth with early morning deliveries
  • Stopped making large batches of coffee grinds in the morning and now make batches every 8 minutes to keep the grinds fresh and the aroma wafting through the store
  • Used 5S techniques of layout and colour coding to ensure everything is to hand.

Showing you don’t have to cut go out and just costs with Lean,  you can use the freed up time to engage with customers and other techniques can be employed to ensure customers can get what they want.




About the Author;

Mark Greenhouse has been working on the application of Lean management in Legal and design led Manufacturing companies for the past 5 years. His own Lean journey started back in 1988 when he started study of Production Engineering. He’s applied lean in many organisation types, finance, call centres, banking, FMCG etc. Mark also provides lectures on operational management at Leeds University Business School.

Transferable Skills – from the car to the office, shop, lab……

Lean Service

Lean Manufacturing which started in the automotive industry, with principle of removing the 7 wastes and it’s raft of associated process improvement tools including 5S, OEE, KANBANs, JIT, Line Balancing, Demand Management, Six Sigma, Poke Yoke, and Voice of the Customer (market research) has slowly been making its way across sectors and functions of manufacturing and non-manufacturing  (Services including professional) organisations as a business improvement strategy in recent years.

Is it any surprise when examples such as Lockheed Martin found that 75% of the improvement projects in one 4,000 employee plant, actually took place outside of manufacturing and generated $5m of savings in the second year alone – including reducing purchasing costs by over 50% and purchase order processing by 40%.  (Michael L. George “Lean Six Sigma for Service” 2003 p5)

And GE CEO Jeff Immelt reckoned that by applying the principles to their sales process they could save $50 billion by applying lean to their sales functions alone! (“Growth as a Process” an interview with Jeff Immelt, Harvard Business Review June 2006, pp 60-70)

Lean with…….

So now we are finding more and more examples of Lean Service, Lean Office, Lean Call Centres right through to Lean Laboratories, Lean Accounts and Lean Retail. You name it and you can find examples of lean thinking beginning to invade and succeed in all functions and sectors of business.

If you’d rather sit back and listen to an excellent insight into lean service then we can recommend this episode of Radio 4s “In Business” on LEAN SERVICE, hosted by PETER DAY, it focuses on lean in the Service sector (actually it’s the retail (Amazon), call centre (GEM) and financial sectors (GE Money)). 

When you get to the website click on the “listen to this programme in full” button 

All of the examples we have found about the above show, to one degree or another that lean will deliver;

  • lower costs,
  • higher profits,
  • faster customer response times,
  • higher quality,
  • a better customer experience,
  • and a more motivated workforce.

Lean does this by inviting ALL staff to confront the wastes in their jobs, whether it be

  • excess stock,
  • excess raw materials (work in progress, paperwork to be signed, e-mails unactioned),
  • excessive transportation (work/documents between sites, individuals, departments),
  • excessive moving (to complete work i.e. to photocopiers, post rooms etc),
  • wasting time (waiting for materials, decisions, meetings, approvals),
  • product or service features that the customer doesn’t value,
  • and producing poor quality solutions.

This approach, to include all staff isn’t surprising when you consider that at the heart of the principles of lean are;

  • to do only what your customers value, by default staff stop having to do all the things that they know (they get the feedback from customers) don’t add value!
  • and to continuously improve what you do, something you can surely only do by ensuring all the staff experiences are utilised to identify improvements.

The next blog that we issue will be on Lean in the NHS (Lean Healthcare), we’ve come across a video and a audio file and some practices on the benefits of implementing Lean in this sector, including information on the real GOLDEN HOUR, which is nothing to do with Simon Bates (for those old enough) or even Chris Moyles.

Be aware! moving lean from manufacturing into another function or sector isn’t about just taking the tools of Lean and applying them. So ending up with a desk looking like this one below really ISN’T the only answer.

 (This picture was published in a North East Paper and if you type “HMRC + lean” into a search engine you’ll get a plethora of stories about a lean office implementation in HMRC, which appeared  to follow the path of taking manufacturing tools and just transferring them). 

The taped lines on the desk show where office equipment should be placed

If you would like to investigate how lean could be applied to your organisation or function then feel free to contact us at www.resqmr.co.uk or info@resqmr.co.uk and we’d be happy to talk to you.

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The Lean Black Swan

The recent financial turmoil and my recent reading of The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb got me to thinking about how this plays with Lean.

Like the guys at the casino did our financial companies have everything tied down and risk inside the box analysed?

Every risk such as, loan default rates, interest rate rises, economic downturn etc, except the one where the box failed and it wasn’t a case of whether they wanted to lend to us, in our businesses, or our homes and at what rate but whether they would lend to each other – does anyone know, did they ever model this?

So what does this have to do with lean and lean thinking? Some of the core tools used in lean are aimed at reducing process variability and flattening output. It could be said we too are also reducing the risks but when we introduce lean tools are we aware of the Black Swans (both positive or negative) that could be awaiting us. Or is this the danger of fake lean? when we just apply the tools without really trying to understand the market [that the company operates in] or re-design the organisation.

Is it that real Lean negates the need to keep Black Swans in mind! if you

  • flatten  output to match the consumer demand, i.e. make daily, sell daily,
  • reduce WIP and finished goods,
  • ensure processes have waste stripped out, quality built in and are documented,
  • ensure products and services meet the customer values and you monitor these regularly, and
  • continually strive to improve,

when you come across a Black Swan you can make the most of it and are already well placed to minimise its’ impact on your business.

As lean encourages continuous improvement and doesn’t rely on forecasts; is it the only way to organise a business in the fast paced, black swan inhabiting world of today?

What do we think? we’re not sure if we’re suffering from Platonic Blindness.

Drop us a line if you think Lean helps overcome The Black Swans

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