Lean project management

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Lean project management is the comprehensive adoption of other lean concepts like lean construction, lean manufacturing and lean thinking into a project management context. Lean project management has many ideas in common with other lean concepts; however, the main principle of lean project management is delivering more value with less waste in a project context. Lean project management has many techniques that can be applied to projects and one of main methods is standardization. Key techniques are those "inherited" from Agile software development like: blame-free employee involvement, the need for a strong facilitator, pipelining, etc..

One of the main goals of lean project management is creation and removal of bottlenecks in the production process in order to accelerate growth and increase productivity.

"Lean" is a systematic method for the elimination of waste ("Muda") within a manufacturing system. Lean also takes into account waste created through overburden ("Muri") and waste created through unevenness in work loads ("Mura"). Working from the perspective of the client who consumes a product or service, "value" is any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for.

Lean approach makes obvious what adds value, by reducing everything else (which not adding value). This management philosophy is derived mostly from the Toyota Production System (TPS) and identified as "lean" only in the 1990s.[1][2] TPS is renowned for its focus on reduction of the original Toyota seven wastes to improve overall customer value, but there are varying perspectives on how this is best achieved. The steady growth of Toyota, from a small company to the world's largest automaker,[3] has focused attention on how it has achieved this success.


Lean project management is the method used to plan and execute a lean (improvement) project. There are many ways to do this, but the two most prevalent are the 6 Sigma DMAIC method or the Deming Cycle (Called the "A3" since the steps are recorded on an A3 size paper). 6 Sigma Companies use 6 Sigma Black Belts to take an improvement project through the steps of Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. Other companies use the A3 Problem solving Process which includes the statement of the problem, the current situation, the root cause of the problem, suggest alternative solutions, suggest a recommended solution and have a cost-benefit analysis. This information would fit all on one A3 size sheet of paper. Another type of lean project management is called Kanban. Kanban endeavours to increase productivity by limiting multitasking, keeping work uninterrupted, urging to plan ahead, remaining focused, encouraging to tackle larger tasks first, and to actually finish projects.

Generally, all methods allow the project team to follow a disciplined method to measure the current state, define the future state, and put into place countermeasures to improve the process. Associated with the project are measurable metrics, as well as foundational lean elements that are implemented to improve those metrics. Either method is helpful in achieving better results for the project outcome.


  1. ^ Womack, James P.; Daniel T. Jones; Daniel Roos (1990). The Machine That Changed the World.
  2. ^ Holweg, Matthias (2007). "The genealogy of lean production". Journal of Operations Management. 25 (2): 420–437. doi:10.1016/j.jom.2006.04.001.
  3. ^ Bailey, David (24 January 2008). "Automotive News calls Toyota world No 1 car maker". Reuters.com. Reuters. Retrieved 19 April 2008.