3P: 3 key pillars of Lean

BY KIA - 2016-09-02

Customer are becoming more demanding, markets are becoming more dynamic & open, product life-cycles are getting shorted. This creates a pressure on processes and therefore processes become inefficient & wasteful.

In order to remain competitive & waste-free in such rapidly changing environment, organizations have to find ways to improve, reduce waste, provide ON TIME IN FULL ERROR FREE products/ services. Kaizen/ Lean does exactly the same thing. It helps organizations to become flexible & adaptable to such environment. Kaizen/ Lean management is nothing but a better way to manage the work. It can provide an organization with clear competitive advantage if applied correctly. Kaizen/ Lean is logical collection of  methodologies & tools which will make any organization, whether manufacturing or service, Faster > Better > Cost Efficient.

Kaizen/ Lean focuses mainly on improving 3 key elements within an organization.

1.Physical workplace:

Physical workplace or environment has direct impact on the mental status, actions, abilities   and performance.

Better outcomes and increased productivity is assumed to be the result of better workplace environment. Better physical environment of office will boosts the employees and ultimately improve their productivity. Various literature pertain to the study of multiple offices and office buildings indicated that the factors such as dissatisfaction, cluttered workplaces and the physical environment are playing a major role in the loss of employees’ productivity (Carnevale 1992, Clements-Croome 1997). Hughes (2007) surveyed 2000 employees pertain to various organizations and industries in multiple levels. The reported results of these survey showed that nine out of ten believed that a workspace quality affects the attitude of employees and increases their productivity. 

5S & Visual Management is what may help to organize the workplace and help manage the material & information.


Broken processes can cost a lot of money to any business as a business is nothing but a sum of processes. This can be in terms of time & actual cash. Customers might go to the competitors if they don’t get ON TIME IN FULL ERROR FREE products/ services. This is certainly not the right way to run a business. The other biggest loss is ‘morale’. Morale can be the single biggest contributor (or destroyer) of success in any organization. If the employees are happy & engaged anything is possible but if they are disengaged everything will be a struggle.  For most people broken processes are one of the most prevalent reasons to kill morale.  Therefore it is very important to manage & monitor the KPI’s, keep an eye on wasteful activities. flow of material & information and productivity of the staff. Ownership will have to be created for end-to-end processes and it has to be improved continuously.

3. People:

As discussed in the second point, disengaged or unhappy staff is more dangerous than broken processes. Any approach at transforming a business, be it through Kaizen/ Lean or any other methodology, is doomed to failure unless it is a people over process approach. Michikazu Tanaka, a former executive of Daihatsu Motors once said “In my talk, I have covered only some of the most trying incidents and most gratifying incidents in our work with Ohno-san. I hope that my remarks have conveyed the most important message: that motivation is everything. Tools and methods are secondary. Any tool or method will work if people are motivated. And no tool or method will work if people are not motivated. That’s what I learned from Ohno-san.”

Therefore it is very important to focus on the 3P’s or the key pillars of Kaizen/ Lean. For an organization to reap the benefits of Kaizen/ Lean, top management commitment is must & they have to admit all work processes can be improved, and that nobody is exempt from improvement, starting from doorman to chairman. Such organization progresses and will survive & prosper for the long-term.

In case you missed it, my last post was Kaizen: Understanding organizational culture - Part III of III

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Gemba Kaizen