Lean is a great methodology for improving the performance of your business and its main objective is straightforward.

Its objective is to increase the proportion of activity that produces value within your business operation.

Let’s put this into context.

What is value

Value is anything that your customer is willing to pay for.

In essence, if you do something that helps the customer to get what they want it is likely that you can define it as value.

Cutting metal, writing code, converting chemicals…

These are the sorts of thing you need to look for, to recognise as value adding. It is a harsh view of the world, but one that helps us to identify improvement activities.

What is waste

Waste is the converse of value, it is all of the other things we have do in order to create value.

The classification system to help spot these wastes is known as the 8 wastes. In summary they are:

  • Defects
  • Overproduction
  • Transportation
  • Waiting
  • Inventory
  • Motions
  • Inappropriate Processing
  • Untapped human potential

Note – to read more about the 8 wastes view this article.

In essence you look for these wasteful activities within your business. By eliminating them you help to increase the proportion of value adding activities within your operation.

This, effectively, is the main objective of Lean manufacturing.

The main objective of Lean manufacturing is to

A simple method to reduce waste

The quickest way to help reach the main objective of Lean manufacturing is to carry out a waste walk. Take the list of wastes, along with your team, for a walk around your business. Stop off at certain areas and see if you can identify / brainstorm waste related issues.

Write down your observations and at the end of the walk you can allocate responsibilities and take action.

I can’t stress just how simple and powerful this technique is.

Using StreamLiner to increase value add

The StreamLiner software program can directly help you achieve the main objective of Lean manufacturing. The built in tools allow you to quickly capture waste and then manage the actions.

In particular, the waste walking tool, the process flow analysis tool and the CCC (Concern, Cause and Countermeasure) tool help dramatically. This combination of tools can help you quickly identify wastes to eliminate. You can also dig deeper with this toolkit and identify a whole range of business improvements.

The tools inside StreamLiner allow you pull all of the tasks together in one easy to view screen. This means that you can use different approaches to work towards ‘the main objective of Lean manufacturing’ without having to worry about how you manage the actions later.

Instead of having to manage multiple project plans and walls covered with paper (that often doesn’t get updated) you can focus on one single prioritised action plan. StreamLiner also has a built in prioritisation system called BCS. You can read about how BCS works here.

What are your objectives?

It is fine to think about what the objective of Lean manufacturing is, but what are your objectives for your business?

Hopefully you will want to drive out waste from your organisation and streamline its processes. If you haven’t defined any objectives, or aren’t sure where to start, then starting with defining your concerns about your business’ current performance is a great place to start.

Prioritising these concerns (using BCS, or another method) will give you an immediate action plan that you can get your teeth into.

I hope this article has answered the question ‘what the main objective of Lean manufacturing is’.

If you are in doubt, just try to make your business better in any way you can and you will be on the right track!


Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who consults with businesses to improve their productivity and on time delivery performance. Giles is also the author of What Does Good Look Like? and the co-creator of the StreamLiner business improvement software program.