A business system for organizing and managing product development, operations, suppliers, and customer relations that requires less human effort, less space, less capital, less material, and less time to make products with fewer defects to precise customer desires, compared with the previous system of mass production.
Lean production was pioneered by Toyota after World War II and, as of 1990, typically required half the human effort, half the manufacturing space and capital investment for a given amount of capacity, and a fraction of the development and lead time of mass production systems—while making products in wider variety at lower volumes with many fewer defects. (Womack, Jones, and Roos 1990, p. 13.) The term was coined by John Krafcik, a research assistant at MIT with the International Motor Vehicle Program in the late 1980s.