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From the Lean Lexicon 5th Edition:

Service Level Agreement:   A promise between a customer and supplier process to meet certain targets, including timing, as part of a handoff.  A commonly used agreement governs the timing of the handoff and includes some type of time buffer. For example: “Radiology agrees to a one-hour turnaround for all standard chest film requests.  ” The fixed-time buffer means that some orders might be completed faster than an hour but that all standard chest film requests would be completed within one hour. Alternately, a standard-pace agreement could specify the actual timing of the handoff, such as, “Housekeeping agrees to submit any stockout requests by More »
How can there be standards -- or kaizen -- in a service job when no two instances are the same?
By: Michael Ballé | August 5, 2019
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I’m in a service job and I struggle with the idea of standards. I read that there can be no kaizen without standards but how can you have standards when no two instances are the same? More »
Lean Office & Service Simplified Book Club Questions
July 25, 2019
Demystifying the application of lean methods, Lean Office and Service Simplified: The Definitive How-To Guide goes beyond the basic tools to detail the key concepts of lean as they apply to office and service environments. It begins with value stream management, followed by chapters on standard work, flow, level pull, and visual management.  LEI makes it easy to learn together, download our free book club questions below. More »
How do you apply takt time to service work?
By: Michael Ballé | December 3, 2018
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: How do you apply takt time in fields like services where customer demand is not known? More »
Andon Cues Service Center to Respond to Customer Queue
By: Chet Marchwinski | March 13, 2018
An Ohio Mutual service center has no andon cord to stop a production line but the principal is the same as in a factory -- an abnormality has occurred, take corrective action. More »
How does continuous flow apply to healthcare or other service industries?
By: Ballé, Michael | January 25, 2016
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: I work in healthcare and I struggle with how the concept of flow, which I can well understand in production, applies in service? More »
Value-Stream Mapping for the Office and Service
By: Dager, Joseph | June 9, 2010
Whether you are fixing a manufacturing or office value stream, lean is “about the creation of a problem solving and fast-learning culture,” said Jim Luckman, a faculty member at the nonprofit Lean Enterprise Institute.    Luckman who has been a manufacturing plant manager, an R&D center manager, and head of a small startup company, recently discussed how to apply value-stream mapping in nonmanufacturing value streams with Business901 podcast host Joe Dager. One of the workshops Luckman teaches for LEI is on Value-Stream Mapping for the Office and Service More »
An Action Plan for Lean Services
By: Womack, Jim | July 8, 2004
Presentations; Value-Stream Maps
a 2004 presentation by Jim Womack to the European lean community More »
The Lean Service Machine
By: Swank, Cynthia Karen | October 1, 2003
The Harvard Business Review details how Jefferson Pilot Financial applied lean principles to its insurance business, not only to cut costs, but to grow revenue by distinguishing itself from competitors by offering better service to customers. (Follow link for how to obtain full article from HBR.  ) More »
Lean in Service: A simulation-based workshop
This workshop is designed for learning by doing with no up-front instruction. By discovering some key points through the simulation and receiving others “just-in-time” from the instructor, you will develop a deeper understanding of the why behind the techniques you experience. Engaging reflection sessions ensure that your learning objectives are met. More »
How Intertape Polymer Group Used Pilots and Parallel Systems to Learn and Implement Lean Accounting
By: Nick Katko | July 14, 2021
IPG's director and VP of finance manufacturing share their disciplined strategy for adopting lean accounting and finance. More »
Creating Better Jobs and Better Work: A Podcast with Sarah Kalloch and Josh Howell
By: Lean Leaper | June 28, 2021
Josh Howell of LEI and Sarah Kalloch of the Good Jobs Institute want to foster good work, as they discuss solutions in this episode of WLEI, the official podcast of the Lean Enterprise Institute. More »
Embracing Standard Work in Lean Accounting: An Interview with Mark DeLuzio
By: Mike De Luca | May 20, 2021
How standard work catalyzes continuous improvement in lean accounting and finance -- and any other work area. More »
How Lean Thinking and Practice, Grounded in Purpose, Helped Drive Amazon’s Success
By: Lean Leaper | May 7, 2021
Marc Onetto shares his experiences in Amazon, underlining the importance of a customer-driven approach in times of heavy demand and production. More »
Coach's Corner: Understanding the Value of a Concept Paper
By: John Drogosz | April 1, 2021
Why the Concept Paper is critical to your new product, process, and service development success.    More »
Understanding Customer Value: How Accounting Applies this Foundational Lean Concept to its Work
By: Mike De Luca and Nick Katko | February 18, 2021
Putting the entire customer experience first in thinking, not just the transaction, is the Lean Accountant's goal, asserts Nick Katko and Mike De Luca, More »
Lean Health Care Tips for Covid-19 (from Planet Lean)
By: Lean Leaper | April 7, 2020
In this excellent Planet Lean article, a team of lean healthcare experts share helpful tips and principles for tackling More »
New Book Explains How to Create “Steady Work” in Unsteady Times with Standardized Work Cadences
By: Karen Gaudet and Chet Marchwinski | April 6, 2020
In Steady Work, the new book from the Lean Enterprise Institute, author and former Starbucks’ Regional Manager Karen Gaudet offers astute business guidance for turbulent times and a heartfelt personal story about how the continuous improvement operating system revitalized the retailer during the global financial crisis and helped employees in Newtown, CT, get through the worst week of their lives. More »
Working During an Outbreak; What We Can Learn for Later
By: Josh Howell | April 2, 2020
During this pandemic, Trader Joe’s is demonstrating several hallmarks of lean thinking that help keep employees and customers safe--and creates a better shopping experience. More »
Reimagining the Restaurant Industry in a Post-COVID-19 World
By: Richard Vellante | March 30, 2020
The impact of COVID-19 has proven how ill-prepared we are to deal with crises. It’s time for hospitality businesses like restaurants to rethink how we operate so that we can create a more sustainable and resilient industry moving forward. More »
Rebuilding Homes and Disaster Recovery Processes
By: Zack Rosenburg | May 15, 2019
When Liz McCartney and Zack Rosenburg left their careers to help desperate victims of Hurricane Katrina rebuild, they knew nothing about construction or lean management. Today, SBP, the disaster recovery nonprofit they founded, has cut rebuilding time by nearly 50% using lean concepts. Zack talks to LEI about the remarkable new recovery model they developed and detail in their new book, Getting Home. More »
How to Scale Up Positive Social Change
By: Ann Mei Chang | May 13, 2019
Far more households globally have access to a mobile phone than a toilet, notes Ann Mei Chang, a tech executive turned social innovator and author. And that’s despite the time and money spent for years by hundreds of nonprofits, social organizations, companies, and government agencies. Listen as she explains her radical idea of taking the scientific method she learned in tech and the lean startup movement to create radically great social good at scale. More »
Seafood Restaurant Fishes for Problems Customers Really Care About
By: Richard Vellante | December 5, 2018
The executive chef at Legal Sea Foods explains how the restaurants are cutting lead times from fishing boat to your belly. More »
How to Engage Employees Through Creativity
By: Nicole Hudson | October 17, 2018
Is your company or department struggling to engage employees? Then learn from LifeWay Christian Resources, which moved away from a top-down, tool-oriented approach to continuous improvement training to a focus on engaging and developing people with thematic events and instruction. More »
Respect the Customer By Respecting Your Worker
By: Mark Reich | May 3, 2018
Lean provides us with a different approach to this vicious cycle. Build a management system in your company that allows employees to make the best decisions for the customer (end user and next process). This shows respect for your people. More »
How do I introduce kaizen to IT?
By: Ballé, Michael | March 14, 2016
Columns; eLetters
Dear Gemba Coach: Based on your experience, what is the best strategy to introduce kaizen as social, ongoing events without start and end dates in a service industry, specifically IT services? More »
Practicing Lean Fundamentals in an Office Environment
By: Locher, Drew | January 24, 2013
Applying lean principles in service organizations and administrative processes within manufacturing companies often confounds companies. Lean faculty member and author Drew Locher offers four key steps to focus on for success. More »
Lean Thinking for the Office
By: Locher, Drew | June 29, 2011
Unfortunately, attempts to apply lean principles in service organizations or to administrative processes in manufacturing companies often fall short of complete success. Key reasons for these shortcomings is that office work has more variability than factory work. However, the cause of the variability is often how the company organizes itself to process information. In many printing companies, the information process consumes the largest amount of lead time, which a printer typically addresses through prepress. But the lengthy lead times in the prepress process are related to the many hand-offs and queues that exist. To minimize the delays, printers make significant More »
Mapping to See: Value-Stream Improvement Workshop
By: John Shook, Beau Keyte, Jim Luckman, et al. | April 9, 2007
Books; Training Packages
Mapping to See: Value-Stream Improvement for the Office and Services is a complete training solution created by some of the most seasoned veterans working in lean today.   The value stream improvement process and tools are designed to bring a proven approach to office and service environments in companies of all sizes. More »
Lean Consumption
By: Womack, James and Jones, Daniel;; | March 4, 2005
Articles; Charts, Graphs and Diagrams
"Lean Consumption" is the lead article in the March 2005 issue of the Harvard Business Review. It previews the breakthrough ideas in the forthcoming book from Jim Womack and Dan Jones to be published this fall. Lean consumption requires a fundamental shift in the way manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, and service providers think about the connection between provision and consumption. The article explains how leading edge companies have stopped wasting their customer's time (and the companies' money) while providing their customers exactly what they want, where they want, when they want. More »
Toothbrush Plant Reverses Decay in Competitiveness
By: Chet Marchwinski | December 16, 2004
Case Studies; Charts, Graphs and Diagrams; Images
Faced with competition from plants in China and Mexico, Oral-B's Iowa City plant was slated for closure. But the rapid introduction of a lean system, beginning with just-in-time production and pull, saved it by reducing lead times and inventory to cut costs while augmenting the plant’s advantage in service. More »
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