How to Lead a Project More Effectively Using a Lean Concept

free essayCurrently, it is highly beneficial to maintain not only the company’s achieved position but also its advancements. This process demands a constant increase in the efficiency by improvement in product quality, optimizing expenses, and raising the productivity of resources. A lean concept allows project managers to launch an effective project management through lean principles and techniques with the help of a dedicated team. Specifically, this concept enhances the project efficiency and effectiveness of the workforce. Consequently, employees contribute to the accomplishment of the lean concept as well as to the prosperity of an organization. A lean concept is an effective approach because its outcome is the goods and services with quite good quality and fewer defects.

Lean and Its Usefulness

Lean is a practice that boosts an enterprise’s development by implementing the main idea of diminishing three kinds of waste such as ‘mura’ (inconsequence), ‘muda’ (waste), and ‘muri’ (overload). Thus, ‘mura’ concentrates on quality and volume, or the performance of work design. Next, ‘muri’ considers the preparation and planning of a process, or which work can be eliminated by design. Finally, ‘muda’ focuses on minimizing waste, which means to sustain value-adding steps in the process chain. However, the COO of Banco de Crédito del Perú Jorge Ramirez del Villar indicates that “Lean is something more than just cost reduction. It’s reducing time-to-market, it’s improving service quality, it’s reducing risk exposure, it’s increasing employees’ quality of life. It’s also cost reduction, but the point is to obtain all these other benefits simultaneously” (as cited in McKinsey & Company, 2011). Overall, the implementation of lean in companies typically induces greater customer satisfaction, tremendous profits, and improved supplier relations as well as fewer inventory and process breakdowns. Therefore, quality performance is also advanced due to decreased rework and defects.

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The Toyota Way of Managing Projects

In the early 1950s, Toyota was the first company to introduce lean practices and principles in their projects, which built the foundation for other companies to lead projects in a beneficial way. The first principle is simplification, consisting of high-value resources for innovation, product rationalization, and product differentiation in the process. The second and third ones are the elimination of waste and balance of manufacturing throughput respectively. The fourth principle is continuous improvement through the Kaizen approach that means the organization for visible performance management, success, and involvement of workforce. The final principle is the quality the process, not just at the end of it.

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Subsequently, Toyota has created new 14 principles for leading projects by applying preclusive maintenance tools, lean, and total quality. The first principle is to establish long-term solutions regardless of short-term financial aims. The second one is to create a continuous process flow to reveal problems. The third technique is to avoid overproduction of employing pull systems. The fourth principle is to level the workload, while the fifth one is to build a culture of stopping to resolve problems and receive proper quality from the first try. The sixth principle implies that standardized tasks and processes are the foundation for an uninterrupted advancement and employee empowerment. The seventh and eighth principles enable a company to arrange visual control and to apply only expert technology respectively. The ninth technique is to foster the upbringing of leaders who profoundly understand the work, live the philosophy, and relay it to others. The tenth principle is to develop extraordinary people and teams who follow the company’s ideology. The eleventh one is to assist suppliers and partners in their advancement. The twelfth and thirteenth principles require examining the situation and making decisions by consensus slowly but launching them rapidly. Eventually, the last one is to maintain the reputation of an educational organization through protracted improvement. Nowadays, the Toyota principles are very popular with the business processes of the majority of the ‘Fortune 500’ enterprises because they contribute to company’s long-term benefits.

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Project Planning – Important Step in Managing a Project

Project planning is one of the key functions of project management. It represents two basic phases for effective project launch such as the planning phase and the controlling phase because they will make a strong foundation for the efficient control of a project with the help of lean construction and 5S. The planning phase incorporates current project execution optimization, where the emphasis is more of how the team performs a project. The resource restrains and increasing cost of capital havs forced stakeholders to resort to lean construction. It is the solution how to optimize efficiently the execution operation philosophy.

Initially, 5S was applied in Toyota in the 1960s as the company found it to be quite felicitous for a successful project planning. Thus, Vipulkumar and Thakkar (2014) confirm that “5S is a technique originated from Japan and it was first developed by Hiroyuki Hirano in 1980s” (p. 132). The 5S compounds five steps, namely ‘shitsuke’, ‘seiri’, ‘seiton’, ‘siketsu’, and ‘seiso’. The first three items create the base for control. In general, ‘shitsuke’ is a discipline, teaching that 5S should be a rule of life. At the same time, ‘seiri’ is the step, in which one estimates their schedule by differentiating necessary and unnecessary things. ‘Seiton’ means that in the planning phase, every activity is placed in correct sequence. Finally, ‘seiso’ and ‘seiketsu’ represent the controlling phase in project planning, which means that a project plan should be reviewed from time to time with the result of work, and the monitoring of project performance should be done on regular basis.

How It Works

Applying Lean to Project Management Through the Initiation Process

At an early stage of initiation of a project, project managers should investigate whether project helps to achieve the vision and mission of the company. Thus, they should follow the Toyota principles number one, nine, and the philosophy of only keeping what adds value to the company with the help of different tools. The most common and efficient instrument is project portfolio management, where the strategy of a company is considered. Each project is rated according to these goals and combined with the resources, namely people, money, and equipment that must be respected. The imperfection in this research is that a large company has prolonged process and involve sundry parties. Each group has different goals and priorities. At the same time, rating each project can take several months. Following the Toyota ninth principle, a project leader needs to understand the philosophy of lean and be involved in the project selection as early as possible. The next tool of a favorable project is the squad. The project leader must select open-minded people in order to learn and explore new ways. Thus, Sarah Fister Gale  (2011) aptly adds that “Even companies that use the right data and people often fail to meet goals owing to ineffective decision-making” (p. 3). That is why, while starting a new project, it is important to involve the stakeholders because as usual, they are well-informed decision-makers in the business process.

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A lean concept is a very important approach for leading projects by project managers. Practices and principles of lean concept can help an enterprise to manage a project by applying fewer effort and waste, such as mura, muda and muri while generating more value for organization’s long-term benefits. The result is profound quality performance and fewer defects in business process.

Toyota contributes to a significant development of lean concept by creating its practices and 14 principles that are popular among companies. At the same time, a momentous step in managing a project is project planning by using 5S techniques and lean construction. Furthermore, following the Toyota principles, project managers should detect how to apply lean to project management through the initiation process and involve stakeholders and determined people into a project.