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Glossary of Lean Terms

5S- A five-step process for organizing and standardizing the workplace, summarized by five words or phrases, each beginning with S: Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain. It is a methodology for creating a clean, safe, orderly, high-performance work environment.

A3 - Refers to an 11x17-inch piece of paper and is a problem-solving tool that captures an entire issue on one piece of paper by following the Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control (DMAIC) principle.

Continuous improvement - The act of improving customer satisfaction through continuous and incremental improvements to processes by removing unnecessary steps or activities.

Cycle time - The time it takes to complete one operation. For example, the time it takes to process one purchase request.

DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) – A Six Sigma methodology that aims to remove defects.

Kaizen event - An event that identifies waste in a given business process and rapidly implements improvements to that process. Kaizen is Japanese for "change for the better."

Kanban - A "pull" visual management system for coordinating production orders by indicating when an item needs replenishment.

Lead Time - The time elapsed between when a product or service is requested and when the service or product is delivered to the customer.

Non-value added activities - Any activity on a service that does not add value for the customer; also referred to as “muda,” the Japanese term for waste. Multiple handoffs and reviews that could have been prevented through error-proofing are examples of non-value-added activities.

PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) - A four-step cycle for continuous process improvement.
Red Tag - A visual method for easily identify unnecessary items in a workplace. Items that are not needed for completing a job are moved to a holding area, sorted and then stored or discarded depending on their determined need for completing a job.

Seven wastes - Overproduction, Waiting, Transportation, Processing (Over-processing), Inventory (Storing), Motion and Defects. The seven wastes are common steps within any operation that add no value for the customer.

SIPOC diagram - The SIPOC (supplier-input-process-output-customer) diagram is a tool used in Six Sigma methodology to identify all relevant elements of a process improvement project and to narrow the scope of a complex project before the work begins.

Six Sigma - A set of data-derived problem-solving tools and methods used to improve performances and decrease process variation. Six Sigma also refers to a training process for black- and green-belt level practitioners.

Standard work - Step-by-step procedures, written by employees working within a given process, for the best way to perform the work. Standard work maximizes value-added activities and is practiced by all employees within a given work unit to minimize mistakes (waste). To foster continuous improvement, standard work is always evolving to make the process better and more efficient.

Swim Lane Map - A map used to study a process that involves more than three functions and illustrates “who does what” in a given process. The swim lane map is a useful tool for effectively showing interruptions to a process due to handoffs between functions, transportation, queues and rework involved in a process.

Takt time - The average rate at which the customer consumes or requires the product or service (i.e. #/day or #/hour).

Value-added activities - Activities within a process that add value for the customer.

Visual control - A system of visual clues that quickly informs workers about what and how work should be done.

Visual management - A technique expressing information publicly and in an easily understood form by everyone in a work area.