Quantum Lean: An Innovation in Continuous Improvement
Sean Fields, Senior Partner, Sean Fields, Magnolia, TX, USA
Co-Speaker: Dr. Michael Sanders
Keywords: Lean, Continuous Improvement, Operational Excellence
Based on the Toyota Production System (TPS) business model, Lean Systems were popularized in the 1990s and have helped many businesses achieve significant gains in profitability and competitiveness. Despite this, a majority of organizations that attempt to adopt this system fail to do so. One reason this can occur is an inability to adapt lean principles to specific environments. To address this problem, alternative methods like Scrum, Agile, and Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM) were developed. As a further advance to lean approaches, an alternative system called "Quantum Lean" (QL) was developed to build on the work of lean innovators and apply continuous improvement to lean systems. Compared to other lean approaches, QL offers a combination of greater simplicity, efficiency, speed, and comprehensiveness. The key to this system is a framework that is:
• Time-Focused – Instead of addressing waste like traditional lean does, QL attacks time. This results in much greater simplicity by leveraging the fact that time is the fuel that feeds all waste. Instead of attacking waste in its 8 forms, addressing time is simpler.
• Product-Centric – Instead of tracking time from the view of the customer/resource/owner, time is tracked and measured from the standpoint of the product and only the product. Relentlessly maintaining this framework assures consistency in conclusions and reduces the conflicting objectives (e.g., owner vs. employee vs. customer) that come with other continuous improvement approaches.
• Simple and Comprehensive – QL employs a comprehensive and structured analytic methods including Product Path Diagramming (PPD). Compared to other methods like Value Stream Mapping (Traditional Lean) or Manufacturing Critical-Path Time Mapping (QRM), PPD offers greater simplicity, refined prioritization, and/or an improved ability to identify and minimize every waste and contributor to time-in-fulfillment.
Although there are additional benefits, QL’s simplicity is arguably its greatest virtue and makes additional advantages possible.