Lean Glossary

Lean Terms & Phrases

Lean Glossary

Lean Glossary


A3 Report

This "A3" sized (11 inches x 17 inches) form is used at Toyota as a one-sheet problem evaluation, root cause analysis, and corrective action planning tool.

Abnormality Management

Being able to see and quickly take action to correct abnormalities (any straying from Standard Work). This is the goal of standardization and visual management.

Activity Based Costing (ABC)

A management accounting system that assigns cost to products based on the resources used to perform a process.

Agile Manufacturing

Agile manufacturers must recognize the volatility of change, and put mechanisms in place to deal with it.


A tool of visual management, originating from the Japanese word for 'lamp'. Most commonly, andons are lights placed on machines or on production lines to indicate operation status.

Andon Board
A visual control device in a production area, typically a lighted overhead display, giving the current status of the production system and alerting team members to emerging problems.

Assembly Buffer

The time buffer placed before an assembly operation on non drum parts where Drum components are assembled with non drum components.

Automatic Time

The time when a machine is running on auto cycle and a person does not needed to be there to operate the machine.


Stopping a line automatically when a defective part is detected.


Back Flushing

A method of recording accounting transactions for labor and materials based on what was shipped rather than by using material issues or cards. The aim of back flushing is to reduce the number of non value-added transactions.

Balance on Hand (BOH)

Inventory levels between component parts.

Balanced Plant

A plant where capacity of all resources are balanced exactly with market demand.

Balanced Production
All operations or cells produce at the same cycle time. In a balanced system, the cell cycle time is less than task time.

Batch Manufacturing

A production strategy that moves significant quantities of subassemblies from operation to operation in a batch.

Producing more than one piece of an item and then moving those items forward to the next operation before that are all actually needed there. Thus, items need to wait in a queue.

The process of measuring products, services, and practices against those of leading companies.

Any resource whose capacity is equal to, or less than the demand placed on it.

A best-known example of performance in a particular operation. One needs to define both the class and the operation to avoid using the term loosely.

Bill of Activities

A hierarchical, indexed listing of all the activities required to build a product or provide a service.

Bill of Materials (BoM)

A hierarchical, indexed listing of all the materials required to build a product or provide a service.

Black Belt

Six Sigma team leaders responsible for implementing process improvement projects within the business

A blitz is a fast and focused process for improving some component of business ­ a product line, a machine, or a process. It utilizes a cross-functional team of employees for a quick problem-solving exercise, where they focus on designing solutions to meet some well-defined goals.

Breakthrough Objectives

Objectives that are 'stretch goals' for the organization, representing a significant change for the organization.

Brown Field

An existing and operating production facility.


Capacity Buffer

The time buffer placed between the drums in multiple project. This buffer protects the later project from the knock on effect of delays in earlier projects.

Capacity Constraint Resources
Where a series of non-bottlenecks, based on the sequence in which they perform their jobs can act as a constraint

A series of discussion between managers and their employees during which data, ideas, and analysis are thrown like a ball. This opens productive dialogue throughout the entire company.

Cause and Effect Diagram

A problem solving tool used to identify relationships between effects and multiple causes (also Fishbone Diagram, Ishikawa Diagram).

Cellular Manufacturing

The layout of machines of different types performing different operations in a tight sequence, typically in a U-shape, to permit single piece flow and flexible deployment of human effort.

The layout of machines of different types performing different operations in a tight sequence, typically in a U-shape, to permit single piece flow and flexible deployment of human effort.

A method of conducting single-piece flow, where the operator proceeds from machine to machine, taking the part from one machine and loading it into the next.

Change Agent
The catalytic force moving firms and value streams out of the world of inward-looking batch-and-queue.

Change Management

The process of planning, preparing, educating, resource allocating, and implementing of a cultural change in an organization.

The installation of a new type of tool in a metal working machine, a different paint in a painting system, a new plastic resin and new mold in an injection molding machine, new software in a computer, and so on.


This is the thinking process used to precisely define a problem, to surface the underlying assumptions and to enable the identification of the direction of a solution that will remove this problem.

Concurrent Engineering

Designing a product (or service), its production process, the supporting information flow, and its delivery mechanism at the same time.

Anything that limits a system from achieving higher performance, or throughput.

Continuous Flow Production
Means that items are produced and moved from one processing step to the next one piece at a time. Each process makes only the one piece that the next process needs, and the transfer batch size is one. Also called 'single-piece flow' or 'one-piece flow'.

Continuous Improvement

The never-ending pursuit of waste elimination by creating a better workplace, better products, and greater value to society.

Control Chart

A statistical problem solving tool that indicates control of a process within established limits.

Control Element

Any specific process variable that must be controlled. The measurement of a control element indicates whether the process is operating under stable conditions.

Core Problem (CP)

The constraint of a system where it is not a physical resource, it may be: a policy, or the belief in a false assumption, out dated measures or ineffective behaviours.

Cost of Quality

Costs associated with supplying a quality product. Categories of cost include prevention, appraisal, and failure.

Counterclockwise Flow

A basic principle of Lean manufacturing cell layout is that the flow of material and the motion of people should be from right to left, or counterclockwise. The origin of this idea came from the design of lathes and machine tools with the chucks on the left side, making it easier for right-handed people to load from right to left.

Critical Capacity Resource (CCR)

A CCR is a resource that may prevent the system moving closer towards its goal.

Critical Chain

This is the longest dependent chain of events in a project plan when both resource dependency and task dependency are taken into account.

Critical Chain Completion Buffer (CCCB)

See Project Buffer

Critical Chain Feeder buffer (CCFB)

See Feeder Buffer

Critical Path

A Critical Path is the longest path of dependent tasks in a project network not taking resource dependency into account.

Current Reality Tree (CRT)

The TOC Thinking Process diagram that shows through solid logic how the UnDesirable Effects are linked together. The CRT is used to pin point where improvement actions can have the greatest leverage.

The impact of one variable upon others in the same group.

Current State Map
Helps visualize the current production process and identify sources of waste.

Cycle Time
The time required to complete one cycle of an operation.


Dependent Events
Events that occur only after a previous event.


Datsuzoku (break from routine) is a principle that signifies a break from daily routine or habit, a freedom from the commonplace. It involves a feeling of transcending the ordinary and conventional. The result of datsuzoku is pleasant surprise and unexpected amazement. Most major breakthroughs in science and industry have come during a break from the problem at hand. Studies show that the ultimate break—sleep—is the best inducer of breakthrough insights, ideas and solutions.

Days Supply of Inventory (DSI)

Total number of days (if the production level equals zero) that it would take to deplete finished goods inventory for the specified product line.

Demand Flow

The concept of demand flow is to pull raw materials and products through the process strictly according to the dictates of customer demand.


Unable to do without. In TOC it is usually referring to two tasks or actions where one is a prerequisite for the other.

Design for Manufacturing

Design for Manufacturing is an approach to design that fosters simultaneous involvement of product design, process design, and manufacturing.

Design of Experiments

Planning and conducting experiments and evaluating the results. The outcome of a design of experiment includes a mathematical equation predicting the interaction of the factors influencing a process and the relevant output characteristics of the process.


An event that was not predicted that delays tasks, resources or materials or reveals extra work that was not expected.


The Drum refers to the CCR that is used to build the schedule around in an operation.


Error Proofing
Designing a potential failure or cause of failure out of a product or process.

Economies of Scale

Applying the principles of mass production, large batch sizes, and consolidated control strategies to achieve minimum unit processing costs.

Elements of Work

The elements of work are 1) value-added work, 2) non value-added work, and 3) waste.


A series of actions designed to give employees greater control over their working lives.

Evaporating Clouds

A method used in Theory of Constraints. Same as Conflict Resolution.

External Set up

All set-up tasks that can be done while the machine is still running.


Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

A structured approach to determining the seriousness of potential failures and for identifying the sources of each potential failure.

Five S (5S)
The principle of waste elimination through workplace organization. Derived from the Japanese words seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke. In English the 5S are sort, straighten, sweep, standardize, and self-discipline.

Five Whys

A simple but effective method of analyzing and solving problems by asking 'why?' five times (or as many times as needed to find the root cause).

A main objective of the lean production effort, and one of the important concepts that passed directly from Henry Ford to Toyota. Ford recognized that, ideally, production should flow continuously all the way from raw material to the customer and envisioned realizing that ideal through a production system that acted as one long conveyor.

Functional Layout
The practice of grouping machines or activities by type of operation performed.

Future State Map
A blueprint for lean implementation. Your organization¹s vision, which forms the basis of your implementation plan by helping to design how the process should operate.

Feeder Buffer

The time buffer that is placed on the end of non critical chains that feed into the critical chain. Sometimes referred to as Critical Chain Feeder Buffer (CCFB).

Feeder Lines

A series of special assembly lines that allow assemblers to perform preassembly tasks off the main production line.

First In First Out

Processing orders in a pure sequential flow.

Flexible Manufacturing System

An integrated manufacturing capability to produce small numbers of a great variety of items at low unit cost; an FMS is also characterized by low changeover time and rapid response time

Flow Chart

A problem solving tool that maps out the steps in a process visually. The flow (or lack thereof) becomes evident and the wastes and redundancies are identified.

Flow Production

A way of doing things in small quantities in sequential steps, rather than in large batches, lots or mass processing.


Fukinsei (asymmetry) is a goal to convey the symmetrical harmony and beauty of nature through clearly asymmetrical and incomplete renderings; the effect is that the viewer supplies the missing symmetry and thus participates in the act of creation. The final episode of hit series The Sopranos had no ending... the audience was left to construct their own. The hatchback design of the popular Nissan Cube is asymmetrical.

Function Reality Tree (FRT)

The TOC Thinking Process diagram that describes how the the agreed direction for a solution unavoidable through solid logic leads to the desired results or benefits.



A Japanese word meaning "actual place," or the place where you work to create value.


Japanese for 'actual thing' or 'actual product'.


Japanese for 'the facts' or 'the reality'.

Green Belt

Someone who has been trained on the improvement methodology of Six Sigma who will lead a process improvement or quality improvement team.

Green Field

A new production facility where lean principles are designed into manufacturing and management systems from the beginning.


A method of leveling production at the final assembly line that makes just-in-time production possible. This involves averaging both the volume and sequence of different model types on a mixed-model production line.


A problem solving tool that displays data graphically in distribution.

Horizontal Handling

When tasks are assigned to a person in such a way that the focus is on maximizing a certain skill set or use of certain types equipment.

Hoshin Planning (HP)
Also known as Management by Policy or Strategy Deployment. A means by which goals are established and measures are created to ensure progress toward those goals. HP keeps activities at all levels of the company aligned with its overarching strategic plans. HP typically begins with the "visioning process" which addresses the key questions: Where do you want to be in the future? How do want to get there? When do you want to achieve your goal? Who will be involved in achieving these goals? HP then systematically explores the 'what's, 'who's and 'how's throughout the entire organization.

Hoshin Kanri

A strategic planning approach that integrates the practices of leadership with the practices of management.


Informative Inspection

A form of inspection used to determine non-conforming product.

Integration Point

Common term in a project to describe where two or more tasks join together.

Intermediate Objective (IO)

The milestone that must be reached in order to overcome an obstacle to an ambitious target or injection.

Internal Setup (IED)

Set-up tasks that can only be done when the machine is stopped.


All raw materials, purchased parts, work-in-process components, and finished goods that are not yet sold to a customer.


Just-in-Time (JIT)
Principles that are fundamental to Time-Based Competition ­ waste elimination, process simplification, set-up and batch-size reduction, parallel processing, and layout redesign ­ are critical skills in every facet of the lean organization. JIT is a system for producing and delivering the right items at the right time, in the right amounts. The key elements of Just-in-Time are Flow, Pull, Standard Work, and Takt Time.


Stopping a line automatically when a defective part is detected. [Same as Autonomation] (From searchmanufacturing.com)

Jishu Kanri


Judgment Inspection

A form of inspection used to determine non-conforming product.


To talk, or 'the art of' (i.e., 'leanjutsu: the art of lean production').


Continuous, incremental improvement of an activity to create more value with less waste. The term Kaizen Blitz refers to a team approach to quickly tear down and rebuild a process layout to function more efficiently.

Kaizen Event

Any action whose output is intended to be an improvement to an existing process.

Kaizen Newspaper

A tool for visually managing continuous improvement suggestions.

A signalling device that gives instruction for production or conveyance of items in a pull system. Can also be used to perform kaizen by reducing the number of Kanban in circulation, which highlights line problems.


The opposite of kaizen. Change for the worse.


Radical improvements or reform that affect the future value stream.


Kanso (simplicity) is a principle that dictates that beauty and utility need not be overstated, overly decorative, ornate, or fanciful. Kanso imparts a sense of being fresh, clean, and neat. The Apple iPhone has a single “home” button. The Google interface is predominantly white space.

Kano Methods

A model using three types of product requirements which influence customer satisfaction in different ways.


Death from overwork.


A process in which assemblers are supplied with kits of parts, fittings and tools.

Knowledge Management

The management of knowledge, especially innovative knowledge, that is critical to business sustainability.


Koko (austerity) is a principle that emphasizes the disciplines of restraint, exclusion and ommission. Koko involves things that seem spare, even spartan, yet impart a sense of focus and clarity. The Twitter 140 character limit, the menu at In-N-Out Burger, and the FLIP video camera are all successful outcomes of keeping things spare.


Lead Time
The total time a customer must wait to receive a product after placing an order. When a scheduling and production system is running at or below capacity, lead time and throughput time are the same. When demand exceeds the capacity of a system, there is additional waiting time before the start of scheduling and production, and lead time exceeds throughput time.

Business processes requiring less human effort, capital investment, floor space, materials, and time in all aspects of operation.

Last in First Out (LIFO)

The result of a typical material or information flow system without FIFO, resulting in earlier orders being perpetually delayed by new orders arriving on top of them.

Lean Transformation

Developing a culture that is intolerant to waste in all of its forms.


Smoothing out the production schedule by averaging out both the volume and mix of products.

Line Balancing

Equalizing cycle times for relatively small units of the manufacturing process.


A method of conducting single-piece flow, where the operator proceeds form machine to machine, taking the part form one machine and loading it into the next.


Machine Cycle Time

The time it takes for a machine to produce one unit.

Machine Work

Work that is done by a machine/ people.

Manufacturing Resources Planning (MRP II)

A second generation MRP system that provides additional control linkages such as automatic purchase order generation, capacity planning, and accounts payable transactions.

Master Black Belt

Master Black Belts are Six Sigma Quality experts that are responsible for the strategic implementations within an organization.

Material Requirements Planning (MRP)

A computerized information system that calculates materials requirements based on a master production schedule.

Mistake Proofing
Any change to an operation that helps the operator reduce or eliminate mistakes.

Mixed Model Production

Capability to produce a variety of models, that in fact differ in labor and material content, on the same production line.


Japanese term for industrial engineering.


Any design, scheduling or production technology with scale requirements necessitating that designs, orders and products be brought to the machine to wait in queue for processing. The opposite of a right-sized machine.

Anything that interrupts the flow of products and services through the value stream and out to the customer is designated Muda ­ or waste.

Multi Machine Handling

When a machine operator is running more than one machine of a certain type.

Multi Process Handling

When a machine operator is doing tasks for multiple processes sequentially, and this is contributing to the flow of material.

Multi Tasking

Breaking into one activity before it is complete to move onto at least one other task before returning complete the original task.


Variations and variability in work method or the output of a process.


Exertion, overworking (a person or machine), unreasonableness.


Non-Value Added
Activities or actions taken that add no real value to the product or service making such activities or action a form of waste.


Accomplishing more than one task in one motion or function. Japanese for 'while doing something'.

Nagara System

A production system where seemingly unrelated tasks can be produced by the same operator simultaneously.

Negative Branch (Nbr)

Ideas or solutions greeted with negative responses or concerns.


The art of invisibility


Obstacle (Obs)

Any significant thing that will block the achievement of an ambitious target or an injection.

One Piece Flow

Producing one unit at a time, as opposed to producing in large lots. (From Advanced Manufacturing)

One-Touch Exchange of Dies (OTED)

The reduction of die set-up where die setting is reduced to a single step.

Open Room Effect

This common practice in Japanese offices involves taking down the walls and cubicles of an office and laying all of the desks out into one big 'open room'.

Operator Cycle Time

The time it takes for a worker or machine operator to complete a sequence of operations, including loading and unloading, but not including waiting time.

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)

Calculated as Availability x Performance x Quality to determine how much of the time a piece of equipment is being used while it is actually making good part at an appropriate speed.

Operating Expenses
The money required the system to convert inventory into throughput.

Producing more, sooner or faster than is required by the next process.



A device or technique use to set the pace of production and maintain takt time.


A bar chart that displays by frequency, in descending order, the most important defects.


Any series of linked (dependent) tasks in a project plan. (From Goldratt

PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act)

•  PLAN: Senior management should use the visioning process in the context of it Business Plan. HP translates the Business Plans to action plans, meaningful to all levels of the organization.

•  DO: Answer the what, how, and who for the total number of tiers for your organization; remember the fewer the number of tiers, the better. Also, this is the time to bring management together and provide them with a basic understanding of HP mechanics.

•  CHECK: On a periodic basis, review the measurements and note what's been learned that can help in the future.

•  ACT: Make the necessary adjustments to plans and priorities in order to ensure the success of the strategy breakthroughs.

Performance Management

Using a set of tools and approaches to measure, improve, monitor and sustain the key indicators of a business.


Project Resource Evaluation Technique

Physical Transformation

The task of taking a specific product from raw materials to a finished product in the hands of the customer.


The pace and flow of a product.

Point of Use

Keeping all items needed for the job at the location of use in a neat and organized manner.

Policy Deployment

The selection of goals, projects to achieve the goals, designation of people and resources for project completion, and establishment of project metrics.


Product Quantity Process Routing Analysis. The PQ (Product Quantity) refers to Pareto analysis to determine the 80/20 rule of the top products or services that make up 80% of work volume. The PR (Process Routing) refers to the Parts-Process Matrix analysis to determine product families by grouping of products with similar process flows.

Prerequisite Tree (TrT)

The TOC thinking process used to break the injections needed in the solution down into smaller logical steps.

Problem Solving Task

The task of taking a specific product from concept through detailed design and engineering to production launch.

Always optimizing value-added activities and eliminating waste.

A mistake-proofing device or procedure to prevent a defect during order taking or manufacture. An order-taking example is a screen for order input developed from traditional ordering patterns that question orders falling outside the pattern. The suspect orders are then examined, often leading to the discovery of inputing errors or buying based on misinformation. A manufacturing example is a set of photocells in parts containers along an assembly line to prevent components from progressing to the next stage with missing parts. Sometimes called a baka-yok.

The flow of material in time and space. The accumulation of sub-processes or operations that transform material from raw material to finished product.

Process Capacity

A chart primarily used in machining processes that compares set-up and machine load times to available capacity.

Process Hierarchy

A hierarchical decomposition from core business processes to the task level.

Process Kaizen
Improvements made at an individual process or in a specific area. Sometimes called 'Point Kaizen'.

Process Segment

A series of activities that define a subset of a process.

Processing Time
The time a product is actually being worked on in a machine or work area.

Product Delivery Process

The stream of activities required to produce a product or service.

Production Preparation Process (3P)

The production preparation process is a tool used for designing lean manufacturing environments. It is a highly disciplined, standardized model. 3P results in the development of an improved production process where low waste levels are achieved at low capital cost.

Production Smoothing

Keeping total manufacturing volume as constant as possible.

Project Buffer

The time buffer placed at the end of the critical chain to protect the customer from the fluctuations and disruptions that occur in the Critical Chain. Sometimes called Critical Chain Completion Buffer (CCCB).

Protective Capacity

Protective capacity describes the amount of installed capacity that is necessary to overcome disruptions.

Pull System
Pull is a system of cascading production and delivery instructions from downstream to upstream activities, in which the upstream supplier waits until the downstream customer signals a need. A pull system means producing only what has been consumed by downstream activities or customers, linking accurate information with the process to minimize waiting and overproduction.

Push System
In contrast to the pull system, product is pushed into a process, regardless of whether it is needed. The pushed product goes into inventory, and lacking a pull signal from the customer indicating that it has been bought; more of the same product could be overproduced and put in inventory.


QCD (Quality, Cost, and Delivery)

Key customer satisfaction metrics that determine if a company is competitive.

QCDSM (Quality, Cost, Delivery, Safety & Morale)

A set of performance management measures that includes employee satisfaction (safety & morale) as well as customer satisfaction.


Meeting expectation and requirements, stated and un-stated, of the customer.

Quality Function Deployment (QFD)
A visual decision-making procedure for multi-skilled project teams which develops a common understanding of the voice of the customer and a consensus on the final engineering specifications of the product that has the commitment of the entire team. QFD integrates the perspectives of team members from different disciplines, ensures that their efforts are focused on resolving key trade-offs in a consistent manner against measurable performance targets for the product, and deploys these decisions through successive levels of detail. The use of QFD eliminates expensive backflows and rework as projects near launch.

Quick Changeover
The ability to change tooling and fixtures rapidly (usually minutes), so multiple products can be run on the same machine.

Queue Time
The time a product spends in a line awaiting the next design, order processing, or fabrication step.

Quick Changeover

The ability to change tooling and fixtures rapidly (usually minutes), so multiple products can be run on the same machine.

Quick Response Manufacturing (QRM)

A methodology and system allowing rapid response to changing customer requirements.


Real Value

Attributes and features of a product or service that, in the eyes of customers, are worth paying for.

The engine that drives Time-Based Competition. To gain speed, firms must apply the principles of reengineering to rethink and redesign every process and move it closer to the customer.

Resource Activation

Using a resource regardless of whether throughput is increased.

Resource Utilization
Using a resource in a way that increases throughput.



The act of cleaning the work area.


A Japanese management practice taken from the Japanese words "sei", which means manufacturing, and "ban", which means number. A Seiban number is assigned to all parts, materials, and purchase orders associated with a particular customer job, or with a project, or anything else. This enables a manufacturer to track everything related with a particular product, project, or customer.


Seijaku (quietude) is a principle that emphasizes the fundamental Zen theme of emptiness, which implies an inexhaustible spirit. It is in states of active calm, tranquility, solitude, and quietude that we find the very essence of creative energy. Silent pauses in music, dance and theater, blank spaces in paintings, the use of negative space in graphic design all illustrate the power of seijaku.

An outside master or teacher that assists in implementing lean practices.

Sequential Changeover
Also sequential set-up. When changeover times are within Takt time, changeovers can be performed one after another in a flow line. Sequential changeover assures that the lost time for each process in the line is minimized to one Takt beat. A set-up team or expert follows the operator, so that by the time the operator has made one round of the flow line (at Takt time), it has been completely changed over to the next product.

Set Up Reduction

Reducing the amount of time a machine or a process is down during changeover from the last good piece to the first good piece of the next product.

Seven Wastes
There are 7 types of waste that describe all wasteful activity in a production environment. Elimination of the 7 wastes leads to improved profits. The 7 wastes are 1) Overproduction, 2) Transportation, 3) Motion, 4) Waiting, 5) Processing, 6) Inventory, and 7) Defects.


With roots in the Zen aesthetic ideals of art, architecture and gardening, it has no direct translation in English, but has come to denote those things that display in paradox and all at once the very best of everything and nothing: elegant simplicity. Effortless effectiveness. Understated excellence. Beautiful imperfection.


Shizen (naturalness) is a principle that seeks to achieve a balance between at once being of nature, yet distinct from it—to be viewed as being without pretense, without artifice, not forced, yet to be revealed as intentional rather than accidental or haphazard. For example, high-traffic intersections in Holland have been artfully redesigned to be void of traffic controls, resulting in naturally self-organizing order, fewer accidents and better vehicle flow.


Continually optimizing the number of workers in a work center to meet the type and volume of demand imposed on the work center.


The leader of the team whose job is to design and engineer a new product and it into production.


Screening through unnecessary materials and simplifying the work environment.


3D technique used to balance the line.

Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED)
A series of techniques designed for changeovers of production machinery in less than ten minutes. Obviously, the long-term objective is always Zero Setup, in which changeovers are instantaneous and do not interfere in any way with continuous flow.

Single-Piece Flow
A situation in which products proceed, one complete product at a time, through various operations in design, order taking, and production, without interruptions, backflows, or scrap.

Six Sigma

A methodology and set of tools used to improve quality to than 3.4 defects per million or better.


Organizing essential materials.

These involve comparison with accepted norms, such as are set by regulatory bodies.

Standard Work
A precise description of each work activity specifying cycle time, takt time, the work sequence of specific tasks, and the minimum inventory of parts on hand needed to conduct the activity.

Standard Work Combination Sheet (SWCS)

Shows the work sequence, takt time, standard working process, and layout of the cell or workstation.

Standard Work Sheet (SWS)

Shows the work sequence, takt time, standard working process, and layout of the cell or workstation.

Statistical Fluctuations

Information that cannot be precisely predicted.

Strategic Planning

Developing short and long-term competitive strategies using tools such as SWOT Analysis to assess the current situation, develop missions and goals, and create an implementation plan.

Student Syndrome

One of the common behaviours in a project that lead to tasks being later than they need be.

System Kaizen
Improvement aimed at an entire value stream.

A condition where gains made in one activity are offset by losses in another activity or activities, created by the same actions crating gains in the first activity.

Sunk Cost

Any expenditure that has already taken place and can not be undone.


A tool of the pull system that helps signal demand for the product. In a supermarket, a fixed amount of raw material, work in process, or finished material is kept as a buffer to schedule variability or an incapable process.


The continuation of sifting, sweeping, sorting and sanitizing.

Collecting nonessential goods and removing them from the work area.


The bringing together of materials information and anything else needed in a coordinated manner such that no part is waiting long for another


Takt Time
The available production time divided by the rate of customer demand. For example, if customers demand 240 widgets per day and the factory operations 480 minutes per day, takt time is two minutes; if customers want two new products designed per month, takt time is two weeks. Takt time sets the pace of production to match the rate of customer demand and becomes the heartbeat of any lean system.

Target Costing

A way of establishing a cost goal for a product or service in the design phase.


Japanese for 'hands-free'. The goal of tebanare is to use low cost automation on manual machines to allow people to do work that is more valuable that only a person can do.


A proposal, proposition, or suggestion. A teian system can be likened to a system which allows and encourages workers to actively propose process and product improvements.

Theory of Constraints
A lean management philosophy that stresses removal of constraints to increase throughput while decreasing inventory and operating expenses.


The rate the system generates money through sales.

Throughput Time
The time required for a product to proceed from concept to launch, order to delivery, or raw materials into the hands of the customer. This includes both processing and queue time.

Time Buffer

A key part of the TOC applications that protects against disruptions

Time-Based Strategy

Driving improvement activity through focus on time and its relation to quality, cost, delivery, safety, and morale.

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)
A series of methods originally pioneered to ensure that every machine in a production process is always able to perform its required tasks so that production is never interrupted.

Toyota Production System (TPS)

A methodology that resulted from over 50 years of Kaizen at Toyota. TPS is built on a foundation of Leveling, with the supporting pillars of Just-in-Time and Jidoka.

Transition Tree (TrT)

A TOC process used to construct the actions needed to achieve an intermediate objective.


A way to keep product flow continuous even when there are interruptions such as outside processing or batch operations.

Two-Bin System

An example of both visual management and the pull system, whereby two bins or containers are used trigger reorder of parts or materials.


UnDesirable Effects(UDE)

These are the negative things the problems that are visible and caused by the thing (Core Problem) that must be changed.


A capability provided to a customer at the right time at an appropriate price, as defined in each case by the customer.

Value-Added Analysis
With this activity, a process improvement team strips the process down to it essential elements. The team isolates the activities that in the eyes of the customer actually add value to the product or service. The remaining non-value adding activities (waste) are targeted for extinction.

Value Chain
Activities outside of your organization, that add value to your final product, such as the value adding activities of your suppliers.

Value Engineering

Optimizing products or processes to improve value to the customer.

Value Stream
The specific activities required to design, order and provide a specific product, from concept to launch, order to delivery, and raw materials into the hands of the customer.

Value Stream Mapping
Highlights the sources of waste and eliminates them by implementing a future state value stream that can become reality within a short time.

Value-Added Work

Work that the customer is willing to pay for. A transformation of the shape or function of the material/information in a way that the customer will pay for.

Vertical Handling

When tasks are assigned in such a way that the materials processes are being progressively worked towards completion, this is vertical handling. This in contrast to horizontal handling which only focuses on the output of a specific process.

Visual Control
The placement in plain view of all tools, parts, production activities, and indicators of production system performance so everyone involved can understand the status of the system at a glance.

Visual Management

Simple visual tools are used to identify the target state, and any deviance is met with corrective action.


Anything that uses resources, but does not add real value to the product or service.

Water Spider

A skilled and well-trained person who makes the rounds supplying parts, assisting with changeover, providing tools and materials.

Work Cell

A logical and productive grouping of machinery, tooling, and personnel which produces a family of similar products.

Work in Progress (WIP)
Product or inventory in various stages of completion throughout the plant, from raw material to completed product.

Work Sequence

The defined steps and activities that need to be performed in order for the work to be completed.


Produced product related to scheduled product.


Yugen (subtlety) is a principle that captures the Zen view that because the human spirit indefinable, the power of suggestion is exalted as the mark of a truly authentic creation. Finiteness is thought to be at odds with nature, implying stagnation, loss of life. The reason the Mona Lisa smile is so seductive and mysterious is because Leonardo da Vinci blurred the corners of her eyes and mouth, a technique he created and called sfumato (smoky).


A bar graph typically showing the balance of workloads as operator cycle times.