Five Lean Principles
structured and process-oriented to success

Here you can find out what is behind the Lean principles.

Lean Management Principles

The 5 Lean Principles originally come from the Toyota Production System (TPS) of Taiichi Ohno. These principles were first called so by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones, who analyzed the TPS and scientifically reviewed it. Since they are fundamental principles of Lean, they can be found in every form of Lean: from construction to manufacturing to general management.


You already know the Lean principles? Then inform yourself about Lean in the construction industry!

The Lean principles put the customer in the center. Thus, one concentrates on the added value of the customer, for example in products, services or features. There is a continuous striving for perfection - with as little waste as possible.

It is important to understand that lean management and the lean principles have their origin in the automotive industry. The optimization of throughput times and production processes is in the foreground. This example is also the best way to illustrate the principles.

In the following we will go into the 5 Lean principles in more detail:

The central aspect of "Lean Thinking" is the identification and fulfilment of customer added value, because in the end it is always the customer who decides how good a process is. Because it is the recipients or buyers of your goods, services and information who can really judge to what extent you deliver the right thing in the right quality, at the right time and in the right form. Therefore, you should constantly question and optimize the fulfillment of these requirements.

Therefore, Taiichi Ohno deduces from the question "What is the customer willing to pay for" that there is too much waste in the value creation process that does not provide the customer with added value. Therefore, his goal was to optimize the entire process between placing the order and receiving the money.

Lean management Customer added value
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Behind this principle is the representation of all work steps that are actually carried out to provide the service. The aim is to develop a common understanding of the value stream and to make the problems hidden in it visible. The problems that currently prevent you from fully covering the customer value or that lead to long lead times and high resource consumption appear below. In this way, you discover processes and work steps that do not add value and are unnecessary (for example, approvals, checks, duplication of work or storage) and can replace them directly. In this way you reduce waste in activities and processes and increase productivity.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • With which activities do we generate added value for our customers?
  • In which processes do we create our products or provide our services?
  • Which units of the organization are involved in the value stream?
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Whereas work processes have so far been pushed through the process chain without regard to demand and available capacities (Push), in future they will be pulled upriver from the customer (Pull). This means that the subsequent work process will demand the performance of its predecessor and the flow of information will run counter to the flow of production.

The idea of the pull principle: The following trade requests the performance of its predecessor.


The pull principle is a concept for material flow and process flow. Here, a process step in a value-added chain should only take place when it is requested by the subsequent step or a customer.

Consequently, in production environments, a customer order triggers the manufacture of a product. In the context of the construction industry, a trade triggers the required input. In this way, considerably fewer resources are tied up and the process can be brought into a continuous flow.

To effectively implement the pull principle, the production sequence should be smoothed (Heijunka). The individual process steps must be synchronized in such a way that the sequence of trades can be carried out smoothly.

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The flow principle is one of the most important principles of Lean. It refers to a continuous and smoothed production flow that avoids the interruptions that exist in many organizations in the form of intermediate storage and buffer stocks. Here you can realize enormous improvement potentials, which have a positive effect on the complete value stream and its efficiency. If you avoid such interruptions, harmonize production and orientate yourself to the value stream, the foundation for a flexible, customer-oriented and efficient control of production is created.

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Kaizen, Japanese for continuous improvement, is the last central component of Lean Thinking and a constantly repeating process that can be supported by the PDCA cycle.

The constant striving for perfection in this context also includes the constant questioning of the previous 4 Lean principles and thus forms a continuous cycle of all principles. This results in a continuous improvement process, or CIP for short.

PDCA cycle

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