Five Lean Principles
structured and process-oriented to success

Here you will learn what is behind the Lean principles.

Lean Management Principles

The 5 Lean Principles originate from the Toyota Production System (TPS) by Taiichi Ohno. These principles were first named by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones, who analyzed and scientifically reworked the TPS. Since these are fundamental principles of Lean, they can be found in every manifestation of Lean: Whether construction, production or in 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 origins in the automotive industry. The focus here is on optimizing throughput times and production processes. This example is also the best way to illustrate the principles.

Below we go into more detail about the 5 Lean Principles:

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

Therefore, Taiichi Ohno deduces from the question "What is the customer willing to pay for?" that there is too much waste in the 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 lead to long lead times and large resource consumption appear below. In this way, you discover processes and work steps that do not add value and are unnecessary (e.g. approvals, checks, duplicate work or filing) and can replace them directly. In this way, you reduce waste in activities and processes and increase productivity.

As you do so, ask yourself the following questions:

  • With which activities do we create 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 up to now work processes have been pushed through the process chain without regard to demand and available capacities, in the future they will be pulled upstream starting from the customer. In this way, the subsequent trade requests the performance of the predecessor and the flow of information runs counter to the flow of production.

The idea of the pull principle: The following trades Requests the performance of the predecessor.


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

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

In order to implement the pull principle effectively, the production sequence should be smoothed (Heijunka). The individual process steps must be synchronized so that the sequence of trades can take place smoothly.

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The flow principle is one of the most important principles of Lean. This means a continuous and smoothed production process 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 stops, harmonize production and orient yourself to the value stream, the foundation is laid for flexible, customer-oriented and efficient production control.

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Kaizen, Japanese for continuous improvement, is the last central component of lean thinking and is a repetitive 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, CIP for short.

PDCA cycle

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