The idea of “lean management” can refer to both individual managerial behaviors and, more in general, the set of principles and practices characterizing the adoption of lean thinking in an organization.
In the first case, lean management is closer in meaning to the idea of “lean leadership” and entails the development of behaviors that foster continuous improvement at the front line, such as respect for people, asking questions (rather than providing answers), going to see to really understand the work and the causes of problems, and scientific problem solving. In the second instance, lean management describes the lean philosophy more in general.
In its more general meaning, lean management – or lean thinking, if you prefer – derives from the Toyota Production System and is now recognized as a superior management approach that, through continuous improvement, customer focus, teamwork and relentless people engagement, leads to great results in terms of quality, performance, delivery, and cost. The promise of lean management is to create the most value for customers using the least possible amount of resources. As an approach to running a business, it brings benefits to all parties involved, from customers to employees, suppliers to wider society.