Top 10 Leans Tools

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Oct 16, 2023

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What is Lean?

If you are looking for a collection of tools and methodologies that could help in increasing the value that is delivered to the customer while minimizing the waste of all sorts, using Lean is the best option. While there is no one definition for this, it is a collection of all those tools and practices which help in delivering the project with maximum velocity and encourage the team to reduce waste by increasing the velocity of the project. 

Six Sigma came in to being in the year 1989. The Six Sigma principles are data-driven, fact-based, and use statistical methods to evaluate the variation in the processes and products. This means it strives to eliminate the defects and produce defect-free and high-quality products. 

The lean principles are used to eliminate the waste in the production such as waiting, over-processing, motion, defects, resources, non utilized talents, excess inventory, and, transportation. Lean Six Sigma is a methodology that is a combination of Lean and Six Sigma principles. It drives to remove waste and to remove the variations in the products, processes, and services.

What are the Lean Tools? 

The lean tools are the tools that evaluate whether the processes are under control, there are no variations, there are no wastages in the processes and helps in lessening the number of iterations, to lessen the cost, lessen the time to market without compromising on the quality with best customer satisfaction results. Lean tools also help to solve the bottlenecks and problems that are encountered in the processes. There are 5 principles of the lean Six Sigma they are as follows,

  • Add Value – The lean principles are used for delivering high-quality products and meet the expectations of the customer by bringing in value to every stage of the processes and in the products.
  • Flow – All the steps in the processes must flow seamlessly without any interruptions or delays.
  • Value Stream – All the steps in the processes are mapped and produce valuable products
  • Perfection – Make the cultural change in the organization by lean thinking
  • Pull – The products are made in "Just-In-Time" methods so there are no lead time as well as excess inventory.

 Benefits of Using Lean Tools 

The lean methodology tools strives to improve efficiency, reduce waste, and increase productivity.

  1. High product quality – Quality control and innovation are used to produce higher quality products.
  2. Less time to market – It reduces and eliminates the waste because of over inventory, lead time, and overheads.
  3. Employee satisfaction – Due to the reduction in the number of iterations, waste in motion and increase in productivity the employees are happy.
  4. Sustainability – As a result of a reduction in waste, better and meaner processes the business do well in the future.
  5. High customer satisfaction – When better processes and better products are achieved the customer expectations are met.
  6. Increase in Profits – Finally, due to seamless production there is an increase in profits for the organization

Top 10 lean tools

1. The 5 Why’s –This is one of the important and basic tools in lean Six Sigma. This is used in finding the Root Cause Analyses of each problem. It can be done like this,

  1. Write down the problem statement
  2. Ask the first why - Why the problem occurred in first place
  3. If this is not the root cause of the problem then ask another why.
  4. Repeat the steps 5 times. The last one will be the cause of the problem.
  5. You can go beyond 5 why’s however usually most of the cause of the problem would get right root cause by 5 why’s

2. The regression analysis – It is a statistical tool for understanding and estimating the relationship between the output variable and the input variables.

It is used to define the relationship that exists between the output variable y for the given input variables X1, X2, X3...etc.

By doing this analysis we can figure out the deviance from the standard patterns and the patterns which emerge out of the workflow.

3. The value stream mapping -The value stream maps are used to improve and optimize the flow of materials and processes in the organization 

Three things are identified by the value stream mapping they are as follows,

  • Non-value adding work
  • Value-adding work
  • Value enabling work

The uses of value stream maps are to eliminate the non-value adding work in the processes so that the processes are highly streamlined

4. The 5S system –Here 5S represents Seiri – Seiton – Seiso – Seiketsu – Shitsuke as written in Japanese. This system is used to eliminate waste because of poor tools and poor equipment.

  • Seiri (Sort) – This encourages us to remove unnecessary waste from the production system leaving only the required ones.
  • Seiton (Set in Order) – Organize the remaining things and put a label on them accordingly
  • Seiso (Shine) – Keep the work area clean and tidy
  • Seiketsu (Standardize) – Make the standards for the Sort, Set in order, and Shine in the organization.
  • Shitsuke (Sustain) – Apply the standards in the entire organization and make this a habit for everyone

5. Failure Mode Effect Analysis –FMEA as it is called eliminates the failure modes and causes and effects of the components, assemblies, and sub-assemblies. They improve the quality of the processes and products and identify defects even before they fail.

6. Pareto Chart -Pareto chart is one of the lean tools used to display differences between the groups of data graphically.

The x-axis symbolize groups of the response variable in bars, and y-axis symbolize the defect frequency that is the cumulative percentage

It is based on the Pareto principle which states that there are 20 % causes for 80% of the problems in the organization.

7. Kaizen –Kaizen means continuous improvement and it is again written in Japanese language. It encourages that all the managers and employees of the organization practice Kaizen daily.  It is the process of identifying, observing, and doing incremental changes in the organization.

8. Poka-Yoke - It is a Japanese phrase that means mistake-proofing. It is a process of identifying eliminating the causes of humans errors in production. For examples - Putting safety brakes on the mobile vehicles to avoid accidents or making changes to the phrases on the buttons of the machines so that it is clear to the workers 

9. Cause and Effect Diagram –It is also called a fishbone diagram because of its appearance. It is a graphical tool to find out the list of causes due to a specific effect. It is also called an Ishikawa diagram based on the founder Dr. Laoru Ishikawa. It is used to list down the causes into particular categories in a graphical way. The categories can be divided into Man, Machine, Materials, Mother Nature, Measurement, and Machine, or it is also called 6 M’s.

Cause and Effect Diagram

10. Process Control Charts -This chart is used to identify how the process behaves to time. The middle line represents the median and the upper line is the upper control limit and the lower line is the lower control limit. Now the data points are plotted over the time order in this chart.


Lean tools are used in almost all industries whether it is manufacturing, retail, Information technology, digital, software, etc. To more about the usage of these tools and find real-time examples, enroll now for the Green Belt Certification with StarAgile. StarAgile provides online training in lean Six Sigma and many other management techniques. Also, StarAgile is a partner with the Project Management Institute and SAFe and provides various training such as Project Management and Product Owner certifications. 


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