Chapter 17. Applying Lean Principles to Projects

Rod Pipinich, Ph.D., P.E., is a Lean/Six Sigma Black Belt, principal operations engineer at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, and an adjunct associate professor of mechanical engineering at Southern Methodist University.

Rod Pipinich


Lean manufacturing has been embraced by companies such as General Electric, Dell, and Toyota because of its indisputable ability to shorten lead times, cut waste from operations, and improve customer responsiveness—all of which translate into increased profitability. Compared to the outdated mass production approach, Lean organizations require less human effort to design, produce, and service products; they require less inventory and investment per unit of output or amount of capacity; and they are better suited to cost-effectively produce low-volume, high-variety products.

This chapter provides a high-level introduction to Lean and demonstrates how even a cursory understanding of Lean principles can be a catalyst for project managers to view their projects and their products in a new way—with increased value to the customer as a result.

Lean manufacturing has become so pervasive in industry that companies that fail to effectively practice Lean fundamentals suffer a competitive disadvantage. The longevity of the movement has proven that Lean is more than a fad. Although the concept of Lean thinking originated in manufacturing, the principles, practices, and tools that comprise Lean are universal ...

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