Lean is not a perfect place void of any waste. It is not a place at all; it is a process. That process serves as a systemic driver of continuous improvement. That process is known as “one less at a time.” Being Lean does not come about from completing a predefined set of changes. Being Lean means that you are following a formal process that exposes and prioritizes a never ending list of improvement opportunities. 

Lean’s process is known as "one less at a time". It is a systemic driver of continuous improvement. A famous analogy of a ship sailing over rocks in the water is typically associated with Lean. The point of the analogy is that inventory is like water; it hides problems or rocks under the surface. 

Following the "one less at a time" process, we remove just enough kanban-controlled inventory to expose the rocks, that is to identify and prioritize the weak links in our processes. When a weak link is prioritized, we stop lowering the water and begin to use the Rapid Breakthrough Events to correct the root cause of the problem. When the problem is minimized or eliminated, we continue the process of lowering the water again. 

Of course, when dealing with large amounts of waste, we do not literally remove one piece of inventory at a time. In most instances we actually develop a plan to quickly reduce the inventory levels to avoid shocking the system. 



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