J. Womack, D. Jones, and D. Roos introduced the world to Lean thinking with The Machine That Changed the World . They defined the principles of Lean production to include
• Efficient use of resources and elimination of waste;
• Continuous improvement.
Womack and Jones  expand on these principles to emphasize the Lean focus on waste:
• Identify the value stream.
• Implement customer pull.
• Strive for perfection.
These principles align very nicely with TOC by simply aligning value with the company goal. They also align with Six Sigma, but they put more emphasis on the system by focusing on the value stream and emphasize the ideas of customer pull and flow in a way that differs from Six Sigma. The U.S. Navy has defined their synthesis of Lean and Six Sigma as Lean Sigma.
Lean approaches have been finding their way into the world of project management with a delay similar to that experienced by TOC, perhaps in part for one of the same reasons: categorizing Lean as a production approach versus a project-management approach.
W. Dettmer  provides an excellent comparison and contrast of TOC and Lean approaches, concluding, "TOC provides a useful system-level framework for directing lean thinking efforts where they will do the most good (the system constraint) and avoiding the pitfalls of applying them where they will do harm."
Dettmer also identifies some significant advantages to synthesizing Lean and TOC, including the following Lean tools:
• Poka-yoke (mistake-proofing operations);
• Statistical process control;
• Continuous improvement;
• Failure modes and effects analysis for both product and process;
• Cell design (meaning, in this case, establishing work centers around natural work groups);
• Team roles, responsibilities, and rules;
• Graphic work instructions;
• Visual controls;
• Five "Ss." (The "five Ss" are seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke, which roughly translate into English as "sifting," "sorting," "sweeping," "standardizing," and "sustaining." The first three terms refer to general housekeeping in the work cell. The last two terms refer to the self-discipline of workers to make the first three happen and the responsibility of management to see that they do.)
Most of these Lean tools have a direct application to project management, and TOC will help us identify which one to focus on for a particular project system. Dettmer also identifies the primary challenge of synthesizing Lean and TOC as related to two factors of Lean thinking: "Specifically, the overarching emphasis on cost reduction and maximizing local efficiency everywhere in the system needs to be rethought as Lean's focus on improving local optima." Our approach to CCPM builds on the strengths, while avoiding these obstacles.
Was this article helpful?
What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.