Dergi Arşivi

Lean Thinking


In the mid of the 20 th century, a revolution in production had been created in Toyota firms in Japan. In fact, the system that the West did not realize until 1980s has started a new age for industry with its philosophy and techniques. The main contribution of “Toyota Production System” is the tendency to produce at the moment and quality that the clients demanded and thus to eliminate whole unnecessary stocks. The opinion under this production system is analyzed by James Womack, the founder of Lean Enterprise Institution. Then he and his friends gathered this information in the book named “Lean Thinking” which is presented as a system approach open to sharing and replicating.

Lean is not only a production technique but also an approach that can be implemented in a wide range of areas like product development, public services, commerce…etc. In other words, Lean Thinking is the set of principles that have been applied to increase the success and the efficiency of all types of organizations public or private; and in different sectors like production –medicine, aluminum, iron & steel…- or service sectors –hospitals, insurance companies, banks...etc. Moreover, the approach and techniques can be applied efficiently as well as in management, and administrative and commercial work processes.

Although these approach and techniques differ across organizations, the principles of Lean Thinking are universal and they are developed depending on implementations that prove their success and are valid worldwide. “Lean Approach” was known since 1990s in Turkey and the number of its applications increased day by day. Applications that appear as only the use of independent techniques have transformed to a comprehensive system approach in time.

By the effect of economic crisis and opening up to export markets, firms had to change their business methods. Lean Production has entered the curriculum of universities and been subject to thesis of master and doctorate degrees since 1992. Although lean applications provided significant cost savings in individual firms, due to lack of implementation across the whole value chain, these firms could not reap the full potential and the positive effect on the overall economy has been limited.

According to the findings of the research named “Turkey: Making the Productivity and Growth Breakthrough” carried out in 2003 by McKinsey Global Institute, labor productivity of non-agriculture economy in Turkey is 40% of that in the U.S. Even in modern firms that are 2.5 times more productive than the traditional ones, actual labor productivity is 62% of that of the best country in the sector. If this ratio can be increased to 95% level, considering the strong correlation between Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person and labor productivity, it is seen as possible that GDP per person would double in 2015 while employment increases by 30%.

Analyzing the difference between actual and potential yield levels, it is discovered that the most significant share belongs to areas where lean production techniques can ensure significant improvements, for example; management techniques, capacity utilization, supplier relations and product structure. As known, in our country where capital is scarce and has high cost, productivity increase has to be the main motive of growth. At this point, Lean Approach shows how resources can be used in a productive way.

Thus, when saved resources are allocated to areas where they can create more value, the economy will be able to both find extended economic opportunities in the current market and grow towards new markets. In short, Lean Thinking should be the primary business philosophy in Turkey