Work Simplification Versus Lean

If you are streamlining a user interface or IT process, is it work simplification or lean IT? Trying to answer this question, I found overlaps and differences between the two.


Where Lean and Work Simplification Overlap


To some, lean only means simplification of processes in an operation but not simplifying every motion and action completed at a work station. Lean should involve eliminating unnecessary steps in the production plan and operations as well as streamlining individual steps themselves.


Where Work Simplification and Lean Diverge


Work simplification can overlap with lean engineering, since you’re streamlining operations. However, lean includes eliminating waste, which doesn’t include work simplification. Work simplification, on the other hand, could involve simplifying every step of an assembly process but not reduce the number of steps in the process. And an industrial engineer focused work simplification may not worry about the delays waiting for new parts or improving the quality of the operation beyond mistake proofing.

Work simplification could result in processes so streamlined it leads to wasted idle time or problems upstream or downstream.




If you’re eliminating wasted steps and unnecessary actions, it could easily count as either lean process improvement or work simplification. Reducing waste for the facility itself is obviously lean. In other cases, where do you draw the line between work simplification and lean engineering? Please give your opinion in the comments.