skip to Main Content

Lean Management vs Lean Manufacturing: what are the differences?

Lean Management Vs Lean Manufacturing: What Are The Differences?

The term Lean is often used when talking about continuous improvement, and this generally refers to a Lean approach or process. Moreover, it is often referred to as Lean Management or Lean Manufacturing, but what does this mean?

The Lean approach was born with Toyota and the famous TPS and Lean Manufacturing aimed at minimizing losses and maximizing added value for the customer. This approach was then exported to all types of companies in AGILE mode, allowing the improvement of the competitiveness of companies and demonstrating that it could represent an essential value for the survival of companies.

With the massive deployment in companies of Lean Manufacturing, which has become very popular, Lean Management was born.

What is the difference between these two approaches? That is what we’ll look at in detail today

What does the concept of Lean mean?

If we explain the basic principle of the Lean methodology, it is to do more with less to evaluate all work processes, while answering the following seven questions for each process analyzed:

  • WHAT: What is the problem?
  • WHEN: When is it detected?
  • WHERE: Where is it detected?
  • WHO: Who is affected?
  • WHY: Why is it happening?
  • HOW: How is the problem distinguishable?
  • HOW MUCH: How often does it happen?

In this way, work processes are refined, ridding them of elements that add unnecessary burdens in terms of resources or time. At the same time, workers can focus on contributing truly productive work to the value chain.

The Lean approach may seem long and tedious to implement because it is based on the empowerment of the various players, it requires a great deal of training (technical and methodological), as well as the implementation of routines and tools, both from an organizational and managerial point of view.

Lean is a system, a philosophy, but also a set of tools and methods.

This is the basis of the Lean philosophy and there are many differences between Lean Manufacturing and Lean Management.

Lean Manufacturing definition :

The term “Lean Manufacturing” first appeared in the 1970s with the book “The Machine That Changed the World” by authors Womack, Jones and Ross. This book, which later became one of the best-selling books in the world, was the first to bring the Toyota Lean TPS system to the forefront by contrasting two types of production in companies, Lean production and mass production.

Lean Manufacturing also called Lean production is a work organization approach focused on improving the production system by eliminating activities that do not add value to the process or to customers.

These wastes also called MUDA refer to tasks and processes leading to :

  • Overproduction
  • High production times
  • Product defects

Lean Manufacturing techniques are based on fundamental principles and techniques to make production processes more efficient and flexible such as : 

  • value-added,
  • the pull system,
  • the pull system or
  • lead time reduction

Lean Manufacturing is therefore mainly concerned with the operational aspects of the company, i.e. the production and transformation activities that are necessary to create value for the company and for the customer.

But what are the differences with Lean Management ?

Lean Management definition :

As mentioned above, Lean Management has its roots in Lean Manufacturing since it was born afterwards. Moreover, some theorists claim that Lean Management is an extension of Lean Manufacturing outside the purely productive aspect.

The aim of Lean Management is to lighten management processes by eliminating the least useful tasks (those that do not produce direct value) by returning to a Leaner management to remain more productive.

Lean Management concerns all of the company’s activities:

  • production,
  • research and development
  • logistics
  • purchasing
  • finance, etc.

Lean Management implies a global vision of the company and a reflection on the decision-making and management processes that allow the company’s performance to be improved by reducing waste and errors, increasing quality and productivity, and developing the satisfaction and involvement of employees. Lean Management Vs Lean Manufacturing includes a human dimension that is not in Lean Manufacturing. Management and managers must be involved.

Lean Management offers many benefits:

  • Concentration: by reducing waste in the company’s activity, the work force is concentrated on tasks that add value.
  • Improved productivity and efficiency: employees who are focused on delivering value are more productive and efficient because they are not distracted by unclear tasks.
  • Smarter process (flow control method): implementing a flow control method allows work to be delivered only when there is a real demand and therefore better use of resources.
  • Better use of resources: when production is based on effective demand, only the necessary resources are used, the others can be allocated to other high-value tasks.

Lean Management VS Lean Manufacturing: the differences

As we have seen, customer satisfaction is central to Lean Management systems. However, there are some differences between Lean Manufacturing and Lean Management.

The main difference lies in the area of operation of these two approaches.

To summarize, Lean Manufacturing is located around the production line and aims to optimize production methods. It is therefore aimed at operational staff and workers. Lean Manufacturing optimization improves production capacity.

Whereas Lean Management is positioned in the managerial areas. It is mainly aimed at managers and the executive committee. The role of Lean Management optimization is therefore to optimize the commercial strategy and to make the company’s management methods more fluid.

In conclusion: Lean Manufacturing is mainly focused on production, whereas Lean Management allows the optimization of the commercial strategy and the related management methods.

Lean Management is based on the principles of Lean Manufacturing, but extends them to the whole company and aims to improve overall performance.

SNECI and Lean for improving industrial and commercial performance:

With 70 years of experience in improving industrial performance, with strong roots in the automotive, defense, health, rail, luxury and energy sectors, and with more than 450 experts worldwide in more than 50 countries, SNECI supports manufacturers and suppliers in implementing a Lean approach to increase their productivity and profitability.

Whether it is Lean Manufacturing or Lean Management, our experts accompany you in the detailed analysis of the different stages that make up your production process and then we set up a convergence plan to help you eliminate all the waste identified throughout the manufacturing process in order to be more efficient and more profitable, but above all more competitive on an international level, without forgetting to involve the workforce.

Our approach is based on the 7 main categories of waste identified:

  • Overproduction
  • Unnecessary processing or steps in the manufacturing process
  • Overstock and unnecessary inventory
  • Unnecessary operations and movements
  • Waiting times
  • Unnecessary transport and travel
  • Errors, defects and scrap, as well as underutilization of skills

We help you to implement Poka-Yoke, PDCA, Muda, Jidoka, 5S, KATA, DMAIC, Hoshin Kanri and many others … to optimize your production and gain value.

If you would like one of our industrial project managers to help you improve your processes for greater profitability (saving time, money and efficiency), send an email to Laura who will reply within 24hrs to arrange a meeting at or directly via the contact tab on our website.


Back To Top