Lean Systems

A lean system is a system designed to eliminate wastages and maximize value and efficiency in production. Key objectives of the lean system include; minimized costs associated with inventory and production, reduced lead time, and enhanced efficiency. Consequently, from the functionalities of the lean system, the organizations are expected to enjoy enhanced customer satisfaction and profit, market coverage, and profitability (Lean Systems, 2020).  The system applies social, technical, and ergonomic factors to enhance work outcomes.

The lean system builds a philosophy aimed at creating providing leadership and a culture that encourages teamwork to achieve operational efficiency.  Interestingly, lean systems operate on socio-technical philosophies that may pose negative effects on the organization as it strives towards operational excellence. Lean production systems advocate for vertical integration and division of labor that may bring bureaucracy to management and decision-making. Secondly, the lean system relies on technical and social systems (Lean Systems, 2020). Vertical integration does not encourage teamwork and unity of purpose and may make it difficult to achieve operational objectives. The social factors vary from organization to organization and cannot be standardized. Evaluation of systems based on social constructs may be misleading, and this may make it difficult to develop the right mindset for problem-solving and achievement of organizational goals with respect to operational efficiency (Abdullah, 2016).


Socio-technical philosophy in the lean system does not give strategic focus to the organization’s overall operational direction. The philosophy focuses on tactical approaches. Lack of clear directions makes it difficult to achieve operational efficiency (Abdullah, 2016).  For an organization adopting the lean system for the first time, the process of having the right mix of the social and technical base is very costly. There is a need for a complete change in the setup and systems used in production.  

Lean systems are very dependent on the supplier’s technical capabilities. An organization’s ability to satisfy demand is highly affected by socio-technical network and supply chain disruptions that may cause serious delays and customer dissatisfaction. Ineffective communication network with suppliers and the market may cause serious operational lapses. The heavy reliance on technology for automation presents a potential operational challenge, especially when an organization is unable to put into place the right technology. Inappropriate technology may lead to erroneous inventory control and supplies delivery. This may have a negative impact on the operational efficiency of the firm (Tortorella, 2016). 

Lean systems provide very limited room for error. Incidences of labor failure equipment can cause significant inconsistencies, leading to the failure of the entire operation. Other production systems provide room for employees to shift from one machine to another during a breakdown. However, the lean system does not provide room shifting because every aspect of the operation is utilized. Besides, the machine breakdown has to be fixed within the shortest time possible as there is no alternative resource that completes the work. As such, a lean production system calls for everyone to stay on all machine inspections and maintenance (Abdullah, 2016). Besides the equipment failure, the lean production system can as well cause inconsistencies in delivery. Using the lead approach implies that the error margin is smaller. Delay in delivery implies that less raw material is available to meet the customer demands, translating to late deliveries.  The disadvantage is that it might push customers to the competitor.

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Abdullah, K. (2016). Integration of Lean Organization and Social-Technical System. EPRA International Journal of economic and Business Review, 4(6), 69-76.

Lean Systems. (, 2020). Lean Transformation, Systems, and Leadership. Stonegate: Lean Systems.

Tortorella, G. L. (2016). Lean manufacturing and socio-technical and ergonomics practices implementation. Proceedings of the 2016 International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Operations Management, 23-25.