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When people think of creativity, Lean is often not the first thing that comes to mind. Many people tend to associate Lean with structured methodical ways of doing things, while creativity is all about thinking outside the box and doing things that haven’t been done before. But what if we told you that Lean is not the opposite of creativity. In fact, it can inspire creativity and foster innovation.

To establish an innovative workplace, it is important to blend creativity and efficiency in the right ratio.  After all, creativity without direction yields no results and improving efficiency without innovation can put your business at risk of losing competitive advantage.

So how can Lean principles inspire creativity and help your organization stay competitive?

1. By fostering collaboration: Lean aims to establish a culture that encourages people to work and solve problems in teams. This means brainstorming, team goals, and team-based training are all essential parts of a Lean organization. As people are the main source of inspiration, collaboration allows people to share and form ideas, which facilitates innovation.

2. By removing non-value-added activities from the creative process: Even creative people have to deal with searching for files, waiting, and following up with a team member. Applying Lean principles can help your organization eliminate non-value-added tasks and allocate more time to thinking creative thoughts.

3. By making progress visual: Visual controls are the lifeblood of Lean. Lean creates a visual workplace that helps visualize the performance of a process for everyone in the organization to see. For example, when putting huddle boards on the wall with post-it notes that represent opportunities for improvement, teams gather around them, often on a daily basis, to receive feedback and list out ideas and problems. This is a great way to promote creativity and establish joint commitment towards your organization’s goals and its creative process.

4. By encouraging customer feedback: Lean drives innovation by encouraging businesses to understand value in the eye of the customer and focus on what derives the greatest value. To understand what customers want, Lean organizations engage directly with customers. This often results in a wealth of new ideas that hadn’t been considered before. It breeds innovation as a natural by-product as organizations can take what they learned and incorporate it into their new development process.

The very foundation of Lean lies in building a workplace that allows people to collaborate and get better at doing what truly matters. A great example of how Lean and innovation coexist is Pixar, who has created a set of processes that emphasizes team-based collaboration and feedback loops to help overcome creative roadblocks and track progress.

How We Can Help

Propel Solutions specializes in business transformation through Lean Process Improvement Methodology. With our extensive experience working with innovative clients, let our team of Lean-certified consultants help you foster innovation and instill a culture of collaboration. Get in touch today using the form below.