A flat hierarchy, streamlined systems and efficiency from every manager and employee make up a lean optimal organizational structure. A lean organization is focused on and keeps up with changes in competition, customer needs and company profits with the goal of moving products to customers faster and with greater flexibility than competitors.

Making Lean Progress

Ideally, a lean organization provides perfect value to customers without wasting any time, space, money or resources, according to the Lean Enterprise Institute. A lean organization scientifically implements change. For example, a plan might call for merging two steps of a process into one to improve the flow of moving a product from company to customer. In a lean structure, the company would make the change, check the results and then make adjustments to improve the process to make it even smoother.

Thinking Lean

The habit and mindset among executives and managers cultivating a lean organization is to work together to create maximum value for customers. These lean thinkers focus on the customer problems the organization can solve. They assess and create solutions and make sure that every process has someone in charge of continuously making the assigned process more efficient, according to the LEI.

Seeing New Ways

For a business owner or executive, creating a lean organization starts with mapping out the flow of organizational relationships and resources that are involved in creating products and getting them to customers. By looking at where time and money can be saved and waste can be removed, you can make a plan to improve the flow. This sort of bird’s-eye analysis can also reveal where you might reduce the number of employees or management involved in a process or open new pathways to serving your customers with greater value.

Everyone Grows

In a lean organization, waste can be cut and efficiency improved by every executive, manager and employee. Any problem that is recognized is seen as a place to improve, says Bill Willick, a director of lean enterprise for medical device manufacturer Greatbatch, in 2011 article on the IndustryWeek website. With employees in lean organizations, finding and solving waste and efficiency problems becomes part of the company culture.