Lean thinking is often described as a “journey, not a destination”. In many regards, this is true since the best lean companies have found that their improvement efforts never end. Each set of improvements result in improved bottom-line results but also exposes more opportunity.

Toyota , the company that launched modern lean technology 50 years ago, reportedly says that it is further behind now then when it started. Yet, during the same time, the company has used lean methods to become the most profitable automobile maker in the world, so they certainly have not wasted effort during the last half-century. Rather, the statement is proof that each effort to eliminate waste opens the door to the next increment of improvement.

This journey toward dramatically improved business performance shares three characteristics with more traditional travel. Every journey has a starting point, an objective and a path that connects the two. In order to gain the maximum return on limited resources, organizations must understand and optimize these three essential characteristics.

Lean Certification, a service offered exclusively by R. Michael Donovan & Company, provides a structured way to map a lean journey to minimize waste, false starts and dead-ends. The end result of the certification process is an organization that has an objective assessment of its opportunities, a firm sense of direction, demonstrated results and a plan for continued achievement.