Most security practitioners have heard the word lean in its most common context of Lean Manufacturing or Lean Production — a set of principles for improving product quality while lowering cost and production time. The term Lean Manufacturing evolved from the Toyota Production System (TPS), which is an adaptation of Total Quality Management (TQM), continuous process improvement, or Kaizen, and a number of other principles focused at reducing costs, improving quality, reduction of rework and speeding up cycle.
The growth of Toyota from a small company to the world’s largest automaker is directly attributable to its thorough application of quality principles. As one would expect, Toyota’s success has generated tremendous interest in these methods, which have been captured in methodologies such as Six Sigma, Continuous Process Improvement, and Least Waste Way, as well as Lean Manufacturing. The 1996 book “Lean Thinking” popularized lean principles by presenting the case studies of a number of well-known firms who transformed their production capabilities and enhanced profitability by the application of lean principles. One of the key elements of Lean focuses on “design for manufacturability,” which involves designing products properly from the beginning to reduce the complexity of manufacturing the product.
Originally known as the Toyota Production Method, over 60 years Toyota’s application of process improvement has evolved beyond manufacturing and is now referred to as the Toyota Business System (TBS). The business processes of any administrative, production or service activity can be significantly improved using lean concepts. Lean is a way of improving critical business processes that impact customer satisfaction and operational excellence. Thus, the outstanding results that many companies have achieved applying Lean Manufacturing have inspired additional applications of lean including those now known as Lean Healthcare, Lean Laboratory, Lean Software Development, Lean Government, Lean Office and finally Lean Enterprise.
What might surprise you is that Toyota’s success can actually be traced back to the efforts of two American quality gurus — Joseph Juran and W. Edwards Deming — who were brought to post-war Japan by General Douglas MacArthur to assist the Japanese in rebuilding their economy through teaching the virtues of TQM.
Lean is the systematic elimination of waste from all aspects of an organization’s administration and operations, where waste is viewed as any application or loss of resources that does not lead directly to value that is important to the customer. That means both what the customer wants and when the customer wants it.
Lean principles contain perspectives and tools that can be of tremendous use in increasing the value that security managers and executives provide to their organizations. This is especially important today, when the pace of organizational change is high, and when the local and global economic, social and legislative environments in which companies operate can change drastically almost overnight. Such changes heavily impact the risk picture. Security management and security operations must be ready to provide the kind of security controls and responses that their organizations need, when they need them.
This is the challenge of today’s security leadership. It requires a high degree of business alignment, and a high capability to adapt and adjust the security function as security risks change. At the same time, it is important to not lose sight of the fundamentals when designing or redesigning security processes:
• Focus on processes and measurements
• Focus on continuous improvement
• Create “lean” organizational structures and polices
• Value people
• Plan – Do – Check – Act
This article introduces the concepts of Lean Security and Lean Security Operations and provides real-life examples of applying lean principles to the security function. There are a few key differences between applying lean to security and to manufacturing; these are important to know especially if your company has already been (or is about to be) applying Lean Manufacturing. Two examples follow.