The word is used in two senses in lean thinking:

(1) In the context of industrial lean production, value consists of the potential benefits the customer gets when she buys from a company (they are only “potential” because what she actually does with what she has bought is another matter). So value is . . .

A capability provided to a customer at the right time at an appropriate price, as defined in each case by the customer.V1

In the application of lean thinking to the local Lean Economy, value is what makes most sense for the people who live there; what they have decided, for now, to achieve.


(2) The Value Stream: When the “value” has been decided in lean production, the “value stream” is the series of things that need to be done to achieve it. It does not include the things that don’t need to be done, and that is not a redundant statement, because most actual organisations waste most of their effort on activities that are not actually needed—on unnecessary paperwork, for instance.

The definition in the literature is:

The specific activities required to design, order, and provide a specific product, from concept to launch, order to delivery, and raw materials into the hands of the customer.V2

Rule 2 in lean thinking is to identify the elements which comprise this value—the “value stream”. In Lean Logic, it is called lean means.


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David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was a cultural historian and economist, based in London, England. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a pioneer of post-growth economics, and a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, 'Lean Logic' and 'Surviving the Future', published posthumously in 2016. These in turn inspired the 2020 launches of both BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong's feature film about Fleming's perspective and legacy - 'The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?' - and Sterling College's unique 'Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time' online courses. For more information on all of the above, including Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

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