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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Basics of Lean and Six Sigma for the Laboratory. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Five Steps to Lean Thinking

Specify valueThe critical starting point. Define value from the customer's perspective and express value in terms of a specific product.
Map the value streamMap all of the steps that bring a product or service to the customer. In the laboratory, the value stream encompasses all preanalytical, analytical, and postanalytical processes. Include:
  • Value-added-- Activities that are of value to the customer.
  • Value enabling-- Not valued by the customer, but required for the process.
  • Non-value added-- Create no value and are avoidable.
Establish flowThe continuum of product movement, services, and information from beginning (preanalytical) to end (postanalytical). Eliminate batch testing.
Implement pullNothing is done by the upstream process until the downstream customer signals the need. Eliminate unnecessary inventory buildup.
Pursue perfectionPerfection is the complete elimination of waste so that all activities create value for the customer. This is a continual (never-ending) process.
Reference: Womack JP., Jones, DT. Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, Revised and Updated. New York: Simon & Schuster; 2003.