The New Lean: Beyond the Assembly Line


Enjoy this excerpt from the latest Lean Business Report. Download the full report here.

The new Lean empowers teams, encourages effective leadership, and enables organizations to deliver value to their customers faster.

Startups and enterprises are equally likely to be Lean, but for different reasons: startups for the speed to grow quickly, enterprises for the agility to remain relevant and competitive.

Lean maintains a strong hold in manufacturing, its original industry. But it’s also finding new applications in IT, helping global organizations reduce and manage complexity in an increasingly complex world.

In tightly structured, highly regulated industries, where the cost of error is high — like financial services, healthcare and telecommunications — Lean helps teams and organizations systematically identify and eliminate inefficiencies. We’re also seeing Lean grow in more creative industries, like media, entertainment, and retail.

The future of business is unfolding before us, with the new Lean pioneers leading the charge. Read this post to learn who’s practicing the new Lean, and how they got started.

Who is Practicing Lean?

By Industry

Lean has taken hold in software and technology, claiming our top two spots. It maintains its presence in manufacturing and demonstrates new applications in a wide variety of industries, ranging from financial services to real estate.


By Department

With the increasing complexity of global organizations, the need for efficient, adaptable information systems in IT continues to grow — a challenge for which Lean is perfectly suited. Lean is also being applied in other teams across the enterprise, including Quality Assurance, Marketing, and Administration.


By Organization Size

Organizations on either end of the spectrum have much to gain from implementing Lean. Lean offers a scientific approach to developing products and getting them into customers’ hands faster. For startups, that means disrupting markets and veteran brands. For global enterprises, it means surviving (and thriving) amidst the disruption.


Where Did Lean Start in Your Organization?

In about half of the organizations surveyed, Lean began in IT. Within that percentage, 17% of organizations started in IT and then spread into other departments. Executives are also leading the Lean charge — in about a third of organizations, Lean began as an executive-driven initiative.


About the Lean Business Report

In September 2015, we launched the inaugural Lean Business Survey to gauge the adoption of Lean across all disciplines of knowledge work. The Lean Business Report combines our exclusive survey research with educational content from thought leaders in the Lean for business space. Between September and November 2015, we received more than 3,000 responses from executives, consultants, and team members representing a variety of industries and hailing from 75 countries.

Read the full Lean Business Report here.

Recommended Reading

To learn more about the new Lean, we recommend these excellent resources:

Maja Majewski

Maja has always been interested in the intersection of psychology and business. After studying Human and Organizational Development and Corporate Strategy at Vanderbilt University, Maja joined the LeanKit team as a content writer, where she was able to dive deeper into her exploration of how people, processes, and technology interact. She has authored over 200 articles and ebooks for several high-growth B2B companies, including LeanKit, Planview,, and Clearbit. She served as the lead writer and researcher on LeanKit's Lean Business Report in 2016.

When not writing about process improvement, Maja practices it in her personal life - finding applications for her mantra "Better than before!" in everything from cooking to exercising. She enjoys spending time at home and going on adventurous vacations with her boyfriend and their German Shorthaired Pointer, Wrigley. Connect with Maja.