Prahalad Chandrasekharan
November 11, 2016

ARTICLE: Lean and the BMI ( Body Mass Index ) Analogy for Manufacturing

Screenshot 2016-11-11 16.02.47.pngThe word Lean conjures up several images in people’s mind whenever it is mentioned. On a physiological dimension, when you give people a choice asking them if they would like to be obese or lean, the likelihood of getting “Lean” as an answer is quite high. All of us intuitively understand the health benefits of being “Lean”.

But being how much lean is actually “Lean”? How do we ascertain that being lean is at the same time being healthy? Even skeletons are lean.

In the physiological context, being lean is not having excess flab. But not having excess flab is not the same as not having even just enough muscle mass that is required for basic traction. So everyone intuitively know that in order to be healthy while at the same time being lean, a bare minimum amount of body weight and muscle is required.

In this context, then how do we measure if being Lean is also at the same time being healthy?

This is where the metric called Body Mass Index comes into play, which in simple terms is the weight of a person divided by the square of the height. Higher this measure, higher is the obesity index and lesser is the health quotient. Similarly, if this value is below a certain threshold it is once again treated as being undernourished and unhealthy. How to interpret BMI? For a given height of a person, a certain range of weight would be required to be in the operating range of being healthy.

How does the word “Lean” and the above understanding in a physiological dimension, then translate into a manufacturing context? Why does the word implementing lean, bring in anxiety? Why does the word bring in perceptions of massive cost reduction, head-count reduction, reduction in anything and everything? Does being “Lean” in a manufacturing context point towards being unhealthy? Unhealthy in this context means, poor profitability. Is that the objective of Lean? Certainly not.

If I have to apply the BMI metric to a manufacturing set-up, perhaps it would look like costs divided by the square of revenues. This means, higher this number, less healthy the organization is. Is it not? Do we minimize this number, or find an optimum operating range? That is the question.

Minimising this number, would mean bringing costs lower and lower, for a given value of revenue. But taking the parallel in the physiological context, we should relate to what we discussed earlier. Being a skeleton is not being lean and healthy. If a Manufacturing BMI has to be as minimum as possible, what would be the minimum number? A zero cost would result in zero BMI . Is this healthy? We know that with zero costs, one cannot have any revenues. Even gambling has stake costs.

So, “Lean” in a manufacturing context necessarily has to have some costs, not minimum but optimum. Optimum means, not a penny more, not a penny less.

The manufacturing BMI should be interpreted as: For a given level of revenue, there should be an optimum operating range of costs in order for the organization to be categorized in the performance category of being “healthy” and being a growing organization.

Hence, Lean is not a blind cost reduction exercise but the art of bringing the manufacturing BMI to an optimum operating range.

The optimum range can also be brought about by increasing revenues, in case the BMI is in a higher range.

Interestingly this may not always be the case in a physiological context. I can’t think of any physical exercise programme that focuses on increasing the height of an individual for bringing BMI to an optimum range for a given weight!

However in a manufacturing context, for a given BMI, Lean can focus on optimizing costs within a range, or improving the revenues to a range to the extent that the BMI does not go below the required threshold.

So, Lean is Manufacturing BMI Optimisation!

But is this BMI only applicable for a Manufacturing environment? Well, the short answer is no.

The Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Industry Awards

The Largest Leadership-Level Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Event



Proqis Digital Virtual Conference Series

View our schedule of industry leading free to attend virtual conferences. Each a premier gathering of industry thought leaders and experts sharing key solutions to current challenges.

Download the most comprehensive OpEx Resport in the Industry

The Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Industry Awards Video Presentation

Proqis Events Schedule

Proqis Digital

Welcome to BTOES Insights, the content portal for Business Transformation & Operational Excellence opinions, reports & news.
Access all 75 Award Finalist Entires
Subscribe to Business Transformation & Operational Excellence Insights Now
ATTENDEE - Proqis Digital Event Graphics-2
ATTENDEE - Proqis Digital Event Graphics (2)-1
ATTENDEE - Proqis Digital Event Graphics (1)-1

Featured Content

  • Best Achievement of Operational Excellence in Technology & Communications: IBM
  • Best Achievement of Operational Excellence in Oil & Gas, Power & Utilities: Black & Veatch
  • Best Achievement in Cultural Transformation to deliver a high performing Operational Excellence culture: NextEra Energy
Operational Excellence Frameworks and Learning Resources, Customer Experience, Digital Transformation and more introductions
  • Intelligent BPM Systems: Impact & Opportunity
  • Surviving_the_IT_Talent_deficit.png
  • Six Sigma's Best Kept Secret: Motorola & The Malcolm Baldrige Awards
  • The Value-Switch for Digitalization Initiatives: Business Process Management
  • Process of Process Management: Strategy Execution in a Digital World

Popular Tags

Speaker Presentation Operational Excellence Business Transformation Business Improvement Insights Article Continuous Improvement Process Management Business Excellence process excellence Process Optimization Process Improvement Award Finalist Case Study Digital Transformation Leadership Change Management Lean Enterprise Excellence Premium Organizational Excellence Lean Enterprise Lean Six Sigma Execution Excellence Capability Excellence Enterprise Architecture New Technologies Changing & Improving Company Culture Agile end-to-end Business Transformation Execution & Sustaining OpEx Projects Culture Transformation Leadership Understanding & Buy-In Lack of/Need for Resources Adapting to Business Trends Changing Customer Demands Failure to Innovate Integrating CI Methodologies Lack of/Need for Skilled Workers Lack of/Need for Support from Employees Maintaining key Priorities Relationships Between Departments BTOES18 RPA & Intelligent Automation Live Process Mining BTOES From Home Cultural Transformation Financial Services Customer Experience Excellence Process Automation Technology Healthcare iBPM Healthcare and Medical Devices Webinar Culture Customer Experience Innovation BTOES Video Presentations Exclusive BTOES HEALTH Strategy Execution Business Challenges Digital Process Automation Report Industry Digital Workplace Transformation Manufacturing Supply Chain Planning Robotic Process Automation (RPA) BPM Automation IT Infrastructure & Cloud Strategies Artificial Intelligence Business Process Management innovation execution AI Lean Manufacturing Oil & Gas Robotic Process Automation IT value creation Agility Business Speaker Article Systems Engineering RPAs Insurance Process Design Digital Speaker's Interview data management Intelligent Automation digital operations Six Sigma Awards thought leaders BTOES Presentation Slides Transformation Cloud Machine Learning Data Analytics Digital Transformation Workplace Banking and Capital Markets Data Finance Professional Services Education IT Infrastructure IT Infrastructure & Cloud Strategies Live Blockchain Interview Solving Cash Flow with AI BTOES White Paper investment banking Analytics Insight BTOES19 Consumer Products & Retail Enterprise Agile Planning Government Operational Excellence Model Project Management Algorithm Automotive and Transportation Banking Business Environment Digital Bank Enterprise architecture as an enabler Hybrid Work Model Primary Measure of succes Relationship Management Sales business expansion revenue growth Adobe Sign Agile Transformation CoE Delivery solution E-Signatures Electricity Global Technology HealthcareTechnologies Innovation in Healthcare Reduce your RPA TCO Transportation Accounts Receivable (AR) Big Data Technology CORE Cloud Technology Cognitive learning Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) Logistics Services Operational Excellence Example Risk Management business process automation transformation journey Covid-19 Data Entry Digital Experience Digital Network Digital Network Assistant (DNA) Digitization Drinks Effective Change Leaders HR Internet Media NPS Net Promoter Score Program Management Portal (PgMP) Sustainability TechXLive The Document is Dead The New Era of Automation Automated Money Movement Banking & Financial Services Biopharmaceutical Blue Room Effect Building Your Future Workforce in Insurance Business Process Governance Capital Market Creative Passion Digital Transformation Workplace Live Digital Workforce Digitalization ERP Transformation Finance Global Operations (FGO) Financial Services Software Frameworks Hoshin Planning Human Capital Lean Culture Natural Gas Infrastructure Natural Language Processing Organizational Change Pharmaceutical Pharmaceuticals & Life Sciences Project manager Supply Chain Management Sustainable Growth The Fully Automated Contact Center Transformation Initiatives Workplace Analytics eForms eSignatures 3D Thinking BEAM BFARM BTOES17 Big Data Processing Business Analytics Business Growth Centralized Performance Monitoring System Communication Creativity Digital Technologies Digital Technology Educational Psychologist Energy Management Health Insurance Health Maintenance Organizations Hospitality & Construction Human Centered Design Integrated Decision Approach Integrated Decision Making Intelligent Document Processing Kaizen Medicare Moodset for Excellence Natural Language Processing (NLP) Offering Managers Oil and Gas Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences Photographing Price and Routing Tracking (PART) Process Design Document (PDD) Product Identifier Descriptions (PIDs) Python Quote to Cash (Q2C) Resilience SAP Sales Quota Team Work Telecommunications Text Mining Visually Displayed Work Culture master text analytics virtual resource management