Interactive Innovation Through Lean Principles

By David Sauter, CEO

Published: November 18, 2013

Business success through lean principles has seen tremendous growth in the last few years, particularly when it comes to production operations. What few recognize, however, is these practices can carry into other business segments to spur business agility and operational value.

Lean principles are not specific to manufacturing processes.  In fact, when viewed from an interactive business perspective, lean processes spur innovative ideas and improved interaction among a variety of audiences whether it’s internal teams, partners or end customers. The core of lean process, seeking more value and decreasing waste, has the potential for effectiveness companywide but particularly when it comes to interactive.

Examples of Interactive Innovation through Lean Principles

A few simple examples of work in lean innovation outside the production line come to mind, each exemplify a shift from a traditional way of communicating to an example of lean communication for the future. Each example also relates to an important lean consideration for minimizing waste and increasing efficiency.

Lean Consideration: Waste in communication and poor processes.

  • In the past, companies offer one stream of customer support through a 1-800 number. With lean efforts, companies can provide a full customer support team that answers phones plus support and conversations via Facebook, Twitter and Forums. Ariens is using private Facebook groups to generate fast communication flow between insides sales, field sales, customer service and marketing. Problems are being addressed in minutes, not days or weeks.

Lean Consideration: Not all communication is valuable.

  • With traditional processes, producing good content can entail expensive, high production videos or shoots with professional equipment and scripts. When operating lean, we’ve seen great successes in content creation with smaller snippets of highly engaging, candid and “real” social testimonials. This results in readily accessible, quality information that’s not longer contingent on big productions. Here’s a great example from a Vermeer operator.


Lean Consideration: Communication is not going to the right place at the right time.

  •  Often external teams are disconnected from important corporate information. For example, with traditional methods sales team collaboration occurs via email that may or may not be read and quarterly meetings. A lean company ensures a continual flow of communication on a regular basis between their sales teams and corporate through social business groups.

These are only a few case studies of lean interactive innovation producing valuable business impact. For more information on lean innovation, connect with us or check out an additional blog posts on lean interactive leadership.