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Lean Reference Guide > Lean Dictionary

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"N" Terms
from The Continuous Improvement Companion

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  • Nagara

    Nagara is a Japanese term meaning ‘while doing something’. It simply means to do more than one thing at a time. For example, a two parts may be fitted together as they are clamped into a welding fixture. Or, a person may be able to assemble two parts while walking.

    In practice, though, the application of the nagara principle is limited. In most cases, a process takes a person’s full attention. Operating a piece of machinery while doing something else can even be dangerous. It takes some careful process design to combine tasks.

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  • Names

    Remembering someone’s name tells them that you place value on them as an individual. It shows that you respect them enough to remember who they are. Unfortunately, many, if not most, people have an extremely hard time remembering names of people they see only periodically.

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  • Negotiation

    Negotiation is simply the process of discussing something of mutual interest and agreeing to terms. Negotiations typically involve tradeoffs. One side gives something of value to the other site to get something of value in return.

    Negotiations may be conducted for a one-time transaction, or for an ongoing relationship.

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  • Net Present Value

    Net Present Value (NPV) comes from the principle that money today is worth more than money tomorrow.

    Would you rather have $1,000 today or $1,000 in 5 years? That question is easy to answer. Most people would take the money immediately.

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  • New Product Developement (NPD)

    NPD is perhaps the most critical of all business functions. Think of a business like a shark. It has to keep moving forward to stay alive. NPD is the process by which they keep moving forward.

    Customers get bored with the current product or need a product to solve a new problem change. Or perhaps other businesses come up with their own new ideas. Whatever the cause, one thing is certain. Companies that produce goods but have nothing new in the pipeline are at a significant disadvantage to their competition.

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  • Night Shift

    A night shift is just what it sounds like. It is the second (or third) shift at a facility after the normal day shift ends.

    A night shift usually exists for one of two reasons. In production environments, a night shift adds capacity. This is very useful for production requiring large amounts of space or excessive capital.

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  • No-No’s of Lean Operations

    Continuous improvement is as much about not going backward as it is about making progress. Knowing what to avoid is as important as knowing what to do. While many of the items on this list of No-No’s won’t derail your Lean efforts, they do act as speed bumps that slow down progress. Improvement resources are in short supply. Make sure they are not wasted on known obstacles.

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  • Noise (Sound) (+ 5-Page Lean PDF)

    Noise Lean Term on PDF

    Excessive noise can cause hearing damage, but even below that threshold, it can hurt job satisfaction. Noise is also often an indicator of problems. Visit this Lean term page to learn more and download a FREE 6-Page PDF about noise in Lean operations.

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  • Noise to Constant Sheet

    Noise to Constant Sheet

    The Noise to Constant Sheet is a tool used to identify opportunities to remove special cause variation from processes.

    Format: XLSX

    Regular Price: Free for Registered Users

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  • Nominal Conditions

    A key requirement in a Lean operation is to make abnormal conditions stand out. Obviously, to recognize abnormal, you must also understand what normal is. Nominal conditions define your standard and let you see that you are operating within acceptable limits. Note that the term “nominal conditions” is not one that is in common use in the Lean community. Regardless, it is an important concept.

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  • Non-Value Added (NVA)

    Non-Value Added (NVA) steps consume resources, but do nothing to add value to a product or process. Because value is defined by the customer, non-value added work does nothing to change the form, fit, or function of a product into something a customer is willing to pay for.

    There is some debate over whether non-value added means the same as waste. The difference, if any, is…

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  • Note Taking

    Note taking is a valuable skill. Most people can’t remember all the details they are deluged with every day. Having a method to record the important morsels of information without getting buried in all the noise can mean the difference between being effective at your job and being a black hole for information.

    In meetings, people are constantly taking notes. They jot down a slew of information, or type furiously on computers. So, what happens to that info?

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  • Null Hypothesis

    “Null hypothesis” is a statistical term that basically means that there is an assumption that there is no statistical difference between observations. For example, the null hypothesis would say that any differences between a sample and a population would be due only to random chance. Statistical testing then confirms or denies whether the null hypothesis is actually true or not.

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