Foreignexchange (FX) is a growing concern for more than 50 percent ofcompanies around the globe. That's why an increasing number ofbusinesses are now incorporating process improvement practices—suchas Lean, Six Sigma, and kaizen—into their financial risk managementprocesses.

These methodologies, now widely used in all kinds of businesses,were originally used by manufacturers, most notably Toyota. TheToyota Production System (TPS) popularized the idea of taking astrategic approach to managing manufacturing operations with thegoal of saving time and money. A flow of production based on HenryFord's assembly line, the TPS model helped Toyota make majorstrides in productivity and propelled the company into the globalmarket. Other corporations began to follow suit and apply theprinciples to their own businesses. Ultimately, the TPSphilosophies influenced development of the modern principles of SixSigma and Lean production.

Lean processes are not exclusive to manufacturing. In fact, Leanconcepts have spread across many disparate industries andorganizations, such as Target Corp., Sysco, Sempra Energy, andCitigroup. Operational groups in these organizations (and manyothers) use Lean principles to increase efficiency and eliminateerrors and wasteful practices.

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