Developing a strategy to enact lean.
2015-06-23T10:44:40Z (GMT) by
This paper explains the strategy employed by a case study company to implement lean across the business, and to reflect on the success of this approach so other companies may consider this learning and how it might be useful to them. The strategy to enact lean in the case study company was based on creating a number of standard tools/ways of working. These tools can be considered to be standardised work for key aspects of the construction process that the company undertakes. The aim of the tools was to ensure that critical tasks would be carried out to the correct standard (quality, time, cost, health and safety) every time, across the business. Achievement of this is expected to lead to improved performance and elimination of variation (waste). To implement this strategy of using standardised work to eliminate variation and lead to improved performance, a step-by-step process was developed to create the tools/standardised work. The paper describes the process that was undertaken and how it aimed to not only produce a number of tools/standardised work, but also to involve people and managers from across the business such that lean philosophy and thinking might also begin to become embedded. The paper will firstly explain, with reference to the relevant literature, how and why the strategy to implement standardised work was chosen, the process that was defined to develop the standardised work, and what happened when that process was put into practice. The findings of the paper show that whilst the completed tools delivered business benefits, the development of the tools did not follow the planned process. The paper discusses how people within the business responded to this strategy and how the process had to be continuously adapted to cope with the current business environment and path dependencies, further evidencing that lean implementations need to be tailored to suit the needs of the individual firm, rather than there being a one size fits all solution. Further, the conclusions will be set in the context of what lean has become to mean to the case study organisation, and how this sits in the wider debate of whether lean is an all encompassing philosophy or a set of prescriptive tools and techniques.