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Insights in Lean values: Exploring links to sustainable development
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Science, Technology and Media, Department of Quality Technology and Management, Mechanical Engineering and Mathematics.
2017 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The Quality Management initiative Lean is a popular method used by organisations to engage in organisational development. The Lean philosophy is grounded in numerous values. The organisations must implement and apply these values to achieve the desired results. Lean poses a dilemma in that many organisations fail to implement it because they fail to change, and they fail to maintain their new organisational culture. Lean's values are linked to sustainable development principles, and organisations that have implemented Lean have achieved results consistent with a more sustainable society. Previous studies have shown that more research is needed in areas in which business leaders require more support and knowledge so that they can combine these areas to strive for sustainable development.

 

The purpose of this thesis is to contribute a deeper understanding of the application of Lean values when implementing Lean, and the potential to interlink to sustainability theory. To achieve this purpose, studies have been conducted in three organisations. Data were collected through a survey, interviews, and a systematic literature review was conducted that was also used to analyse findings from the empirical data. The results have been presented in four different papers.

 

The findings provide deeper knowledge of Lean values during Lean implementation. They also provide a picture of the complexity in the inter-linkages between the values embodied in Lean and sustainable development principles. This thesis shows that the length of time that Lean has been implemented affects the kind and extent to which values are visible in an organisation: more values are visible in organisations that have worked the longest following Lean implementation. It has also been found that the values articulated in an organisation’s vision and strategy for implementing Lean have a greater perceived presence among employees than other Lean values. As well, differences were found in the presence of Lean values between the operational level and the strategic level of an organisation. However, findings indicated that the Lean values that were visible were more often fragmented rather than a pure value as presented in the theory. The findings also showed that interlinkages between some of sustainability principles and Lean values are more visible in one of the two organisational levels. For example, ´Waste reduction´ was only visible at the operational level.

 

Implementing and applying Lean takes time and requires a change in the organisational culture. This thesis concluded that the Lean values of the ‘System view’ and ‘Long-term thinking’ have low presence and are not a part of the values considered most important to employees when implementing Lean. For organisations at the beginning of their implementation, this knowledge may be good to consider as failures with implementation are often due to the fact that change in organisational culture does not happen as intended. This finding indicates that there are gaps in the knowledge among employees about the important links between Lean and sustainable development. It is difficult to draw boundaries between the values when they should be recognized as a system.

Abstract [sv]

Kvalitetsinitiativet Lean är för organisationer ett populärt sätt att arbeta med organisationsutveckling. Lean, som ses som en filosofi, grundas i ett antal värderingar som utgör dess bas. Dessa värderingar behöver implementeras och tillämpas i organisationen för att önskade resultat skall kunna uppnås. Ett dilemma med Lean är att många organisationer misslyckas med implementeringen på grund av att de inte lyckas ändra och bibehålla den nya förändrade organisationskulturen. Värderingarna inom Lean har kopplingar till principer för hållbar utveckling och organisationer som implementerat Lean har nått resultat i linje med ett mer hållbart samhälle. Tidigare studier har visat att mer forskning behövs inom området då verksamhetsledare är i behov av mer stöd och kunskap för att kunna föra samman dessa områden i organisationer och därmed driva utvecklingen i en hållbar riktning.

 

Syftet med denna avhandling är att bidra med djupare kunskap i tillämpningen av Lean värderingar vid implementering av Lean, samt kopplingar till hållbar utveckling. För att uppnå syftet har studier genomförts hos tre organisationer. Empiri samlades in genom en enkätstudie och intervjuer. Dessutom gjordes en systematisk litteratur studie, som använts för att analysera insamlad empiri. Resultaten har presenterats i fyra olika artiklar.

                                                                                                                       

Resultaten bidrar med fördjupade kunskaper om värderingar inom Lean under implementeringen av Lean. De ger också en bild över komplexiteten som finns kring kopplingarna mellan värderingar inom Lean och principer för hållbar utveckling. I denna avhandling visar resultatet att tiden för hur länge implementering av Lean har pågått påverkar antalet synliga värderingar i en organisation. I detta fall är fler värderingar synlig hos den enhet som arbetat längst med implementeringen. Det har också framkommit att de värderingar som organisationen valt att lägga till i sin vision och strategi för implementeringen av Lean har högre närvaro hos de anställda än andra Lean värderingar. Det finns skillnader i vilken organisationsnivå, den operativa eller den strategiska nivån, för vilka Lean värderingar som är närvarande på respektive nivå. De Lean värderingar som identifierats som synliga har i de flesta fall endast visat sig vara delar av hur Lean värderingarna presenteras i teorin. Kopplingarna mellan Lean värderingar och principer för hållbar utveckling är många och finns representerade inom all tre hållbarhetsaspekterna: ekonomi, miljö och sociala området. Resultatet visar att vissa hållbarhets principer som har kopplingar till Lean värderingarna är mer synlig i en av de två organisationsnivåerna. Till exempel eliminering av löserier är mer synlig i den operativa nivån. Systemsyn, som har betydelse ur ett hållbarhetsperspektiv, har av medarbetare rankats som minst viktig av de utvalda Lean värderingarna och har låg synlighet i organisationerna.

 

Att implementera och tillämpa Lean tar tid och kräver att organisationskulturen förändras. Slutsatser som dragits i denna avhandling är att Lean värderingarna systemsyn och långsiktighet har låg närvaro och tillhör inte de värderingar som ses som viktigast hos de anställda vid en implementering av Lean. Då organisationerna är i början av sin implementering kan denna kunskap vara bra att förhålla sig till då misslyckanden med implementering ofta beror på att förändring av organisationskulturen inte sker som avsett. Hos de anställda finns det luckor i kunskapen kring kopplingar mellan Lean och hållbar utveckling. Att dra tydliga gränser mellan värderingarna är svårt då de snarare ska ses som en helhet.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sundsvall: Mid Sweden University , 2017. , p. 75
Series
Mid Sweden University licentiate thesis, ISSN 1652-8948 ; 135
Keywords [en]
Lean, sustainable development, organisational development, organisational culture, values
Keywords [sv]
Lean, hållbar utveckling, värderingar, organisationsutveckling, organisationskultur
National Category
Reliability and Maintenance
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-32048ISBN: 978-91-88527-34-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-32048DiVA, id: diva2:1156500
Presentation
2017-12-08, Q221, Akademigatan 1, Östersund, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Vid tidpunkten för framläggningen av avhandlingen var följande delarbeten opublicerade: delarbete 4 inskickat.

At the time of the defence, the following papers were unpublished: paper 4 submitted.

Available from: 2017-11-15 Created: 2017-11-13 Last updated: 2017-11-15Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Measuring the importance and practices of Lean values
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Measuring the importance and practices of Lean values
2014 (English)In: The TQM Journal, ISSN 1754-2731, E-ISSN 1754-274X, Vol. 26, no 5, p. 463-474Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present the result from a study carried out at an organization, which has recently started applying Lean, to examine changes in the importance and presence of Lean values within the organization in relation to when different parts of the organization started to apply Lean.

Design/methodology/approach – A questionnaire was used at three different groups at a dental care provider. ANOVA was used to detect any differences in regards to the importance and practice of five Lean values in relation to time since the clinics started to apply Lean.

Findings – The study showed no difference between the three groups in relation to the stated importance of the values, something that could indicate that there is a commonly shared value base in the organization. The only difference that was statistically significant was with regard to the presence of the values ‘Continuous improvement’ and ‘Supportive leadership’ between Groups 1 (pilot, 18 month since starting to apply Lean) and 3 (not yet started to apply Lean).

Research limitation/implications – The research was conducted as one single study in one organization and further research should be done in other organizations and types of businesses.

Practical implications – The questionnaire can be used in organizations to put focus on cultural change when applying Lean both when it comes to practice as well as importance.

Originality/value – Traditional measures mainly focus on hard measurements when measuring the progress in applying quality initiatives such as Lean. This questionnaire can complement these traditional measurements and create a greater focus on the cultural changes in the organization.

Keywords
Lean, Organizational culture, Leadership, Values, Soft measurements
National Category
Reliability and Maintenance
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-18314 (URN)10.1108/TQM-07-2012-0047 (DOI)2-s2.0-84927511909 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2013-01-21 Created: 2013-01-21 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
2. Managers basic assumptions when applying Lean
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Managers basic assumptions when applying Lean
2013 (English)In: 16th QMOD-ICQSS Proceedings: Quality Management and Organizational Development Conference [being] International Conference Quality and Service Sciences / [ed] Su Mi Dahlgaard-Park, Jens J. Dahlgaard, Boštjan Gomišček, 2013, p. 1206-1215Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present the result from a case study were managers where interviewed in order to find out their basic assumptions (i.e. purpose and underlying values) for applying Lean. The purpose is also to investigate if these basic assumptions are in line with what the literature describes as important for succeeding when applying Lean.

 

Methodology/approach – Interviews based on an interview guide with open questions were carried out with managers in an organization.

Findings – The study showed that the reason given for applying Lean are different between a manager that has started to apply Lean and a manager that has not yet started to apply Lean in their organization and that it is a difference between their basic assumptions.

 

Originality/Value – The paper indicates the importance of knowing the managers’ values when applying Lean and the importance to educate managers’ to get a deeper understanding of Lean.

Paper type Case study

Keywords
Lean, Quality Management, leadership, value, implementation
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-23388 (URN)978-961-232-269-4 (ISBN)
Conference
16th Quality Management and Organizational Development Conference, Portorož, 2013
Available from: 2014-11-07 Created: 2014-11-07 Last updated: 2017-11-13Bibliographically approved
3. Can Lean values contribute to Sustainable Development
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Can Lean values contribute to Sustainable Development
2014 (English)In: 17th Qmod-ICQSS: Part 2: INDEX and FULLPAPERS / [ed] Su Mi Dahlgaard-Park, Jens Jörn Dahlgaard, 2014Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Purpose – The aim of this paper was to study interactions between Sustainable Development and Lean values by comparing two organizations, one with Technical Communication in-house and one with Technical Communication partly outsourced.

Methodology/approach – A literature study with focus on Lean and Sustainable Development values was carried out. Interviews with companies that provide Technical Communication have been conducted to identify Lean categories. The identified categories have been compared to the findings in Lean and Sustainable Development values.

Findings – The literature study and our results indicate that presence of Lean values support Sustainable Development, but it requires that organizations focus on the culture and values. The result indicates that if Technical Communication has a low status the company put low value on Sustainable Development. If Technical Communication is produced in-house customer involvement might be easier to achieve.

Practical implications – The identification of Lean values can be a starting point for organizations to work with Sustainable Development as it helps the organizations to focus on significant areas.

Paper type – Case study

Keywords
Sustainable Development, Lean, Quality Management, Values, Technical Communication
National Category
Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-23274 (URN)978-91-7623-086-2 (ISBN)
Conference
Qmod 2014
Projects
KATI, Kundanpassade teknikinformation
Available from: 2014-10-22 Created: 2014-10-21 Last updated: 2017-11-13Bibliographically approved
4. Interlinking Lean and Sustainability: How ready are leaders?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Interlinking Lean and Sustainability: How ready are leaders?
2018 (English)In: The TQM Journal, ISSN 1754-2731, E-ISSN 1754-274XArticle in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore evidence of interlinkages between Lean and sustainability among organisational leaders in the early stages of Lean implementation.

Design/methodology: A multiple-site case study was conducted to study the connections between Lean and sustainable development during the implementation stages of a Lean practice. In-depth interviews were conducted with managers about their knowledge and understanding of the interlinkages between Lean and sustainable development. The findings were then used as an analytic frame to determine whether these interlinkages were present in the organisation.

Findings: Evidence of interlinkages between Lean and sustainable development was found; however, their presence was incomplete and inconsistent across clinics.

Research implications: Insights from the research can help organisations plan for the implementation of Lean practice, particularly when a sub-goal is to achieve sustainable development.

Originality/value: The study shows the importance of focusing on managers’ knowledge and understanding of the interlinkages between Lean and sustainable development when implementing Lean in order to utilise Leans full potential to achieve sustainability.

Keywords: organisational development, Lean, sustainability, operational management

Paper type: Case study

Keywords
Organisational development, Lean, sustainability, operational management
National Category
Reliability and Maintenance
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-32047 (URN)10.1108/TQM-04-2018-0046 (DOI)
Available from: 2017-11-13 Created: 2017-11-13 Last updated: 2018-12-14Bibliographically approved

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