5.24.2010

Is This Really a Surprise?

The University of Leicester recently published a press release titled "Quality Management Means Lean Management" that details a 22-year study (conducted by Stephen Wood, Professor of Management and Director of Research, University of Leicester School of Management) of the integrated use in British manufacturing of a set of Lean management practices in which employee empowerment was a major component. The conclusion? "We found in all 22 years that those firms that used the integrated Lean approach have higher levels of productivity (measured by value-added)."

One very interesting point caught my eye: "... pioneers in integrating these practices (the total approach) outperformed even those that subsequently adopted it. Later adopters caught up in practice usage by the end of the period studied, but their productivity growth was not sufficient to catch up with those which had adopted it earlier." This conclusion reinforces the benefit of building Lean into the culture of an organization -- the "pioneers" would not have able to sustain their rates of improvement if Lean was simply reduced to the application of a set of tools.

Are any readers of this blog surprised by the conclusion of this study?

7 comments:

Dean Bliss said...

No surprise here. Culture drives everything, especially improvement efforts. One weakness in many efforts I've seen is the dependence on a strong personality to drive the effort - once the personality is gone, the effort wanes. If we can find a way to create the culture such that improvement drives itself, in my opinion we have a much higher chance for sustainment.

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