Lean Culture in a Pharmaceutical Company

Over at the PharmTech.com site, an article by Christian Houborg details a case study on how Lean can drive the creation of an improved culture within pharmaceutical companies. One of the main issues the author addresses is how pharmaceutical companies should integrate a Lean methodology into their current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) approach. Houborg's case study examines the approach used by Lundbeck (an international Danish pharmaceutical company engaged in the research and development, production, marketing, and sale of drugs for the treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders). The four-phased approach consisted of:

  1. Building consensus in the management group.
  2. Building the pilot and proving that it works.
  3. Running a large number of Lean events and building a culture around these events.
  4. Increasing the focus upon Leaders after two successful years.

The fourth phase is quite interesting because it revolved around a Lean leadership development program, which itself followed four sequential modules:

  1. Lean Leadership Foundation -- concentrates on getting the basics accurate.
  2. Lean People Leadership -- focuses upon the qualities and needs of the individual manager's team.
  3. Lundbeck Lean Acceleration -- the existing situation in the company is analysed, with consideration of what had and had not worked with the objective of speeding up the transformation further.
  4. Sustaining Lean -- sustaining momentum is discussed and all participants present the result of their Lean project.

These four modules geared toward the leaders are probably instrumental in sustaining the Lean gains by preventing stagnation and backsliding -- This is the point where the organiztion prgresses from applying techiques to developing an improvement culture. The most important part of the article is summed by the author when he states that the "approach is much more than just about waste elimination; Lean has become a complete business paradigm. Employees that were earlier engaged in Lean teams are now partnered with the top managers, driving Lean culture in their area together."

What are your thoughts on this case study? Does Lundbeck's Lean system contain facets missing from most initiatives?


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The most important part of the article is summed by the author when he states that the "approach is much more than just about waste elimination.

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