Lean Implementation : the significance of people and dualism

Abstract: Lean, with its origins at the Toyota Motor Company, is a concept that is known to increase effectiveness in manufacturing. The Lean concept is now argued to be relevant not only in manufacturing but in service and health-care delivery as well. The reported results of Lean implementation efforts are divided. There are reports that most of the Lean implementation efforts are not reaching the goal; on the other hand, there are reports of promising results. The divided results from Lean implementation efforts show how important it is to research and identify factors that are barriers to successful implementation of Lean. This thesis aims to contribute knowledge about barriers to Lean implementation by collecting empirical findings from manufacturing and health care and structuring the perceived barriers and difficulties to Lean implementation. My first study aimed to compare similarities and divergences in barriers to Lean described by key informants in manufacturing and health care. The data was collected via semi-structured interviews. Findings showed that the perceived difficulties and barriers are much the same in manufacturing and health care. The second study was a case study at a manufacturing firm, researching how the views on Lean of the managers implementing Lean influence its implementation. Data was collected via semi-structured interviews with 20 individuals and covered all hierarchical management levels in the company. Findings showed that managers' views on Lean influence the implementation but also that learning during the implementation process can alter managers' views of Lean. The third study aimed to research how management of Lean is described in the literature. This was done through a literature review. The findings showed that Lean management is a matter of dualism, consisting of two complementary systems of action, management and leadership, which are related to the two basic principles of Lean, continuous improvement and respect for the people.

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