Articles December 5, 2018

Researching Lean Themes

As part of LERC's development of its research themes, it carried out a 'voice of the customer' survey into managers' views of the relative importance of selected themes. It also asked about the barriers facing organisations implementing lean thinking. This article summarises the main results; note that its does not include an in depth analysis or commentary, which will be contained in a more detailed future report.

Introduction

The short web based questionnaire asked just two main questions, each with an open ended supplementary question, plus four profile related questions. One main question focused on the relative importance of  lean research themes, while the other focused on the potential disruptive impact of specific issues on the ability to create a sustainable lean culture.

Prospective respondents were told that its purpose was to obtain feedback and views from the lean practitioner community on lean research themes that are being considered in the development of the lean research agenda and that results will help ensure that research undertaken is relevant to the practitioner community and the issues and challenges being faced.

Importance of Themes

Respondents were asked to indicate how relevant specific research themes and topics were to their organisation in its quest to become a lean enterprise.

The 'very relevant' scores are shown in rank order below:

  1. Nature of lean leadership - 55%
  2. Sustainability factors & barriers - 52%
  3. Competency definition, measurement & development - 45%
  4. Training system methods and structures - 41%
  5. Service productivity - 38%
  6. Lean tools and techniques effectiveness - 38%
  7. Lean evolution in the fourth Industrial Revolution Era - 31%
  8. Supply chain effectiveness - 31%
  9. Public value - 30%
  10. Developing a Lean framework for Big Data Analytics - 29%

When the 'very relevant' scores are added to the 'quite relevant' scores, the rank order is as follows:

  1. Nature of lean leadership - 89%
  2. Sustainability factors & barriers - 83%
  3. Competency definition, measurement & development - 83%
  4. Lean tools and techniques effectiveness - 80%
  5. Service productivity - 73%
  6. Training system methods and structures - 72%
  7. Public value - 63%
  8. Supply chain effectiveness - 60%
  9. Lean evolution in the fourth Industrial Revolution Era - 55%
  10. Developing a Lean framework for Big Data Analytics - 55%

While Leadership and Sustainability remain most relevant overall, some themes (highlighted) move up the table when all relevancy answers are taken into account.

Respondents were asked to list other themes they thought could be relevant research topics, which were:

  • Lean in research & development
  • Realising the benefits of lean
  • Customer demand variation
  • Deeper exploration of Systems Thinking applied to the public sector.

Potential Disruptive Impact of Issues

Respondents were asked to rank a number of issues in terms of their potential disruptive impact on their organisation's ability to create a sustainable lean/continuous improvement culture over the next three years. The rank order of average scores is shown below (5= very high impact)

  1. Lack of management interest in lean thinking/CI - 3.92
  2. Inadequate strategy formulation and deployment - 3.66
  3. Lean skills shortage in workforce - 3.32
  4. Measures used to gauge business success - 3.31
  5. Lack of funds for lean training - 3.09
  6. Poor productivity levels - 3.05
  7. Technological change, eg Big Data, digitisation - 3.03
  8. High staff turnover - 2.95
  9. Product/service innovations - 2.95
  10. Robotic process automation/AI - 2.92
  11. Market structure change, eg mergers, acquisitions - 2.80
  12. Public spending cuts - 2.55
  13. Increased competition - 2.54
  14. Political factors, eg Brexit - 2.42
  15. Fourth Industrial Revolution -2.29
  16. Globalisation - 2.28

Research Method Details

  • Data collection: Web based questionnaire, via JISC
  • Date collected: December 2017 to March 2018
  • Number of respondents: 66

Respondent Profile

The representativeness of the results can be judged from studying the profile of respondents.

Sector

Region

Respondent role

Organisation size

 

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