6. Sustaining lean business improvements through the delivery of structured training and tailored lean solutions
Submitting InstitutionCardiff University
Unit of AssessmentBusiness and Management Studies
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Information and Computing Sciences: Information Systems
Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services: Business and Management
Summary of the impact
Lean is a business operations paradigm, originating from post-war
Japanese manufacturing, which has its UK and European research roots in
Cardiff Business School (CBS). Following the initial success of lean as a
concept for improvement, it became evident that there were issues
surrounding the sustainability of lean transformations. In addressing this
problem, CBS's Lean Enterprise Research Centre (LERC) has developed a
structured training programme, the Lean Competency System (LCS), and
delivered tailored lean solutions, which have directly facilitated the
implementation of sustainable lean transformation strategies in over 200
public and private sector organisations since 2008. Several thousand
people have received LCS accreditation, increasing the longevity of the
effects from implementing lean strategies and creating efficiency savings
worth millions of pounds.
The establishment of LERC by Dan Jones (Prof 92-04) at Cardiff University
followed the publication of a Harvard Business Review article (1994) by
Jones and Dr. James Womack of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT),
which explored the application of lean beyond the automotive manufacturing
sector3.1. This and subsequent research by LERC (led by Jones)
and the MIT team (led by Womack), was assimilated and published in the
book Lean Thinking (1996), which has sold over 600,000 copies3.2.
Since its establishment, LERC has been an active hub of lean research and
the team, including Peter Hines (Professor 92-10), Nick Rich (Research
Associate 93-95, Senior Research Associate 95-00, Senior Research Fellow
00-09), Matthias Holweg (Research Associate 99-01, Senior Research
Associate 01-03), Ann Esain (Senior Research Fellow 96-11, Lecturer
11-present), Pauline Found (Senior Research Associate 04-07, Senior
Research Fellow 07-12, Knowledge Exchange Manager 12-13), and others have
worked on a wide range of projects. This research has led to a more
complete understanding of the application of lean thinking, and to its
diffusion into almost all sectors, both private and public.
Following the initial success of lean as a concept for improvement, it
became evident that there were issues surrounding the sustainability of
lean transformations — up to 70% of lean transformations failed to achieve
all of their intended benefits. Research by LERC members Hines, Holweg and
Rich demonstrated that a lack of discussion on the strategic level of
thinking in a lean implementation programme, coupled with a focus on the
application of tools and techniques rather than the concerted
consideration of the `softer aspects' of change involving people, had led
to the non-sustainability of many lean programmes3.3. These
gaps were the driver behind the £4m EPSRC-funded SUCCESS (Sustainable
Channelled Change in Every Scale and Situation) project (2004-2007), the
goal of which was to develop a model for sustainable business improvement
when implementing the principles of `Lean Thinking'. During the project,
LERC researchers looked at how companies implemented lean programmes3.4,
examining the enabling and inhibiting factors to a sustainable change.
Qualitative and quantitative data were collected from industrial
collaborators including Tata Steel, Royal Mint and Arvin Meritor.
The SUCCESS project led to the development of the Lean Iceberg Model of
sustainability to guide the training and implementation of lean. The model
has five key elements:
- Strategy and alignment — defining clear critical success factors and
building the capability of individuals and teams to self-manage the
- Leadership — providing strong Lean leadership at the start of the
transformation, and developing Lean leaders throughout the organisation.
- Process management — selecting key value streams, analysing the value
their customers require and using Lean tools such as value stream
mapping to manage their improvement.
- Technology — using appropriate tools and techniques to achieve value
stream goals, with an emphasis on self-sustaining systems of management.
- Behaviours and engagement — requiring experienced leadership and
people who are competent and trained in lean techniques to form internal
The Lean Iceberg Model was presented as an invited paper at the Institute
of Industrial Engineers Annual Conference in 2008 and published by LERC
and Cardiff University Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre in the
book Staying Lean: Thriving not just surviving, which has sold
over 14,000 copies3.5. The results of the SUCCESS project drove
the development of a professional accredited Lean Competency System (LCS)
which aims to introduce professional standards into the practice and
application of lean, something which many felt was lacking and thus
hampering lean's sustainability previously.
References to the research
2. Womack, J.P. and Jones, D.T. (1996) Lean Thinking: Banish
Waste and Create Wealth in your Corporation, Simon & Shuster: London.
ISBN 978-0743231640 (Available on request from HEI)
3. Hines, P., Holweg, M. and Rich, N. (2004)
Learning to evolve: A review of contemporary lean thinking, International
Journal of Operations and Production Management, 24 (10): 994-1011.
4. Found, P., and Rich, N., (2007) The Meaning of Lean:
Cross Case Perceptions of Packaging Businesses in the UK Fast Moving
Consumer Goods Sector, International Journal of Logistics: Research
& Applications, 10 (3): 157-171. 10.1080/13675560701463812
Grants: M. Naim, with C. Lalwani, N. Rich, P. Hines and
D.T. Pham & S.S. Dimov (Cardiff University School of
Engineering) (08/04 to 01/10) The Cardiff University Innovation
Manufacturing Research Centre (CUIMRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences
Research Council (EPSRC) Centre Grant, Ref. GR/S75505/01, £3.4m; CUIMRC
Flagship Project: P. Hines with M. Naim, N. Rich, C.
Lalwani & A. Thomas (Cardiff University School of Engineering)
(10/04 to 09/07) Sustainable Channelled Change in Every Scale and
Situation (SUCCESS), £400,000 core funding (from CUIMRC grant), £154,000
industry cash contributions and £400,000 in-kind contributions.
In 2009, Hines and Found won the internationally prestigious Shingo Prize
for Operational Excellence in the Research and Professional Publication
category in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the body of
knowledge in the field of operational excellence.
Details of the impact
While lean as a concept has become embedded within the field of logistics
and operations management on a worldwide scale, LERC's research provided
evidence that in many instances, approaches to lean change were inherently
unsustainable and failed to deliver long-term competitive benefits. This
insight has influenced the way in which organisations approach lean
change, leading to a much higher return on investment. Since the first
publication of Staying Lean in 2008, CBS research has directly
enabled over 200 organisations to embark on a sustainable lean
transformation strategy. A key aspect of this impact strategy has been the
delivery of both structured training via the Lean Competency
System (LCS), a set of professional vocational qualifications which
focus upon all areas of the Lean Iceberg Model, and tailored lean
solutions via Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs).
Lean Competency System (LCS) — The LCS comprises three main levels
— Fundamental, Technical and Strategic, each with two or three sublevels,
making a total of seven levels in all. The level of lean competence
achieved by trained staff varies according to the level of accreditation
attained, from a simple awareness and understanding of lean principles
(Level 1a), up to an advanced ability to design, implement and lead a lean
strategy (Level 3b). Similarly, the method of assessment varies by level
but includes both a knowledge based test and a practical element. This LCS
system has been used by over 30 organisations since its launch in 2008 and
has been integrated into many organisational `lean academies', including
Lloyds Banking Group, Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs, Virgin Media
Group, Diageo, Ministry of Justice, Mars Inc., Royal Bank of Scotland and
Homeloan Management Limited (HML)5.1. These organisations,
along with several specialist training providers, some of which are based
overseas, e.g. RevereAB (Sweden), Vlerick Management School (Belgium), are
amongst 22 organisations which have been approved by LERC to award LCS
accreditation. Through the LCS, LERC research has instigated change in
companies at a range of levels from individual factories or units, to
entire multinational operations. The LCS has also been effectively
translated from the private to the public sector. In 2013, a licensed
company was set up to deliver the LCS (http://www.leancompetency.org/).
The private sector has found considerable value in adopting the
LCS. Examples include:
Lloyds Banking Group (2009 onwards): The Lloyds Banking Group
has 30 million customers and around 100,000 employees in the UK. The
purpose of introducing lean in this case was "to improve the customer
experience, as well as to deliver cost reductions and improved
productivity. While the early stages of the lean journey focused on
process management, the establishment of a Lean Sigma Academy within
the Group provided the means to build internal lean capability for
self-sustainability and to provide lean leaders for the organisation.
The Academy was approved by LERC to accredit employees in 2009. Around
100 people per year receive LCS accreditation, with an average
tangible benefit of £100,000 per accreditation project"5.2.
Diageo (2012 onwards): Diageo is a leading international
premium drinks business which has embarked on a major global training
initiative in order to "embed lean tools and techniques" into
their ways of working. Their aim is for all operators to undergo a one
day lean awareness training course (accredited to LCS Level 1a) and all
managers to undergo four days lean training (accredited to Level 1b).
The training so far has been highly valued, with the accreditation
element bringing the programme "rigour [because] all sites
(there are 97 globally across Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and
Europe) undergo exactly the same training and the assessment at the
end ensures learning is effective and applied"5.3.
Management also believe the training "has created a pull from the
population as the certificate is something that is valuable to them as
LERC have further extended their impact on companies by playing the
role of academic partner in Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs),
partnering with several companies to help them to improve their
competitiveness, productivity and performance through sustainable lean
transformations tailored specifically to the organisations concerned.
Yeo Valley Farms Ltd. (2010-2012): Yeo Valley is a manufacturer
of dairy products with a turnover in excess of £270m per annum and 1,500
staff. This KTP focused on the strategy and alignment, leadership and
behaviour aspects of the Iceberg Model and addressed specific issues
associated with the manufacture of fast-moving consumer goods which had
not been previously dealt with in the lean literature. A new training
system was developed for the company and the number of manufacturing
procedures reduced from over 13,000 to 120, greatly improving the
effectiveness of workplace practices. Four new staff members have been
employed to provide lean leadership in the business during the roll out
of lean across other sites, sustaining the changes, while the KTP has
enabled £1million of annual repeatable savings to be achieved. The value
of this KTP was acknowledged by Steve Welch, Group Continuous
Improvement and Yogurt Manufacturing Manager at Yeo Valley in an
interview for the Lean Management Journal (2012): "Our beliefs have
been strongly influenced by the work of Dr Pauline Found from LERC and
others, whereby the `below the waterline' enabling factors from the
Lean Iceberg Model....have to be firmly in place before improvement
can be considered"5.4.
Johnson & Johnson — DePuy (2010-2012): This project looked
to implement a sustainable lean culture within DePuy, a manufacturer of
orthopaedics. At the outset, the DePuy orthopaedic cement works in
Blackpool had only just started its lean transformation and an internal
assessment by J&J, using their Lean Maturity Assessment model, was
very low. The KTP focused on the behaviours and engagement element of
the Iceberg Model and, following the work with LERC, the plant was
assessed again in December 2011, by external J&J personnel, and
awarded the highest level of lean maturity, the first plant to achieve
this in its initial formal assessment. By its conclusion, the KTP
project had returned a cost reduction of $165,000 through validated
improvement projects5.5. In addition, since 2009 the J&J
Group (OCD, DePuy and Lifescan) has supported 12 of their senior
managers on the CBS MSc Lean Operations, the benefit from each student
being a ten-fold return on investment.
As a result of the need to improve efficiency in the face of public
sector spending restrictions, Lean and the LCS have been embedded in
many national UK government bodies5.6, including:
Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) (2008 onwards): HMRC
became an accredited partner with LERC in 20095.7. Head of
Practitioner Profession at HMRC, states: "The LCS accreditation
programme within HMRC is primarily targeted at our 300 PaceSetter
(Lean) Practitioners with 91% of them having started accreditation.
The programme has given us a cornerstone on which to build the
existing lean capability into a Profession within HMRC. The PaceSetter
Practitioner Profession is now recognised as one of the 21 Professions
within HMRC and gives us a more robust platform on which to operate
from. The HMRC Practitioner learning programme which is completely
aligned to the LCS has been a product much in demand by other
government departments so allowing us to build capability across
Ministry of Justice (2008 onwards): The Ministry established
their Continuous Improvement Academy in 2008 and whilst they quickly saw
benefits in efficiency savings and staff engagement, they "struggled
to sustain these improvements"5.9. In a revised
approach, they "prioritised some of the less visible and foundation
elements of Lean; on the creation and alignment of strategy and the
leadership needed to support a continuous improvement culture"5.9.
One of the biggest applications has been in Her Majesty's Courts and
Tribunals Service1 (HMCTS) — 558 people have been trained to LCS
Level 2a or 2b, and lean has been implemented in all 500 courts in the
UK. The Continuous Improvement Academy has trained experts to lead
Lean activity within HMCTS, both in their business areas and across
internal boundaries. Through standard operating procedures and other
lean changes, a monthly saving of over 66,500 hours of staff time has
been achieved and sustained5.10. In addition to the
financial benefits of Lean, HMCTS has yielded a range of qualitative
benefits such as "improved productivity" and staff who are "more
engaged and empowered by having the chance to shape decisions about
the way they work"5.6.
Sources to corroborate the impact
- Roberts, Z. (2008) Elegantly Wasted, People Management, 7
August 2008, 28-30. Evidencing the implementation of lean and LCS in the
finance company HML; in particular see section: `What it means to be
lean'. Online version available at: http://www.cipd.co.uk/pm/peoplemanagement/b/weblog/archive/2013/01/29/elegantly-wasted-2008-08.aspx
- Statement: Operations Manager, Interim Admin & Ops, Talent &
Development, Lloyds Banking Group. Corroborating the benefits to Lloyds
Banking Group of introducing the LCS.
- Statement: Functional Capabilities Manager, Diageo. Corroborating the
benefits to Diageo of introducing the LCS.
- Priolo, R. (2012) Yeolean, Yeolean, Yeoleeean. The Lean Management
Journal, 2(1): 15-17. In this article, representatives from Yeo
Valley are interviewed about the impact of their KTP project with LERC.
Abstract freely available and full article available with a subscription
- Contact: Supply Chain Integration Manager — EMEA, DePuy Synthes EMEA.
To corroborate impact of KTP project at DePuy.
- Anon (2010) Spotlight on Lean in the Public Sector, Wired-GOV.net.
This feature evidences LERC's contribution to the public sector, in
particular HCMTS. See p19-22. Available at: http://www.wired-gov.net/wg/wg-images-1.nsf/img/DNWA-8CEH6F/$file/Spotlight%20on%20Lean%20complete%20v5.pdf
- Anon (2013) Making the breakthrough, Public Servant, 8 April
2013. This article, which appeared on Publicservice.co.uk (went into
administration in August 2013), describes HMRC's lean journey,
acknowledging their accreditation by CBS and commenting on
sustainability (reflecting CBS researcher's ideas).
- Statement: Head of Practitioner Profession, HMRC. Corroborating the
benefits to HMRC of introducing the LCS.
- Greary, F. (2012) Make it lean, make it better, 12 June 2012. This
article by the Acting Head of Continuous Improvement, Ministry of
Justice (Continuous Improvement Academy) appeared on Publicservice.co.uk
(went into administration in August 2013) and describes the benefits to
the Ministry of having established the LERC-approved Continuous
- HM Courts & Tribunals Service (2012) Annual Report and Accounts
2011-12. See p15-16 for examples of the benefits of the HCMTS lean
transformation. Available at: http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/publications/corporate-reports/hmcts/2012/hmcts-annual-report-2011-12.pdf
All documents and web pages were saved as .pdf on or prior to 18.07.13
and are available on request from the HEI.
Formerly pre-April 2011) Her Majesty's Courts Service (HMCS)