Topics: Lean manufacturing, Manufacturing, Six Sigma Pages: 11 (3576 words) Published: May 30, 2013
A framework for managing change in lean manufacturing implementation Norani Nordin, Department of Technology Management, College of Business, Universiti Utara Malaysia Baba Md Deros, Dzuraidah Abdul Wahab, Mohd Nizam Ab. Rahman Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Abstract: Lean manufacturing is a proven approach for success in manufacturing industry. However, several organisations failed in their attempt to implement lean manufacturing system. The transition to lean manufacturing requires radical change which involves a total reshaping of purpose, system and culture of the organisation. The purpose of this paper is to develop a framework that could assist a manufacturing firm to implement lean manufacturing system successfully. The insights of literature and multiple case studies are combined to develop the organisational change framework. Leadership and direction, and change agent system found to be the most critical factors in managing change to lean manufacturing. Furthermore, the smooth transition also requires effective communication, workers’ empowerment and lean review system. Failure in recognising the required organisational change factors to be adapted in lean transition may hinder the long-term benefits of the company.

Lean manufacturing, organisational change framework, multiple case studies

1. Introduction
Lean manufacturing has become a widely acceptable and adoptable best manufacturing practice across countries and industries. The ultimate goal of a lean organisation is to create a smooth, high quality organisation that is able to produce finished products at the rate of customer demands with no waste. However, in reality, many organisations are not able to transform themselves to lean manufacturing organisations towards creating world-class companies. Transformation towards the lean manufacturing is full with formidable challenges. It is reported that many of lean manufacturing implementations, even those undertaken with the best intention, are often destined to a failure at some point of their implementations [1, 2]. In truth, lean manufacturing should be implemented comprehensively and holistically in terms of scope and content [3]. Many researchers have argued that the transition from traditional to lean environment requires cultural change in the organisation rather changing the manufacturing or technical issues [4, 5]. The transformations to lean manufacturing usually involved a radical change in structure, strategy and technical side of an organisation [6]. A clear understanding in managing these changes is required to ensure successful lean transformation. Many reported literatures have discussed the lean manufacturing transformation in great details but very few has discussed it in the perspective of organisational change management issues. However, many of the studies on lean manufacturing implementation or transformation are not explicitly framing the relationship between organisational change management issues and lean manufacturing implementation. There are some reported studies that have developed some lean implementation models [7-9], but many of them only focuses on technical elements of the implementation. Very few researches focus on the people change management issues or dimensions that may affect lean manufacturing implementation [2, 6].


The change from traditional manufacturing system to lean manufacturing system is a radical process and not an easy task [6, 10]. Lean manufacturing represent a holistic approach to change. In order to create the foundation for lean manufacturing to take hold, a significant organisational change must occur within the organisation. According to Narang et al. [11], the process of lean transition requires significant changes in the functions of the company. In the analysis of managing the change towards a lean enterprise mentioned by Smeds...
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