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Applying lean in product development - enabler or inhibitor of creativity?
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Machine Design (Dept.), Integrated Product Development.
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Machine Design (Dept.), Integrated Product Development.
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Machine Design (Dept.), Integrated Product Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0592-4002
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Machine Design (Dept.), Integrated Product Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6024-7908
2015 (English)In: International Journal of Technology Management, ISSN 0267-5730, E-ISSN 1741-5276, Vol. 68, no 1-2, 49-69 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Lean has become increasingly popular as a process management approach outside its original application in manufacturing, and it is frequently used as a means to increase efficiency in research and development (R&D) processes. Previous research suggests that lean can be used to increase R&D efficiency, but there is disagreement on whether or not this comes at the expense of creativity. In this article, the effects of lean product development on creativity are studied by means of case studies in the R&D departments of five companies. The empirical observations highlighted a number of important aspects when applying lean in product development. The data suggested that a primary focus of lean in product development was flow, rather than waste reduction, and that significant focus was given to the reduction of disturbances. Another finding was the need for a long-term perspective in R&D to safeguard creativity and that the reduction of slack time following the implementation of lean clearly limited the opportunities to undertake unsanctioned innovation projects, often referred to as 'skunk work'. Finally, the importance of management support and employee training to aid the implementation of lean was emphasised.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 68, no 1-2, 49-69 p.
Keyword [en]
lean, process management, LPD, lean product development, product development, creativity, efficiency, productivity, operations
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics Work Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-160627DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2015.068774ISI: 000352858100003Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84928042419OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-160627DiVA: diva2:790579
Note

QC 20150507. Updated from accepted to published.

Available from: 2015-02-25 Created: 2015-02-25 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Innovation under pressure: Reclaiming the micro-level exploration space
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Innovation under pressure: Reclaiming the micro-level exploration space
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Research & Development (R&D) departments are becoming increasingly structured and routine-based, with tight schedules and daily follow-ups. This way of working stems from increased demands for delivering products to customers quickly and with high quality at a low price. At the same time, these organisations are faced with the challenge of coming up with new ideas that can become the foundations of tomorrow’s innovations. This means that R&D departments must achieve both exploration, in terms of coming up with new ideas, and exploitation in terms of turning existing ideas into products available on the market. If these dual perspectives are to be met within a single work unit, the employees in that unit must achieve what we call contextual ambidexterity. Previous research has shown this to be difficult to achieve and has offered little guidance for organisations about how to organise and manage their operations in order to increase their chances of achieving contextual ambidexterity.The aim of this thesis is to explore challenges related to innovation that are encountered at the micro-level in contextually ambidextrous organisations and to shed light on factors that explain those challenges.This study has combined survey data with interview data from several organisations to analyse the relationship between aspects of efficiency and aspects of creativity. It was found that employees in a contextually ambidextrous organisation struggle to ensure enough micro-level exploration space, in other words, they have trouble finding time to explore ideas and making room for novel ideas.This research shows that a contextually ambidextrous approach in R&D will likely exert two main challenges related to innovation. The first challenge is a crowding out of exploratory activities in favour of exploitatory activities. One reason for this is the combination of using productivity goals for exploitation and not using any similar targets for exploration activities. Large discrepancies in how these two types of activities are treated runs the risk that the one that is less monitored – most often exploration – is likely to be crowded out in favour of the one that is more intensely monitored.A second possible challenge is the demand on predictability in project progress that is often built into organisations as a means to enhance exploitation. This aim for predictability might create a reluctance to introduce new projects with high levels of novelty because the introduction of novel ideas contains uncertainties that jeopardise the adherence to the project plan. The combination of this view of novelty in the later phases of product development and the crowding out of exploratory activities could possibly lead to insufficient room for novel ideas to gain ground in the organisation, and this could lead to less innovative output.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2015. vi, 101 p.
Series
TRITA-MMK, ISSN 1400-1179 ; 2015:02
Keyword
Ambidexterity, exploration, exploitation, creativity, innovation, micro-level exploration space, operational level, operations, operational effectiveness, employee, lean, lean thinking, process management, streamlining, flow
National Category
Mechanical Engineering
Research subject
Machine Design
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-160618 (URN)978-91-7595-449-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-03-20, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, KTH, Stockholm, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20150225

Available from: 2015-02-25 Created: 2015-02-25 Last updated: 2015-02-25Bibliographically approved

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Lund Stetler, KatarinaMagnusson, Mats

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