Title: “Leanus” - Lean without stress – Development of a sustainable production concept”
The literature on Lean and working environment show that Lean potentially may lead to a better
working environment, but this may not always be true. Especially work processes based on
Tayloristic principles may exhibit increasing pressure on the psychosocial working environment
due to work intensification. Companies are at the same time experiencing difficulties with engaging
the employees in Lean and establish continuous improvement and lasting productivity gains.
Purpose and research questions:
The purpose of this project is to study if Lean can be implemented in such a way that besides
economic gains, a good psycho social working environment is developed.
The project has been following the implementation of Lean in 10 Danish private and public
companies. The 10 companies were selected from at pool of 45 companies, whom responded to the
project call for participation. These companies were selected because the project required a wide
variety of companies i.e. production, health care and administration, and because they were about to
embark on a Lean implementation project. Such variety allows the project to capture the effect of
Lean in very different settings.
All participating companies underwent a baseline analysis consisting of a history workshop to
uncover the course of events leading up the present situation. They further underwent a
measurement of the psychosocial work environment using the COPSOQ questionnaire. The
baseline was supplemented with a follow-up measurement of the psychosocial work environment
(COPSOQ) approx. one year after the baseline supplemented by an evaluation of the effects and
results of the Lean projects.
Researchers visited the companies during the implementation to document the process and to
Based on the data collected, a case rapport was developed for each of the participating companies
containing quantitative data, qualitative observations and analysis.
The researchers in the project have developed a new and nuanced understanding of Lean in Danish
companies and its implications for the psychosocial working environment. Though, a uniform
correlation between Lean and psychosocial working environment cannot be established. 5
companies showed a modest improvement of the psychosocial environment, 4 companies showed
no change and 1 showed a deterioration of the psychosocial environment. This has lead to the
conclusion that the relationship between Lean and psychosocial work environment is mediated
through leadership and collaboration. Both factors are important for the outcome of using basic
Lean tools such as value stream mapping. Managers and workers must work together in order to
develop new and improved work processes, which may improve both the psychosocial and physical
Lean is used very different across the analysed companies, with some companies only using few
tools with a short term perspective and others using a wide variety of tools taking a long term
Lean is easier applied in industrial settings than in administration and health care and in particular
reactive processes pose a challenge to Lean. Companies which resembled industrial production
obtained a higher degree of Lean and used more tools from the Lean toolbox. This of course has to
do with the industrial context in which Lean was developed. It is possible to achieve productivity
gains in both administration and health care. In health care the best results are obtained by splitting
flows into planned, which lend themselves easily to Lean, and reactive flow with complications,
because reactive tasks can’t use Lean principles.
The change process to Lean induces change related stress. This may be alleviated by using
reflection seminars, which was developed in the project.
Overall it can be concluded that Lean as such does not lead to deterioration of the work
environment. It depends on the quality of the leadership and collaboration in the company.
|Place of Publication||Kgs. Lyngby|
|Number of pages||16|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|
|Series||DTU Management 2011|