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Topic Title: Requesting for master's thesis topic on lean management
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Created On: 06/10/2019 10:46 AM
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06/10/2019 10:06 PM
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Ashok Yaram


I'm Ashok a master' student, currently I'm looking for thesis topic on lean management(manufacturing & production).
So could anyone suggest me a topic regarding for my thesis.
Looking forward to hearing from you.

Thank you
06/16/2019 10:29 PM
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Don Guild

How about something like management compensation systems that support lean?
06/16/2019 10:29 PM
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Robert Simonis

What is your field of study? I would suggest the psychology of change as a topic, if that is within your field of study. What allows some organizations to change (to a lean method) while others (most) fail to make the transition? It is much more than change management, it has to do with mindset. Another possibility has to do with the speed of change, or flexibility. What are best practices or what do organizations do that allows them to change quickly in response to change. Depending on your field of study or interest, that might be from a manufacturing perspective about changes in mix or volume (like SMED, but in a larger system like an entire factory changing product types), or changes in customer preferences, or change from traditional retailing to the new paradigm of eCommerce (which is just called normal commerce now). What gives some business the flexibility to change quickly, where others fail to change quickly enough even though they recognize the need to change.
06/16/2019 10:29 PM
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Owen Berkeley-Hill

Hi Ashok,
Before you consider any topics for your thesis, you need to do some homework and possibly a lot of legwork: Genchi Genbutsu.

Here are some thoughts:
- Do you have a definition of Lean? There isn't one; not here not anywhere. I tried to get some consensus a while back; The sum of the conversation was that Lean was contextual and in essence meant all things to all men.

- If you cannot find a definition with which Lean people agree, then you must ask yourself what exactly is Lean. (John Howell, I suspect, will be struggling with this problem.) Is it just the visible 1/10 badly taught in universities and B-Schools as something to do with, and only to do with Operations, perhaps the Supply Chain if you are considered a visionary? Or is it, perhaps, the most significant advance in our understanding of how a good leader thinks, believes, acts and behaves? You may also ask yourself why the B-Schools have ignored Lean after the initial frenzy of discovering it 40 years ago.

- The knee-jerk reaction of the lazy thinker is that Lean is all about eliminating Waste (Muda). Acolytes of Six Sigma will say that you also need it to reduce variation or unevenness (Mura), forgetting that Lean is all about tackling the three horsemen of the Apocalypse: Muda, Mura, not forgetting Muri (overburden or stress). Why do these lazy attitudes still survive? Is it because academia has ignored basing their leadership education (the MBA) on sound Lean principles.

- Mention Artificial Intelligence and most technologists and business leaders will salivate like Pavlov's dog. What you might want to explore is how good has been the track record of these salivating people in growing the natural intelligence of their people. Poor to useless? Then ask yourself what exactly is the purpose of kaizen. Is it just continuous improvement? Or is kaizen a way of creating a learning culture in the whole organisation from the CEO down? Imagine if everyone tackled between 10-20 improvement per year? Including the CEO and his/her leadership team? How would the organisation behave? Would being able to distinguish visually between the Normal state (good) and the Abnormal (bad) become "muscle memory"? Would you see people with little or no education improve their processes, the product, and in doing so learn and develop? Sadly, the American Management Model taught in almost every B-School around the globe does not value people as much as it does the promise of that shiny, new silver bullet, which can be big data or AI today.

Good luck.
06/16/2019 10:29 PM
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David Apple

Two topics that I would be most interested if I were in your situation are:
1. How are traditional accounting and finance policies destructive to building a lean organization,
2. Is there a difference between younger and older manufacturing leaders in their acceptance and understanding of lean principles, and how does it accept business performance?
06/26/2019 08:52 AM
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Tim Anderson

Try.....What does a visual strategy look like? And how does it help?
06/26/2019 08:53 AM
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Larry Navarre

Hi Ashok,

As a thesis adviser, I appreciate your struggle. Don, Owen, Robert, and David have all added great suggestions. As one of those academics that we like to critique, I struggle with the challenges that Owen points out.

However, for a thesis project, you have to scope it fairly tightly. That said, I would not encourage you to dive into the weeds of a very specific technique of Lean. Rather, your thesis adviser will likely want you to think more broadly, yet you have to scope the topic so you can get it done.

One topic I find interesting is the apparent high performance of Lean Enterprises compared to all others. I have encouraged students to demonstrate that Lean Enterprises have better financial and operational performance. This is data that you can get reasonably easily through public sources. Perhaps you can take a list of companies whose plants are Shingo Award winners, then compare them to all the rest. Anecdotally, I think there is some surprisingly good business performance (in any measure) over all the rest.

Then when you get that done, I would love a copy of your thesis to add your conclusions and recommendations to my Lean OM, Lean SCM, and LPPD courses! :)