Companies of the future have to be able to respond quickly and effectively to rapidly changing customer demands. Embedding a continuous improvement culture throughout the entire organization is paramount in this regard. However, on the contrary, backsliding and loss of momentum are often observed in companies from Western countries and are considered as the main reasons why various approaches to reach operational excellence, such as Lean, frequently do not reach their envisaged effect. Although some companies have succeeded – but definitely not enough companies to safeguard Flanders’ competitive position – the majority is looking for a structural approach to enhance and sustain their journey towards operational excellence. This project aims at field testing and validating such a structured approach.
The envisaged structural approach encompasses organizational constructs and management information systems and thus combines research results from the two leading project partners.
1) (Re)design the Organizational Structure, removing obstacles and thus creating a biotope for effective teamwork, fast problem-solving and continuous improvement. Although the importance of organizational structure has been acknowledged and the tenets of redesign theory are well validated, current theory on the (re)design of the organization is unable to provide accurate advice on how specific tasks and responsibilities should be allocated in a concrete organizational structure. We will fill this gap by complementing the current knowledge with transaction costs theory.
2) Introduce a LEan MAnagement System (LEMAS). This management information system was recently designed to serve as backbone for the interlocking management loops that typify a Lean organization. LEMAS will regularly provide customized feedback to each involved person at each management level. Shortening the feedback loop allows faster visualization of the effects of improvements, motivating the involved persons. The aim is to validate LEMAS and improve it through user (employees and managers) involvement.