LEAN SERVICES: How service organisations meet future challenges

LEAN SERVICES: How service organisations meet future challenges

The 2008 ACE Report on Operational and Lean Management revealed that almost 80% of European manufacturing companies apply Lean Management to enhance their competitiveness, whilst only one-third of service organisations, public and private, have started to use this method to improve performance. Based on dealings with hundreds of projects, in a large variety of service industries across Europe, we have witnessed how Lean principles – renowned for their success in the manufacturing industry – can just as successfully be applied within service organisations.

The trick is not to copy them, but to adapt the basic principles of Lean thinking to the very different conditions in service organisations. In the words of John Shook, chairman and CEO of the Lean Enterprise Institute: “It has been a surprise to me that Lean tools are actually even more useful in an administrative, knowledge-based company than they are in production. By making work visible, we also make problems visible. It gives a huge psychological change effect because it will be accepted that problems exist. I recently visited the world famous Mayo Clinic in the U.S., and there was a surgeon who said: ‘If I can see it, I can fix it.’ It’s the same for us in Lean: If the problem is visible, we can solve it.” We believe that Lean Management has a lot in common with sports like acrobatics or sky diving, because it stands for individual expertise embedded in a team – the capability to execute actions in perfect alignment, even under risky and ever-changing conditions.

In the latest 2011 ACE Report on Lean Services, European service organisations reveal some of the major challenges they will face in the coming years. More and faster innovation and better services at lower cost, with less qualified resources are just the tip of the iceberg. This report gives a clear overview of where the most pressing issues are,  how prepared service organisations are to tackle them and by what means they plan to do so. More importantly, you will find solutions to these challenges – real case studies where different Lean approaches have already been successfully applied in service organisations, as well as a comprehensive overview of how to implement Lean in this sector. 

The ACE Lean Services project team: Barbara Causse, Markus Doerflinger, Cristiano Grosa, Markus Gruenenwald, Amdi Hansen, Hans Heijerman, Jan Larsson, Michael Leck, Gunter Schoeller and Friederike von Zenker.

Download the full report.