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Human Lean

Combining Sense of Coherence and Lean to achieve productivity and health

Time: Fri 2020-01-31 13.00

Location: Sal T2, Hälsovägen 11C, Flemingsberg (Swedish)

Subject area: Technology and Health

Doctoral student: Bengt Halling , Ergonomi

Opponent: Associate Professor Bonnie Poksinska, Linköping University

Supervisor: Professor Lars Bengtsson, Högskolan i Gävle; Professor Katarina Wijk, 1 Centre for Research and Development, Region Gävleborg Gävle, Sweden 2 Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Occupational Health Sciences and Psychology, University of Gävle, Sweden 3 Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden; Professor emeritus Jörgen Eklund, Skolan för kemi, bioteknologi och hälsa (CBH)

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The purpose of this thesis is to identify barriers to and supportive factors for Lean implementation and to investigate how application of the Sense of Coherence (SOC) theory combined with Lean philosophy may affect health and productivity. The thesis is based on five studies. The first study compared similarities and divergences in barriers to Lean described in interviews by informants in manufacturing and health care. The second study was a case study at a manufacturing firm. Interviews with managers implementing Lean revealed how their views on Lean influenced the implementation. In the third study, a literature analysis was used to conceptualize the concepts and roles of leadership and management in regard to Lean. In the fourth study it was explored how productivity, quality, work attendance and numbers of rehabilitation cases were influenced after implementation of sense of coherence theory based managerial behavior at three workplaces. The fifth study examined how the implementation of a new leadership approach based on the SOC theory combined with Lean philosophy relate to productivity, quality and levels of sick leave at a steel-producing company. The results from the studies show that the perceived difficulties and barriers are much the same in manufacturing and health care. Another finding was that managers' views on Lean influence the implementation but also that learning during the implementation process can alter their views. A third finding is that lean management is a matter of dualism, consisting of two complementary systems of action, management and leadership, which are related to the two basic principles of Lean, continuous improvement and respect for people. After application of the SOC theory combined with Lean as a basis for the managerial approach, there were improvements in productivity, quality, attendance at work and reduced levels of sick leave at all four studied workplaces, as well as fewer cases of rehabilitation at three workplaces. Several conclusions can be drawn. One is that Lean consultants with a limited approach to Lean, lack of a common organization-wide definition of Lean, and lack of supportive leadership are barriers to Lean implementation. Lean consultants with deep knowledge and capability to teach others Lean is a supportive factor. An organization-wide definition of Lean through an organization-specific Lean philosophy is another supportive factor. Managers that use both leadership and management to support people is a supportive factor to Lean. The study also shows that an application of SOC theory combined with Lean may be positively associated with health and productivity improvements. The overall conclusion is that people’s way of thinking and acting is the nucleus in Lean. To emphasize the importance of people, I suggest to call the approach of combining SOC and Lean “Human Lean.”