Interpreting the concept of 'value' within the Lean paradigm
Thomas, Andrew J.
Centre for Concurrent Enterprise
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The Lean paradigm (Womack & Jones, 1996) remains extremely influential on operations and supply chain practice and research. The first two of the five ‘Lean Principles’ advanced by Womack & Jones as a prescription for becoming Lean concern the concept of ‘value’. These are: (1) Understand value from your customer’s perspective (2) Map the value stream. However, the significant personal experience of the authors of this paper in applying the Lean paradigm suggest continued ambiguity of this most fundamental concept within both the Lean literature and practice. Our initial investigations suggest a gap in the literature on this topic, and Lean practitioners treating the concept of ‘value’ as axiomatic. As a consequence and to the detriment of the project concerned, Lean intervention projects in practice invariably start at the second principle, and without any discussion, identification or consensus among the project team concerning the actual ‘value’ that is to be mapped. Over the past three ISLs we have presented papers that have explored and characterised the conception of ‘value’ within the field of Logistics and Supply Chain Management generally (see Francis et al., 2014). In this paper we now apply the content analysis method developed within the papers above specifically to the Lean literature. Its purpose is to yield rigorous insight into how the concept of value is conceived within this body of material, and hence provide utility to both academics and practitioners working within this area.
20th International Symposium on Logistics (ISL 2015);
Francis, M., Fisher, R. & Thomas, A. (2015) 'Interpreting the concept of 'value' within the Lean paradigm', In Pawar, K.S., Rogers, H. and Ferrari, E. (ed.s) The Proceedings of 20th International Symposium on Logistics (ISL 2015) : Reflections on Supply Chain Research and Practice. Bologna, Italy 5th – 8th July 2015. Nottingham: Centre for Concurrent Enterprise, pp. 590-599
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