• Study location Room C3-003/digital, MDH Eskilstuna
  • 2020-06-05 10:00

The public defense of Christer Osterman’s doctoral thesis in Innovation and Design

The public defense of Christer Osterman’s doctoral thesis in Innovation and Design will take place at Mälardalen University, room C3-003 (Eskilstuna Campus) at 10:00 on June 5, 2020.

Title: “Defining Gaps in Lean. Increasing the ability to solve problems in a production system”.

Serial number: 313

The faculty examiner is Associate Professor Pernilla Ingelsson, Mittuniversitetet, and the examining committee consists of Associate Professor Kerstin Johansen, Tekniska högskolan i Jönköping and Associate Professor Lars Medbo, Chalmers tekniska högskola.

Reserve is Associate Professor Koteshwar Chirumalla, MDH and Professor Anette Hallin, Åbo akademi.

Link to Zoom: https://mdh-se.zoom.us/j/65885905894external link


In recent decades, Lean has grown in popularity and has spread around the world. Despite its popularity, many companies and organizations report difficulties, and the success rate is low. Lean is presented as a simple, holistic concept. Lean has been studied by many researchers from different perspectives. This has resulted in numerous views of Lean. Not all views are not equally well defined. A few have gaps. Three of these are the focus of this research. They are the Value – Value-add – Waste assumption (V-VA-W) resulting in challenges understanding process problems, the Jargon problem (JP) resulting in challenges understanding Lean practice and actually solving problems, and the System problem (SP) resulting in challenges developing solutions without negative effects for other parts of the system.

Practices that developed into Lean evolved over many years, primarily at Toyota. Over time the experience of solving a massive number of small problems resulted in rules of thumb, which, much later, were codified as Lean principles. The ability to understand and solve problems at the group level of a process, therefore, serves as a measure of Lean gaps. The purpose of this research is to provide a better definition of the gaps in order to increase problem-solving ability at the group level of a process. In addition, a better definition of the gaps provides researchers with a deeper understanding of Lean.

The thesis is based on four multiple case studies resulting in five papers. Each study provides a piece of the puzzle. The V-VA-W assumption can be better defined by including changeability in solutions, resulting in lower process costs when conditions change and evaluating the complexity of a process before defining waste. JP can be better defined through a balance of contextual adaptation of solutions while retaining the overall purpose of the production system and through synchronizing the understanding of Lean in the organization based on method utility. Finally, SP is defined through balancing requirements of a particular solution against how it affects the entire system, and also considering the application order of system elements as a consequence of a contextually dependent starting point. In total, a better understanding of the nature of problems and solutions together with an understanding of how the system interrelates creates the right conditions for a better understanding of the concept of Lean in general and, hopefully, a higher Lean integration.