Title

Sustainability of process improvements: an application of the experiential learning model (ELM)

Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

9-2-2017

Abstract

Despite the pervasiveness of process improvement (Lean or Six Sigma) programmes, there is a rising concern regarding the sustainability of these programmes. Several studies point out that initial operational efficiency gains as a result of these programmes simply disappear over time. Using process improvement implementation experiences in an aircraft manufacturing and distribution operation, we studied long-term sustainability of process improvement events. We found that process owners of successful improvement events applied experiential learning model (ELM). The ELM is a cycle of–(1) concrete experience, (2) reflective observations, and (3) abstract conceptualizations, and (4) active experimentation. This study finds that when the ELM cycle is repeated many times over an extended period to continuously improve, and documented using A3 reports, that the improvement is sustained.

Publication Title

International Journal of Production Research

Volume

55

Issue

17

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