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Augmented Lean: The New Management Framework for Frontline Operations

Steve Plumb
By Steve Plumb Senior Editor, SME Media

Today’s industrial workforce has been underserved by technology. This is a paradox given that five decades of industrialization have been focused on scaling production using machines.

All industrial managers are familiar with lean, a way of thinking (and acting) that focuses on eliminating waste and streamlining processes to save time, space, materials, and money. For years now, we have sought to achieve this through machine efficiency. However, that has not worked so well, because machines don’t (yet) innovate and are not at the center of the production process.  In addition, manufacturing is still full of paper-based processes, and even if companies are investing in expensive machines and even robots, in many cases their workers are not communicating optimally electronically. Instead, when you empower your frontline workers by giving them easy access to the tools and technology they need to do their jobs, you are investing in their growth, productivity, and loyalty. It’s when people thrive that they innovate.

Enter: The Augmented Lean Framework, which entails significantly more than lean plus digital. In this podcast, SME Media Senior Editor Steve Plumb and Trond Undheim, Lead Ecosystem Evangelist for Tulip, discuss the concept of Augmented Lean, and how we chart a new management framework for the important challenge of moving from industrial automation to worker augmentation. Trond's most recent book is Augmented Lean: A Human-Centric Framework for Managing Frontline Operations, co-authored with Tulip CEO Natan Linder.

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