By: Ken Snyder
A little over a year ago, at the invitation of Professor Eric Olsen of Cal Poly, the Shingo Institute became re-engaged in the Lean Education Academic Network, or LEAN. This is a group of teachers, researchers and other academics from around the world who are involved in Lean curriculum design and research. LEAN was originally formed in the 1990s and was fairly active until a few years ago. The Shingo Institute was heavily involved in this group for a while, but then pulled out. As mentioned, a little over a year ago, Eric got a group of us got together for the purpose of re-invigorating LEAN.
We formed a steering committee. The LEAN steering committee is focusing on just two key initiatives: 1) How can we improve the teaching of Lean at all levels; and 2) How can we support research that will lead us to improve the process of improvement. Our goal is to extend this network throughout the world. In addition to Cal Poly and Utah State, we now have representatives on the committee from universities such as the University of Minnesota, Ohio State, University of Michigan, and from independent institutes such as LEI, the Lean Leadership Institute and Catalysis. Through the network of steering committee members, we have also established ties with representatives from several universities in Europe and Asia.
The reason I share this news now is because we finally launched our revamped website. You can visit the LEAN website at www.teachinglean.org. We invite you to visit and check out the work of LEAN. If you are interested in joining the network, please register on the website.
In addition to the new website, some of the accomplishments of LEAN this past year are listed below.
1) We have created a database of people interested in teaching and/or research at universities around the world. This is the group you will join if you register.
2) We are organizing annual meetings where we can meet as a group. In the United States, we have decided to organize our meetings around POMS – the leading academic conference in the U.S. on production and operations. Our first group meeting will be in Seattle on May 4.
3) We plan to organize regular meetings in Europe as well. We plan to identify a popular academic conference around which we can organize an annual meeting there as well.
4) Dr. Rachna Shah, a professor at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, is building a database of case studies, syllabi, etc. that teachers of Lean can pull content from. The first set of materials is already available on the website.
5) To support the research mission of LEAN, and under the direction of the Shingo Institute Director of Research, Dr. Rick Edgeman, the Shingo Institute has added a research track at all our conferences.
6) Dr. Edgeman has also arranged for LEAN and the Shingo Institute to sponsor special editions of some notable academic journals around Lean, with the content primarily coming from the best research presentations at our research tracks.
We think that all of these activities will lead to a better understanding and acceptance of Lean in the academic world, as well as add to the teaching and practice of Lean.