How Lean Complements Product Stewardship

Tina Armstrong, Vice President and Principal Scientist at Arcadis US, is passionate about improving operations through Lean. While many people don’t see a natural link between Lean and knowledge-based work, Armstrong demonstrated at Product Stewardship 2018 how it can improve work in the product stewardship field.

After detailing the history of industrial management systems that led to the development of Lean, Armstrong showed how applying the principles eliminate non-value-added process (classified as waste) to improve customer value. There’s a lot of opportunity to do so as between 70 and 90% of most operations involves waste.

Session attendees learned about the five principles of Lean and had the opportunity to apply them in hands-on activities where they could get feedback from each other and Armstrong. They learned how Lean can promote pride and competence in staff while also delivering reduced wait time and increased output quality.

To further drive home how this work applies to product stewardship, Armstrong gave examples of how she had helped companies implement Lean. She included strategies for engaging leaders to support implementation of Lean and make it part of the company culture. Staff engagement throughout the organization is a key piece of Lean.

Like so many other aspects of product stewardship, Lean uses data to drive decisions. Constant process measurement allows organizations to understand where they can improve and identify successes.


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