Implementing A Successful Lean Program: Where Do You Begin? - Pharmaceutical Technology

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PharmTech Europe

Implementing A Successful Lean Program: Where Do You Begin?

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe
Volume 22, Issue 9

Changing the culture of an organisation is always challenging. At Lundbeck, the initial scepticism meant the need for a pilot project, which may not be the case for other organisations.

Figure 6: Leadership buy-in before and after Lean Leadership Programme.
Despite the success of the Lean implementation, it became clear by 2007 that momentum was being lost. In particular, there was a notable lack of motivation amongst middle management, with only 36% citing Lean as a factor increasing their motivation for working for the company. The introduction of the Lean Leadership programme broke this deadlock and, by 2008, middle management motivation had increased to near 100% (Figure 6).

Figure 7: The vision for Lundbeck Lean Leadership Style.
This succeeded by going through a journey with the Leaders, where Lean was discussed with all managers each quarter, focussing the leadership style needed from them to support Lean. Managers were given the responsibility for Lean and each of them undertook a Lean learning assignment to pass the final examination of programme forcing ownership and reflection of the Lean Leadership role. It is unusual to gain approval to take all leaders out of an organisation for 12 days of intensive training and additional homework assignments during one year — Lundbeck believed that a Lean culture could revolutionise the company and felt it was worth the effort. In part, the success of the programme was due to all leaders from all levels participating in it together; sharing views, sharing knowledge and learning together. It created a strong network between the leaders and a natural drive for learning the new Leadership style (Figure 7).


Lean management has gathered success throughout many sectors of industry and the pharmaceutical industry is just one environment where Lean can really benefit not only the business operations but the culture of an organisation. Lean can create remarkable results as demonstrated by Lundbeck; the creation of Lean Leaders at all levels ensures that Lean culture takes stronger roots throughout the supply chain, supporting existing company ethical values and business objectives. The resources freed by reducing costs as a proportion of revenue as a result of implementing Lean can be dedicated to drug research and development.

When considering Lean methodologies, the pharmaceutical industry must think strategically about why the business needs to change, what the current condition is, what results the business wants to achieve with metrics, and involve their staff at every step of the way. Business leaders must make it their role to define and explain what these goals are, share the path to achieving them, motivate people to take the journey with them, and assist them in removing obstacles.

Leaders must embrace Lean with the objective of transforming the culture of the company to avoid the risk of implementing Lean and being disappointed by the results after the initial honeymoon phase has ended.

Changing the culture of a company needs to be constantly reiterated like a mantra with a strong focus on creating a Lean leadership style that enables all members of the organisation to make improvements every day. Employees are the enablers who will improve processes and deliver on bold targets. The Leaders have no more important role than to motivate and engage all employees to work together towards achieving these bold goals and revolutionising the culture of the company. Once achieved, the true value of Lean will be revealed.


Simpler Consulting, a lean management consultancy, provided Lundbeck with advice on Lean methodology during the initial stages of this project.


1. J. Davis, Lean Manufacturing (Industrial Press, New York, USA, 2006) p 59.

2. J.P. Womack, D.T. Jobes, D Roos and D. Sommons Carpenter, The Machine that Changed the World (Rowson Associates, New York, USA, 1990) pp 51–53.

3. G. Koenigsaecker, Leading the Lean Enterprise Transformation: What is Lean? (CRC Press, London, UK, 2009) p 9.

4. V. Grover, W. Kettinger and J. Teng, Business and Economic Review, 46(2), 14–18 (2000)C.

5. Pharmaceutical Technology's QPEC Quality and Process Excellence Conference (VA, USA, July 2008).

6. A. Greene and D. O'Rourke, Pharm. Technol. Eur. 18(10), 33–39 (2006).


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