Lean Knowledge Work

Lean Knowledge Work

Applying the Lean approach to intellectual services.

Author(s): Bradley R. Staats, David M. Upton

Publisher: Harvard Business Review

Date of publication: 2011

Read this article on the publisher's website [Harvard Business Review]


Starting from the detailed example of an Indian IT Engineering Services firm, Wipro, the author shows that the Lean approach can be successfully applied to intellectual services. Indeed, this approach is what enabled Wipro to hold its own in the fiercely competitive Bangalore market. One of the major difficulties consisted in capitalizing on the implicit knowledge of each individual. This may seem infeasible, but by asking the right questions, managers were able to gradually document a large number of processes, including those around decision-making. A true cultural change had to be implemented to make people reflexively search for even the tiniest sources of waste. More than embracing new tools, the anchoring of new practices is what proved to be decisive. As a result, the documentation of knowledge, the continuous evaluation of the value created by specific actions, and the systematic testing of proposed improvements are now embedded reflexes. The results speak for themselves—Wipro’s IT projects are delivered faster and at lower cost.

The author tried to make the example as transposable as possible, and succeeded in producing an excellent source of inspiration!