Lean Six Sigma in Action : Problems and prospects of expansive learning in an international aircraft

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201505191031
Title: Lean Six Sigma in Action : Problems and prospects of expansive learning in an international aircraft
Author: Ma, Qian
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, Institute of Behavioural Sciences
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2014
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201505191031
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/152999
Thesis level: master's thesis
Abstract: Objectives. This research addressed the problems and prospects of Lean Six Sigma (LSS), one of the world's most popular organizational development methods at present. The study enriched this method by suggesting a more sustainable way of organizational development. The previous research on LSS mainly focused on the technical tools in utilizing the production process. Drawing on the theory of Expansive Learning, this research evaluated the learning process of LSS by focusing on the practitioners. The purpose of the research was twofold. First, it analyzed the contradictions of LSS project activity in the research site. It was expected to uncover the problems that jeopardized the learning process of the practitioners. Second, it discussed the zone of proximal development (ZPD) of LSS project activity for the research site, with the purpose of shedding light on the possibilities of future development and learning. Methods. The research site was an international aircraft manufacturer in China. Eleven LSS practitioners were interviewed, including eight Green Belts, one Black Belt, one Master Black Belt and one Green Belt team member. The data were analyzed by adopting three methods: the analysis of conceptions, the Analysis of discursive manifestations of contradictions, and the analysis of action-activity transformation in expansive learning. The ZPD was sketched from two dimensions: the first one by analyzing the action-activity transformation of the practitioners; the second one by evaluating the conception of "what have expanded" in the practitioners due to the project experiences. Results and conclusions. The analysis uncovered eight contradictions in LSS project activity system. Five were scattered in the project activity itself between or within varied elements of activity. Three were between the project activity, the department-based work activity and the LSS training activity. One case in which the GB's trials in breaking the constraints in his own project resulted in collective expansive learning efforts cross projects was analyzed as the representation of action-activity transformation. In addition, some practitioners had re-conceptualized their work motivation through the project experience, seeing Lean Six Sigma as a conceptual tool for understanding strategic work planning and gaining long-term work motivation. In conclusion, two dimensions of the ZPD were suggested: first, an integrated top-down and bottom-up approaches for organizational transformation; second, transcending from LSS as the "concrete tool in individual skill appropriation" to the "conceptual tool in collective work reconceptualization". The organizations adopting the LSS method can reflect on this thesis to improve their LSS practices by paying attention to the "critical transition agent" for cross-functional processes' interaction, the employees' learning initiatives and work motivation.
Subject: Lean Six Sigma (LSS)
Green Belt project
DMAIC
theory of expansive learning
organizational transformation
activity theory
contradictions
zone of proximal development
Discipline: Adult education
Aikuiskasvatustiede
Vuxenpedagogik


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