Lean and Green Business Model and Operational Implementation


In science, systems thinkers consider that a system is a set of interrelated parts that function as a whole to achieve a common purpose, a dynamic and complex whole, interacting as a structured functional unit. Therefore, subsystems are interdependent, meaning that a change in one part affects the other parts and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The individual bodies of literature are subsystems that compose the Lean and Green business model (L&GBM), which are interrelated, interdependent, and synergistic (Galeazzo et al., 2014). Its individual understanding is the basis to compose the L&GBM, the structured functional unit of this research.

Therefore, Chapter 1 explored the main characteristics, dimensions, fundamental building blocks, and main tools of the four main bodies of literature that compose this study:

  • 1. Operations management
  • 2. Lean thinking
  • 3. Sustainability
  • 4. Green thinking

This understanding is key for building and creating a new model. Chapter 1 also proposed an analysis of gaps and interactions of the individual blocks of literature that compose this work to establish the basis for the L&GBM.

Analysis of the literature highlights the following ten conclusions, which are fundamentally important for the design of the L&GBM:

  • 1. Being Lean or Green is a strategic company decision.
  • 2. Taking Lean manufacturing approach requires higher level of i ntegration with manufacturing processes than Green manufacturing. Green practices that want to succeed in terms of improving manufacturing should consider a higher level of integration with manufacturing ways of working and variables.
  • 3. There is currently no environmental practice that considers a certain level of manufacturing stability, integration, or Lean deployment as a prerequisite prior to be implemented.
  • 4. Green practices have basically two main objectives: (i) improving the use of natural resources and (ii) reducing the environmental impact.
  • 5. Most Green/sustainability practices do not fully contribute to the three sustainability dimensions. Pure Lean contributes to two sustainability dimensions: (1) profit and (2) people.
  • 6. Lean helps a company to become Green, even if there is no direct intention to reduce environmental impact. A company’s adoption of Lean manufacturing can be the first stage in becoming Green.
  • 7. There are intrinsic linkages between Lean and environmental practices. Studies prove synergy between Lean fundamentals while applying Green practices. Lean tools and fundamentals are successful when used for promoting environmental improvements.
  • 8. The full integration of Lean and Green practices with fundamental strategic objectives should benefit companies.
  • 9. There are few practices or models (EPA, 2006) that identify and measure environmental aspects and impacts based on manufacturing value streams.
  • 10. Integrating Lean and Green may introduce a new dimension to the traditional Lean thinking model.

This section of the book is dedicated to explaining the design and fundamental characteristics of the L&GBM, a model that aims to translate the environmental language to the manufacturing world, applying Lean thinking to solve environmental problems. Therefore, this chapter presents the purpose, the principles, and the ways of working of the L&GBM, as well as the explanation why it is different from pure Lean and pure Green.

It also illustrates how the new model was applied across different manufacturing environments and explores in detail how the engagement of the relevant stakeholders was key to the success of the project. The L&GBM model is described as it was applied in real life by the authors in their factories. The initial Kaizens were held on carefully chosen sites, which had a high level of successfully deployed and sustained Lean culture. As a result, the pilot projects begin to expose the value that can be generated by taking this approach through the results that were achieved. The pilots also provided the evidence for the L&GBM concept by demonstrating the link between the theoretical model and live application of the ideas. The rollout of the concept initially was quite straightforward—to similar (sister) manufacturing cells. From there, the concept followed classic Lean thinking by deployment across a value stream. The reverse testing provided an opportunity to test the concept in other manufacturing environments where it would seem that all the preconditions for success were in place.

In any large organization, there will be a number of stakeholders and influential people who need to be considered before embarking on any change program.

See Figure 2.1 for the evaluation of the political landscape behind the L&GBM deployment.

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