Turning the lean world upside down

Peter Hines, Chris Butterworth, Caroline Greenlee, Cheryl Jekiel, Darrin Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to extend the People Value Stream concept further by developing a
view of what the world would look like through the eyes of a positive psychology employee-centred lens. The
authors hope to provide a frame for further discussion, research and practical application in this area.
Design/methodology/approach – In this conceptual paper, the authors draw on their collective 120 plus
years of experience with Lean and Human Resource Management through leading, teaching, researching and
consulting in the area.
Findings – The People Value Stream concept is extended here by ideating how the “Voice of the Employee”
could be used to enhance the existing knowledge of Lean. Relying on a range of cognitive psychological
theories, particularly Self-Determination Theory, the authors show how it might be possible to develop a
highly engaged workforce primarily by unlocking their intrinsic motivation through a “Self-Development and
Growth Cycle”. This cycle is the people-improvement version of the seminal Deming process-improvement
PDCA cycle. It can be applied within a job crafting “Personal Cockpit”. The authors also highlight a range of
outputs and wider implications that create a pull for team leaders and senior management wishing to move to
a real Servant Leader model. It will also help those developing and supporting people-related policies and
procedures both within organisations and in trade unions.
Originality/value – This paper turns the existing literature about people within Lean upside down. To the
best of the authors’ knowledge, for the first time in an academic paper, it discusses what would be the
implications for the Lean world if the authors truly started understanding and deploying the explicit “Voice of
the Employee” rather than just the established Lean “Voice of the Owner”-led Hoshin Kanri approach. The
authors show how a lack of knowledge in these areas by the Lean community is limiting Lean’s engagement
of people and its sustainability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)989-1024
Number of pages36
JournalInternational Journal of Lean Six Sigma
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 05 Sep 2022


  • People value stream
  • Voice of the employee
  • Meaning
  • Belief
  • Purpose
  • Lean
  • Flow


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