Lean Blog Interviews — 450: Torbjorn Netland, PhD on Company Production Systems, Lean & Technology, and More

Episode page: https://leanblog.org/450

My guest for Episode #450 of the Lean Blog Interviews Podcast is Professor Torbjorn Netland, Ph.D.

Tor is the chair of production and operations management in the department of management, technology and economics at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. 

He is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Advanced Manufacturing and Value Chains and a Fellow of the European Academy for Industrial Management. 

His award-winning research on managing performance improvement appears in leading scientific journals such as Management Science, MIT Sloan Management Review, Journal of Operations Management,  and more.

Tor is a recognized thought-leader in operational excellence (including lean) and is the recipient of two Shingo Research Awards and numerous teaching awards. 

His blogs at www.better-operations.com.

Like my recent guest, Dr. Lisa Yerian (ep 449), Tor is going to be one of the keynote speakers at the 2022 AME Conference, being held in Dallas — Oct 17 to 20. I’ll be there and I hope you will be too.

Today, we discuss topics and questions including:

  • Tor, what is the topic of your keynote talk on the AME theme of “Embrace Disruption”?
  • Tell us your thoughts on the role of new technologies in Lean?
  • Not just emulating Toyota of the 1960s
  • Lessons learned about bringing new ideas to people?
  • The dream of the lights-out factory has been haunting us for a while now – GM CEO Roger Smith in the 1980s and in more recent years Elon Musk at Tesla… is that still a dream? Is it a dystopian nightmare? Or something in between?
  • How did you first get interested in Lean and Operational Excellence?
  • Dogma vs practical realities – Buffers? Inspection?
  • Last year, you blogged about the confusion around “what is Lean?” How do you define Lean and what’s the most common confusion?
  • Different views of researchers? 
  • How do you describe the role of company-specific production systems?
  • Difference in having YOUR production system vs. just a name?
  • “If you like heated debates, start a discussion thread on the definition of lean on LinkedIn.”
  • Another heated debate — Lean is not TPS? Goes beyond TPS?
  • Tell us why it’s wrong to blame JIT for pandemic-era supply chain problems…
  • You have a textbook, written with Michel Baudin, coming out — tell us about that?

The podcast is sponsored by Stiles Associates, now in their 30th year of business. They are the go-to Lean recruiting firm serving the manufacturing, private equity, and healthcare industries. Learn more.

This podcast is part of the #LeanCommunicators network