"During the program, I discovered a totally different way of management”
June 17, 2015 | 3 min read
In TIAS’ Executive MBA called Strategic Operations Management, Rudy Gort MSc MBA learned that the values of the lean management philosophy are very close to his own values. He has now compiled all his knowledge on the subject in a book.
Photo credits: David Currie Photography
“In various roles, I have always been occupied with processes. Processes affect all areas in a company. I have a technical background, and therefore lacked knowledge from fields other than the technical ones. I opted for an MBA to extend my knowledge to other backgrounds. I was not so much looking for a management program.
TIAS – then still called NIMBAS – is a Dutch business school situated locally. And it has a good reputation. I have a wife and a job and therefore sought something good in the Netherlands. NIMBAS suited me emotionally."
What is meant by “lean”?
Lean aims to deliver maximum value to the customer (purpose) by means of an optimized process and achieves that by putting to use the individual’s capabilities as well as possible (people). Toyota calls that "respect for people" and "continuous improvement."
What important insight did you gain in the program?
"During the program, I discovered a totally different way of management that is much closer to my own values than most common (project) management practices that I encountered earlier in my ten years of work. That is the lean philosophy."
What did you write your thesis about?
“Professor Steve Brown kindled my interest in lean philosophy during the Strategic Operations Management program. That is why I wanted to write my thesis on lean philosophy, but the topic is obviously very broad, too broad for a thesis. Sustainability was another topic. It was already a hot item then.
I then looked into the combination of “lean” and sustainability. I wanted to know how those two worlds strengthen or contradict each other.
While writing my thesis I learned that “lean” and sustainability can strengthen each other and hardly contradict each other. “Lean” can enhance sustainability by making it more cost-effective, cheaper rather than more expensive. And sustainability can be a motivating factor for “lean” in terms of long-term objectives (purpose). In practice, they are hardly ever linked. While working on my thesis, I researched companies like KLM Catering, MSD and Corus, now called Tata Steel. Back then they were working on both issues, but those departments were operating independently."
Why does “lean” appeal to you?
“I am a perfectionist and love to continuously improve myself. I noticed that things went wrong in the practice of projects, but this was swept under the carpet and the same mistakes were made the next time. I regret that as these errors can be prevented. Improving yourself and learning from mistakes are essential aspects of the lean philosophy."
Book: Lean vertaald naar projecten (2015, in Dutch)
Editor:Eveline Broekhuizen – Elibro Tekst & Redactie
More information about this book
And now a book?
"During my studies I sent open applications to companies that applied the lean philosophy. Although no job was available at first, I was offered a job by Heembouw five months later – the company created a position for me. In that role, I began to gather more knowledge about ‘lean,’ I already had several books and folders on the subject. And I was regularly invited for presentations or lectures. I noticed that the construction industry, but also elsewhere, only uses parts of the lean philosophy and that it is often used in a shortsighted way. At the same time colleges have few examples of what is possible with “lean” and what it really entails. If we really want to improve something in applying ‘lean,’ we will not get much further in this way, I thought. With this book I want to share my knowledge and experience of ‘lean.’ I want to increase the effectiveness of ‘lean,’ not only in companies but also among students. And not just by applying ‘lean’ in large production environments. But especially in projects. That is precisely where it is most effective. While you can find the efficiency in production."