Making it stick on borrowed time: the role of internal consultants in public sector lean transformations
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionThe TQM Journal. 2018, 30 (3), 217-231. 10.1108/TQM-09-2017-0106
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore the roles of internal lean consultants in western organizations during lean transformation processes and how these roles affect the outcomes of the changes. Design/methodology/approach Findings are based on a qualitative study of four Norwegian public organizations. Findings Characteristics of western organizations put internal lean consultants in important roles during the project initiation and change phases. However, consultants have less impact in the last phase of the transformation process while transferring the responsibilities over to line management. The organizations struggle to “make lean stick” due to the distribution of responsibilities between managers and internal consultants. Practical implications The distribution of responsibilities between managers and consultants should be carefully considered in lean transformation processes. Internal lean consultants should serve the managers as teachers and coaches, rather than doing their jobs for them. Originality/value The paper contributes with in-depth knowledge of the roles of internal consultants in lean transformation processes, a topic that the literature has left unexplored and undebated.