Lessons from Wipro’s Tryst with Lean (TPS), Part-1 of 3

Written by LUMINIS. Posted in Process Management Blog

The following section is devoted to the lessons that can be derived from the success of Lean principles at Wipro and applied in any of Knowledge industry--be it telecom, insurance or legal services etc.  It's an extension of my previous post: Wipro’s Tryst with Lean (Toyota Production System)

1.  Continually rooting out waste should be an integral part of every Knowledge Worker's job.

Lesson 1 Root out the waste

There are "Seven Wastes (MUDAs)" that everyone in any set of operations should strive to eliminate--over-production, unnecessary transportation, inventory, and worker motion, defects, over-processing, and waiting.  These 7-wastes are quite well known in the world of manufacturing.   But, typical knowledge work sites are also loaded with these wastes.  Indeed, knowledge work includes many routine activities that don't involve judgment or expertise and can eat up huge amounts of time, such as printing documents, requesting information needed to make a decision, and setting up meetings, to name just a few.

The key is to get everyone in the organization to systematically make waste visible and do something about it.

Here's how to enlist people in your cause:

2.  Strive to make tacit knowledge ‘explicit’.

Lesson 2 Strive to make tacit knowledge explicit

It is about the practice of writing down exactly how to perform a task—clearly defining the substance, order, timing, and desired result.  This practice has delivered significant value to manufacturers.  It allows you to compare the actual and expected outputs, and take the corrective actions subsequently.

Don’t think that this approach may not be relevant to your knowledge operations.  Many of the processes in knowledge operations are worked out inside an employee's head; they may be invisible to others and hard to articulate into concrete, replicable steps.  For an example, an investment banker, may not be able to easily explain how he persuaded someone to accept a deal.

Yes, it is correct that the work in a knowledge operation may change rapidly, and on any given day people may do a mix of tasks—some that require judgment or intuition, and some that could be reduced to a protocol because the problem and the best ways to address it, are well understood.  Precisely because people typically perform both kinds of work, don’t assume that many tasks that could be standardized, can't be.

Despite the challenges, a surprisingly large amount of knowledge work can be specified.  And once it has been, it can be continually improved.   The key is to challenge the assumption that all knowledge is inherently tacit.

Because successful specification of work often depends on workers' involvement, overcoming such resistance is crucial.  Proving the effectiveness of the process is the key to overcoming such resistance.   Wipro recognized this early on and began tracking where and how the specification of tasks was boosting performance.  It quickly saw that specification was particularly beneficial to projects running behind schedule.  Managers were then able to use the data on these projects' improvements to win over other parts of the organization.



This article is written & published by Rajneesh Kumar, General Manager at Luminis Consulting Services Pvt Ltd, India. He can be reached at Email:  and/or Linkedin: https://in.linkedin.com/in/rajneeshkumar1 



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