DOI

10.5703/1288284317332

Abstract

From Letters to Logistics - The enabling role of a lean transformation programme

in a national postal service: The case of An Post, Ireland

Seamus O’Reilly (Cork University Business School), David Murray (An Post) and Joe Aherne (Leading Edge Group)

Abstract

Purpose

This paper investigates the role of a lean transformation programme in supporting the transition of a national postal (mail) service from a traditional letter delivery service to a competitive parcel delivery service.

Methodology

Given the objective an intrinsic case study (Stake, 2005) approach was adopted, as this specific case was of interest. To support this approach the researchers had access to a range of data sources including, archives (e.g. strategy documents), reports (e.g. project reports and outputs), and access to management involved in the transformation programme.

Findings

The findings highlight the fundamental role of leadership, at all levels, and organisational culture in supporting a LSS transformation programme. The balance between dedicated experts and larger projects on one hand and wider engagement throughout the organisation on the other hand was instrumental to embedding an LSS culture. In this regard frontline managers had a key role to play.

Limitations

As with any case study research we must be careful when generalising the findings. Furthermore, given the relatively recent strategy deployment within the case organisation, further follow-up studies are required to establish the sustainability of the culture change and benefits achieved.

Originality

On the basis of a systematic literature review, Danese et al. (2018) call for exploratory case studies/action research to better understand how lean could be implemented in public sector. This intrinsic case approach adopted responds to this.

Practical Implications

The study links research and practice through assessment of the organisational journey and consideration of the findings in the context of success factors identified in the literature. Management behaviour and practices at all levels were fundamental to achieving a LSS transformation culture, including ‘go and see’ for senior management and active daily huddles facilitated by frontline management.

Key Words: Lean Six Sigma, Public Sector, Service Sector, National Mail Service.

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Apr 27 2021

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From Letters to Logistics - The enabling role of a lean transformation programme in a national postal service: The case of An Post, Ireland

From Letters to Logistics - The enabling role of a lean transformation programme

in a national postal service: The case of An Post, Ireland

Seamus O’Reilly (Cork University Business School), David Murray (An Post) and Joe Aherne (Leading Edge Group)

Abstract

Purpose

This paper investigates the role of a lean transformation programme in supporting the transition of a national postal (mail) service from a traditional letter delivery service to a competitive parcel delivery service.

Methodology

Given the objective an intrinsic case study (Stake, 2005) approach was adopted, as this specific case was of interest. To support this approach the researchers had access to a range of data sources including, archives (e.g. strategy documents), reports (e.g. project reports and outputs), and access to management involved in the transformation programme.

Findings

The findings highlight the fundamental role of leadership, at all levels, and organisational culture in supporting a LSS transformation programme. The balance between dedicated experts and larger projects on one hand and wider engagement throughout the organisation on the other hand was instrumental to embedding an LSS culture. In this regard frontline managers had a key role to play.

Limitations

As with any case study research we must be careful when generalising the findings. Furthermore, given the relatively recent strategy deployment within the case organisation, further follow-up studies are required to establish the sustainability of the culture change and benefits achieved.

Originality

On the basis of a systematic literature review, Danese et al. (2018) call for exploratory case studies/action research to better understand how lean could be implemented in public sector. This intrinsic case approach adopted responds to this.

Practical Implications

The study links research and practice through assessment of the organisational journey and consideration of the findings in the context of success factors identified in the literature. Management behaviour and practices at all levels were fundamental to achieving a LSS transformation culture, including ‘go and see’ for senior management and active daily huddles facilitated by frontline management.

Key Words: Lean Six Sigma, Public Sector, Service Sector, National Mail Service.