Lean Thinking in an Uncertain Environment: The Implications for UK Defence Acquisition
Within the overall framework of Through-Life Capability Management (TLCM) that underpins United Kingdom (UK) defence procurement, one of the key challenges is that of achieving the appropriate balance between expenditure on the initial cost of a platform or equipment and between that devoted to its ongoing maintenance and support. Against the background of a shrinking defence budget and a highly challenging series of operational tasks, reductions in the cost of support that do not diminish the output will clearly provide some welcome relief in the face of challenging financial pressures. Protagonists of "lean thinking" have argued that this concept does, indeed, provide increased efficiency without compromising effectiveness; however, it is usually associated with commercial production in a relatively stable physical and marketing environment. Using the UK's Defence Lines of Development as an analysis framework, we present a case study that demonstrates the application of lean thinking in the uncertain environment of military operations. In the case study, we demonstrate the effectiveness of the concept in a specific historic situation, that of the 15 Equipment Support Company in Operation TELIC (the UK counterpart of Operation Iraqi Freedom). However, we suggest the approach has broader applicability. In common with examples previously reported from the world of commerce and industry, lean measures require significant top-level commitment to change entrenched attitudes and approaches. Additionally, the successful inclusion of lean thinking as part of the overall approach to support for operations has the potential to lead to a sig
International Journal of Defence Acquisition Management
© 2010 Naval Postgraduate School. Self-archiving of the author-manuscript version is not yet supported by this publisher. Please refer to the journal link for access to the definitive, published version or contact the author[s] for more information.
Logistics and Supply Chain Management