A new MSc in Lean Enterprise is going to launch at the University of Buckingham, in the United Kingdom, in January 2013. Course Director Kate Mackle discusses with Roberto Priolo how the course was conceived and what students can expect from it.

Roberto Priolo: Can you briefly introduce the new MSc at the University of Buckingham?

Kate Mackle: Learning by doing is an essential feature of becoming a member of the improvement community. But there is still a need for professional development that recognises the value of profound understanding of the thinking and science underpinning lean and which confers mastery in the application of tools and methods.

Of course, lean has expanded vertically into accounting, marketing, HR, IT, logistics, and design and R&D, and horizontally into service, health, government, and banking. It is now integrated with other effective approaches including systems thinking and six sigma.

We’ve called the new MSc “Lean Enterprise” to highlight the overall business benefit of lean rather than a narrow focus on operations. Students will learn to apply an integrated approach to business improvement rather than a range of specific disciplines as in an MBA.

RP: What brought to the idea of starting a new course in Lean Enterprise?

KM: The MSc in Lean Operations at Lean Enterprise Research Centre established an international reputation. John Bicheno was course director and is leaving LERC together with various other staff who taught on the MSc.

We wanted to preserve this approach and build on the experience we’ve gained to improve the effectiveness of knowledge transfer to the next generation of experts.

The University of Buckingham has an established reputation for student satisfaction, innovation, and flexibility: the opportunity to establish a secondgeneration Masters in Lean there could not be missed.

RP: What is new about this course?

KM: Several aspects. The MSc is focused on tools, systems and principles. Integration will be a key feature, with emphasis on lean enterprise rather than just operations.

There will be practical experience with TWI and with systems thinking. In between modules there will be mentored exercises along A3-type lines. There will be web-based discussions. There will be a capstone exercise requiring participants to undertake an assessment of a real company, incorporating material from all modules. Although there will be assignments and a dissertation, there will be no written exams or tests.

RP: What can students expect to learn?

KM: The philosophy of the programme is that lean can only effectively be learned with handson practice. Hence, a considerable part of the programme is held onsite at plant and service locations. By the end of the programme, participants will have taken part in real exercises (not just case studies) in several organisations in several sectors.

Detailed mentoring, feedback, and discussion are important incorporated aspects. Networking, of course, is also a valuable element resulting from the class profile.

The student group is deliberately small to allow both practical handson participation and personal interaction with some of the leading practitioners in the UK.

RP: Who is going to teach at the MSc?

KM: The Buckingham course will be taught by the range of experienced practitioners and recognised academics. This ensures the tuition will benefit from integration of the various disciplines, enhancing the knowledge transfer into the students’ own businesses.