A new book is published on Empowering Workers


Whether it’s on the store floor assembling products or in equipment troubleshooting, industrial frontline workers are at the heart of manufacturing – and represent a huge part of productivity in any economy.

They are routinely tasked with delivering more, from faster product cycles to smoother global supply chains, to meet customer demands in light of competition. However, these vital “non-desktop” workers are expected to perform their challenging and increasingly complex jobs using outdated and inappropriate technical tools.

The Enhanced Lean: A Human-Centered Framework for Frontline Operations Management (Wiley, October 2022) by Entrepreneurs and Futurists Natan Linder, Ph.D., and Trond Arne Ondheim, Ph.D. sets out to change that by empowering production workers in manufacturing and along the supply chain with first-class tools.

Despite the common hype around robots, human workers aren’t going far. Rather than aiming to replace experienced and highly skilled manufacturing workers on the front lines with automation, this practical guide to revolutionizing manufacturing focuses on growing them — using technologies we already have in place, including tablets, mobile devices, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and augmented reality.

“What we should try to increase is not only the quality, speed, and power of the work process,” explains Linder and Undheim. “We must at the same time make sure that we enhance each worker’s sense of value. To do this, the technology used must be right for the task but also right for the person. Indeed, we believe that human technology is the critical backbone of operational success.”

In addition to its bottom-up vision mission, which focuses on people first, Lean Booster offers a comprehensive management framework and proven methodology. The authors show business leaders and mid-level managers alike how to create a resilient and robust front-line workforce, backed by the latest research and case studies from large-scale companies, including New Balance, Stanley Black & Decker, Cartier, DMG Mori and Tiffany’s, IFF biosciences company, and their industrial technology startup, Tulip Interfaces.

Among the many topics likely to change the industry and related practical questions, Natan Linder and Trond Arne Undheim can discuss:

  • Why it’s time to take technologies out of the office and harness their powers to transform frontline workers into knowledge workers—for broad gains in productivity, innovation, and worker satisfaction.
  • One of the most widely accessible and cost-effective, albeit counter-intuitive, ways to get the people dimension into manufacturing is right: using codeless software – replacing big data with interpretable data and without the need for any coding.
  • How new and adaptive technologies encourage decentralized decision-making and flexible operations, while maintaining the ability of manufacturing engineers and senior management to implement connected problem-solving.
  • Practical suggestions for overcoming resistance to change – from above and at all ranks – and implementing frontline workforce reconfiguration with minimal disruption and cost.
  • How to roll out industrial technology the right way, with an interest in tackling practical challenges in a wide range of industries and settings, from life sciences to manufacturing, and across discrete and continuous process-based workflows.
  • Strategies and tactics to make technology augmentation scalable and track its impact, as well as run data.
  • Why the future of manufacturing is bright, and the industry is poised to once again become the sector with facilities, technologies, processes and management models that inspire and challenge all others.

Filled with practical lessons for CEOs, engineers, policy makers and operators – mid-level managers who closely understand needs and recognize the critical contributions of frontline workers – the Lean Booster is finally a call not only to re-examine the role of technology in manufacturing but to transform every industrial workplace into an organization Real educational.

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