Augmented Lean:  A Human-Centric Framework For Managing Frontline Operations 444

Augmented Lean: A Human-Centric Framework For Managing Frontline Operations


Whether on the shop floor assembling products or in the field troubleshooting equipment, industrial frontline workers stand at the core of manufacturing—and represent a sizable chunk of the productivity in any economy. They’re routinely tasked with delivering more, from faster product cycles to smoother global supply chains to meeting customer demands in light of competition. Yet, these vital “deskless” workers are expected to do their demanding, and increasingly complex, jobs with outdated and inadequate tech tools.  

Augmented Lean: A Human-Centric Framework for Managing Frontline Operations (Wiley, October 2022) by entrepreneurs and futurists Natan Linder, PhD, and Trond Arne Undheim, PhD sets out to change that by empowering production workers in manufacturing and along the supply-chain with first-class tools. Despite the popular hype about robotics, human workers are not going away. Rather than aiming to replace valuable, experienced, and often highly skilled frontline manufacturing workers with automation, this practical guide to revolutionizing manufacturing focuses on augmenting them—using technologies that we already possess, including tablets, mobile devices, artificial intelligence, machine learning and augmented reality.

“What we should be trying to augment is not just the quality, speed, and power of a work process,” Linder and Undheim make clear. “We should simultaneously be sure we are boosting each worker’s sense of worth. To do that, the technology used must be fit for the task but also fit for the person. In fact, we believe humanistic technology is the critical lynchpin for operational success.”

Beyond its visionary bottom-up, people-first message, Augmented Lean delivers a comprehensive management framework and a proven methodology. The authors show business leaders and mid-level managers alike how to create an agile, empowered frontline workforce, backed by cutting-edge research and case studies from wide-ranging companies, including New Balance, Stanley Black & Decker, Cartier, DMG Mori, Tiffany’s, bioscience company IFF, and their own industrial tech startup, Tulip Interfaces.

Among many potentially industry-changing topics and related practical questions, Natan Linder and Trond Arne Undheim can discuss:
  • Why it’s time to take technologies out of the office and tap into their powers to transform frontline workers into knowledge workers—for widespread gains in productivity, innovation, and worker satisfaction.
  • One of the most widely accessible and cost-effective, if counterintuitive, ways to get the people-dimension in manufacturing right: the use of no-code software—replacing big data with interpretable data and without requiring any coding.  
  • How new, adaptive technologies encourage decentralized decision making and flexible operations, yet maintain the ability for manufacturing engineers and senior management to carry out connected problem-solving.
  • Practical suggestions for overcoming resistance to change—from the top as well as throughout the ranks—and implementing frontline workforce reskilling with minimal disruption and cost.
  • How to roll out industrial technology the right way, with attention to tackling the practical challenges in a wide range of industries and settings, from life science to manufacturing, and across both discrete and continuous, process-based workflows.
  • Strategies and tactics for making tech augmentation scalable and tracking its impact, as well as making data operational.      
  • Why the future of manufacturing is bright, and the industry is poised to again become the sector with facilities, technologies, processes, and management paradigms that inspire and challenge all others. 
Packed with practical lessons for executives, engineers, policymakers, and operators—mid-level managers who most closely understand the needs and recognize the critical contributions of frontline workers—Augmented Lean is ultimately a call to not only re-examine the role of technology in manufacturing but to transform every industrial place of work into a true learning organization.   


About the Authors:
Natan Linder, PhD, is Co-founder and CEO of the frontline operations platform Tulip, and the Co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Formlabs, a pioneer in professional desktop 3D printing. He received his doctorate from MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group.
Trond Arne Undheim, PhD, is a futurist, venture partner, Co-founder of Yegii, and formerly with MIT, WPP, Oracle, and the EU. He is also the host of the podcast Augmented ( He received his doctorate in the Future of Work and Artificial Intelligence from the NTNU’s Faculty of Social and Educational Sciences.
Title:               Augmented Lean:
A Human-Centric Framework for Managing Frontline Operations
Authors:         Natan Linder, PhD, and Trond Arne Undheim, PhD
Publisher:      Wiley
Pub Date:       October 2022              ISBN:              978-1-119-90600-1
Price:              $26.95                         Format:          Hardcover

the book website
Blog SME Connect Blog 10/17/2022 2:10pm EDT