Lean Enterprising: Where the Engineering and Business Colleges Converge

April 5, 2011

Imagine a company that sells no set product and provides no specific service. While this may sound like a recipe for disaster, this practice may in fact redefine businesses of the future.

Lean enterprising is a production concept that combines business with engineering. Companies take note of what specifications a customer wants before designing a product or service. In this way, the business creates exactly what the customer wants and does not waste resources.

“When they talk about lean, that means ‘not a lot of fat’, and fat represents wastes,” said Dr. Chen, chairman of the Department of Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering & Technology.

Businesses using lean enterprising typically get a better output, with higher quality for less cost, according to Chen.

“Anybody interested in an effective management course is going to be interested in lean enterprising,” said Dr. Goitein, a Business Management professor from the Foster College of Business Administration.

As a result of the excitement generated by students and faculty about this innovative approach to business, Bradley University now offers a Lean Enterprising class.

Chen will be teaching the course this summer. He says he likes the overlap of students from the Business and Engineering colleges in class. 

“The engineering students are thinking about design but their design is not necessarily sellable, marketable,” Chen said. “Joined together, they can help each other to balance out and make a better overall design. ”

Giotein thinks his business students will have an opportunity to equally benefit from the engineering perspective.

"Students can learn practically in a nuts-and-bolts way to design an organization and make sure it provides value to their customer that is better, cheaper, faster,” Goitein said.

The class is targeted for MBA and MME students but is open to anyone who is interested and meets the prerequisites.

“The primary goal of the class is to use the lean principles or tools that allow students to go to any enterprise and immediately affect the overall service or productions with less cost, higher quality and on-time delivery,” Chen said.

Classes will be held in the evening. Goitein points out that the timing of the class is no accident, but is geared to accommodate MBA students who may have to juggle a daytime job.

“I am proud to say that it is a real life application of lean enterprising,” Goitein said. “We teach it in the evening not because it’s convenient but because it’s what our students need.”

Goitein emphasized the number one reason engineering and business students should take this class:

“We all want what we do to be valuable to our customers.”