Providing exploitable research for business

For operations management, the generation of new theories, methods and techniques is important because such research can be used by organisations to improve their competitive performance. This research has led to new critical thinking in operations management to bring about process, strategic and cultural change in organisations.

PrOH Modelling Methodology

Led by Dr Ben Clegg, a team from Aston Business School developed the PrOH Modelling Methodology, a breakthrough in operational management. The idea of looking at operations as holistic systems and using an innovation systems thinking methodology, known as the PrOH Modelling Methodology has facilitated change projects in a variety of organisations.

In the following cases, some of them international leaders in their field, there has been an overall improvement in the awareness, use and legacy of systems thinking in their organisations. The cases show the breadth of applicability of Process Oriented Holonic (PrOH) Modelling, which has been applied to a range of sectors including a large leading international manufacturer; a small product- service provider; a medium-sized professional service company, and a small training company from the private sector.

Brintons Carpets

The quality management and supply chain management practices used to deliver client projects were reviewed using systems thinking and PrOH Modelling. PrOH Modelling was used with focus groups with the senior management team to rethink operations strategy. This resulted in productivity improvements; scrap and defects were

significantly reduced; external failure rates were reduced and on-time delivery was improved. The medium-term effects of this work contributed towards the standardisation of practices between the UK factories and the new factories in India and China; and subsequently in the long-term, towards new investment in the company from foreign investors which has reinvigorated its future.

Pinstripe Printers

PrOH Modelling is particularly well suited to managing change, and was applied to review the customer interface process for design and print contracts. As a result, technical staff at the company found it easier to capture customer requirements and increased emphasis was placed on providing extra services to customers, meaning they were more satisfied with the job. There was also an improvement in scheduling jobs and overall a continuous improvement culture in the business.

Higgs & Sons

Law firm, Higgs & Sons, chose five different legal services to be improved through the academic technique of PrOH Modelling. These services included road traffic accidents, dispute resolution, commercial property services, corporate services and client services. Using PrOH Modelling helped to transform the company into an even more agile business and allowed it to become a role model to other firms, by delivering both an optimum price for legal services and building greater client loyalty.


SigmaPro, a small international management training company, used the ideas of general systems thinking from the research to build a survey that examined the cause and effect of different quality management techniques. Using a new tool based on the PrOH Modelling methodology has helped the company market their services, and has given them an advantage over competitors.

Overall, PrOH Modelling enabled the dynamic behaviour of systems and their behaviours, to be modelled and debated. It was also well suited to managing change in this educational service provision environment.