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Chasing the Rabbit: How Market Leaders Outdistance the Competition and How Great Companies Can Catch Up and Win, Foreword by Clay Christensen Hardcover – September 29, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Sprint to the lead in your industry--and stay there!

"Chasing the Rabbit contains ideas that form the basis for structured continuous learning and improvement in every aspect of our lives. While this book is tailored to business leaders, it should be read by high school seniors, college students, and those already in the workforce. With the broad societal application of these ideas, we can achieve levels of accomplishment not even imagined by most people."
The Honorable Paul H. O'Neill
Former CEO and Chairman, Alcoa
Former Secretary of the Treasury

"Some firms outperform competitors in many ways at once--cost, speed, innovation, service. How? Steve Spear opened my eyes to the secret of systemizing innovation: taking it from the occasional, unpredictable 'stroke of genius' to something you and your people do month-in, month-out to outdistance rivals."
Scott D. Cook
Founder & Chairman of the Executive Committee
Intuit, Inc.

"Steven Spear connects a deep study of systems with practical management insights and does it better than any organizational scholar I know. Chasing the Rabbit is a profoundly important book that will challenge and inspire executives in all industries to think more clearly about the technical and social foundations of organizational excellence."
Donald M. Berwick, MD, MPP
President and CEO
Institute for Healthcare Improvement

About the Author

Steven J. Spear, four-time winner of the Shingo Prize and recipient of the McKinsey Award, is a senior lecturer at MIT and former assistant professor at Harvard. A senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, he is the author of numerous articles appearing in academic and trade publications, including the Harvard Business Review and The New York Times.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (September 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071499881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071499880
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #555,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steven Spear (DBA MS MS) is author of the award winning and critically acclaimed book, The High Velocity Edge, is a Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management and in MIT's Engineering Systems Division, and is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. He is also a founder of See to Solve Corp, a business process software company.

An expert about how 'high velocity organizations' generate and sustain advantage, even in the most hyper competitive markets, Spear has worked with clients spanning high tech and heavy industry, software and healthcare, and new production design and manufacturing.

He helped develop and deploy the Alcoa Business System, which recorded hundreds of millions of dollars in operating savings, and he was integral in developing the 'Perfecting Patient Care' system for the Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative. PRHI hospitals scored well documented reductions and eliminations of scourges like central line associated infections, surgical site infections, and patient falls. Along with the removal of unnecessary suffering and fatality were reductions in overburden on staff, and improvements in quality of care

Spear has published in the NY Times, the Boston Globe, Annals of Internal Medicine, and Academic Medicine, and he has spoken to audiences ranging from the Association for Manufacturing Excellence to the Institute of Medicine.

His 1999 Harvard Business Review article, "Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System," is part of the 'lean manufacturing' canon, and "Fixing Healthcare from the Inside, Today" was an HBR McKinsey Award winner in 2005 and one of his four articles to win a Shingo Research Prize.

Previously employed by Prudential-Bache, the US Congress Office of Technology Assessment, the University of Tokyo, and Harvard Business School, Spear has a doctorate from Harvard Business School, masters in engineering and in management from MIT, and a bachelors degree in economics from Princeton.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Chuck Wisner on April 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Steve's in-depth look at how high velocity organizations do what they do, takes the mystery out of why Toyota and others outdistance their competitors. It gives anyone interested the critical skills required to get started today in order to create sustainable change. His hands on experience and love of story telling weave together the technical and human aspects of the hard work of defining and continuously refining our work.

With the 4 capabilities defined the leader is left with the challenge of creating an environment where everyone can learn from mistakes, be problem solvers and challenge the status quo. No small feat. Like anything we want to learn or habit we want to change it means we have to practice. And practice is a cycle of act/fail/learn/adjust/act. It is also takes time and patience. In our western business culture a problem is seen as failure and patience for the long term pay off is not the norm.

Steve's examples illustrate that we need an attitude/mindset adjustment top to bottom. We need to think and behave differently. When we lead as learners and mentors we create emotional safety. With emotional safety everyone participates in seeing problems or breakdowns as an opportunity. With that possibilities and creativity emerge. Everyone benefits from being part of this continuous cycle of practicing. Everyone is engaged.

So, soak up the lessons in the book and then set a practice in place. Most importantly as a leader at any level you have to walk the talk. The standard of arrogant top down management does not align with the lessons Steve lays out in the book. A fresh humble look at "how we lead" would be a good practice to start.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael Balle on September 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Steven Spear has probably contributed singly more than anyone to the emergence of "lean management" from the field fo lean manufacturing and lean production. Three of his seminal contributions have been around different angles-of-view. In Toyota's DNA he has focused on the level of detailed specification of the operatiosn processes, specifying outputs, pathways, connections and activities. Taking a different tack, he has opened our eyes to the double-loop learning system at the core of Toyota's success in his Learning to Lead at Toyota paper. Finally, his Healthcare article provides a blueprint of how Toyota-like problem solving can be applied in a completely different field.

In this breakthrough book, Spear brings these three different insights together and blends them into the most powerful and elegant buisness theory yet to come out of the lean field (imagine Good to Gtreat with substance). This is a landmark book because it finally creates a bridge from lean mavens to business thinkers - and it offers a splendid opportunity to talk to CEOs about HOW to change their operations system in order to improve both strategy and execution.

I've already read the book twice, and have immediately started applying the core framework to my own work. I have to confess also stealing some detailed images and expressions to try to sound clever in public speaking. The description of the worker who knows he's going to fail today, because he's failed yesterday and the system will ensure that he fails tomorrow as opposed to the worker going to work with the possibility of success every day is priceless.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By William C. Zeeb on May 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Especially useful for the leader who may not yet realize how important bringing "not knowing" and "failure" to the forefront are to his or her success and that of the entire organization.

Another new book on business performance? Steven Spear, a rare "dirt under the fingernails" process thinker with Harvard academic credentials has spent enough time on Toyota and US Big 3 assembly lines to condense succinctly the differences. His concise summary of performance improvement builds upon 4 simple capabilities: 1)specify design to capture existing knowledge and force the process to reveal more knowledge through forcing and following problems, 2) "swarming and solving" problems, 3) spreading learnings rapidly throughout the organization and 4) leadership's role in driving points 1) to 3).

For the thousands of lean and six sigma practicioners who have suffered the lack of leadership understanding that can stall or even insure failure of lean six sigma business performance efforts, this book offers a refreshing view of the important role of executive leadership, without dwelling on methodology.

Although they make for a long read, the health care examples after page 323! are very close to each of our hearts. If you get a chance to see Steve present, be prepared for many sleepless nights, as he goes deeper into his examples, burning them into your memory banks.

For organizations looking to succeed in an ever more competitive world, the message Mr. Spear communicates is clear: make certain leaders learn and drive the learning process. (which can only happen in the blameless search for FAILURE or NOT KNOWING)
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