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Lean Solutions: How Companies and Customers Can Create Value and Wealth Together Hardcover – October 11, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

American and European feelings towards Japanese business practices have varied dramatically through the last few decades. In the late 1970s and 1980s, a wave of fear swept through many Western leaders as they contemplated Japan's stunningly rapid rise from the ashes of World War II. Then more recently, as the 1990s and early 2000s saw stagflation gripping the Japanese economy, and knowledge-based innovation in technology and financial services bringing unprecedented prosperity to many Western countries, a feeling of vindication (and sometimes smugness) returned to those same corporate chieftains. Most recently, perhaps, the pendulum of conventional wisdom has begun to swing back to a middle position, in between the extremes of adulation and disdain: respect for the positive contributions of Japanese business culture, without blind acceptance. It's with this spirit that the authors of Lean Solutions offer their insightful observations about process design and service delivery in modern companies.

James Womack and Daniel Jones are well-recognized contributors to the lean-business movement. Lean Solutions is the consultants' fifth book together, following earlier works like Lean Thinking and The Machine That Changed the World, and springs as before from their keen interest in Japanese business methods and philosophy. What compels them to write yet another book, though, given the well-established literature on lean business?

The authors offer an intriguing description of their mission at the beginning of this latest book. Principles of lean design have in fact been adopted by many Western businesses, they acknowledge, and manufacturing quality has steadily risen as a result. Yet customers remain often dissatisfied with their experiences. The cause? To Womack and Jones, the answer rests in a myopic application of lean business principles: companies have successfully improved their manufacturing and product-development environments, but they have not had a large enough view of the overall customer relationship, and of the need for leanness in all aspects of companies' interactions with customers.

Put another way: in Lean Solutions, readers find a new and much broader conceptualization of how lean-business methods--which, to be fair to Womack and Jones, have evolved so that they can claim a global heritage as much as a Far Eastern one--might apply across entire customer experiences, rather than just manufacturing processes. The structure of Lean Solutions centers on 6 requests that the authors believe customers implicitly demand from their vendors: "Solve my problem completely; don't waste my time; provide exactly what I want; deliver value where I want it; supply value when I want it; and reduce the number of decisions I must make to solve my problems."

With a compelling mix of case studies, and illuminating thought experiments in industries ranging as widely as shoe manufacturing, health care delivery, auto repair, and grocery shopping, Womack and Jones walk readers through careful explanations of how lean thinking might be expanded beyond the factory floor to broader business problems. Lean Solutions isn't for all readers. It rests on an appreciation of the large cumulative effects that many small processes can have on business, and it requires patience from those who want to learn the secrets of lean business. --Peter Han

From Booklist

In Lean Thinking (1996), Womack and Jones expanded on the lean manufacturing model developed by Toyota to reduce waste and costs, reduce lead times, and improve quality. Here, they bring lean thinking to the broader world of consumer satisfaction. Traditional mass-consumption thinking has brought us tons of gee-whiz products but more frustration when it comes to actually getting what we want where and when we want it. Through a series of "consumption maps," Womack and Jones highlight the "hassle time" inherent in the ways we shop, travel, and receive essential services, and then they offer novel ways for both consumers and providers to reduce this wasted time. We all know the dissatisfaction of going to the grocery store and finding the very item we need is out of stock. The new models reduce out-of-stock situations drastically by allowing consumers to dictate flow through demand rather than flow being driven by sales projections. Womack and Jones introduce ways to bring lean provision streams to some of our most hassle-laden consumer experiences, including the auto-repair, airline, and health-care industries. We can only hope someone is listening. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (October 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743277783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743277785
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is one the best for understanding Lean applications in Services.

It is not the techniques that makes this book great. These are known.

The real strengths of this book are the questions it raises, the examples it provides, and its perspective on application and implementation.

The questions raised are from a consumer's point of view - getting problems solved completely, when and where we want them solved, without investing too much of our 'unpaid' time. The book also clearly demonstrates how Lean can result in a 'win win' for producers and consumers.

The examples illustrated are very helpful and insighful. They also cover a wide range - from Help Desks to Retail to Air Travel.

Above all, the language is simple, the explanations down to earth. And yet, very insightful and thought provoking.

Indeed, the book is very well crafted.
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Format: Hardcover
These people have figured out a lot about how the world's business really works. They start with a few common senarios:

The new computer you got with the fancy printer, and the two won't talk to each other,

Trying to get your car fixed, when, of course, it won't act up in front of the mechanic - if you even get to talk to the mechanic,

Driving to the big discount store that stocks thousands of items -- expect the one you want,

the business trip -- let's not even talk about the new security rules,

help/support phone lines that neither help or support, nor talk American English.

A lot of effort goes into fixing these problems. Lean Solutions talks instead about fixing the problems so that all this support simply isn't needed. This kind of support is basically waste. It's exactly the same thing as producing a bad product that has to be thrown away.

This book follows in the series these authors have been developing. First was 'The Machine that Changed the World,' a book about the Toyota experience. This was followed by 'Lean Thinking' that generalized the concept. Now 'Lean Solutions' gets more specific with case studies, reports on the experience of companies that have succeeded and more.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was expecting real life, in depth case studies. Instead I got a rather simplistic view of lean. A lot of the content in the book is real common sense. There is no doubt that lean processes are a must for the company. The book tends to spend 3/4 of its time trying to make that statement, with some high level strategic content thrown about.

If you are expecting content such as how companies do VSM, and tactical challenges in doing VSMs you are reading the wrong book. But if you are interested in knowing what is a VSM, and high level overview of how VSMs are done, then this may be the book for you. ***DONT EXPECT TO BE IN A POSITION OF LEADING A LEAN INITIATIVE AFTER READING THIS BOOK***

Good book for getting introduced to lean concepts. Not much for those looking beyond concepts.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is desirable but not necessary to have already read Womack and Jones's previously published Lean Thinking before reading this volume. In both, their focus is on "five simple principles" which can guide and inform any organization's efforts to achieve "process brilliance" in its product development, supplier management, customer support, and production processes. The principles are:

1. Provide the value actually desired by customers.

2. Identify the value stream for each product or service.

3. Get and keep each step of the value stream in proper alignment.

4. Enable the customer to "pull" rather than "push" maximum value from what you offer.

5. Once the value, value stream, flow, and pull are established, "start over from the beginning in an endless search for perfection, the happy situation of perfect value provided with zero waste."

In this context, I am reminded of Albert Einstein's emphasis on making everything as simple as possible...but no simpler. Lean initiatives should eliminate "fat" but not "muscle." Decision-makers in many organizations confuse rightsizing with downsizing.

In Lean Solutions, Womack and Jones identify what they characterize as "the emerging challenges of consumption" despite the availability of better, cheaper products." And this seems very strange when we stop to consider that satisfying consumption - not just making brilliant products - is the whole point of lean production." In response to challenges such as complicated purchase decisions because "consumers are often drowning in a sea of choices," they explain how to combine truly lean provision with truly lean consumption. In process, Womack and Jones examine dozens of real-world examples of how various organizations have done so.
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Format: Hardcover
John Womack and Daniel Jones made it again; a new breakthrough book in their lean track, from The machine that changed the world (coauthored with Dan Roos), to Lean thinking and then now the Lean Solutions.

In this new book they deeply investigate the area of customer value and give profound advice to rethink the logic under the processes of Lean consumption and Lean Provision. The six major point: 1) solve the customer problem completely, 2) don't waste customer's time, 3) provide exactly what the customer wants, 4) provide it exactly where it's wanted, 5) provide when it's wanted, and finally 6) continually aggredate solutions to reduce customer time and hassle.

Similarly to how the Toyota Production System reduced waste for the producer and improved quality, the six principle above and the examples in the book will provide knowledge to rethink service, reducing waste and improving quality both in the customer and in the provider side.

A must read for everyone involved in Lean, and in any service industry.
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