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Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, Revised and Updated Hardcover – June 10, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Productivity Press; 2nd edition (June 10, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743249275
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743249270
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the revised and updated edition of Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, authors James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones provide a thoughtful expansion upon their value-based business system based on the Toyota model. Along the way they update their action plan in light of new research and the increasing globalization of manufacturing, and they revisit some of their key case studies (most of which still derive, however, from the automotive, aerospace, and other manufacturing industries).

The core of the lean model remains the same in the new edition. All businesses must define the "value" that they produce as the product that best suits customer needs. The leaders must then identify and clarify the "value stream," the nexus of actions to bring the product through problems solving, information management, and physical transformation tasks. Next, "lean enterprise" lines up suppliers with this value stream. "Flow" traces the product across departments. "Pull" then activates the flow as the business re-orients towards the pull of the customer's needs. Finally, with the company reengineered towards its core value in a flow process, the business re-orients towards "perfection," rooting out all the remaining muda (Japanese for "waste") in the system.

Despite the authors' claims to "actionable principles for creating lasting value in any business during any business conditions," the lean model is not demonstrated with broad applications in the service or retail industries. But those manager's whose needs resonate with those described in the Lean Thinking case studies will find a host of practical guidelines for streamlining their processes and achieving manufacturing efficiencies. --Patrick O'Kelley

Review

"Automotive News" This is a book of great understanding, and of hope. It shows how to create an industrial world in which workers share the challenges and satisfactions of the business. It's a world in which assemblers communicate with suppliers and dealers in a way that improves life for all of them. Read it. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

More About the Author

Management expert James P. Womack, Ph.D., is the founder and senior advisor to the Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc., a nonprofit training, publishing, conference, and management research company chartered in August 1997 to advance a set of ideas known as lean production and lean thinking, based initially on Toyota's business system and now being extended to an entire lean management system.

The intellectual basis for the Cambridge, MA-based Institute is described in a series of books and articles co-authored by Womack and Daniel Jones over the past 20 years. The most widely known books are: The Machine That Changed the World (Macmillan/Rawson Associates, 1990), Lean Thinking (Simon & Schuster, 1996), Lean Solutions (Simon & Schuster, 2005), and Seeing The Whole Value Stream (Lean Enterprise Institute, 2011). Articles include: "From Lean Production to the Lean Enterprise" (Harvard Business Review, March-April, 1994), "Beyond Toyota: How to Root Out Waste and Pursue Perfection" (Harvard Business Review, September-October, 1996), "Lean Consumption" (Harvard Business Review, March-April, 2005).

Womack received a B.A. in political science from the University of Chicago in 1970, a master's degree in transportation systems from Harvard in 1975, and a Ph.D. in political science from MIT in 1982 (for a dissertation on comparative industrial policy in the U.S., Germany, and Japan). During the period 1975-1991, he was a full-time research scientist at MIT directing a series of comparative studies of world manufacturing practices. As research director of MIT's International Motor Vehicle Program, Womack led the research team that coined the term "lean production" to describe Toyota's business system.

Womack served as the Institute's chairman and CEO from 1997 until 2010 when he was succeeded by John Shook.

Customer Reviews

The book itself is a nice and very very easy read.
Bas Vodde
Where "The Machine that Changed the World" was a primer to lean production, "Lean Thinking" is more of a how-to book.
Jerry Harding
This book is a must read for anyone getting into Lean process improvement.
Ryan Kapsar

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

211 of 237 people found the following review helpful By Greg Stein on May 19, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I'm not sure who the audience is for Lean Thinking. Call me naïve, but I assumed it was written by Womack and Jones to help organizations analyze their business processes and eliminate muda (Japanese for "waste"), thereby improving overall performance. However, after reading almost 250 pages of anecdotal success stories, the chapter entitled "Action Plan," where one would assume resides the punch-line of the text, I was met by the profound advice to "Get the knowledge" by hiring one of the numerous experts in North America, Europe or Japan, and read some of the "vast literature" available on lean techniques. Reminds me of the Steve Martin joke where he tells you how to be a millionaire. "First, get a million dollars."
After reading Lean Thinking, I'm struck by the irony that while the authors recommend removing waste from the manner by which your products are delivered to the end customer, they don't take their own advice. The text could have been distilled from 384 pages down to five or six, since there's no real substantive instruction on how to implement lean principles. Then again, maybe I completely misinterpreted the intent of the authors as to their audience and it really was written for the business historian who enjoys reading about how Pratt & Whitney started in 1855. That must be it, because after I ponder the title, I realize that Lean Thinking is for just that, thinking. What I really wanted was a book entitled Lean Doing.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a new and expanded second edition of a book first published in 1996. Of special interest to me was what Womack and Jones had to say in the preface regarding what has since happened to the companies previously discussed. Apparently lean thinking has enabled Toyota, Wiremold, Porsche, Lantech, and Pratt & Whitney to sustain operational excellence and economic prosperity.
Briefly, how do Womack and Jones define lean thinking? It is the opposite of muda (a Japanese) word for anything which consumes resources without creating value. In a word, waste. Lean thinking is lean because "it provides a way to do more and more with less and less -- less human effort, less equipment, less time, and less space -- while coming closer and closer to providing customers with exactly what they want." Lean thinking is thus a process of thought, not an expedient response or a stop-gap solution. The challenge, according to Womack and Jones, is to convert muda into real, quantifiable value and the process to achieve that worthy objective requires everyone within an organization (regardless of size or nature) to be actively involved in that process. Once again, in this new edition they address questions such as these:
1. How can certain "simple, actionable principles" enable any business to create lasting value during any business conditions?
2. How can these principles be applied most effectively in real businesses, regardless of size or nature?
3. How can a relentless focus on the value stream for every product create "a true lean enterprise that optimizes the value created for the customer while minimizing time, cost, and errors"?
In Part IV, Womack and Jones update the continuing advance of of lean thinking.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Lean Entusiast on May 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I personally do a vast amount of reading with lean enterprise being of special interest. Womack has done some great work, but this is a "tough read" even for serious lean enthusiasts. I typically finish a book of this length within 2-3 days then re-read it and highlight. It literally took me 11 weeks because I was lulled to a point in which reading further would be of no benefit and would have to put it back on the shelf and revisit it days later. I realize that scholarly and business writing is not especially exciting as I am constantly reading and doing research but this one was tough even for me, an avid reader.
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70 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Fuzzbean VINE VOICE on December 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I think this book is largely bogus. Sure there is logic in having an efficient system to your manufacturing process and in buying the machines you actually need instead of something too big or too inflexible. But while the Japanese may have ninjas and 'Asian sexual secrets,' they haven't discovered any new principles of manufacturing that we insecure Americans didn't already know a long time ago. Despite the stylish Japanese mumbo-jumbo, there isn't much in this 'lean thinking' that Henry Ford didn't already have figured out by 1914, although the limitations of the technology of that day prevented him from implementing his ideas fully.

Speaking of Henry Ford, among the historical inaccuracies in this book is the oft-repeated untruth that all the millions of Ford Model T cars produced over 19 years were all exactly alike. The truth is that several body styles, ranging from open touring cars to 'Torpedo Roadsters' to closed sedans were produced, and the entire line went through at least two major styling changes and thousands of mechanical improvements.

Some parts of this book just don't make any sense at all, revealing amazingly poor writing on the part of the authors and -- given that this is the revised edition -- an astonishing lack of critical thinking on the part of eager readers. For example, on page 178 it is told how Pratt & Whitney replaced a particularly inefficient turbine blade grinding machine with 'eight simple three-axis grinding machines.' But in the very next paragraph they mention 'each of the nine machines,' and then go on to say, 'The number of parts in the process would fall from about 1,640 to 15 (one in each machine plus one waiting to start and one blade just completed).
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