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The High-Velocity Edge: How Market Leaders Leverage Operational Excellence to Beat the Competition Hardcover – May 3, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 2 edition (May 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071741410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071741415
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Steven J. Spear, five-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.

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

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 21 customer reviews
Well written, clear.
T. O. Malley
It means having leaders at the highest levels understand the work done by the organization in enough detail to communicate with the people doing that work.
Karen Wilhelm
I read the book when it was first released and so I re-read it before I wrote this review.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By B. J. Wahba on August 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I was disappointed in Spear's "Chasing the Rabbit." 364 Drawn-out pages to state some pretty common management knowledge that good companies learn and problem solve better. I was hoping for some deeper insights in "The High Velocity Edge," but it is almost word for word the same book. The only obvious differences were new pages 365 & 366 which basically say "despite all the wonderful things I've said about Toyota, they are having some quality issues now...but they'll be ok." It would have been nice if the author and publisher kept the original title and just called this a revised edition - it's not very lean to make the customer work to figure that out.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Karen Wilhelm on August 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In this book, originally titled "Chasing the Rabbit," Steven Spear's years of observing Toyota* and his studies of other companies, both successes and failures, have led him to distill a set of principles other organizations can use to be more successful. Spear indicates that great leaders seem to practice them instinctively, yet it is not easy for them to articulate exactly what they do. That makes it difficult for the rest of us to understand what makes them good leaders.

Spear says that simply copying what Toyota does, for example, is not going to replicate the thinking behind how Toyota manages its business. Do you have to be steeped in the culture of Toyota, as Spear was, in order to fully absorb the way it does things? That's an option that few people have.

Spear says that it is possible to discover patterns in Toyota's practices, to make explicit what is implicit knowledge at Toyota. When Spear and Hajime Ohba, general manager of Toyota's Supplier Support Center happened to go on some of the same factory tours in Japan in 1995, Spear paid close attention to what Mr. Ohba did. He saw that Mr. Ohba asked the same questions on every tour, and asked them of the people working as often as of the executive guiding the tour. Whenever possible, he asked to start the tour where the end product was being shipped to customers.

What was he looking for? Pathways, connections or handoffs, and what work was being performed. Mr. Ohba was looking at process and how processes combine to form systems. That's different from saying that the only way to learn how Mr. Ohba looked at a plant is to spend years accompanying him.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael Balle on December 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I believe every one in business has, by now, experienced personally the accelerating pace of change and disruption, with its opportunities and looming threats. The increasing role of knowledge in modern business is also largely acknowledged. Not surprisingly most common business theories now sound quaint or irrelevant, and few ideas have broken out beyond "Who moved my cheese". Until this book.

Steve Spear has written the one profoundly innovative, and probably definitive business book of the 2010s. His framework is both daring and the best fit-to-facts I've yet to come across to explain how corporate giants can retain entrepreneur-like qualities and perform in turbulent markets. In doing so, Spear redefines the very act of management, from decision-making and coordination to discovery and coaching.

High-Velocity Edge is action research at its best. It provides an elegant theory which is tested in live, varying contexts (as opposed to applied posthumously to data sets). The approach is innovative, profound, and more than anything else: robust. Read it and change your mind about the fundamentals of what management is supposed to do.

This is one of the rare seminal books that shed a different light to confusing situation and suddenly makes it all clearer. The book also sketches out clear capabilities to acquire in order to transform one's own business into a high-velocity powerhouse. As a business leader, not reading this book is simply not doing one's job. it's the definitive MUST READ to face the challenges of the twenty tens.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Timothy C. Tyler on December 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I stumbled across Dr. Spear and his work listening to a Clayton Christianson interview on IEEE radio [...]

Dr. Christianson said the following:

1. "Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System", Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System "Best thesis ever written at Harvard."
2. Doctoral student of Clayton Christianson
3. Alcoa stated in their annual report that they saved over 1 billion dollars in costs working with Steven Spear
4. University of Pittsburgh Medical System saves over 70 lives, because of Steven Spears research, no infections
5. "Root cause of TPS (Toyota Production System)"

"The difference between Toyota and its competitors was neither more tools nor more diligent application of tools."

So how do they do it and where did they start?
There is no end of research and benchmarks that will articulate the problems, but rarely do you read something that identifies 'root cause' and the means to 'cause change'.

The principles that Dr. Spear has identified span industries and processes. He has taken these principles learned and developed from his work at Toyota, one of the most studied companies in business, and has successfully demonstrated their portability.

The Language of Trade-Offs
"To get something more out of a system, you had to either spend more or give up something else. Crosby and the others showed that this belief was rooted in a perverse combination of arrogance and pessimism. It is arrogant to believe anything we have created cannot be improved. It is pessimistic to believe that we are incapable of ever improving something that is flawed.
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