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The Lean Manager: A Novel of Lean Transformation and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

The Lean Manager: A Novel of Lean Transformation 1st Edition

38 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1934109250
ISBN-10: 1934109258
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Editorial Reviews

The Lean Manager: A Novel of Lean Transformation, by lean experts Michael and Freddy Ballé, addresses the critical problem that most companies face today: how can they advance beyond realizing isolated gains from deploying lean tools, to fundamentally changing how they operate, think, and learn? The book gives companies a definitive guide for sustaining their ability to learn and to improve operations and financial performance, while continually developing people. "The only way to stay lean is to produce lean managers," says Jim Womack, author, lean management authority, and LEI founder. "Every isolated effort will recede -- or fail -- unless companies learn to use the lean process as a way of developing individual problem-solvers with the ownership, initiative, and know-how to solve problems, learn, and coach new individuals." The Lean Manager, the sequel to the Ballé's international bestselling business novel The Gold Mine, tells the compelling story of plant manager Andrew Ward as he goes through the journey to becoming a lean manager. Under the guidance of Phil Jenkinson (whose own lean journey was at the core of The Gold Mine), Ward learns to use a deep understanding of lean tools, as well as a technical know-how of his plant's operations, to foster a lean attitude that sustains continuous improvement. He learns how to use tools to unleash the creativity and motivation of people, so they learn how to solve problems as well as coach and teach others to solve problems. "I am excited and have hopes that this book will enlighten readers about what it really means to live a business transformation that puts customers first and does this through developing people," said Jeffrey Liker, author of The Toyota Way. "People who do the work have to improve the work. There are tools, but they are not tools for 'improving the process.' They are tools for making problems visible and for helping people think about how to solve those problems."


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 459 pages
  • Publisher: Lean Enterprises Inst Inc; 1 edition (July 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934109258
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934109250
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Balle, Ph.D., has been studying the link betwen individual reasoning and large-scale change for the past fifteen years; This has led him to experiment and research on various aspects of change in organizations, and, in particular the practice of lean management. Michael works with senior executives on the shop floor improving processes and then writes it up - which is the fun part.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wroblewski on October 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
I have just finished reading the newly published book from the Lean Enterprise Institute, The Lean Manager, written by Michael Balle and Freddy Balle. The Lean Manager is a business novel about a lean transformation and a sequel to their international bestseller, The Gold Mine.

The format of a business novel has been popular for several years with some done well and others not so well. In general, I am not especially fond of the novel format due to poor story lines, poor dialogue, extra noise in the story line, and poor pace that drags the story along or slaps together the ending. If done well, I love the novel format.

In the case of The Lean Manager, it is hands down the best business novel on lean transformation that has been written yet and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Michael and Freddy did an outstanding job on all accounts providing a strong story with outstanding dialogue and many, many powerful insights into the lean transformation.

I started highlighting and taking notes of many of the best points which ended up being too numerous to list but I will share just a couple with you. I will not reveal all the golden nuggets found in the book so you can explore it on your own.

"People are natural problem solvers. Once we understand the problem, our mind will follow seamlessly to adopting a solution."

"When a solution is forced onto us where we do not see a problem, chance are we will fight tooth and nail against it, no matter how clever the new approach."

"There are very few operational experiments which cannot be reversed quickly, and hence, a bias to action is perfectly reasonable in routine process."

"Requires radical transformation of managerial behavior."

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mark A. Rosenthal on September 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
Today there are hundreds of books that claim to explain what "lean manufacturing" (aka the Toyota Production System) is actually about. Most of them rehash the same stuff in the same way.

The Lean Manager stands out from this crowd.

While the critical role of leaders in the TPS has been covered in a technical sense, Michael and Freddy Ballé have captured the very human aspect of what really makes "lean manufacturing" different.

The book is written in the "business novel" genre and tells the story of a complacent factory manager, Andy, who convinces his new CEO to give him at least a chance to make the plant competitive rather than just closing it. The twist from the classic formula is that the CEO is not only Andy's nemesis, he is also his mentor.

Thus, the reader is brought through Andy's steep, and sometimes rocky, learning curve as he tries to apply the tools while struggling to discover the principles of leadership behind them. In the end, the reader has a much better perspective on what is actually meant by "making problems visible" and "engaging the workforce," and the critical relationship between the classic tools and the people who do the work every day.

I say "read this book first" because it goes beyond filling a gap left by other all of those other books. Instead, it sets out the framework for subsequent reading to fit into. Read this book first and you will have a different perspective for the other coverage you find elsewhere.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mike T. on August 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
Having read "The Gold Mine" previously, I ordered The Lean Manager as soon as it was released. I was enamored by it, same as "The Gold Mine". The Balle's have taken technical and/or challenging subject matter and once again struck gold by converting it into an easy-to-read and easy-to-understand novel that anyone at any level of your organization will be able to read, comprehend, and put to immediate use (well, hopefully after some honest, personal reflection [hansei!])

I attempted to re-read "Toyota Culture" after finishing "The Lean Manager" to pick up things I've lost or forgotten, but I find I can't commit myself to a second read. It is too 'text-written' to follow "The Lean Manager" -- too much like being back in school. That's not to say it isn't a great book, well worth the money and a required read for Lean, but it's just not as easy to read and be engulfed in as "The Lean Manager" or "The Gold Mine". I only have two regrets - 1) I don't have an autographed copy of the books and 2) the books are 'company-owned' so I couldn't highlight and note pages for future reference!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. M. Zayko on August 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Lean Manager is very easy to relate to for operations managers and executives that are beginning to learn about the lean concepts and tools, as well as an excellent reminder of the core principles and purpose for more seasoned individuals.
The book does a great job of discussing common challenges in the business world, such as IT systems, automation, and outsourcing, and how everything is interlinked. I enjoyed how the book focuses on developing knowledge and experience in the people doing the work through leadership--not just a core set of expert-types that have no deep understanding of the problems that are trying to be addressed.

Very enjoyable and valuable reading.
--Matt Zayko
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jean Agnelard on August 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
Having been an avid fan of the Gold Mine, I got my hands over a Lean Manager copy as soon as it was available from the Lean Enterprise Institute. When I opened it, I was a bit worried that it was another fiction-based book : I remembered Golratt's sequel to the enjoyable (though now outdated) Goal, which was very desapointing.

I just finished it and all my worries are gone : I am very excited that the Lean Manager is the best management book I ever read. We are very far from "lean manufacturing" and into management, real management. Call it "lean" if you like, but the real thing it is. Everything seems real in the book -- I cannot imagine that these situations do not exist somewhere.

If you have read the Gold Mine, read the Lean Manager. If you have not read the Gold Mine, I feel like you can read the Lean Manager and then get back to the Gold Mine, which is somewhat more technical.

In any case, read both!
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