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on November 19, 2012
While most business books read like a 10-page article diluted over 200+ pages, Art Byrne's, instead, reads like 600-pages condensed to 200. This is the right length to be read by business people on airplanes. A longer book could have given more details, but at the cost of losing the audience. As it is, behind every sentence, you sense that there is personal experience you would like to dig further into.

In the Acknowledgments, Byrne claims not to be a good writer. Either it is false modesty or his editor indeed did a great job. The book has a visible structure, the sequence of topics makes sense, and the sentences are clear and free of jargon.
This book is a must-read because of the author's credentials. Art Byrne has been Theodore Roosevelt's "man in the arena," directly leading A to Z Lean transformations as company CEO. His advice to other CEOs, in the same words, would not carry the same weight if they had been written by anyone without his experience.

The book starts with Art Byrne's personal history, from his first steps at implementing Lean at Danaher, through his experience as CEO of Wiremold, and his work in private equity, using Lean in his firm's portfolio companies.

Byrne devotes several chapters to the strategic nature of Lean, the need for top management to get personally involved, and the differences between Lean leadership and the management style he experienced at the beginning of his career. And this leads into recommendations for CEOs on starting and leading their own Lean transformation, including pointers on compensation policies.

While most other books on Lean stop at the effect it has on delivery, lead time, productivity and quality, Byrne goes one vital step further into the specifics of how Lean enables a company to gain market share, withstand downturns, and accumulate the resources to take over competitors. He describes it in the case of Wiremold in the 1990s, as I have seen it in other companies.

I have a few minor quibbles with the book. The discussion on implementation overemphasizes kaizen events, to the point a reader might assume that it is all there is to Lean. Also, because he is feels that Lean is not limited to manufacturing, whenever he introduces a manufacturing concept, Byrne feels compelled to explain, in parentheses, what the equivalent would be outside of manufacturing, which I find it distracting. Finally, he makes the unusual choice of recommending specific consultants at the end of the book. This not usual in business books, and for good reasons. First, it conflicts with readers' expectations of non-commercialism; second, it will make the many consultants who are not on the list think twice about recommending the book to their clients.
After thinking twice, even though the consultants on Byrne's list by definition can't hold a candle to my colleagues and me, I still recommend his book.
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on January 1, 2013
Top five reasons why I give five stars to this book:
- It comes from a manager with close to 30 years of experience applying Lean in American companies.
- It lists the most common obstacles that kill 93-95% of lean turnarounds, along with solutions to avoid/reduce them.
- It explains Lean in very simple terms, with many supporting examples. It even provides checklists to follow!
- It describes the virtues of improving processes, rather than managing the numbers at the end of each month.
- It insists on the strategic nature of Lean, which reduces costs but also raises the top line.
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on August 20, 2012
Many people remain skeptical of Lean management or think that it is nothing more than a passing fad. Art Byrne, a serial Lean turnaround executive, decisively shows how wrong those views are. Byrne shares with us his proven method for turning around businesses that have long used conventional management. The results that Art and his management teams achieved far surpassed what the former leaders of the businesses sought to achieve using conventional management.

Developed over many decades, Lean has evolved into a comprehensive system of management for any business or organization. Byrne gives numerous manufacturing and service business examples that describe how Lean works in each environment. The same method can be applied to non-profit and non-governmental organizations as well. Importantly, Byrne shows Lean is a human-centered management system that, done right, yields great outcomes for all key stakeholders: employees, customers, suppliers, investors, and communities. Byrne makes clear the importance of employees in Lean management and their role as enablers of time-based competitiveness.

Art presents facts on what Lean does, not theory on what Lean can do, and carefully outlines the common pitfalls for all to learn. Byrne forcefully stresses the importance of the CEOs personal engagement in the daily application of Lean principles and practices, and offers comprehensive supporting arguments. Byrne exhorts CEOs to understand the value-creating processes in their organizations. To do that, they must learn to think and do things differently, including:

* Learn Lean principles and practices to gain proficiency vs. watch others do it.
* Get personally involved vs. delegate.
* Think and do vs. only do.
* Work with lower-level people vs. insulate yourself from them.
* Focus on all stakeholders vs. only shareholders.

Many leaders have lost confidence in Lean management because their Lean turnaround did not achieve the results they expected to achieve. There is a reason for that: leaders did not understand Lean management and did not practice it correctly. Byrne emphasizes there is a right and wrong way to do a Lean turnaround, and that C-level leaders must closely adhere to the right way. To do that, they need to acquire new knowledge and skills. As Art says: "Everything must change."

Byrne also tells readers that Lean management, done right, is a lot of fun. People learn new things, improve processes, and achieve results they never thought possible. The Lean Turnaround is an uplifting story of the many great human, financial, and non-financial outcomes can be achieved. It will inspire people to deepen their understanding of Lean management and put into practice what they learn from this wonderful and important book.

While The Lean Turnaround is intended for the C-level, I recommend it to people at all levels so that they can grasp the true meaning and potential of Lean management.
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on October 25, 2012
This book has the hallmarks of excellence. It is authoritative because it is written by someone who really knows what he is talking about. It is fresh thinking. In a clear and succinct way Mr. Byrne has provided the essentially radical framework of management thinking required for a company to make lean thinking work successfully. It is comprehensive because it does not look narrowly at the methods of lean, the author shows us how executive leadership teams need to think and act. And it is short. It is a compelling and easy read on this vital aspect of 21st century business. I hope - within the clamor of the political and economic issues of our day - that this book will be found on every executive's desk.
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on September 27, 2012
This is one of the most exciting lean books of recent years. Byrne's book reveals the fundamental insights of how lean as a business method. I have the good fortune of knowing the CFO of one of the cases mentioned in the book and he attests that, in his tenure as CEO, the author increased the value of a company from 30 million to 770 million dollars in ten years. That's the kind of success lean can lead to, if, as the book describes, one succeeds at linking the hands-on lean tools to the overall strategic vision of the company.

This is essential reading for all entrepreneurs, and if you've never heard of lean, a great introduction to how to get into it the right way. Byrne has been practicing lean from before lean was even called lean, and one of the few CEOs to bring the original lean consultants from Japan and try to figure this stuff out. In the process, he formulated a strong and original vision of how to make a bundle whilst developing people and sharing success with all involved.

As a lean writer myself, I try to read as many lean books as I can as they come out, and have to confess that many fall out of my hands, but I could not put this one down. It's clearly written, full of engaging cases, and you can't pass a paragraph without wanting to underline some great insight. An absolute must read: it will completely change your thinking about what lean is really about, and, more deeply what business is really about as well. Success from the hands-on leader who made it happen.
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on January 11, 2013
Art Byrne was written about in the classic business book, "Lean Thinking", and this book is about his lean journey and how you can use his experiences to leapfrog your competition. He is a rare individual who can speak with authority about the lean concept because he has lived it in his over 30 years of being on the shop floor. His topics cover the importance of organizing your people around your value stream, then implementing flow to your processes and then creating pull with your customers. His insights of the financial measurement systems was outstanding. This is a "must-read".
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on October 13, 2013
Written in a conversational style, this book is a must-read for leaders contemplating a lean transformation effort. And by 'leaders', I mean C-level leaders as that is who Art talks to in their language, with their desires and language in mind.

If you (or your boss) is wondering what lean can do for you, and what to expect if you decide to go that route (both in terms of the process and the outcomes), this is a must-read.
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on November 17, 2014
Byrne say "Lean" is the strategy. While I am an ardent supporter of Lean thinking and almost everything Byrne suggests, I am pondering the notion that Lean is the strategy. Many venture-funded businesses would not see it this way, unless you make the argument that worthwhile start-ups are value-stream improvements by themselves ... that they exist only because of the "improvement" they contribute.

What makes Lean hard to implement is obvious in reading this book. There is no measured way to do it. You are all-in ... or not. People who don't buy in lose their jobs. Organizational resistance is so great that the top person in the company must be personally involved. People do lose their jobs; Byrne suggests layoffs before you begin, then fill in with temporary help until you realize your gains.

Interestingly, Byrne's greatest success was at Wiremold. However, when he left, the next management team undid (allowed the organization to undo) many of his gains. While this is evidence of the importance of the company leader, it also illustrates the reason more companies have not gone Lean--there is a shortage of strong-willed Lean leaders.

I know he deliberately put "turnaround" in the title but I wish he hadn't. For those of us trying to sell Lean thinking, "turnaround" is a word that infers action many business owners won't admit they need. Lean Success might been a positive way to say the same thing.
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on October 12, 2012
This book really lays it on the line.

The importance of stretch goals....getting comfortable setting goals that you have no idea how you will achieve.
Eliminating the wrong information....like standard cost accounting.
Full scale involvement by the CEO and CFO....it takes an all-in effort to change the behaviors of the past.
Rooting out the barriers to high level breakthrough performance....policies and people.

Lean is a strategy for business results. Art shares not only what he did, but also what was achieved....not at one business but many. This is exactly the experience I had at CFO at two lean transformations. I had to look at work an entirely new way...but the results were stupendous.

Lean Turnaround is also a very fast read....read half on the first leg of your flight, and the other half on the way back! This will NOT be the business book you only get half way through.
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VINE VOICEon February 25, 2013
I love this book. It is written toward the business leader - it refers to CEO, but could certainly be targeted to a plant manager or another with the discretion to make some big changes in the business. It does an excellent job exposing the fatal flaw in most lean deployments - tepid support from senior management, and a remaining focus on the short term bottom line that never gives lean a chance to succeed and show a true change.

Pros:
- It's written directly to the CEO or business leader. If your leader hasn't read it, or you're a leader thinking about it, pick this book up, read it twice, and really engage with what it says.
- The focus is on hands on engagement at the most basic level. This is a huge difference for most executives, and would be eye-opening in almost any case
- Relies on brief case studies to reinforce points, rather than an ongoing case study of what worked in one situation
- Byrne opens up about numerous times he has faced challenges in lean deployments at a variety of organizations, including lack of leadership support (change them or can them), lack of middle management support (ditto), or when a company doesn't truly buy in and wants help (work with someone else).
- Realizes the need for some external help in driving lean deployment in a new organization - both internal and external resources can really make a difference.

Cons:
- It's disheartening to think that unless you're getting this level of support from the C suite, your work as a lean deployment champion is going to suffer. I'd love to work with an organization like those described in the book.
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