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The Heart and Soul of Manufacturing: How Lean Management aligns with the better angels of our nature to create extraordinary business results Paperback – June 2, 2015
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Most of the topics I completely agree with. His summary on lean accounting was spot on, but much of the book, especially the first half was primarily about his relationship with God. I am a spiritual person, but I wasn't prepared for it here and I found it at times distracting.
Over the last 30 years, he asserts, American business and especially manufacturing have become more prone to lay off people, move jobs overseas, slash employee benefits, and dump loyal long-term suppliers in favor of cheaper ones offshore. “It’s very had to be a party to such decisions and still go home at the end of the day and reconcile our work with our inner moral compass,” writes Waddell, a blogger and consultant with over 30 years of experience in manufacturing and accounting.
For him, companies, managers, and employees who are driven by principles, not just profits, must realize that their different values require different management techniques. For Waddell, lean management, provides practices that are more principled and ultimately more profitable.
In about 100 pages he explains why. Waddell explores the practices of several companies – most are small and privately held – and their leaders as they apply lean concepts to treat people and the planet well, while enjoying great business success.
He avoids delving into the details of just-in-time, kaizen, or other lean concepts and tools that are the subjects of other books. (He provides a list of essential reading for lean thinkers at the end.) Waddell writes about how lean practices align with religious and moral values in their approaches to company culture, executive behavior, organizational structure, leadership, and other areas, even accounting.
The accounting is a good treatment on the shortcomings of modern management accounting and how lean accounting differs, while remaining compliant with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. There are several concrete examples of how lean accounting supports sound decisions – as well as the consciences – of principled managers, who also want to be successful.
He also discusses how lean tools are often misunderstood as ways to just cut costs or headcount. I was glad that he spends time talking about lean as a growth model. Much of the business literature misses this key point. Lean business systems create added capacity without paying for new buildings or renting warehouses. The pressure is on management to use this freed-up capacity for new products and services, to in-source components, mergers, etc. – in other words, to grow.
It’s obvious from the start of the book that Waddell is a man of deep faith and deep commitment to lean management practices. If you’re not, don’t let that stop you from reading. This book should appeal to anyone who thinks that principles and profits are not mutually exclusive. (Note: I got a review copy from the author.)
The Heart and Soul of Manufacturing: How Lean Management aligns with the better angels of our nature to create extraordinary business results
Lean thinking with it's customer-focus, team-based, control-the-whole-flow, continuous improvement, & pursuit of perfection, works in ways that inherently draw on our humanity. Lean successfully applies our God-given, human characteristics and skills.
Some people reading this review may feel this to be strange & unnecessarily metaphysical. I would say: read the book. It's a short and easy read, and has a lot of important things to say.