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

4.6 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1934109250
ISBN-10: 1934109258
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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 (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #224,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel really resembles the manufacturing plant environment. It is a grinding process where improvements always function on a "we shall see" basis. You never get the sense of a fluffy and happy ending. It's a long but excellent read. I took a lot of notes that will help me at my plant. There are good lean principles and practical steps that can be implemented on a daily basis. I highly recommend it.
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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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