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Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, Revised and Updated Hardcover – June 10, 2003

4.2 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews

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In the revised and updated edition of Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, authors James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones provide a thoughtful expansion upon their value-based business system based on the Toyota model. Along the way they update their action plan in light of new research and the increasing globalization of manufacturing, and they revisit some of their key case studies (most of which still derive, however, from the automotive, aerospace, and other manufacturing industries).

The core of the lean model remains the same in the new edition. All businesses must define the "value" that they produce as the product that best suits customer needs. The leaders must then identify and clarify the "value stream," the nexus of actions to bring the product through problems solving, information management, and physical transformation tasks. Next, "lean enterprise" lines up suppliers with this value stream. "Flow" traces the product across departments. "Pull" then activates the flow as the business re-orients towards the pull of the customer's needs. Finally, with the company reengineered towards its core value in a flow process, the business re-orients towards "perfection," rooting out all the remaining muda (Japanese for "waste") in the system.

Despite the authors' claims to "actionable principles for creating lasting value in any business during any business conditions," the lean model is not demonstrated with broad applications in the service or retail industries. But those manager's whose needs resonate with those described in the Lean Thinking case studies will find a host of practical guidelines for streamlining their processes and achieving manufacturing efficiencies. --Patrick O'Kelley

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"Fortune" A new and coherent thesis about automotive production...[the authors] back up their conclusions with unique statistical measures that are authoritative, extremely timely, and highly revealing. Think of this book as another step in the decade-long process of getting the attention of recalcitrant mass producers.

Philip Caldwell Chairman and CEO, Ford Motor Company, 1980-1985 Truly remarkable....The most comprehensive, instructive, mind-stretching and provocative analysis of any major industry I have ever known. Why pay others huge consulting fees? Just read this book.

Richard J. Schonberger Author of "World Class Manufacturing: The Next Decade" The manufacturing book of the nineties.

"Automotive News" This is a book of great understanding, and of hope. It shows how to create an industrial world in which workers share the challenges and satisfactions of the business. It's a world in which assemblers communicate with suppliers and dealers in a way that improves life for all of them. Read it.

Peter F. Drucker Author of "The Post-Capitalist Society""The Machine That Changed the World" is a very important book. I am impressed.

"Business Week" The best current book on the changes reshaping manufacturing, and the most readable, too...conveys a very human sense of managers constrained by limited resources yet trying to do better.

"Financial Times" A revealing and compellingly readable account of Japan's achievement in revolutionizing manufacturing....An eye-opener even for those who already knew Japan didn't do it all with robots.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Productivity Press; 2nd edition (June 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743249275
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743249270
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I'm not sure who the audience is for Lean Thinking. Call me naïve, but I assumed it was written by Womack and Jones to help organizations analyze their business processes and eliminate muda (Japanese for "waste"), thereby improving overall performance. However, after reading almost 250 pages of anecdotal success stories, the chapter entitled "Action Plan," where one would assume resides the punch-line of the text, I was met by the profound advice to "Get the knowledge" by hiring one of the numerous experts in North America, Europe or Japan, and read some of the "vast literature" available on lean techniques. Reminds me of the Steve Martin joke where he tells you how to be a millionaire. "First, get a million dollars."
After reading Lean Thinking, I'm struck by the irony that while the authors recommend removing waste from the manner by which your products are delivered to the end customer, they don't take their own advice. The text could have been distilled from 384 pages down to five or six, since there's no real substantive instruction on how to implement lean principles. Then again, maybe I completely misinterpreted the intent of the authors as to their audience and it really was written for the business historian who enjoys reading about how Pratt & Whitney started in 1855. That must be it, because after I ponder the title, I realize that Lean Thinking is for just that, thinking. What I really wanted was a book entitled Lean Doing.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a new and expanded second edition of a book first published in 1996. Of special interest to me was what Womack and Jones had to say in the preface regarding what has since happened to the companies previously discussed. Apparently lean thinking has enabled Toyota, Wiremold, Porsche, Lantech, and Pratt & Whitney to sustain operational excellence and economic prosperity.
Briefly, how do Womack and Jones define lean thinking? It is the opposite of muda (a Japanese) word for anything which consumes resources without creating value. In a word, waste. Lean thinking is lean because "it provides a way to do more and more with less and less -- less human effort, less equipment, less time, and less space -- while coming closer and closer to providing customers with exactly what they want." Lean thinking is thus a process of thought, not an expedient response or a stop-gap solution. The challenge, according to Womack and Jones, is to convert muda into real, quantifiable value and the process to achieve that worthy objective requires everyone within an organization (regardless of size or nature) to be actively involved in that process. Once again, in this new edition they address questions such as these:
1. How can certain "simple, actionable principles" enable any business to create lasting value during any business conditions?
2. How can these principles be applied most effectively in real businesses, regardless of size or nature?
3. How can a relentless focus on the value stream for every product create "a true lean enterprise that optimizes the value created for the customer while minimizing time, cost, and errors"?
In Part IV, Womack and Jones update the continuing advance of of lean thinking.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I personally do a vast amount of reading with lean enterprise being of special interest. Womack has done some great work, but this is a "tough read" even for serious lean enthusiasts. I typically finish a book of this length within 2-3 days then re-read it and highlight. It literally took me 11 weeks because I was lulled to a point in which reading further would be of no benefit and would have to put it back on the shelf and revisit it days later. I realize that scholarly and business writing is not especially exciting as I am constantly reading and doing research but this one was tough even for me, an avid reader.
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Format: Hardcover
While Womack and James do spread ink on essential lean principles such as the elimination of waste (muda), the value stream, and pull and flow, "Lean Thinking" is essentially a collection of case studies about companies that made the leap from traditional batch and and queue manufacturing practices to lean production methods (e.g. Doyle Wilson Homebuilder, Bumper Works, Lantech, Wiremold, Pratt and Whitney, Porsche, and Showa).

Sometimes "Lean Thinking" is saddled with criticism directed toward its high-level approach. However, understanding how other companies dealt with the lean challenge is a valuable part of the lean education.

Lean is unconventional. The lean journey is wrought with headwinds in the form of surprises, resistance, and sometimes even sabotage. People think they don't like change (the widespread use of electricity suggests otherwise) which makes the jump to a lean culture challenging. Progress along the lean journey is normally measured by two steps forward and one step back -- which can be discouraging at times. The case studies outlined in "Lean Thinking" remind the lean champion that others have been in their shoes and the result of their lean journey was a successful and more profitable business.
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