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Rebirth of American Industry Paperback – December 15, 2005
This book provides a prescription that should lead American companies to return manufacturing to our shores. -- Doug Nelson, President, APICS, Portland
This excellent book will make some enemies. It is outspoken, hard-hitting, and correct. -- Brian Maskell, author
From the Publisher
In my own personal journey, studying Toyota and the other leading Japanese manufacturers these past twenty five years, I was continually amazed at what I discovered and was continually puzzled why GM and Ford did not do what I did, learn from the best and then to forcefully apply the new methodologies in their companies.
On my first study mission to Japan in February 1981, I visited the American Embassy in Tokyo and met with the information officer. His job was to study the best Japanese technologies and to have that information translated to English to help American companies stay abreast of what was happening in Japan. I was furious at him to have not discovered what Toyota was doing to go from producers of "junk" to world class. His budget, millions of dollars, to spend on translations was hundreds times greater than mine.
Somehow, I was surely blessed to have met Dr. Shigeo Shingo, Mr. Taiichi Ohno, Dr. Ryuji Fukuda, Seiichi Nakajima, Dr. Yoji Akao, Hiroyuki Hirano, Shigehiro Nakamura, Bunji To-zawa, Iwao Kobayashi, Kenichi Sekine and others who were willing to share their information with Americans and allowed me to publish their Japanese books in English.
It shortly became obvious to me from my frequent visits to Japan, 63 as of this date, that the Toyota Production System (TPS) was the most important and the most valuable to study. At first, when I met Mr. Taiichi Ohno, vice-president of manufacturing at Toyota, I asked him to let me have things in writing about TPS. He said, "Norman, we don't have things written down, for it is always changing." I felt that he was just reluctant to share the information that was making Toyota so successful. But, I was perseverant. I wouldn't stop searching for information to share with companies in the West. I magically found Dr. Shingo, co-creator with Ohno of TPS, and he graciously allowed me to publish all of his books in English. After a few years Mr. Ohno also gave me permission to publish also his books in English.
But, why wouldn't GM and Ford do the same? Why wouldn't they locate, translate and publish everything available on Toyota? It is still a mystery to me. In 1984, Toyota decided to open a joint venture plant with GM, NUMMI, to share their production system with GM. Virtually, all of Toyota's secrets were now available to GM. Why didn't GM study carefully the JIT/LEAN concepts and apply them? And through the books I subsequently published, when I owned Productivity Press, most of what Toyota was doing was available to everyone.
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In Rebirth of American Industry, Bill Waddell shows how lean efforts are undercut by the accounting structures in most companies. This happens in companies that might really want to do "lean" all the way, and simply can't figure out why it's not working. Having had success with lean at one company, I took a new job as a Director of Continuous Improvement at my current company. Initially I was BAFFLED because there were obvious improvements that could be made that weren't. When I read "Rebirth" it ALL MADE SENSE! This book is tremendous for understanding the power of accounting systems, metrics, and the management assumptions that exist in a company. If you work at a publicly traded company and have ever had to perform the "end of quarter shuffle," this book will make sense!
Read the book! If you're in a company with the wrong accounting practices, (as odds are that's the case) this book will make it all clear and give you suggestions on where to go. If you're in a company that has cash-flow based accounting, this book will give you the ammunition to explain the benefits to anyone who will listen. As a sidenote, a colleague who had just finished his MBA read this book at my urging. A week later he said to me glumly, "I learned more about how business really works from this book than my whole MBA." (I feel obligated to say that he's a smart guy and not a bad student!) The book is great. But perhaps it's not for everyone; just people who work in businesses. :)
p.s. If you buy the book, pay some copy place to spiral bind it! The binding is not super robust to begin with, and chances are you'll dog-ear or highlight so many pages it will come apart. Save yourself the trouble! Enjoy!
The reason I didn't give it 5 stars, however, is that I wanted a more in-depth explanation of how Lean impacts the financials, that therefore leads to Lean not being adopted. The authors, instead, made generalities with a few financial figures, that, if I were to use for a presentation to top management, wouldn't be convincing enough. And in this way, they failed their readers.
Otherwise, a great book to read that, at points, I didn't want to put down. Would recommend as a primer, but not sufficient alone.
I've wondered in the past why the considerable investment in Lean Six Sigma by Ford, GM and Delphi didn't pay off - now I'm beginning to understand.
This is an important book that applies to all industries not just manufacturing.
Then my friend gave me his copy of this book. I figured I would probably never read it and give it back to him in a few months. I figured it was written for 'Industrial Engineer nerds' and would be above my head. One night, as I am about ready to go to bed, I pick it up and decide to look at chapter 1, so I can at least say I tried to read it. All I can say is WOW!!!! 3 chapters later, I look at the clock and decide I should go to bed, since it then way past my bedtime. I spent the next few days blowing through chapter after chapter (and staying up too late). The scales fell off of my eyes and suddenly I saw the absurdity of modern business thinking and the beauty of lean. Before, I thought Lean was something like the kanban cards I used to stock my kitchen (yes, my friend did teach me this) on a wider scale, but it is so much more.
After this book, Bill's blogs made perfect sense. I started spreading the word to those around me about the absurdity of overhead absorption, lowest landed piece costs, making machines run around the clock when you don't need that many parts, creating bogus factory efficiency numbers, building unwanted inventory at the end of the quarter, and other absurd practices I noticed around me. Not only did Bill teach me lean, I was able to explain it to others.
You can read reviews from lean manufacturing experts who read this book, but I hope you will take special notice when I tell you that I have ZERO background in manufacturing and was utterly clueless about all such things, and this book changed how I view manufacturing. It's not written for like-minded manufacturing gurus. It is written for all of us who just didn't get it.