- Hardcover: 208 pages
- Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 1 edition (December 11, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0071808019
- ISBN-13: 978-0071808019
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 50 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Taiichi Ohnos Workplace Management: Special 100th Birthday Edition Hardcover – December 11, 2012
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About the Author
Taiichi Ohno was born in Dalian, China, on February 29, 1912. He joined Toyoda Boshoku in 1932 after graduating from the mechanical engineering department of Nagoya Technical High School. Mr. Ohno was transferred to Toyota Motor Company in 1943 and was named the machine shop manager in 1949. He was promoted at Toyota to director in 1954, managing director in 1964, senior managing director in 1970, and executive vice president in 1975. He retired from Toyota in 1978. Mr. Ohno is the father of the Toyota Production System. He authored three works: Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production, Taiichi Ohno's Workplace Management, and Just-in-Time for Today and Tomorrow with Setsuo Mito.
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Workplace management is a collection of short transcripts of Taiichi Ohno's spoken monologues. As a transcript of spoken word, it is not extensively polished, although the English translation is high-quality language. The book offers both a first-person historical perspective into Lean and the development of various Lean tools as well as insight into the value base on which Lean was built.
For example, the way Ohno quotes and speaks of Confucius give clear insight into the Confucian roots of Lean, which are not often discussed. I believe that these roots are vital for the Lean concept of respect for people. On the other hand, these ideals are not completely alien to the Western world either, as both the Aristotelian concept of the golden mean and John Stuart Mill's defense of freedom of speech share the some of the same values. Thus, while this is an interesting subject, understanding these roots is not strictly necessary for creating a Lean system.
If you are new to Lean, I would not recommend this book. The concepts are not clearly explained and the book follows no clear path from start to finish.
If you just want to use Lean, I am not sure whether I should recommend this book to you either. The tools and most of the reasons behind them are more clearly explained in more recent works, for example in those of Jeffrey Liker, Mike Rother, and Masaaki Imai.
You should read this book if you are interested in the values that shaped Lean (although you need to read between the lines to get there) or if you are interested in a first-person historical narrative of the beginnings of Lean. It is a short book, so if you have even slight interest in these subjects, reading it will not take a long time.
THE CONTENT -- Awesome! If you want to learn about ways of thinking and give them names so that you can articulate the ideas to other people, this book is great! I loved how Ohno uses real examples from his life (or made up ones in his mind) and Japanese or Toyota history to make his points more tangible. He shows us ways of thinking to "reduce cost" (i.e., get fit or "lean") north strategically (e.g., Supermarket System = Just in Time = kanban) and operationally (start with a base standard and allow workers to improve upon them, a.k.a., kaizen). I am not sure if I have all of the ideas correct after my first reading, but it was definitely can start a mind on the right path toward improvement.
WRITING STYLE -- The main points of this book are repeated and developed many times in many ways over the course of this book, which made it a study for me because that is not a typical way that North Americans write (a more cut-to-the-point style). I found myself having to read it like I read "The Silmarillion" by Tolkien (i.e., as I read I had to remember and reference earlier pages so that I could understand the terminology and see how the points were developed). So, it was tiring to really understand, but the effort is really worthwhile!
TRANSLATION -- Problematic English, for example plenty of "this" (a demonstrative adjective, not a noun) without a noun afterward make the book confusing and lead me to question "this what?" In addition (and ironically in a book about trimming the fat) did not think about economy of word usage: plenty of sentences, even if they preserve the exact words of the author, do nothing to support points and actually make the book harder to read, which I do not believe is in the spirit of what Ohno was trying to accomplish by making the chapters so short. In short, it appears to me that the translator was probably not an Ohno expert but more of just a person who happened to be literate in Japanese and English. My guess is that the translator's native language is Japanese, because the grammar problems I mention above suggest limited English proficiency.