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Author : James Womack and Daniel Jones

This is one of the books that has been on my reading list for some time and I am a little disappointed in the applicable knowledge you can take from the book.  I finished it but had a sense of wanting more, and not really be satisfied with what I had learned.  I found there to be a ton of great concepts and examples of practices that use lean thinking so I definitely have a better understanding of it now, but I’m left with a feeling that there was a void in this book as far as applying the lean concepts.  Lean thinking is really about putting into practice, a culture of eliminating waste in organizations and the book goes into detail around the elaborate process that is required to take that to the highest level and use all of the lean concepts.  The authors discuss how difficult this can be and instead of giving a lot of useful advice in overcoming that hurdle, they recommend hiring a lean thinking expert from another part of the world to use them to drive this culture into your organization.  I was highly disappointed from that and would prefer to see recommendations and guidance on how to implement the process yourself.

However, there is a lot to learn from this book and the complexities of the process are outlined over and over with emphasis on the importance of the mindset around lean thinking and how there is little room to shift from the full process since it doesn’t work well unless it is used across the full spectrum of an organization.  This systems consideration makes the whole process very difficult to follow which I assume is why the authors don’t lead you to think it is easy, as it is obviously not from the stories and examples used in the book from Toyota’s production system.

If you are looking to understand the system involved, then this book will definitely show you some of the radical shifts that are needed to take a batch manufacturing system into a cell based highly responsive production system.  Just don’t expect it to be a very practical guide book.  Its a book that will give you everything needed to ponder more on the idea and explore ways to apply it in your own organization as well.  Its certainly given me more to think on in my role with product development to further explore techniques in being more responsive and to understand methods that could be applied in simple manufacturing with very small lots of work.  Its definitely worth a read and the book’s title in one way at least is misleading, since I’ve been left with plenty to think about. 🙂

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