The authors begin by summarizing the five inherent principles in any lean system:
- Correctly specify value so you are providing what the customer actually wants
- Identify the value stream for each product family and remove the wasted steps that don’t create value but do create muda (waste)
- Make the remaining value-creating steps flow continuously to drastically shorten throughput times
- Allow the customer to pull value from your rapid-response value streams as needed (rather than pushing products toward the customer on the basis of forecasts)
- Never relax until you reach perfection, which is the delivery of pure value instantaneously with zero muda. (The first part of Lean Thinking devotes a chapter to each of these principles.)
In the second part, the authors describe in detail how managers in a wide range of companies and industries – small, medium and large, North American, European, and Japanese – transformed their business by applying the principlesof lean thinking. Chapters are devoted to Pratt & Whitney, Wiremold and Lantech in North America, Porsche in Germany, and Showa Manufacturing in Japan.
Based on these cases and many others as well, the authors summarize in the last part of Lean Thinking the necessary steps in the necessary sequence to apply lean thinking successfully in your business. They pay special attention to the need to map product-family value streams at the outset in order to identify the most important areas for improvement and to avoid wasted effort on activities that may be technically challenging but which are of little importance to your business.
Lean Thinking has sold more than 300,000 copies in the English language hardcover version alone because it’s an indispensable companion for every manager making the lean journey.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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