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Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation
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Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  3,574 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews

Expanded, updated, and more relevant than ever, this bestselling business classic by two internationally renowned management analysts describes a business system for the twenty-first century that supersedes the mass production system of Ford, the financial control system of Sloan, and the strategic system of Welch and GE. It is based on the Toyota (lean) model, which combi
Hardcover, Revised and Updated, 396 pages
Published June 1st 2003 by Productivity Press (first published September 1996)
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Steven Peterson
Aug 09, 2009 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it
Lean is a specific management technique to make an organization more efficient (and a private sector company more profitable). This book is a well written introduction to the subject. The authors, James Womack and Daniel Jones, provide lots of examples to illustrate their basic points. Thus, this is a very useful introduction to the subject, for those of us who are not experts on this matter.

To start at the beginning. . . . The enemy is "Muda," a Japanese word that means "waste," in all of its
Caroline Gordon
So glad I finally got onto reading some classic 'lean' texts. Much of the Agile literature talks about lean and what Toyota achieved, so reading this is going to fill out my understanding of the origins of the ideas. It's hard to believe how exactly the description of 'pre-lean' manufacturing in the 60s describes the current state of the IT industry. The waste involved in functional silos, queueing and batching, lack of visibility of the value stream. Music to my ears!
Yet another 5 star rating,
Feb 08, 2017 False rated it it was ok
Shelves: business-finance
It is based on the Toyota (lean) model, which combines operational excellence with value-based strategies to produce steady growth through a wide range of economic conditions. This had been on my "to read" list for a long time. In retrospect, it was a waste to go back to a book on business originally written in 1996. Too much time has passed.
Angie McCain Crees
May 21, 2014 Angie McCain Crees rated it really liked it
Most of the book was how to evaluate and implement Lean in a factory type setting. The process of and result from using a factory setting provides clear results and is statistically easier to measure the results. I would have liked more examples of lean processes in an environment that is more difficult to statistically measure before and after lean implementation. Still, it is a good book if you are interested in understanding what Lean is and how Lean might be useful in your business.
Jul 22, 2017 Todd rated it liked it
Pretty good business book I guess. The general plot is remove waste and unneeded steps in delivering your product to the consumer. If there are areas where the product or consumer is sitting their waiting you might have an area that could be improved.
Niels Bergervoet
Mar 11, 2017 Niels Bergervoet rated it really liked it
Gives a good basic understanding of Lean thinking, and is really convincing why it is a good ideology to adopt in organizations.
May 03, 2015 Jack rated it really liked it
This was a long effort. I am not enthusiastic about reading books regarding the subjects of manufacturing, business, or leadership (aside from awesome military leadership of course). As our rise in position increases, so must our understanding of various subjects. So I gave this one a whirl. Manufacturing concepts are always difficult since I find I must inherently understand all aspects of the process. Now after that understanding, must come optimization which is one area I fully embrace. Just- ...more
Philip Boling
Jan 12, 2010 Philip Boling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the better insight into the manufacturing transformation which I witnessed in the 90's: the introduction of U shaped manufacturing cells, the emphasis on the concepts: value, flow and pull and the identification of huge automated manufacturing monstrosities as monuments.

Some of the competitive advantage of the Japanese was identified, but I was also left with questions: Denso for instance in my experience was never portrayed as a competitor on price, so if Denso had huge cost advantag
Feb 26, 2008 Laura rated it liked it
Shelves: educational
Dan recommended I read this for work as a part of the all the lean thinking stuff at work. Many of the ideas and theories made sense and were mostly common sense and applied more to manufacturing than an office setting.

The parts that did apply to us are already in practice. Breaking down a process to see where you could apply processes to speed it up. Applying immediate action to put changes in place right away is another idea we have been implementing. One thing that was in the book that I had
Will Burns
Jan 13, 2014 Will Burns rated it really liked it
I'm not involved in manufacturing myself, but wanted to get an understanding of lean principles as they've had such an impact over the last 30 years. The great thing about the book is that you can see how applicable the principles are to all functions of a business (and the author gives examples). My only criticism is that it goes on too long. There are a few too many similar examples and the last few chapters about the future get too unpractical and lose the rhythm. However, overall a valuable ...more
Mar 30, 2013 Phillip rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It lays out the principles of lean in a very engaging way: chock full of examples and experiences with applying lean thinking. Not in the least formulaic, it took me through a progression of distinctions about how to think differently about process. The examples are almost all from material production processes, but I found it easy to apply the thinking to my own work with providers who have complex knowledge management environments (major projects, energy, public sec ...more
Aug 22, 2012 Aaron rated it really liked it
This book was much easier to digest than "The Machine that Changed the World." It lays out a basic history of Lean Manufacturing, and it does a great job of explaining the tools and culture behind Lean.

I read this book as its an important part of my work. I've worked in Lean for almost two years, and this is one of those books one just has to read, even if you already know the lingo, tools, and history.

I would recommend this one for anyone just getting started with Lean Manufacturing or who ar
Rafael Bandeira
Feb 03, 2011 Rafael Bandeira rated it liked it
The concepts are intrinsically interesting and they are laid out in a great order, but I find the topics weren't explored enough and that most of the examples were misleading and confusing due to their length. Most of it though might be a colateral effect from having it as audio book and thus not being able to experience it in the best way.

It is a great book to get your head started on Lean, and I strongly recommend it!
Mar 14, 2015 Chad rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, business
This was a suggestion from a peer at work to help me in my new role as a lean coach. Now that I have had training and lived in the beginning phases of a lean transformation, this book has given me additional insight into the concepts and principles of lean thinking and managing a lean organization. It you are starting a lean and transformation or want to understand how to identify waste and continuously improve you business, this book is necessary reading.
Karen Grothe
Jun 11, 2015 Karen Grothe rated it really liked it
Shelves: professional
This book is considered the "bible" of Lean Thinking. The first section goes over the 5 principles of Lean, then the second section presents 6 case studies of Lean Thinking being implemented at various companies, and the third section talks about how to implement Lean principles and create a Lean Enterprise. I thought the ideas were very good, and I really appreciated the case studies to help me understand how they might be implemented in a workplace.
Sam Huish
Jan 19, 2014 Sam Huish rated it really liked it
Very good original text on Lean. Much of this is covered by other texts now, but it is still an excellent foundation point. This covers the strategic aspects of Lean, but not so much the tactical (shop floor) level, which is actually very good for Lean outside of manufacturing. Discusses the importance of Lean leadership and change agents, but does not really cover the wider aspects of culture.

Listened to this as an audiobook.
Charles Stahl
I read this book back in 2003 originally, and I'm currently re-reading it as a refresher. EVERYONE should read this book - it's the seminal book on Lean principles by Womack and Jones first published back in 1996. It's all about eliminating waste - that's the fundamental definition of Lean. These principles can be applied to all aspects and types of businesses for profound improvements - Game-Changing improvements.
Steve Whiting
Feb 17, 2016 Steve Whiting rated it really liked it
Excellent introduction to Lean methodology. The first 2 sections are a very thorough looks at the key concepts of Lean, and in depth case studies of various companies - particularly banging the drum for flow, which is probably the least intuitive aspect of Lean.

The third section was weaker - a rather vague wish exercise about how Lean enterprises might develop / be developed in the future
Jan 19, 2009 Susan rated it did not like it
I can't really rate this book because I had to read it for work. If you are into lean manufacturing, it is the book for you. I understand the concept and was interested in the outcomes of companies who have adopted lean practices. I can't see how lean thinking will help me at this time. Maybe in the future?
Jack Vinson
Nov 22, 2010 Jack Vinson rated it liked it
Good overview and lots of similarities to TOC. And differences, such as intense focus on waste instead of optimizing the constraint.
A blog post and review of the book:
A blog post about the heavy use of Japanese terms:
Colleen Martin
Sep 17, 2013 Colleen Martin rated it liked it
Book was helpful and relevant to what we are focusing on - eliminating waste. However this entire book could have just been the first section where it summarized the main principles. So many boring and hard to read stories that had little to no point. At times it felt like I was having a root canal- or would have picked having it over reading the book.
Krishna Kumar
May 04, 2015 Krishna Kumar rated it really liked it
The authors explore the concepts of lean thinking through several cases of lean implementation in companies from small concerns to large, global manufacturers. The book explains steps on how to implement lean thinking effectively and avoid mistakes that could hamper them. Finally, the authors look at industries that could benefit from lean thinking.
Aug 16, 2016 Derek rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
While not quite as fun to read as The Goal, Lean Thinking is a great summary of Lean practices and implementation.

Lean had led to the Agile software development movement, and lean principles also guide the DevOps movement. It's nice to see business thinking that lasts the test of time.
Dec 14, 2013 Nathan rated it liked it
Shelves: abandoned, business
I'm interested in learning more about lean manufacturing and what it might look like for software, but dear god it's like poking your nose into a church. Icons, doctrine, jargon, and wholesome eager people with too-wide smiles trying to show you the path to salvation.
TQM Doctor
Aug 04, 2008 TQM Doctor rated it really liked it
Womack and Jones refresh the basic lean concepts in the beginning of the book, which is the part I will refer to in the future. The remainder of the book expands on these concepts by illustrating them in myriad situation examples thus providing support for the ideas themselves.
Nov 06, 2010 Heather rated it really liked it
Recommended to Heather by: Matt Cahill
Mandatory reading from the boss. But not bad.
'Course, pretty much all his examples involve bringing in a major Japanese guru, or someone who already went through a lean transition elsewhere with a major Japanese guru. Not a uniformly available option.
Robert Bütof
There are books which are evolutionary (99%) and some that are revolutionary (1%) - this book falls definitely into the latter category. It changes your way of thinking and explains you why some of our rational concepts about the (business) world are simply wrong.
James Taylor
Jan 17, 2015 James Taylor rated it liked it
I'm not as enamored with Womack as my peers, but perhaps it's simply the example based writings that prop lean up. It always seems pseudoscience when giving anecdotes that purport to be whole solutions. But I do believe in lean and this is a catalog of approaches.
Brigt Nersveen
Feb 28, 2016 Brigt Nersveen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sme-lean-bronze
One of the best Lean-books I've read. Brilliant examples from real companies. The only problem I've got now is how to interpolate my understanding of Lean to healthcare. :) Next book in lean will be towards healthcare.
Miranda Moberg Diaz
I'd call it at 2.5. Some very good principles but highly technical throughout most of it and hard to read if not from a manufacturing environment. While the general ideas are really good, a lot of it gets lost in the details.
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“Converting a classic batch-and-queue production system to continuous flow with effective pull by the customer will double labor productivity all the way through the system (for direct, managerial, and technical workers, from raw materials to delivered product) while cutting production throughput times by 90 percent and reducing inventories in the system by 90 percent as well.” 1 likes
“We labeled this new way lean production because it does more and more with less and less.” 0 likes
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