By Jon Miller | Post Date: March 12, 2007 6:13 PM | Comments: 8
When do you know a management concept has hit the mainstream? Like a bug to a windshield, "Lean" as a management approach has now hit bookshelves in the form of Lean for Dummies. It set me off on a minor rant in the office when I learned about this today.
The title is unfortunate. I realize it is a successful franchise, and the format itself of the "dummies" books is very good. Can Lean be summarized successfully in 362 pages? We shall see. Kudos to them if they do it.
On the other hand, if your organization is led by, or filled with people who see themselves as "dummies" attempting to discover how to:
* Understand Lean and how it's implemented
by reading a book that explains it all in 1-page and 2-page snippets, you will fail. Context is key. One of the 10 pitfalls listed in the table of contents of this book is the "Quick Fix" and there is a danger of this if the subject matter is not respected and instead dumbed-down.
There is a quote about Toyota building brilliant processes that average people can perform flawlessly. The quote does not say they are building processes for dummies. That would not be respectful to people to begin with, and most likely not practical since just like there is no limit to people's ability to think, there no limit in the other direction as well.
Art Smalley who is a former Toyota manager, and a highly reputable source on how Lean should be implemented, has written about creating basic stability as a precondition for TPS implementation. It's a simple idea, but in hindsight many of Gemba's failed Lean projects (whether they be internal projects or with clients) resulted from some basic lack of stability in the human, material, machine or method conditions. I would suggest that stability in the areas of management ability, respect for people and average or better intelligence are also preconditions to a Lean transformation.
That said, I bought the book today for research purposes. We may even recommend it in spite of the unfortunate title. The book is billed as a fun and simple guide to improving performance and profits for your business. Hey, I'd be a dummy if I didn't get me some of that.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.