Monday, May 26, 2003

"Who’s Counting?" A Brief Review

I mentioned recently a new book, Who's Counting? A Lean Accounting Business Novel. I got it read over the weekend and it is a very solid addition to the Lean literature. I offer some summary thoughts here.
  • It is a pleasurable read. Jerry clearly is influenced by Eli Goldratt’s novel style in "The Goal" and follow on books. He does better than most in making it believable. The book centers on the on-going tension between Mike, a Lean implementor and Fred, the CFO of the publicly traded corporation for which they both work. . This format makes a painfully dry subject (accounting conventions) into a very readable book.
  • It covers Lean Accounting... The book delivers a solid overview of it’s purpose. How does one keep track of costs in a high-flow, minimal waste environment? In particular, how does one calculate product cost? Where does direct labor, local overhead and company overhead fit? What is the problem with absorption costing? Why do we uncritically accept full-absorption costing? How does one get consistent external financial statements while also producing lean internal controls? What adjustments are needed? These topics are well covered.
  • ... but it really covers Lean Implementing This was my biggest surprise and a very positive one at that. This book portrays the very real difficulties in getting a Lean system started. It captures the real anger, personal problems, long hours and human barriers. It covers, from a Board level to a shop level the hurdles, both technical and human. Someone interested solely in implementing Lean could read this, skip the few parts that are especially technical on accounting and get a very accurate feel for what it takes to implement a Lean system.
Jerry has made a very good contribution to the Lean community. I recommend the book highly.

I hope this is helpful. Feel free to forward to a friend. Email me

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