"Lean Solutions" by Womack and Jones
Continuing my promise fulfillment, here is my take on Lean Solutions: How Companies and Customers Can Create Value and Wealth Together by Jim Womack and Dan Jones.
Womack and Jones speak from their vantage point to ask what a Lean mindset can do to a number of common problems in society: Healthcare, air travel, auto repair. They observe, correctly, that even though we are manufacturing things with less and less waste, we don't find our lives becoming less and less complicated or wasteful. Using these common experiences as examples, they examine what COULD happen if Lean thinking was applied to the entire chain from manufacture to consumption.
I ran into this over the past 10 days as I tried to get a high-speed Internet connection to my home and set up a Wi-Fi node. Oh my. There was no way to integrate this process and each provider was sure that it was the other provider's problem. My time, my wife's time, my weekend was of no value to anyone.
Long-time reader of this blog and lean thinker Karen Wilhelm commented recently on this same phenomenon as she grappled with an "improvement" in her IT system. She wrote that the solution "...eliminated some duplicate data entry for the IT person, but the user now has duplicate data entry." In other words, the total system now has more waste, not less.
In both of these cases, we see pure waste surrounding "productivity increasing technology." W&J discuss this phenomenon extensively. But rather than just griping about it, they bring a systematic Lean perspective to analyze and propose solutions. Their methodology is useful.
Overall, I found the book good for long-term thinking and probably useful for strategy. However, it did not have the urgency or the punch that I distinctly recall the first time I read "Lean Thinking". Nevertheless, W&J are just plain good writers. They appeal to me with their clarity and ability to explain and tell a story. So the book was an easy read...I finished it in two evenings.
Useful to read and will get you thinking. But probably won't change your life.