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About James P. Womack
The intellectual basis for the Cambridge, MA-based Institute is described in a series of books and articles co-authored by Womack and Daniel Jones over the past 20 years. The most widely known books are: The Machine That Changed the World (Macmillan/Rawson Associates, 1990), Lean Thinking (Simon & Schuster, 1996), Lean Solutions (Simon & Schuster, 2005), and Seeing The Whole Value Stream (Lean Enterprise Institute, 2011). Articles include: "From Lean Production to the Lean Enterprise" (Harvard Business Review, March-April, 1994), "Beyond Toyota: How to Root Out Waste and Pursue Perfection" (Harvard Business Review, September-October, 1996), "Lean Consumption" (Harvard Business Review, March-April, 2005).
Womack received a B.A. in political science from the University of Chicago in 1970, a master's degree in transportation systems from Harvard in 1975, and a Ph.D. in political science from MIT in 1982 (for a dissertation on comparative industrial policy in the U.S., Germany, and Japan). During the period 1975-1991, he was a full-time research scientist at MIT directing a series of comparative studies of world manufacturing practices. As research director of MIT's International Motor Vehicle Program, Womack led the research team that coined the term "lean production" to describe Toyota's business system.
Womack served as the Institute's chairman and CEO from 1997 until 2010 when he was succeeded by John Shook.
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In contrast with the crash-and-burn performance of companies trumpeted by business gurus in the 1990s, the firms profiled in Lean Thinking -- from tiny Lantech to midsized Wiremold to niche producer Porsche to gigantic Pratt Whitney -- have kept on keeping on, largely unnoticed, along a steady upward path through the market turbulence and crushed dreams of the early twenty-first century. Meanwhile, the leader in lean thinking -- Toyota -- has set its sights on leadership of the global motor vehicle industry in this decade.
Instead of constantly reinventing business models, lean thinkers go back to basics by asking what the customer really perceives as value. (It's often not at all what existing organizations and assets would suggest.) The next step is to line up value-creating activities for a specific product along a value stream while eliminating activities (usually the majority) that don't add value. Then the lean thinker creates a flow condition in which the design and the product advance smoothly and rapidly at the pull of the customer (rather than the push of the producer). Finally, as flow and pull are implemented, the lean thinker speeds up the cycle of improvement in pursuit of perfection. The first part of this book describes each of these concepts and makes them come alive with striking examples.
Lean Thinking clearly demonstrates that these simple ideas can breathe new life into any company in any industry in any country. But most managers need guidance on how to make the lean leap in their firm. Part II provides a step-by-step action plan, based on in-depth studies of more than fifty lean companies in a wide range of industries across the world.
Even those readers who believe they have embraced lean thinking will discover in Part III that another dramatic leap is possible by creating an extended lean enterprise for each of their product families that tightly links value-creating activities from raw materials to customer.
In Part IV, an epilogue to the original edition, the story of lean thinking is brought up-to-date with an enhanced action plan based on the experiences of a range of lean firms since the original publication of Lean Thinking.
Lean Thinking does not provide a new management "program" for the one-minute manager. Instead, it offers a new method of thinking, of being, and, above all, of doing for the serious long-term manager -- a method that is changing the world.
When The Machine That Changed the World was first published in 1990, Toyota was half the size of General Motors. Twenty years later Toyota passed GM as the world’s largest auto maker. This management classic was the first book to reveal Toyota’s lean production system that is the basis for its enduring success.
Authors Womack, Jones, and Roos provided a comprehensive description of the entire lean system. They exhaustively documented its advantages over the mass production model pioneered by General Motors and predicted that lean production would eventually triumph. Indeed, they argued that it would triumph not just in manufacturing but in every value-creating activity from health care to retail to distribution.
Today The Machine That Changed the World provides enduring and essential guidance to managers and leaders in every industry seeking to transform traditional enterprises into exemplars of lean success.
Why is it that, when our computers or our cell phones fail to satisfy our needs, virtually every interaction with help lines, support centers, or any organization providing service is marked with wasted time and extra hassle? In their bestselling business classic Lean Thinking, James Womack and Daniel Jones introduced the world to the principles of lean production—principles for eliminating waste during production. Now, in Lean Solutions, the authors establish the groundbreaking principles of lean consumption, showing companies how to eliminate inefficiency during consumption.
Lean Solutions is full of surprising success stories: Fujitsu, a leading service company for technology, has transformed the way call centers solve problems—learning how to eliminate the underlying cause of current problems rather than fixing them again and again. An extremely successful car dealership has adopted lean principles to streamline its business, making for dramatically reduced wait time, fewer return trips, and greater satisfaction for customers—and a far more lucrative enterprise. Lean Solutions will inspire managers to take the first steps toward perfecting their company's process of giving consumers what they really want.
With a new introduction by the author, this “erudite and brilliantly readable book” (The Observer, London) astutely dissects the political, economic and social origins of Western civilization to reveal a culture cripplingly enslaved to crude notions of rationality and expertise.
The Western world is full of paradoxes. We talk endlessly of individual freedom, yet we’ve never been under more pressure to conform. Our business leaders describe themselves as capitalists, yet most are corporate employees and financial speculators. We call our governments democracies, yet few of us participate in politics. We complain about invasive government, yet our legal, educational, financial, social, cultural and legislative systems are deteriorating.
All these problems, John Ralston Saul argues, are largely the result of our blind faith in the value of reason. Over the past 400 years, our “rational elites” have turned the modern West into a vast, incomprehensible, directionless machine, run by process-minded experts—“Voltaire’s bastards”—whose cult of scientific management is empty of both sense and morality. Whether in politics, art, business, the military, entertainment, science, finance, academia or journalism, these experts share the same outlook and methods. The result, Saul maintains, is a civilization of immense technological power whose ordinary citizens are increasingly excluded from the decision-making process.
In this wide-ranging anatomy of modern society and its origins—whose “pages explode with insight, style and intellectual rigor” (Camille Paglia, The Washington Post)—Saul presents a shattering critique of the political, economic and cultural establishments of the West.
He also shares thoughts on how lean thinking and practice can continue to make the world a better place by gaining traction in areas such as government and healthcare, provides practical guidance for how leaders everywhere can realize the full benefits of a lean management system, and shares hope for continued improvement on the path to better work and more value.
Over the past 30 years, Womack has developed a method of going to visit the gemba at countless companies and keenly observing how people work together to create value. He has shared his thoughts and discoveries from these visits with the lean community through a monthly letter. With Gemba Walks second edition, Womack has selected and re-organized his key letters, as well as written 12 new essays.
Gemba Walks shares his insights on topics ranging from the application of specific tools, to the role of management in sustaining lean, as well as the long-term prospects for this fundamental new way of creating value. Reading this book will reveal to readers a range of lean principles, as well as the basis for the critical lean practice of: go see, ask why, and show respect.
• whatever happened to Toyota and what happens next to lean?
• how lean got its name 25 years ago; a special essay co-authored by Jim and John Krafcik, president and CEO, Hyundai Motors America
• work, management, and leadership -- what is the real work of the lean leader?
• don’t offshore or reshore –leanshore
• why companies need fewer heroes and more farmers (who work daily to improve the processes and systems needed for perfect work and who take the time and effort to produce long-term improvement)
• how “good” people who work in “bad” processes become as “bad” as the process itself
• how the real practice of showing respect comes down to helping workers frame and solve their own problems
• how the short-term gains from lean tools can be translated to enduring change from lean management.
• how the lean manager has a “restless desire to continually rethink the organization’s problems, probe their root causes, and lead experiments to test the best currently known countermeasures”
By sharing his personal path of discovery, Womack sheds new light on the continued adoption and development of the most important new business system of the past fifty years. His journey will provide courage and inspiration for every lean practitioner today.
Dieciséis años después de su primera edición en 1996, el libro Lean Thinking sigue considerándose uno de los manuales de referencia del management y clave para entender el concepto del pensamiento Lean: el sistema más idóneo para crear valor y, al mismo tiempo, evitar los despilfarros en cualquier organización.
Ahora que todas las economías del mundo están experimentando grandes cambios, los mercados bursátiles se derrumban y las empresas más importantes de los años noventa atraviesan una tortuosa trayectoria, esta obra se convierte en más indispensable que nunca. Sólo conseguirán afrontar con éxito estas adversidades, tal y como advierten los autores, las compañías que adopten el pensamiento Lean, como Toyota, ya que crearán un valor sostenible para sus clientes, empleados y propietarios.
En esta edición revisada y actualizada en 2003, además de la diversidad de documentación práctica que incorporaba la primera edición, Womack y Hones relatan la incesante evolución del desarrollo del pensamiento Lean, y también nos muestran una gran variedad de nuevas herramientas dirigidas a la aplicación exitosa de dicho pensamiento.