Summary of The Lean Machine

How Harley-Davidson Drove Top-Line Growth and Profitability with Revolutionary Lean Product Development

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The Lean Machine book summary
Take the high road to innovation and product development the Harley-Davidson way.


8 Overall

8 Applicability

8 Innovation

7 Style


The Harley-Davidson Motor Company revels in the marketing image it has crafted and maintained for more than a century. Mere mention of the motorcycle giant conjures up visions of tattooed, muscle-bound renegades blazing an intimidating trail on the nation’s highways. Harley’s corporate environment exists in stark contrast to this image. Their staff features progressive, astute individuals who enjoy a stellar reputation for innovative business practices. Author Dantar P. Oosterwal, Harley’s former director of product development, is eminently qualified to critique the organization’s operation. To his credit, Oosterwal resists engaging in self-congratulatory back-slapping. Instead, he presents a backstage tour of Harley-Davidson, expounding on its philosophies, procedures and problem-solving methods. Oosterwal, who earned a master’s degree in management at MIT, focuses on business theories and dynamics, not personalities. While the book is not necessarily geared toward novice professionals, getAbstract nevertheless believes that Oosterwal’s mantra should resonate loudly within corporations everywhere: Practice innovation and emphasize quality – or risk extinction.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How to create an innovative production environment
  • How innovation and lean management work at Harley-Davidson
  • Why collaboration is at the root of lean product development
  • What oobeya is, and how it can help your organization


Product Development Holds the Key
Organizational success depends on product development. A recent survey revealed that top companies draw nearly 50% of their profits from new products. Product development plays an even more critical role as upgrades, updates and technology shorten the ...
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About the Author

Dantar P. Oosterwal was director of product development at Harley-Davidson and vice president of innovation at Sara Lee.

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