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Lean Thinking

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Lean Thinking

Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation

Simon & Schuster,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Turn your company into a lean, mean, money-making machine by trimming away anything — and anyone — that doesn’t contribute to customer value.

Editorial Rating



  • Well Structured
  • Concrete Examples


James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones sound a battle cry against institutional waste. What a pity, they say, that so much time, energy, and money are needlessly thrown away. They urge executives to redefine their values based on customer experiences and to track the flow of value from manufacturing to final sale. The result, they promise, is that companies will save time, energy and money - and will revolutionize their entire organizations in the bargain. Not content to simply study western problem-solving methods, the worldly authors guide their readers through a wide array of Japanese manufacturing wisdom as well. Their generosity and depth make this a pleasantly informative book, which defies the current trend in business books of proclaiming doom and then offering a quick fix. This book would rather proclaim hope, which is just one of the reasons that getabstract recommends it to serious managers who want to trim the fat.


A Tragedy of Waste

A.C. Bradley, a great Shakespearean scholar, defined tragedy with just one word: waste. The thing that bums us about Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, then, is simple. They had such tremendous potential. You can learn a lot from Bradley’s definition. First, it gets right to the point - the first characteristic of a man who knows what he’s talking about. And of course, it provides a fundamental insight into the nature of tragedy.

In Japanese, the word for "waste" is "muda." Interestingly enough, muda carries a handful of business connotations. It points to human activity that burns resources without leading to any substantial value, mistakes that require someone to expend energy to fix, huge inventories that build up when supply outpaces demand, redundant or unnecessary processing steps and people waiting around for parts to finish their jobs.

Waste covers all the things that happen, but shouldn’t happen, in your organization: all the activities that unnecessarily spend time, money, and energy, and ruin potential. And that’s a tragedy.

Do you value your resources? Do you value your time? If so, lean thinking about business will help you do more...

About the Authors

James P. Womack  advises North American firms. He is also an author and a research affiliate with the Japan Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts. Professor Daniel T. Jones  is Director of the Lean Enterprise Research Center at the Cardiff Business School, University of Cardiff, Wales. He advises European firms and lives in Little Birch, Herefordshire, U.K.

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