This is Lean ‘Book Review’
The book does a great job explaining each of these concepts and provides concrete examples of how they all tie together.
What is Lean? Ask twenty people and you are likely to get twenty different answers. “It’s about improving quality.” “It’s about decreasing waste.” “It’s about increasing employee satisfaction.” “It’s about better results.” ”It’s about…
“Wow, right? Sounds amazing. How do I start? And then it hits you… “How DO I start?”
A friend of mine recently recommended a book: “This is Lean” by Niklas Modig & Pär Åhlström. He told me that, “It’s quite possibly the best book ever written about Lean.”
Having now read it, I can say it’s lived up to that billing. Not so much because of any literary genius, but because of how simply and clearly it answers the question, “What is Lean?” You can actual do something with this definition.
Here are my takeaways:
1. Lean is about improving process flow efficiency while minding resource efficiency. This is a challenge because flow and resource efficiency are naturally at odds.
2. Flow efficiency improves when more value is generated in relation to total processing time (i.e. throughput time). So eliminating waste and reducing throughput time are Lean objectives.
3. Throughput time is reduced by shorter cycle times, fewer units in process, and fewer bottlenecks. So simplifying processes and establishing systems to keep inventories down are Lean objectives too.
4. Finally, since bottlenecks occur when work must be complete in a specific order and are more pronounced in processes with high variation, enabling alternate work paths and reducing variation are Lean objectives as well.
“This is Lean” does a great job explaining each of these concepts and provides concrete examples of how they all tie together. It includes a great story of how two patients, concerned that they might have cancer, have dramatically different experiences going through a flow vs. resource efficient diagnosing process.
Although the book is light on practical steps for implementing Lean, that’s kind of the point. The authors provide a thorough and thoughtful description of the various levers for becoming Lean. How you decide to use the levers though is left up to you.