Preface to the 2003 Edition 5
Preface to the First Edition: From Lean Production to Lean Enterprise 9
PART I: L E A N PRINCIPLES
Introduction: Lean Thinking versus Muda 15
1. Value 29
2. The Value Stream 37
3. Flow 50
4. Pull 67
5. Perfection 90
PART II: FROM T H I N K I N G T O A C T I O N : T H E L E A N LEAP
6. The Simple Case 102
7. A Harder Case 125
8. The Acid Test 151
9. Lean Thinking versus German Technik 189
10. Mighty Toyota; Tiny Showa 219
11. An Action Plan 247
PART III: L E A N ENTERPRISE
12. A Channel for the Stream; a Valley for the Channel 275
13. Dreaming About Perfection 286
PART IV: EPILOGUE
14. The Steady Advance of Lean Thinking 299
Afterword: The Lean Network 338
Appendix: Individuals and Organizations Who Helped 341
Preface to the 2003 Edition
Lean Thinking was first published in the fall of 1996, just in time—we thought—for the recession of 1997 and the financial meltdown of 1998. The book’s mission was to explain how to get beyond the financial games of the 1990s to create real, lasting value in any business. Toward this end, it demonstrated how a range of firms in North America, Europe, and Japan took advantage of the recession of 1991 to rethink their strategies and embark on a new path.
In our presentations to industrial audiences, we often point out that the only sure thing about forecasts is that they are wrong. (Which is why lean thinkers strive to reduce order-to-delivery times to such an extent that most products can be made to order and always try to add or subtract capacity in small increments.) Instead of a recession in 1997, the most ebullient economy of the entire twentieth century charged ahead for five more years, into 2001, extending a remarkable era in which practically anyone could succeed in business.
Given that the book was published years before our ideas were most needed, it’s surprising how many readers took the advice in Lean Thinking seriously during the best of times. More than 300,000 copies have been sold in English, and it’s been translated into German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Turkish, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese. We have heard from readers across the world about their successes in applying its principles.
Once reality caught up with our forecast, and the recession of 2001 gave way to the financial meltdown of 2002, reader interest surged. Indeed, Lean Thinking reappeared on the Business Week business-books bestseller list in 2001—nearly five years after its launch and with no publicity campaign—an unprecedented event, according to our publishers.
Given clear evidence that readers are now finding Lean Thinking even more relevant in their business lives than when it was first published, we have decided to expand and reissue the book. In Part I we explain some simple, actionable principles for creating lasting value in any business during any business conditions. We then show in Part II how to apply these principles, relentless focus on the value stream for every product—from concept to launch and order to delivery, and from the upstream headwaters of the supply base all the way downstream into the arms of the customer—can create a true lean enterprise that optimizes the value created for the customer while minimizing time, cost, and errors.
In the two new chapters of Part IVJ we bring the story of the continuing advance of lean thinking up-to-date. We track the trend in inventory turns—the lean metric that cannot lie—across all industries, singling out one industry for special praise. We also track the progress of our profiled companies. We discover that as economies have gyrated, stock markets have crashed, and the poster companies of the 1990s hailed in other business books have flown a ballistic trajectory, our lean exemplars—led by Toyota—have defied the fate of most firms featured in successful business books. They have continued their methodical march from success to success and have done it the hard way by creating real and truly sustainable value for their customers, their employees, and their owners.
Finally, in the concluding chapter, we share what we have ourselves learned since 1996 about lean thinking and its successful application by describing a range of new implementation tools. These begin with the concept of value stream mapping, which we have found to be a remarkable way to raise consciousness about value and its components, leading to action.
In revising the book we have corrected a few minor errors and omissions in the original text. However, we have been careful not to change the pagination. We know that many organizations use Lean Thinking as a text to guide their change process, distributing copies widely and often including their distributors and suppliers. Thus we wanted to ensure that there will be no difficulty in interchanging the two editions.
Today, nearly seven years after its publication, we are even more certain that lean thinking, as explained in Lean Thinking, is the single most powerful tool available for creating value while eliminating waste in any organization. We hope that previous readers will use this new edition as an opportunity to renew their commitment to lean principles. And we especially hope that many new readers will discover a whole new world of opportunity.