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Machine That Changed the World: The Story of Lean Production [Paperback]

James P. Womack , Daniel T. Jones , Daniel Roos
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Nov 1991
This volume carefully traces the rise of the Toyota system from its take-off point in Ford's mass production system to its spread across the world, starting with the NUMMI joint venture with General Motors in California and now advancing in Europe, Latin America, and East Asia as well. It then identifies and describes the advantages of this system, which needs less of everything including time, human effort, inventories, and investment to produce products with fewer defects in smaller volumes at lower costs for fragmenting markets. The Machine That Changed the World even gave the system its name: lean.

In the decade since its launch in the fall of 1990, The Machine That Changed the World has sold more than 600,000 copies in 11 languages and has introduced a whole generation of managers and engineers to lean thinking. No lean library is complete without this groundbreaking book.

"The fundamentals of this system are applicable to every industry across the globea[and] will have a profound effect on human society. It will truly change the world." - New York Times

Paperback / 1990 / 323 pages

Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Productivity Press; 1st HarperPerennial Ed edition (1 Nov 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060974176
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060974176
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.5 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 499,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"The fundamentals of this system are applicable to every industry across the globe . . . [and] will have a profound impact on human society--it will truly change the world."-- "New York Times Magazine""A revealing and compellingly readable account of Japan's achievemnt in revolutionizing manufacturing . . . An eye-opener even for those who already knew Japan didn't do it all with robots."-- "Financial Times"The best current book on the changes reshaping manufacturing and the most readable."-- "Business Week --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

James P. Womack is Principal Research Scientist in the Japan Programme at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the Transitions Group, a consulting firm based in the USA. Daniel T. Jones is a Professor at the Cardiff Business School and has acted as consultant to a wide and international range of companies operating in Europe. He lives in Hereford. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
On a sunny afternoon in the fall of 1984, we stood on the granite front steps of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and pondered the future. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read This Perfect Book 1 Dec 2003
Perfect description and analysis of the auto industry and lean production.
I am studying the Operations Management in the university, and this book is in the reading list of the module of Manufacturing Strategy. I spent 4 days to finish it, because I found it was better than the textbook I used----more profound, more in detail, and more interesting for me to read through it. I learn a lot from it that can't be learned from the testbooks.
Maybe the only regret is this book was writen in 1990, so the author can not say something later than that year, which changed a lot since 1990. I hope that I can read the new book concerning the change since 1990, which I think should be published in the year 2005.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
In "The Machine That Changed the World", Womack, along with several other individuals, give an analysis of the Automobile Industry within global boundaries. This book was the summarization of a five year, five million dollar study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Analysis was provided for both foreign and domestic automobile manufacturers with an eye toward the future. This book spoke "globally" far earlier than it was hip to speak in such terms, analyzing such foreign automotive powers such as Toyota, with their Toyota Production System, perhaps the greatest example of Lean Manufacturing in the world. For anyone who would like to learn anything about the automobile industry in general, or even further, would like to learn about successful business practices, I highly recommend this text.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A prophetic analysis of a complex industry! 26 April 2005
A very readable and well researched book that explains how the automotive industry has developed from a 'craft industry', through 'mass production', into the 'lean enterprises' that will dominate the industry of the future.
The authors explain the different management philosophies at each stage of development, and explore how these have transformed the lifes and expecations of the workforce and consumers in this global industry. They conclude with a prophetic vision of the future, highlighting the need for the major players to be transformed into 'lean enterprises' as a pre-condition for surival.
Essential reading for anybody in the automotive sector or with an interest in the social impact different management techniques and philosophies.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Becoming Lean and Mean! 25 Aug 2008
Lean production (now frequently called Lean manufacturing) has melded into several industries here in the United States, but back when this book was written, it was just catching on. I read the book in 2000. Many of the concepts are still worthwhile in this book, both for the historical significance as well as the lean ideas presented.

The Machine that Changed the World is a fascinating book that teaches what the Japanese learned and how to apply their ideas to the US auto market. Competition is always tough, but these tools provides a competitive advantage to those companies who embrace them and make them part of doing business. Not all ideas are applicable to every application, but there are plenty of diamonds to be farmed here.

Well trained employees, a commitment to excellence by everyone (from the janitor to the CEO), teamwork, flexibility of skill sets, and learning lessons from successes and failures are all important elements of lean manufacturing. Setting up manufacturing lines efficiently, working closely with suppliers, line smoothing, encouraging innovative and cost saving suggestions and much more are also critical lean concepts.

Lean manufacturing doesn't happen overnight and a company and its employees must be diligent in their efforts to put high quality products at reasonable prices out the door.

The Machine that Changed the World is highly rated by many people and should be. It has timeless ideas to produce higher quality products and recommends never being completely satisfied. Well written and researched, this is a top notch book!

The Re-Discovery of Common Sense: A Guide To: The Lost Art of Critical Thinking
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lean foundations 18 May 2007
This book contains all the seeds of the Lean Production Ideas. A must for the serious Lean Practitioner. This is the most influential book on the subject. However it needs a great deal of study and deep understanding but it's worth it for the insight and Lean foundations it provides.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
For an understanding of what Lean production is thought to be this is important reading, not because I agree with its basic premise around what lean is (which incidentally I don't) but because of the influence that it has had on all forms of manufacturing and many other types of work organisation. The arguments are clearly set out and easy to follow. It's an interesting read and more useful than later books on lean by the same authors.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars does what it says.... 20 Feb 2012
Whilst not one to be passed around friends and family, this book for those interested or employed in a LEAN role is a must. Well explained and knowledge gather.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The machine that changed the world 29 July 2011
A good introduction to LEAN manufacturing, using the auto industry to provide examples. Although originally written in 1990, this book still provides a very good explanation of why and how the LEAN methodology developed. This book is an absolute bargain.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good book, Full of knowledge.
Published 26 days ago by Kookjong1272
5.0 out of 5 stars Still relevant 25 years on
Written in 1990 but essential reading if you wish to understand the auto industry
Published 1 month ago by stephen harker
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Great book
Published 1 month ago by Nas
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting
This is the first book I've ever read for academic purposes that was an exciting page turner. Amazing. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Darragh Woods
4.0 out of 5 stars Lean, mean and fun!
Just completed my Lean Six Sigma training and found reading this book after the course interesting and helped cement the knowledge learned. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Domin8her
5.0 out of 5 stars The book that changed my understanding
One of the best books I've read on auto industry. Logically presents how a production system called lean can make its practitioners achieve more with less. Read more
Published 5 months ago by oeg-mol
4.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating
This book is not only a basis of lean production but also a wonderful history of the car industry, strictly related to the American, European and Japanese culture. Illuminating.
Published 5 months ago by Silvia Cavaglieri
5.0 out of 5 stars The Machine that changed the wordl.
The book was very good. I used it in my bachelor. Thank You for quick response.

Best regards
Stein Johansen
Published 5 months ago by Stein
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, essential for anyone working in a mass-production...
The authors take you on a journey, from the early days of automobile production to the present day (1990), explaining key events along the way and comparing old school methods with... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Howard Golding
5.0 out of 5 stars Good background
well written and a useful primer on the subject, gives a good description of the origin of the technique of LSS
Published 15 months ago by N Woodward
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