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Essential for understanding the philosophy of lean
on 6 January 2010
I'll start with the bottom line: this is essential reading for anyone who really wants to understand what "lean" is about - but don't expect detail on the tools of lean: it's not really a fieldbook in that sense.
The good things: the book is really well written and the case studies are good ones. The description of the Toyata Way (or Toyota Production System -TPS) is detailed and logical. Above all I like the fact that this book emphasises the fact that TPS is more than a set of tools, and in fact if you just use the tools you're unlikely to get more than a few short term benefits and will risk backsliding in the longer term. So for a really thorough understanding of TPS, this book is great.
The not so good: the authors openly admit that this book does not attempt to describe the tools of TPS in any detail. This is a flaw and undermines its use as a fieldbook. In fact I'd go so far as to say this is not actually a fieldbook at all because it doesn't have the detail you'd need to use it "in the field" What it does try to do, reasonably successfully, is explain how you would approach using TPS in practical terms, so in that sense I can see why the fieldbook label was chosen. But it could have been so much better and richer if only the tools were described in detail too.
So if what you want is a book that will tell you how to do value stream mapping, 5S, etc. then you won't find that here. But used alongside such books, this book is an invaluable addition.