Introduction to Process Thinking & Lean

Introduction to Process Thinking & Lean

In the world of Lean, there are two books that are fundamental to understanding the basic philosophy.


lean thinking The first book, Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, Revised and Updated by Womack & Jones focuses on the fundamental elements of Lean (Value, Value Stream, Flow, Pull, Perfection) and offers examples through case studies.

Womack & Jones first introduced Lean thinking in a previous book...

The Machine That Changed the World The Machine That Changed the World: The Story of Lean Production by Womack, Jones & Roos based on a study of the Toyota Production System (TPS); a system which contradicted traditional thinking about efficiency and waste. In Womack's words -

"We have now spent five years exploring the differences between mass production and Lean production in one enormous industry. We have been both insiders with access to vast amounts of proprietary information and daily contact with industry leaders, and outsiders with a broad perspective, often very critical, on existing practices. In the process we've become convinced that the principles of lean production can be applied equally across the globe and that the. conversion to Lean production will have a profound effect on human society-it will truly change the world."

the goal constraint The second book, The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement 2nd Revised Edition by Goldratt, Cox & Whitford introduces the term, Theory of Constraints (TOC). The theory hypothesizes that all real-world systems have at least one constraint; otherwise these systems would be capable of infinite throughput - which is clearly impossible. The theory contends that managing a complex system or organization can be made both simpler and more effective by providing managers with a few specific areas on which to focus. In other words, managers should maximize performance in the areas of key constraints, or "elevate" the constraint (making it less constraining).


goldratts theory Goldratt's Theory of Constraints: A Systems Approach to Continuous Improvement by William Dettmer is a study of Goldratt's Lean design concepts and also a very worthwhile read.

While numerous other researchers have written additional perspectives on basic Lean concepts, their approaches are based on the breakthrough thoughtware of Womack, Jones and Goldratt.


Lean is more about people and culture than it is about tools and techniques. Lean is a culture where process improvement is paramount. Product and service provision are mere results of the process.

Taiichi Ohno Toyota Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production by Taiichi Ohno. Here's the first information ever published in Japan on the Toyota Production System (known as Just-In-Time manufacturing). Ohno, who created JIT for Toyota, reveals the origins, daring innovations, and ceaseless evolution of the Toyota system into a full management system. You'll learn how to manage JIT from the man who invented it, and to create a winning JIT environment in your own manufacturing operation.


Becoming Lean Becoming Lean: Inside Stories of U.S. Manufacturers by Jeffrey Liker describes, in great detail, the initial steps taken by a number of pioneering American firms in a range of industries to introduce Lean thinking. It demonstrates how the concept of Lean is disarmingly simple to understand, but very difficult in application.


Fast Track Waste Free Fast Track to Waste-Free Manufacturing: Straight Talk from a Plant Manager (Manufacturing and Production) by John Davis takes a simple step-by-step approach in describing the transformation of a plant from a typical troubled operation to a Lean operation. Davis focuses on basics and "how-to", not buzz words and jargon. Davis provides a framework that can be used by any plant manager who is trying to implement Lean manufacturing concepts in a 'traditional' manufacturing setting.


quick-response-manufacturing-companywide-approach-reducing-lead-times-rajan-suri-hardcover-cover-art Quick Response Manufacturing: A Companywide Approach to Reducing Lead Times by Rajan Suri. QRM is a manufacturing strategy that focuses on speed throughout the manufacturing process. All efforts are focused on lead-time reduction. Unlike other Lean manufacturing clones, QRM distinguishes itself with some unique approaches. And while I'm not willing to accept everything the author is pushing, I certainly found some valuable insights.
"This book is a must read!"

Brigid Pelino, EVP,
WestJet Airlines