“This Is Lean. Resolving The Efficiency Paradox” – Book Review

“This is Lean” is a concise, easy to grasp book on Lean giving the reader the key principles in a short and easy to read book.  In the training courses that we provide we will often give this book away to the students as we find it covers the key concepts in a clear way.  If you want to get a grasp of the key principles of Lean this is the book for you.  The authors have done a great job of selecting the most important concepts in the vast Lean literature and have provided clear explanations of each concept.

You can buy it at either Book depository or Amazon.

The book starts with a chapter showing how two businesses can offer the same service in a completely different way, with a focus on resource efficiency or flow efficiency.  Resource efficiency is a focus on keeping the staff members who are doing the work busy and occupied.  Flow efficiency is a focus on continually adding value to the item or person being worked on, thus keeping the item flowing.  In reading this book you will clearly see that the majority of the services that are provided to us as consumers are focused on optimising and keeping busy the staff members doing the work, rather than being optimised on completing the work on hand.  This highlights opportunities to all sorts of businesses in delivering a service that is focused on the customer and continually adding value to that customer.

Chapter 2 covers processes and understanding them from a customer’s perspective.  The example given is by attaching a video recorder to a customer and seeing the steps and wait time they experience.  Considering the process from the customer’s perspective breaks down the silos and enables the business to focus on what the customers’ needs are.

Chapter 3 covers three laws that explain why flow efficiency is difficult to achieve; little’s law, law of bottlenecks and the law of the effect of variation.

Chapter 4 discusses the efficiency paradox, how being focused on resource efficiency generates extra work.  Think about the extra work that is generated to the business providing the service when your helpdesk call goes into a queue.  It can be significant.

Chapters 5, 6 and 7 give an intro to Toyota and explain why it is so difficult to define Lean.

Chapter 8 discusses the efficiency matrix as a method to understand where your business sits in relation to resource or flow efficiency.  The matrix provides a simple diagram and a clear picture of where you are now, and guides you to your next move.

Chapter 9 discusses how Lean organisations prioritise flow efficiency over resource efficiency, but at the same time understand that resource efficiency is important.

Chapter 10 shows Lean as a whole system, with the values, principles, methods and tools supporting it.  It helps the reader understand and see the big picture and how it is supported by the underlining principles, methods and tools.

The final chapter discusses continuous improvement.  It shows how a Lean implementation is not a project but a journey.  Lean as a journey involves everyone in your business to deliver a service that is prioritised on flow efficiency.

This book provides an excellent overview of the key thoughts of Lean in an easy-to-read manner.  I would recommend it to both those who have been involved in Lean over a long period of time and for those just starting out.