Lean Thinking is another classic Lean book written by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones. Their original book that started the Lean movement outside of Japan was “The Machine That Changed the World”. Lean Thinking starts with a definition of the Japanese word Muda (waste). It is defined as any human activity which absorbs resources but creates no value. This waste is all around us and in many of the activities that we perform. The book then continues to say that there is a powerful antidote to muda: lean thinking. So what does lean thinking provide? It provides a way to specify value, identify the value stream, make things flow, pull work and move towards perfection.
The first section of the book defines lean thinking. I have summarised the key steps below:
1. Specify value – What does the customer want and what are they willing to pay for?
2. Value stream – What are the steps that are needed to deliver this value to the customer?
3. Flow – How can you deliver this value without stopping, thus continually adding value to the item being worked on?
4. Pull work – Rather than forecasting for the future, allow the customer to pull work and be in a position to rapidly deliver to the customer.
5. Perfection – Continually improve your process in delivering value.
The book then provides a number of case studies of companies that have transformed their businesses with Lean thinking. Finally, the book summarises the simplicity of a lean enterprise and encourages companies to just do it.