Volume 1 / Issue 17/ November 7, 2016
Reflections on a book that changed our world
Believe it or not, this fall marks the 20th anniversary of the 1996 publication of the book Lean Thinking authored by Jim Womack and Dan Jones that sent Lean viral. A lot has happened to us over these 20 years. Editor Roberto Priolo of Planet-Lean interviewed Jim and Dan for their reflections on how this book came to be and on the impact it has had.
In 1990, the members of a few Canadian Consortia and SMEs become aware of the ground-breaking Womack-Jones-Roos book The Machine that Changed the World.That book captured the first hard data that brought Lean to the world. It contained the results from a major 5-continent,
5-year research project by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s investigation into why Toyota was vastly ahead of General Motors.
The team was headed by Jim Womack, the research director of the International Motor Vehicle Program (IMVP) at MIT. After the research outcomes were made public in 1990, he and Dan Jones published Lean Thinking in 1966. In 1967, Jim became the founder and chairman of the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI) with a mandate to disseminate the research findings the team had discovered that would enable us all to close the existing auto-manufacturing competitiveness gap.
Lean Thinking’s success was due to the combined efforts of these two authors who gave us a no nonsense, easy-to-understand narrative that now made Lean transformations possible for all kinds of organizations – not just manufacturers. Today, they are recognized as the ‘founders of Lean’ in an expanding world where people, processes and technology must come together to achieve results in all kinds of businesses in any sector.
Since then, LEI continued to evolve Lean applications, resources, materials and discussions that continue to move Lean forward, as did Dan Jones when he founded the UK Lean Enterprise Academy in 2003. From this start, there are now 17 Lean Enterprise Institutes around the world with the mission to:
• Improve the competitiveness and raise living standards of their country
• Enable growth while minimizing resource use and environmental impact
• Provide more fulfilling work and continuing personal development for everyone
• Enable consumers to create more value in their increasingly busy lives
Check out the interview
The importance of Lean Thinking to manufacturing the world over, can’t be overstated. Our thanks go to Roberto Priolo, Editor of the EU-based Planet Lean http://planet-Lean.com who shares with us the interview enabling us to understand what the authors think about the impact Lean Thinking has had some 20 years after the production date.
Planet Lean is the online publication of the Lean Global Network, launched in February 2014, with the aim of sharing the knowledge on Lean thinking and practice gained by the 17 Lean Global Network Institutes. Through story-telling, in-depth analysis, and thought-provoking opinion, Planet Lean strives to become a global source for Lean practitioners and leaders. Planet Lean supports the expansion of Lean globally by helping organizations on a Lean journey to learn and benchmark against others, and to learn from their achievements and from their mistakes.