Lean Solutions – Idea and book review

Womack and Jones are back with another book on Lean Thinking. They changed the world when they published the book “The Machine that Changed the World” about lean production and the Toyota Production System. Also their “Lean Thinking” was a masterpiece on how to apply the same principles in other businesses. Of course my expectations were high when I grabbed a volume of “Lean Solutions”…

The book is ok.
What is good is that they introduce a way to talk about consumer/provider relationships and how to analyze the hidden costs of consumption. They take everyday frustrations and convert them into suggestions for how to change the value offering to make the customer more satisfied at a lower cost.
When we buy something, like a car or a computer, it is not the ownership that makes us happy, but the enabling function. Having this thing enables me to do things that I like.
In a time of wealth and abundance, many people have more than enough things and too little time.

The main points of the book are old truisms: Capital goods cost time and energy once we have them, in terms of maintenance and services. A house is a hobby, a sailing boat is a drain.
And yes, it is crucial to look at the whole purchasing experience – make it easy to buy and I will buy more. That is a key insight in the last fifty years of retailing and is well shown in the iPhone AppStore. There is already a sea of research and examples that are not referred to in this book.

Another weak point of the book is that it feels less solid than the previous Womack&Jones’es. There are two real world examples, from Tesco and a car repair shop, but most of it is anecdotical.

If you have a choice – go for “Lean Thinking” instead.

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