Lean Thinking by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones

General Overview (from Amazon.com)
In the revised and updated edition of Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, authors James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones provide a thoughtful expansion upon their value-based business system based on the Toyota model. Along the way they update their action plan in light of new research and the increasing globalization of manufacturing, and they revisit some of their key case studies (most of which still derive, however, from the automotive, aerospace, and other manufacturing industries).

The core of the lean model remains the same in the new edition. All businesses must define the “value” that they produce as the product that best suits customer needs. The leaders must then identify and clarify the “value stream,” the nexus of actions to bring the product through problems solving, information management, and physical transformation tasks. Next, “lean enterprise” lines up suppliers with this value stream. “Flow” traces the product across departments. “Pull” then activates the flow as the business re-orients towards the pull of the customer’s needs. Finally, with the company reengineered towards its core value in a flow process, the business re-orients towards “perfection,” rooting out all the remaining muda (Japanese for “waste”) in the system.

Despite the authors’ claims to “actionable principles for creating lasting value in any business during any business conditions,” the lean model is not demonstrated with broad applications in the service or retail industries. But those manager’s whose needs resonate with those described in the Lean Thinking case studies will find a host of practical guidelines for streamlining their processes and achieving manufacturing efficiencies. –Patrick O’Kelley

Why the President Should Read This Book
The fundamental premise of “lean thinking” in the business place is banishing waste. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were lean thinking for government? You know, lean government? Hey, there is! The only problem is this line from the Wikipedia entry stating “Numerous government agencies, ranging from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the States of Iowa and Minnesota, are using Lean to improve the quality, transparency, and speed of government processes.” I don’t know about you, but I’m entirely sure I like the idea of government processes being sped up, at least not when that process leads to another heap of burdensome regulations for small businesses to comply with.

While eliminating waste from government processes seems like a good thing, I’m more interested in eliminating most government processes altogether, and then making those that remain get lean.

But really, I digress. The real reason I think the President should read this book is to have a clue what it’s like to run a business, and so that the President can see how forces, other than regulation, cause businesses to produce products that are safe, useful, and cheap, for customers. For those politicians who believe no businessman will do anything good for the consumer unless forced by government regulation, this book would be quite the eye-opener.