The book is scholarly, and will require study by serious practitioners of Lean thinking but it will be worth the effort. I recommend that the book be read in study groups with the readers asking each other questions to bring out the information to be practically used in your organization."
One of the delights for me in reading this latest book is the simplification of some of the ideas, concepts and approaches raised within these pages. As many of us know, it is relatively easy to create complex ideas and build sophisticated systems. Most of us, however, do not take the time to explain, refine and simplify our thoughts to make them accessible, understandable and implementable.
This is also true of sophisticated information and planning systems - they often try to gather all available data and consider all options. A little more thought might have led the designers to a simpler, leaner system that still solves the problem (in practical terms). Alin makes the point in the book: the real question is not “Is my methodology theoretically sound?” but “Does my methodology solve practical problems?”.
As ever, quite correctly, Alin stresses the need for full managerial commitment to the changes needed to change the planning paradigm. This is aided by the way in which the approach detailed in the book brings together the thoughts and priorities of production planners and managers with those of the financial planners and managers. Any approach that can reconcile differences between the two teams has a ‘head start’ in creating managerial commitment and achieving successful outcomes.
Alin goes further in suggesting that, for full effectiveness, an organisation needs a culture change which should ‘touch’ all employees. So that everyone knows their role and responsibility in contributing to the new organisation and planning paradigm.
The executive team must fully understand and commit to the required changes but must additionally transform the organisation into a learning, supportive but challenging framework.
Of course, some of the concepts and ideas within the book are complex and sophisticated but Alin introduces a whole slew of explanatory diagrams and supporting tables to help understanding. Examples are also continually revisited and worked through in detail, so readers should be able to follow the development of the ideas as they progress from concept to practical implementation. Regular summaries and conclusions also help in explaining the concepts and drawing out key messages.
The book contains two case examples, with organisations in different financial/market contexts. These act as a useful consolidation of the main concepts with the added benefit of describing ‘real world’ implementation. Alin is careful to describe some of the challenges faced in implementation.
This is a rewarding book to read - especially so if you are looking to make a commitment to improving your manufacturing operations and your profits. The book is the result of many years of thinking and practical experience, fusing approaches from the East and West into a comprehensive, profit-focused, productivity improvement approach that can bring together managers from different disciplines to form a change team capable of transforming production planning and operations."