SME offers a 'novel' approach to learning about lean

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: lean manufacturing

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) announced March 17 the release of its new book, “Story of a Lean Journey”, written by industry consultant and principal of The Center for Lean Learning LLC, James K. Lewis. This concise and reader friendly business novel chronicles fictitious Allison Manufacturing Services' (AMS) "cultural and physical transition" from a small metal fabricator struggling to survive global competition to a world-class lean company.


The novel's first chapter finds the company's disheartened board of directors confronting "a crisis [that] has landed square" in their laps. The board, while comfortable with the company's diverse mix of product offerings and solid reputation for getting its products to market faster than competitors, is desperate to turn around the downward spiral of profits, continuing loss of market share and lackluster performance of "flavor-of-the-month" initiatives. To save the bottom line, and ultimately the company, the board hires Bill Watts, a lean consultant, as its new executive vice president.


Unfolding in 10 subsequent, easy-to-read chapters, Story of a Lean Journey follows Bill through the first three years of lean application at AMS. Along the way, Bill faces skeptical board members who want a quick fix.


"Lean is not intended to be a last-resort measure for saving a business … lean is a journey," he tells them.


Hostile employees who fail to see the lean philosophy's value or who suspect it is just a method to eliminate jobs, also confront Bill.


Story of a Lean Journey is published by Society of Manufacturing Engineers, 2008; Author James K. Lewis; 182 pages, hardcover, ISBN 9780872638556; Order Code BK08PUB10, $23/SME Members: $20. Order online at:


Copies also may be ordered by calling 800-733-4763. Outside the U.S. and Canada, call 313-425-4500.

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