“Beyond the Lean Revolution”By Deborah J. Nightingale & Jayakanth Srinivasan
The Book Corner - Review
Beyond the Lean Revolution: Achieving Successful and Sustainable Enterprise Transformation
by Deborah J. Nightingale and Jayakanth Srinivasan
AMACON, New York, NY (2011)
This book follows an earlier book edited by Jeanne Wirtenberg, entitled The Sustainable Enterprise Fieldbook: When It All Comes Together, which was published by the American Management Association (AMACON) in 2008. It showcases how very large enterprises work with the MIT Lean Advancement Institute and McKinsey to go beyond LEAN. But the core question I had when reviewing this book was: What can small and middle-sized company practitioners gain from reading it? A lot more than one might initially expect, it turns out. This review summarizes a series of findings and insights for such businesses.
First, all businesses are enterprises in a contextual sense. An enterprise is not a corporation but multiple organizations, including suppliers, partners, and regulators. In the big picture, it is up to the leadership team of a business to develop strategies that promote the key value propositions of the enterprise. These strategies often include common value propositions, such as operational excellence, customer intimacy, and product leadership. This can serve as a wake-up call for leadership management in all companies that the actions of other organizations in their enterprise not only pose potential risks, but potential opportunities to align and promote values.
When businesses go LEAN and cut costs in specific departments, they can also lose sight of the big picture. The authors remind us that strategic objectives, performance, and value creation represent the future of a business. Transformations are often necessary to go from LEAN departmental views to the bigger enterprise view, with a clear connection to value creation. The authors find that such transformations often fail because new members of the leadership team don’t consider where the enterprise has been going or because leaders try to delegate transformational work to underlings. But how can transformations be successfully enacted?
This book provides useful roadmaps, templates, and a variety of useful tools and cases to assist businesses in the creation and implementation of successful enterprise transformation projects. Such projects are structured based on four levels: growth, people, operational excellence, and information. Several case studies are presented, with a particularly meaningful one being emergency room overcrowding. When overcrowding reaches levels that impact care, it can be addressed as an enterprise transformational project involving other hospital units, such as operating rooms, in-patient services, labs and imaging units, and external entities, such as insurance companies and ambulance services. Alignment is the key to solving the problem.
The authors also link the potential value of transformations to awareness, education, training, and sharing knowledge mechanisms. Throughout the book, expected outcomes are measured and tracked. One example is an enterprise human capital management initiative that is connected to four metrics: employee engagement, knowledge accessibility, workforce optimization, and learning capacity.
This book deserves a solid three-star rating and is a good read that provides valuable information for businesses of all sizes.
About the Author(s)
Donald M. Atwater, PhD, is a practitioner faculty of economics at the Graziadio School of Business and Management. Previously, he served as chief executive for a southern California technology company, the chief financial officer of an international, value-added software company, a principal in the human resources and compensation practice at William M. Mercer, and a director and co-founder of several start-up companies. He has created decision-support technologies and implemented them in a number of Fortune 100 companies, including AT&T, Intel, Dell Computer, Apple Computer, and Nestle USA. Dr. Atwater has also worked with many public organizations, including the U.S. Navy, the General Accounting Office, the state of California, and both the county and city of Los Angeles. His work has been published in the Monthly Labor Review and he has co-authored numerous papers. Today he owns and operates a company dedicated to building goal-driven communities.