The Elusive Lean Enterprise (2nd Edition) by Keith Gilpatrick and Brian Furlong

The Elusive Lean Enterprise (2nd Edition)
Keith Gilpatrick and Brian Furlong
Multi-Media Publications (2007)
ISBN 9781897326640
Reviewed by Cherie Fisher for Reader Views (3/08)


This book is not just another book on why Lean Enterprise works; it is more of a how-to manual.  It became clear very quickly that the authors have expertise in Lean through working with many, many companies.  The book is heavily focused on manufacturing in the beginning but moves to non-manufacturing and healthcare later in the book.

What is Lean Enterprise?  The authors answer this question in Chapter 1, “Lean is a process improvement strategy comprised of Elements, Rules and Tools.  Lean focuses primarily on the elimination of waste from all business processes.  A smaller, yet no less important portion of Lean, involves specific concepts that are intended to provide excellent quality products, delivered on time, at the lowest total cost, and only on the specific demand of the customer.”  Or, I like the way that the co-author Keith Gilpatrick describes Lean on page 43 “Some say the glass is half full; others say the glass is half empty.  Lean thinkers challenge the size of the glass.”

I found this book to be an easy-to-read, no-nonsense approach to Lean.  The authors have found that many companies that claim to be Lean are not and attribute this to the management.  They start the book comparing the difference between Leaders and Managers.  Guess which one works best in Lean?  They explain why all people in the company need to be involved in Lean to make it successful and not just the management level.

I especially liked the description of successful Standard Work (page 80) that the authors used.  “Albert Einstein quotes ‘To repeat the same thing over and over and expect that the results will change is insanity.’  We use this quote early in our introduction to Lean to make the point that management cannot expert different results if they do not change the way they do business.  The quote also applies in reverse:  if you create a process that is repeatable, the results will not change.”

Other chapters include how to institutionalize Lean, Lean math and the 7 habits of Lean people, just to name a few.  As a business owner, I found “The Elusive Lean Enterprise” to be full of translatable information that would work in almost any business.  I highly recommend it for leaders who are considering Lean in their company or companies that have not successfully implemented Lean in their enterprise.


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