Far from the Factory : Lean for the Information Age book cover
1st Edition

Far from the Factory
Lean for the Information Age

ISBN 9781420094565
Published August 18, 2010 by Productivity Press
325 Pages 95 B/W Illustrations

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USD $59.95

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Book Description

If you currently employ knowledge workers who do most of their work on computers or with computers, access the Internet, utilize internal and external databases, use e-mail or other new messaging technology, then this book is for you. Quite simply, this handbook is for any organization with a lot of Web DNA that wishes to cut costs, improve performance, and stay perpetually competitive. It is for change agents or managers within those organizations who work with information and want to leverage the latest crop of tool sets to deliver on the promise of Lean for the modern, information-rich office.

… packed with new ideas … breaks new ground in so many directions … .
— John Bicheno, Director, Lean Enterprise Research Centre, Cardiff Business School

… excellent … on several levels … … teaches us how to visualize the depth of hidden wastes in our complex information flows and the large opportunity for improvement that this suggests.
— Keith Russell, PhD, Global Continuous Improvement Leader R&D, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals

Very interesting view on operational excellence, helpful to readers without a background in this area of expertise.
— Bert Nordberg, President and CEO. Sony Ericsson

Congratulations to all the readers holding this book! ... These Lean ideas must be an integral part of the daily operations of your business. I am going to get each and every one of my management team a copy of this brilliant book at the start for our own Lean journey.
— Lennart Käll, CEO, Wasa Kredit

It’s one thing to develop a concept. It’s another to make it sing. This is the hymnal.
— Dr. Don V. Steward, CEO Problematics, Professor Emeritus, Sacramento State University, inventor of DSM

 … a must read for CIOs everywhere."
— Julian Amey, Principal Fellow, Warwick University

Table of Contents

1 What Is Knowledge Worker Lean?
The Role of Lean in the Invisible Office
Lean and Web 2.0
Increase Productivity: What You Can Learn from Bricklayers about Lean ImprovementThe Impact of Company Size and the Shift to Knowledge Worker LeanContinuous Improvement: Theory Y, Generation X, and Info Pullers
How to Implement Lean in the Information Age
How to Adapt Lean Methodology to Different Environments
It Came from the Factory: The Origins of Lean
From Factory Lean to Information Age Lean
   Visualizing Waste: The Factory Process
   Seven Types of Lean Factory Waste
Paper Office Lean
   Environmental Waste Enablers
   Prosaic Information Wastes
   Information Environment Waste
   Administrative WastesAdministrative Drivers of Waste
   Case Study: Applying Lean to Administrative Support Processes
   Communication and Transportation: Spaghetti Diagrams
   The Sad Fax Facts
Information Age Lean
Visible Waste: The Parts We Can See
   Software Waste
   Software Expense
Invisible Waste: The Parts We Can’t See
3 The Perfect Information Storm
The Evolution of Information Systems and the Impact on Lean
The Recent Past: The Dim Days before the Web
   The Early Days: Longhand–Wang–Printer–Fax
     Case Study: Pre-Lean Communication
   How Information Circuits Create Waste
     Case Study: The Travel Authorization Process
The Present: The Dawn of the Web
   Information: The Dark Matter of Business Process Analysis
The Future: What Will Web 2.0 Bring?
   Day-to-Day Collaboration Tools
   Lean Communication Tools: Video and Desktop ConferencingMicroblogging 
   Screencasting and Recording
   Brainstorming and Design Collaboration
   Kaizen Sessions of the Future
4 The Great Modern Office Wasteland
The Waste of E-Mail
   Case Study: When Words Are Not Enough
The Waste of Excess Complexity and Process 
   Case Study: Complexity and Process
   Defining the Process in Information-Intensive Work
The Waste of Reporting
   Case Study: The Kremlin Effect
   The Green … Green … Red Phenomenon
The Waste of Multitasking
   Case Study: Theory of Constraints
   Multitasking: The Switching Penalty
   Multitasking: The Lean Waste Penalty
   Multitasking: The Project Penalty
   Multitasking: The Performance Measurement Penalty
     Case Study: Measuring a Process
   Multitasking: The Command and Control Penalty
The Waste of Time
   Direct Productivity
   Time Management
   Activity Visibility
   Four-Step Program to Eliminate Wasted Time
The Waste of High Utilization
   SMED and SMEW for the Information Age Office
   Overly High Utilization
The Waste of Parallel Project Management
5 The I in CIO: Information Transformation
IT Tool Selection and Approval
Automatic Process Discovery
   The As-Is Phase That Never Was: Why the Process Often Fails
   How Automatic Process Discovery Can Increase the Success Rate
High-Level Design Principles for Information Lean
   Case History: The Boss and the Rock
   Case Study: The Spiral Model
   Case Study: Waterfall Requirements
   Lessons Learned
Knowledge Management
Lean Code Management: Lean by IT for IT
   Business Model Wastes
   Development Wastes

6 How to Launch Your Lean Journey
Alternate Routes to the Lean Roadmap
   The Benchmarking and Best Practice Adoption Hop
   The Business Process Reengineering Leap
   The Statistical Process Control and Six Sigma Turn
   Case Study: Higher Quality, Lower Cost
Creating the Lean Roadmap
Preparing the Road for Knowledge Worker Lean
Selling Your Organization on Going Lean
   Argument 1: The Good Idea
   Argument 2: The Consensus Approach
   Argument 3: The Expert Opinion
   Argument 4: The Analysis
7 Model Information Flow: The Information Element and the Information Matrix
The Difference between Information Flow and Process Flow
   The Impact of Modern Communications on Product Development
High-Level Process Design and Its Implications for Information Flow
How to Represent Information Flow: The Matrix
   Sequential Flow
   Parallel Flow
   Circuit Flow
   Multicircuit Flow
How to Read the Information Matrix
   The Uses and Benefits of Infel Design
   Situational Visibility
   Task Resequencing
   Cost Reduction through Task Elimination or Exporting
   Identification of Independent Tasks
   Reduction of Rework
   Simulation Friendly
   Earned Value Analysis
   Organizational Design
Using the Information Flow Matrix to Identify Lean Wastes
   Infels and Therbligs
8 How to Implement Knowledge Worker Lean
   Lean Methodology: A Snapshot
   Information Matrix
Process Improvement Maturity Model
   States of Maturity: Where We Are Now
Practical Applications of the Lean Toolset
Starting Off on Your Lean Journey: Your Charter, Your Customer, and Your Plan
   Lean Team Formation
   Team Process
   Risk Management Techniques
Fact Finding and Discovery
   How to Retrieve Low-Level Process Performance Data
Early Change Management
Doing the Analysis: Developing an Understanding of the Process
   Measuring Performance via Cumulative Flow
   Discovering Root Cause through Aggregate Data
Creating and Working with the Information Matrix View
Kaizen Phase 1
Kaizen Phase 2
   Selecting Kaizen Phase 2 Ideas
   Implementing Kaizen Phase 2 Ideas
Special Cases: Variable Dependencies, the Desire Path Approach, and Decision Bottlenecks
   Variable Dependency
   The Desire Path
   Decision Bottlenecks
9 How to Sustain Knowledge Worker Lean
Overview of 5S
   Case Study
Sustaining Information Age Lean Using a Visual Management System
   Short-Range Management
   Long-Range Management
The Mechanics of a Visual Management System
   Approach 1: Excel and SharePoint
   Approach 2: Intranet Status Board
   Approach 3: Customized-off-the-Shelf (COTS)
The Lean Journal
10 Change Management: Practical Lessons from Monks, Generals, and Fashion Models
Three Ways to Lead Lean
The Rules of Success: People, People, People
   Performance Management
   Process Tip: Use the Socratic Approach
   Change Management: The Soft Part Is the Hard Part
   Case Study: The Reengineer, His Mother, and the Coffee
   Information Lean Is A Man-Machine System
Overcoming Resistance to Lean
   Nonlinear Risk Aversion
   Case Study: Nonlinear Risk Aversion
Turning Your Lean Project into a Lean Culture: Measuring Performance 57
   Don’t Rely on the 100th Monkey: Planning for Lean
   The PDCA Cycle
11 Knowledge Worker Lean: The Takeaway
Challenge 1: Getting Up and Getting Going
   Step 1: Meet the Boss; Obtain Buy-in 
   Step 2: Meet the Process Owner; Assess Commitment
   Step 3: Get a Feel for the Process and the People
   The Takeaway: How to Begin
   What Can Go Wrong
Challenge 2: Creating a Lean Team
   Preparing Your Team
   The Takeaway: How to Build a Lean Team
   What Can Go Wrong Challenge
3: How to See What You See; Fact Finding
   Searching for Clues Indicating Waste
   The Takeaway: Dig Deep
   What Can Go Wrong
Challenge 4: How to Build the Lean Case; Doing the Analysis
   Breaking the News: How to Report Your Findings
   The Takeaway: If You Build It, They Will Come Around
   What Can Go Wrong
Challenge 5: How to Evaluate Information Flow
   Reporting Your Findings
   The Takeaway: How to Get Your Message Across
   What Can Go Wrong
Challenge 6: Turning Lean Ideas into Results
   How to Create a Plan
     The Takeaway: Moving Forward
     What Can Go Wrong
   Start with the Quick Win: Low Hanging Opportunities
     What Can Go Wrong
   Scoping and Prioritizing Projects
     What Can Go Wrong
Challenge 7: Sustaining Lean; Communications and Collaboration
   During the Lean Discovery Phase: Team Talk
   The Takeaway: Fundamentals of Early Success
   During the Sustain Phase: Ongoing Communication
   The Takeaway: Use Your Web Site to Sustain Lean Culture
   What Can Go Wrong
Challenge 8: Sustaining Lean; Policies, Procedures, and Metrics
   Sustaining Lean with Visual Management Systems
   The Takeaway: Use Policies, Procedures, and Metrics to Sustain Lean
   What Can Go Wrong

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George Gonzalez-Rivas has been a process improvement consultant for most of his life and has worked with several consulting companies, most recently as a partner for PA Consulting Group. He has advised telecom, energy, and product development organizations, and is the inventor of the Infel Matrix approach to information modeling. He is continuously improving his Lean skills. He is currently the national director of AnyLogic America. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children.

Linus Larsson, until recently a partner at PA Consulting, is now pursuing new business ventures with The Quest Group while he is at work on yet another new book. As an advisor on strategy and performance improvement to large international corporations for more than 20 years, Linus has worked with high-performance companies in a range of industries, including manufacturing, financial services, health care, and business services. He has held senior management positions with several global business services corporations, where he has helped pioneer a number of Lean initiatives. His diverse experience and innovative approach, along with his record of success, make him a leading thinker, as well as a much sought after writer, speaker, and advisor on effective ways to apply Lean philosophy in a non-factory environment. Linus is based in Stockholm where he lives with his wife and three children."


This is one of the best books I’ve seen on Lean for knowledge and project workers. Most books on Lean implicitly focus on repetitive processes—doing the same thing over and over—whereas this book recognizes many of the challenges of understanding and improving a process that might only occur the same way once. This book will certainly help project workers eliminate the waste from their process improvement efforts.
—Tyson R. Browning, Associate Professor of Operations Management, Department of Information Systems and Supply Chain Management, Neeley School of Business, Texas Christian University

... a must read. Filled with examples, diagrams, and other tips for success, the authors have captured the power of process and updated it for a global, diverse, and technology driven economy. It’s a great learning tool that takes you from the origins of Lean and brings it into modern day applications.
—Lisa W. Hershman, CEO, Hammer and Co., co-author of Faster, Cheaper, Better: The 9 Levers for Transforming How Work Gets Done.

Wow! What a book! Welcome to the new age of Lean! This is a long overdue book of the impact of web 2 on Lean thinking. As I said when I received this book for the publisher, 'This book is packed with new ideas, and breaks new ground in so many directions, for a traditional Lean thinker like me! I have been continually surprised, amazed, and delighted at your many new insights. It truly breaks new ground in areas as IT, knowledge management, project management, office lean, and more that have been very much under-thought-out in transferring thinking from the factory to the office.' ... Even if you are skepticalor a 'traditional' Lean thinker you will enjoy the many entertaining observations and sideline comments. My Lean 'Book of the Year'. Easily.
— John Bicheno, Director MSc in Lean Operations at Lean Enterprise Research Centre, Cardiff Business School, in the Lean Management Journal, October 2010

...an excellent book that I experienced and enjoyed reading on several levels. It is very useful - filled with good practical advice and tools adapted and designed to suit Business improvement in information-oriented areas such as Research & Development. I look forward to experimenting with some of the novel approaches described. It is thought provoking - rich in new ideas and concepts bringing together classical Lean principles with the tools and capabilities of a modern Web 2.0 environment. It teaches us how to visualize the depth of hidden wastes in our complex information flows and the large opportunity for improvement that this suggests. Finally it was fun to read a book that so creatively integrates and weaves together such a diversity of ideas and approaches and instructive stories into a much needed fresh adaption of Lean for knowledge workers.... just like me and everyone I work with in Research & Development.
— Keith Russell PhD, Global Continuous Improvement Leader R&D, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals

Very interesting view on operational excellence, helpful to readers without a background in the area of expertise.
— Bert Nordberg, President & CEO of Sony Ericsson

Do you have access to better web-based productivity tools at home than you do at the office? Is your corporate email inbox polluted with well-meaning but productivity-draining administrative emails? Is corporate IT a help or a hindrance to serving your customers? Do your internal projects spend more time competing for resources and attention than serving the organization? If any of these apply to you, then you must read this book! Far from the factory: Lean for the Information Age is a lively and fascinating read containing several lifetimes of wisdom, experience, and insights. This book is a must-read for today's knowledge worker, IT manager, project manager, Lean neophyte, or Lean guru. It is filled with thought-provoking and entertaining anecdotes, illustrations, and tips that highlight the problem of waste in information-intensive processes. The book is filled with many practical tools and ideas from the Lean Body of Knowledge and expertly outlines how they can be put to use in driving out waste and improving information flow. While earlier texts have done a good job of explaining how Lean techniques can be adapted from shop floor to office floor, this book is the first to truly make the leap to the knowledge-intensive, email-filled, and utterly chaotic Information Age.
— Tim McLaren, MBA, PhD Assoc. Professor of IT and Supply Chain Management, Ryerson University and Project Leader, Korva Consulting Ltd.

It’s one thing to develop a concept. It’s another to make it sing. This is the hymnal.
— Dr. Don V. Steward, CEO Problematics, Professor Emeritus Sacramento State University, inventor of DSM.

A very inspiring and thoughtful reading for me as a knowledge worker. It is addressing the lean principles for the Web 2.0 in a quest for higher value efficiency of our time, in a work context of overflow of email, RSS, Facebook etc. It is describing among others a Lean process in 5 steps for the Knowledge worker, as well as describing how to get to a Lean Culture and Lean time metrics.
— Leif Edvinsson The world´s First Director of Intellectual Capital The World´s First Professor of Intellectual Capital

Congratulations to all the readers holding this book! It is not only well written and entertaining, it confirms some of my own experiences as well as offering important new insights that give you, the reader, many new ideas to consider to drive success in your business. These Lean ideas must be an integral part of the daily operations of your business. I am going to get each and every one of my management team a copy of this brilliant book at the start for our own Lean journey.
— Lennart Käll, CEO Wasa Kredit. Former CEO of Ticket Travel Group, ICA Bank and SEB Finans.

I really enjoyed reading Far from the Factory: Lean for the Information Age. This is a book that I did not even know we needed, but we do. The book addresses the needs of modern companies in a way that no other Lean handbook does. It takes a fresh attempt to ineffective office practices that has evolved in most companies and it suggests methods, tools and inspirations to tackle the challenges. Thevbook gives a good mix of proven lean thinking and modern tools like collaboration software etc. to help restore your competitiveness.
— Gert Moelgaard, VP, Innovation & Business Development, NNE Pharmaplan

Applying Lean to the office has long been the missing link for consultants and practitioners alike. This book fills that void with well thought out, coherent and provocative prescriptions. In an environment full of armchair Lean experts who peddle dubious wisdom, this book is a bright light, showing how good thinking can advance best practices.
— Jorge A. Colazo Professor of Operations Management at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Argentina Former Toyota Production and Maintenance Manager Founder and CEO - Lean Specialists - Consultants in Process Improvement

This is a beautiful book knitting together the concepts of Lean for the white collar knowledge worker to a practical guide of how to really get the benefits out of your Lean-project. The authors has proved a very deep understanding of how to make a difference In applying the Lean philosophy in the information age and also the importance to involve all parts of the organization on the change journey. I certainly recommend all my CIO colleagues to read the book.
— Ulf Tingström, former CIO for several financial institutions in Nordic, Skandia/Old Mutual and SBAB

We have used Value Stream Mapping as the primary tool for making process improvements in the office, but the business of applying lean thinking in this environment is relatively new. I find it encouraging to see that the authors have developed additional tools and methods and are leveraging new applications that can be used to identify and eliminate waste for the purpose of improving process performance.
— Lou Farinola - Manufacturing Engineering Director - Global Industrial Engineering and GM Global Manufacturing System

George Gonzalez-Rivas and Linus Larsson describe the challenge of working in the knowledge economy: knowledge workers wrestling with data and information overload, offices and projects working in traditional ways and failing to keep pace with the information revolution; IT departments lagging behind the shift to a Web 2.0 world. Far from the Factory: Lean for the Information Age provides timely insight into how Lean can be applied in the knowledge environment. Practical tools and approaches are given that take Lean out of its traditional manufacturing setting and apply it the Knowledge world. Excellent guidance for leaders and workers in office and project environments, and a 'must read' for CIOs everywhere.
— Julian Amey, Principal Fellow Warwick University, former Vice President Global Supply Chain at AstraZeneca