1st Edition

Lean Transformations for Small and Medium Enterprises
Lessons Learned from Italian Businesses

ISBN 9781498773638
Published November 23, 2016 by Productivity Press
176 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations

USD $45.95

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Book Description

Lean Transformations for Small and Medium Enterprises: Lessons Learned from Italian Businesses summarizes two decades of research, teaching, and practice on lean thinking.

Based on quantitative analysis of 100 cases of Lean transformations and 20 in-depth case studies of successfully transformed SMEs, it explains how to undertake lean transformations that lead to operational and financial performance improvement, and uses the Lean Transformation Framework --conceptualized by John Shook at the Lean Enterprise Institute—as a practical approach to design and de-risk the transformation process.

SMEs’ leaders wishing to undertake and sustain a lean transformation must:

  • Make a serious and lasting commitment to transform, avoiding the temptation to change course of action;
  • Choose accurately the value streams that require improvement as defined by strategy deployment;
  • Build capabilities to sustain the transformation;
  • Lead by example by going to gemba and creating a culture of respect for people that goes beyond the visible devices and artifacts of Lean tools.

Table of Contents


About the Author


Chapter 1: Little Big Lean Champions

Chapter 2: Understanding the Italian Context

Chapter 3: How to Transform SMEs

Chapter 4: The Transformation Paths of Italian SMEs

Chapter 5: Leading Successful Lean Transformations in SMEs



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Arnaldo Camuffo, PhD, MBA, is full professor of management at Bocconi University, where he teaches lean management, and is director of ICRIOS, the Invernizzi Center for Research in Innovation, Organization, Strategy & Entrepreneurship. He previously taught at the Universities of Padova and Venice, Italy, and held visiting professor positions at the Industrial Performance Center at MIT; the School of Management of the University of Michigan, Dearborn; and the Universidad Deusto, San Sebastian.

After getting his MBA at MIT and his PhD at the University of Venice, he collaborated with the International Motor Vehicle Program at MIT and the GERPISA–Groupe d’Etudes et de Recherches Permanent sur l’Industrie et les Salariés de l’Automobile, Université d’Evry-Val d’Essonne.

As the author of several books (in English and Italian), essays, and articles in international journals, such as Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, Research Policy, MIT Sloan Management Review, International Journal of Operations and Production Management, Journal of Business Ethics, Industrial Relations, Industrial and Corporate Change, Industry and Innovation, European Management Review, International Journal of Human Resource Management, International Journal of Management Reviews, Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, and International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management, he has consulted extensively with the most important Italian Industrial Groups.

He is president of Istituto Lean Management, affiliate to the Lean Global Network, scientific director of the Lean Experience Factory, and a mem- ber of the board of directors of the Lean Global Network. Has served and serves as independent director of Italian listed and nonlisted companies. His work has been widely publicized.


"This book summarises the lessons that can be learnt from big and small companies in Italy that used lean to help them survive and grow in difficult economic times. Read it to follow their example."

-Daniel T Jones, Chairman, Lean Enterprise Academy, UK and Author The Machine that Changed the World and Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation

"What does the experience of Italian SMEs have to say about your enterprise transformation? Everything! In Lean Transformations for Small and Medium Enterprises: Lessons Learned from Italian Businesses, author Arnaldo Camuffo provides analysis with usefulness that transcends national borders. In a detailed and comprehensive examination of the success and failure modes of companies going through a lean transformation, Camuffo extrapolates lessons that managers, investors, academicians, and policy makers in any country will find interesting and useful. "

-John Shook, Chairman and CEO, Lean Enterprise Institute Chairman, Lean Global Network 

"Lean Transformations in Small and Medium Enterprises addresses the relatively neglected world of lean in smaller companies—representing an enormous swath of the economy in the industrialized world. Using a wealth of data and case studies Camuffo’s book tells a compelling story of what works and doesn’t work in transforming SMEs and brilliantly translates it into practical terms."

-Peter T. Ward, Professor, Ross Chair in Management, and Director, Center for Operational Excellence, Max M. Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University.

"A fantastic read. You'll find vivid, real-life illustrations of the Lean Transformation Framework in dynamic businesses and garner new insights into lean thinking in this remarkable book about lean - with Italian style."

-Michael Ballé, co-author of The Gold Mine trilogy and co-founder of the Institut Lean France

"In Lean Transformations for SMEs, Arnaldo Camuffo vividly depicts how lean is transforming the heart of the Italian and of the global economy. Over 95% of OECD firms are SMEs, contributing to over 60% of employment. Many of them –in Italy and elsewhere- are Genba-people-oriented and community-embedded. With evidence coming from a wealth of cases and data, Camuffo provides a roadmap to successful lean transformations, particularly when economic conditions are unstable."

-Takahiro Fujimoto, Professor, Faculty of Economics, and Executive Director, Manufacturing Management Research Center, The University of Tokyo

"This book is full of wisdom and insight into Lean ideas, principles, and practices seen through the lens of the Italian experience. It distills years of scholarship and practical involvement with Lean implementations into a valuable guide for managers and entrepreneurs beginning their own "lean journey" and scholars interested in strategic renewal, organizational learning, and intertwined change in technical and human systems. The rich case studies, covering success stories, incomplete "journeys", and implementation failures, are unusually probing and make the Italian story of Lean both utterly distinctive and universal. Enjoy!"

-John Paul MacDuffie, The Wharton School of Management, University of Pennsylvania