Relentless Improvement: True Stories of Lean Transformations, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Relentless Improvement

True Stories of Lean Transformations, 1st Edition

By Bill Trudell

Productivity Press

237 pages | 16 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781466554306
pub: 2012-11-28
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Tracing the author’s decades-long continuous improvement journey, Relentless Improvement: True Stories of Lean Transformations walks readers through vivid shop floor experiences to convey a genuine feel for the environments in which Lean Six Sigma transformations occur. Recounting numerous Lean Six Sigma transformations, it illustrates the spectrum of successful operational tactics.

The story starts just outside Detroit, Michigan in the 1970s when the auto industry was booming, and most people in the area worked in the car factories, or in one of the component factories that supplied the Big Three. The complexity and detail of the projects grow chapter by chapter. The book begins by explaining how to manage Lean basics such as applying 5S, shortening product cycle times, and creating standard work. It then progresses to factory Lean Six Sigma transformations. Providing implementation guidance geared to functions on the operational level, the book:

  • Presents stories based on the author’s interactions with company leaders and shop-floor employees in the midst of great change
  • Illustrates real-world plant politics and manufacturing situations using compelling stories
  • Highlights valuable lessons learned at the end of each chapter

Using an engaging story format, the book recounts the author’s career experiences to provide you with a real-world understanding of how to use Lean tools. The stories in the book illustrate everything from standard work and takt time to Kaizen events and Total Productive Maintenance. The text also includes accounts of "front end" or administrative processes such as product development and materials handling.

Table of Contents

A Manufacturing Family

Lessons Learned

My First Factory

Lessons Learned

Maybe Not Lean, But Lean Things

Do It Right the First Time

Product Development

Problem Solving

Takt Time

Standard Work

Lessons Learned

My First Process Improvement Project

Leadership Nirvana

Lessons Learned

Process Improvement Project #2

The New Owners Are at the Gate

Lessons Learned

My Lean Journey Begins

Water Spiders

The Building Is on Fire

Hazardous Spill

Lessons Learned

Outboard Marine Corporation — Marine Power

Products Group

Marine Power Product Group Purchasing

Getting to Know the Gemba: The Product and the People


OMC – Calhoun

Lessons Learned

Jet Skis

Lesson Learned

Cylinder Sleeves

Lessons Learned

More Standard Work

Lessons Learned


Mr. Yamata

Are You Sure He Is Not Mad at Me?

Closing Out the Audit

Mouth Test

Lessons Learned

Multi-Plant Inventory Reduction

Lesson Learned

Bearing Shortage

Lesson Learned

Stickle Bricks: One-Piece Flow

Affinity Diagram

Lesson Learned

The War Room

Lesson Learned

The Project Continues

Design for Manufacture and Assembly

Proven Technology versus High-Tech

Lesson Learned

Competitive Product Comparison Project: Boston

Consulting Group

Lesson Learned

Lean Transformation # 1

The New plant manager

The "Incentive" System

Quality at the End of the Line

The Aft Cabin

Rate versus Quality

Let’s Summarize

The Loop

The Transformation Begins


Quality: Stabilizing the Processes

Quarter Drills: Production Status Boards

Manufacturing Engineers/Process Improvement Technicians

Lean Training

Boot Stripe Rework Reduction: Defects, Non-Value-Added Rework

Lesson Learned

Where to Start

Grinding and Flipping Fiberglass Decks: Waste, Rework, Transportation, Motion

Fiberglass Small Parts

Components Plant

On Sabbatical

Let’s Get Lean

Lean Transformation #2

Process Improvement at Wellcraft

Lamination Process Improvement

Mold Care Project

Assembly Process Improvement

Implement 5S

Quality Process

Lean Six Sigma Cost Reduction Projects

Product Development

Lesson Learned

Improve Design Engineering Process

Lessons Learned

Improve Materials Management Process

Lean Transformation Strategies

Elements of a Successful Lean transformation

Develop a Lean Roadmap

Get a Lean Leader

Establish a Lean Steering Committee

Establish a Lean Resource Plan

Establish a Lean Team in the Company

Establish and Communicate the Lean Vision for the Company

Develop the Roll-Out Plan

Implement the Plan

Implement Relentless Improvement

Map and Improve Support Processes

Move to Advanced Lean

Implement the Roll-Out Plan

General Training: Lean Values, Overview

5S Implementation

Map and Improve Value Streams

Implement Lean Metrics and Visual Management

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

Align Product Development/New Product Launch with Lean Principles

Deploy and Sustain Relentless Improvement Activities

Map and Improve Support Processes

Kaizen Events

Move to Advanced Lean

Miscellaneous Topics



Organizational Politics Leadership

How to Conduct a Process Mapping Event





About the Author

Bill Trudell is a passionate manufacturing professional and scholar of Lean Six Sigma. He has worked in manufacturing for twenty-five years in positions ranging from assembly line worker to middle management roles to vice president of quality and process improvement. He is currently president of Relentless Excellence LLC. a Lean Six Sigma practice, and has led or been directly involved in Lean Six Sigma transformations and projects for more than twenty years leading three factory Lean Six Sigma transformations.

Mr. Trudell graduated from the University of Tennessee and earned an MBA from Jacksonville State University. He holds the ASQ Certified Six Sigma Black Belt and the University of Michigan Lean Certificate. He is APIC and NAPM certified and has attended training at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Mr. Trudell co-authored Lean Six Sigma that Workspublished by AMACOM and his efforts were highlighted on the April 2007 cover of Composites Manufacturing Magazine.

He currently offers Lean Six Sigma leadership services through

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Quality Control