The 12 Principles of Manufacturing Excellence: A Lean Leader's Guide to Achieving and Sustaining Excellence, Second Edition, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The 12 Principles of Manufacturing Excellence

A Lean Leader's Guide to Achieving and Sustaining Excellence, Second Edition, 1st Edition

By Larry E. Fast

Productivity Press

274 pages | 23 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2015-09-24
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Following in the tradition of its bestselling predecessor, The 12 Principles of Manufacturing Excellence: A Lean Leader's Guide to Achieving and Sustaining Excellence, Second Edition outlines a comprehensive, proven process for delivering world-class performance while also cultivating the right culture through leadership, mentoring, and hourly associate involvement.

While most books on continuous improvement focus on specific tools and methods, this book details a top-down strategy and process that Lean leaders can use to implement and sustain manufacturing excellence. It outlines a clear pathway to excellence via the 12 Principles of Manufacturing Excellence and provides a method for tracking progress—plant by plant and function by function.

This updated edition includes a new chapter on real stories about poor leadership at the top. Also featured are new and updated figures and exhibits. It contains chapters devoted to each principle of manufacturing excellence along with a chapter on each leader's role. Illustrating the importance of using Lean and Six Sigma tools to improve your business, the book:

  • Details a comprehensive approach for achieving and sustaining excellence—from board room strategy to shop floor execution
  • Integrates strategy and leadership development
  • Paves a path for culture change that prepares hourly employees to take control of their processes and prepares management to enable them to do it
  • Details an audit process for identifying priorities for improvement and tracking progress and ensuring sustainability

Tapping into more than four decades of leadership experience, 35 years of it in the manufacturing industry, Larry Fast explains how to achieve both vertical and horizontal alignment across your organization. Like the previous edition, the book includes a CD with color versions of the images in the book, a manufacturing excellence reading list, and formulas for selected metrics.

The CD also includes a sample manufacturing excellence audit (a powerful tool to achieve and sustain the journey), a sample communications plan, a sample communications plan calendar, a sample training plan, and a new Project Prioritization worksheet—all of which can be easily customized to meet your organization’s specific needs.


"Must read for any plant manager that wants to take their organization to the highest level. Larry in his 12 Principles of Manufacturing Excellence provides a roadmap and gives sound practical advise that will focus any manufacturing organization." - James L. Odom, President, Breakthrough Strategies, LLC

Table of Contents

Leading the RevolutionFrom the Top

Examples from the Arena

It’s Not a Flavor of the Month—It’s Continuous Improvement

An Example of Great CEO Leadership

Who’s Running the Business?

Shop Floor: What Impact Do Senior Leaders Have?

Three Biggest Barriers

For Success: Two Senior Leaders That Must Be in Place


The Manufacturing Excellence Strategy

The Next Epiphany

Origin of the 12 Manufacturing Principles

The Manufacturing Excellence Strategy

Common Metrics

Manufacturing Excellence Audit

Manufacturing Principle 1: Safety

Plant Champion for Principle 1

Stage Summary

Manufacturing Principle 2: Good Housekeeping and Organization

Stage Summary

Manufacturing Principle 3: Authorized Formal Systems

Stage Summary

Manufacturing Principle 4: Preventive/Predictive Maintenance

Stage Summary

Manufacturing Principle 5: Process Capability

Short-Term Actions

Longer-Term Actions

Stage Summary

Manufacturing Principle 6: Product Quality

Quality Systems Expertise

Standard Work

Stage Summary

Manufacturing Principle 7: Delivery Performance

Stage Summary

Manufacturing Principle 8: Visual Management

Why Visual Management?

How Do You Know if Visual Management Is Effective?

Visual Management Pictures

Stage Summary

Manufacturing Principle 9: Continuous Improvement

The Playing Field Isn’t Level—Get Over It!

Sample Questions When Touring a Plant for the First Time

What about Benchmarking?

Stage Summary

Manufacturing Principle 10: Communication

Why Aren’t Our Communications Effective?

The Power of Communicating the Vision

Stage Summary

Manufacturing Principle 11: Training

Management Has to Take Away the Excuses

Find Out How Local Leadership Thinks and Acts

Stage Summary


Manufacturing Principle 12: Operator-Led Process Control

The Day OLPC Was Born in My Mind

Stage Summary

Plant Manager’s Role

Other Things Good Plant Managers Expect



Timely Communications

Feed Your Own Monkeys

Develop Your Own Organization

Properly Administer Company Policies

Make the Numbers

Manufacturing Managers Role

Have a Presence on the Shop Floor

A Key Administrator of Company and Plant Policies

Key Relationships with Peer Group

The Manufacturing Manager Helps Set the Expectation for No Compromise to Quality Standards

Interactions with Peer Group

Responsibilities and Expectations

Materials Manager’s Role

Production Control Office

Sales and Operations Planning Process

Purchasing or Sourcing

Supplier Advisory Council

Formal Systems Zealot

Lean Zealot

A Word about Cycle Times and Lead Times

Process Engineering Manager’s Role

Engineering Staff

Capital Appropriations

Systems Infrastructure

Process Engineer: A Key Team Member

Maintenance Manager’s Role

Preventive Maintenance

Rolling 3-Year Facility Maintenance Plan

Maintenance Staffing

Quality Manager’s Role

Technical Expert on Quality Improvement Tools

Lead the Change from Firefighting to Fire Prevention

Customer Advocate on Product Quality

Human Resources Manager’s Role

Hourly Associate’s Voice

Service-Oriented Staff of Experts

Plant Manager’s Confidant

Policy Administration

Environmental Health and Safety

Culture Change Zealot

Sustaining Manufacturing Excellence

A Belden Plant Update

Belden Lessons Learned in Retrospect

About the Manufacturing Excellence Audit

The Rest of the Story


The 12 Principles of Manufacturing Excellence

Manufacturing Excellence Audit

Manufacturing Excellence Reading List, 1986–2010

Formulas for Selected Metrics

Example of a Communications Plan Calendar

Example of a Training Plan

About the Author

Larry E. Fast is a veteran of 35 years in the wire and cable industry, 27 of those in senior management roles at Belden for 25 years and General Cable for 10. As Belden’s VP of Manufacturing he led a transformation of plants in the late 80s and early 90s that included cellularizing about 80% of the equipment around common products and routings (known today as value streams) and the use of what we now know as Lean and Six Sigma tools.

In 1997, he joined General Cable Corporation (GCC), one of the world’s largest wire and cable companies. As the Senior Vice President of Operations, Fast launched a manufacturing excellence strategy in 1999 that became an enterprise-wide priority in 2001. After a 1999 acquisition he had 28 plants reporting to him as well as Corporate Sourcing, Quality, Manufacturing Systems and Advanced Manufacturing Engineering. Later as plants were consolidated to less than 20, he was given expanded responsibility for the North American Supply Chain. Since the launch of the Manufacturing Excellence strategy at GCC in 1999, there have been 34 Industry Week "Best Plants Finalists including 12 "Best Plants" winners since 2001.

His book, The 12 Principles of Manufacturing Excellence—A Lean Leader’s Guide to Achieving and Sustaining Excellence, 2nd. Edition, was released September, 2015 by CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, as a Productivity Press book. The original book, a best seller, was published in October, 2011.

Fast holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Management and Administration from Indiana University. He also is a graduate of Earlham College’s Institute for Executive Growth and successfully completed the thirteen week "Program for Management Development" at the Harvard University School of Business.

Fast is a long-time member of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) and a Director for the Southeast Region since 2009. He has served on university advisory boards including the School of Applied Sciences, Miami University and the Industry Advisory Board of the Tauber Manufacturing Institute, University of Michigan. He became a judge for Industry Week (IW) magazine’s "Best Plants in North America" competition in 2009. Since 2013 he writes a column for the IW online magazine under the byline of "Ask the Expert—Lean Leadership and Continuous Improvement". In 2014 he joined the GLG (Gerson Lehrman Group) as a consultant/advisor for their manufacturing clients. He also occasionally writes as a guest columnist for other organizations and publications.

In 2007 Fast’s company, Pathways to Manufacturing Excellence, LLC, was established. In addition to his writing, he continues to consult, train and coach for companies who seek to achieve and sustain manufacturing excellence but need help to start the journey; to recover and restart a faltering initiative; or require assistance developing their Continuous Improvement strategy. He can be contacted at his website:

Subject Categories

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