The Lean Anthology : A Practical Primer in Continual Improvement book cover
1st Edition

The Lean Anthology
A Practical Primer in Continual Improvement

ISBN 9781482246797
Published November 3, 2014 by Productivity Press
248 Pages 89 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The Lean Anthology: A Practical Primer in Continual Improvement presents operations management case studies that illustrate a Lean process improvement journey. Ideal for non-engineers, adult learners, and corporate or business education settings, this book can help you and your organization understand and apply Lean practices as part of a plan for saving money, generating revenues, or freeing up resources—particularly in settings not traditionally associated with Lean.

The stories are easy to understand, simple accounts of everyday people negotiating life. The characters observe and integrate the principles of Lean into their personal and professional lives. Each Lean case study will help you understand and apply a different approach to the "relentless pursuit of the strategic elimination of waste."

The stories are organized into a framework for implementing a Lean transformation called The Five Cs: Customer, Capability, Control, Coordination, and Context/Culture. These are the five stages of strategic operations design and improvement. The Five Cs framework is a new approach to understanding a Lean journey that you can apply in many settings. The Five Cs framework can help you become more effective in both your personal and professional lives.

The book includes explanations with each case study, as well as brain teasers suitable for team discussion. These tools supply readers—even those without an operations management background—with an intuitive understanding of how to create value by eliminating waste.

Table of Contents



Defining the Customer Value Proposition
Theron Hunter’s Coffee Shop
The Value Proposition of the Coffee Shop
     Value Proposition 
     Order-Winning Criteria 
     Make to Order versus Make to Stock 
     Voice of the Customer 
     Competing on Capabilities 
     Operating System Strategic Design

Managing Variability
Lunch with Guinevere
Managing Variability in Lunch Orders at the Walden-Aster
     Accommodating Variability in Demand
          Lead Time 

Understanding Little’s Law
Dylan and Amelia Have a Cuppa
Moving Customers through a Pipeline 
     Little’s Law 
     Pipeline Management
     Cash Conversion Cycle

Achieving Single-Piece Flow
Belinda, Bags, and Batches
Batch Sizes at the Grocery Store 
     Single-Piece Flow 
     The Social Contract and Perceptions of Fairness 
     Standard Work and Variability 
     SMED (Setup Time Reduction)


Managing Constrained Resources
Donna Johnson and the Bottlenecks
Managing the Limited Resources of Time, Capacity, and Money 
     Theory of Constraints 

Identifying Non–Value-Added Activities
Todd’s Balancing Act
Using Lean Techniques to Improve Daily Activities and Achieve a Goal 
     Value-Stream Mapping 
     Current- and Future-State Analysis 
     Identifying and Removing Waste
     Top-Line Metrics 
     Standard Work 
     Continuous Improvement and Kaizen

Mapping the Value Stream
Rebecca’s Morning Routine
Using Critical Path and Value-Stream Mapping to Establish Standard Work at Home 
     Critical Path 
     Value-Stream Map (VSM) 

Establishing Standard Work
Erika, In through the Out Door
Standardizing Work to Reduce Cycle Time in the Kitchen and Entryway 
     Identifying and Removing Muda

Implementing the 5S System
David and the Case of the Hoarded House
Creating Time and Functionality with 5S 
     Standard Work 


Using Process Behavior Charts
Tracy Scott Manages His Blood Sugar
Health Management through Process Behavior Charts 
     XmR Charts 
     Special and Assignable Causes 
     Reducing Variation 
     Continuous Improvement

Designing Experiments
Bob’s A-Maize-ing Popcorn
Using Experiments to Create the Best Popcorn 
     Experimental Design 
     Six Sigma 
     Designing a Robust Process
     Accuracy versus Precision 
     Defining and Limiting Variables

Maintaining Reliable Equipment
Missy’s Car Maintenance
Improving Automobile Performance through Total Productive Maintenance
     Predictive, Preventive, and Reactive Maintenance 
     Supplier Relationships


Designing a Supply Chain
Brian and Tonya’s Lunch Dilemma
Managing the Supply Chain for a Home-Cooked Lunch 
     The Reorder Point System 
     Periodic Review Systems

Determining Lot Size
Peter Goes Shopping
Determining the Optimal Lot Size for Household Supplies 
     Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) 
     Reorder Points 
     Quantity Discounts 
     Visual Management

Order Quantities and Safety Stock
Brad and Gina and Baby Make Three
The Impact of Cost Estimates on Purchasing Decisions 
     Economic Order Quantity (EOQ)
     Setup Cost 
     Holding Cost 
     Safety Stock 
     Cycle Stock 
     Reorder Points (ROP) 
     Inventory Management Policies


Enabling Rational Decision Making
Zeke’s Tree
Decision Analysis for Homework Success: Empowering Homework Completion Using Decision Trees 
     Decision Analysis 
     Decision Trees 
     The Socratic Method 
     The Change Effectiveness Equation

Analyzing Root Causes
Jackson and Wyatt Learn to Share
Building Family Consensus through Root Cause Analysis
     Andon Cords 
     Root Cause Analysis 
     Employee Teamwork as Part of Continuous Process Improvement

Putting It All Together
Chloe Manages the Family Business
Leading Strategic Change in a Family Setting
     Change Management
     Employee Development
     Employee Buy-In
     Designing a Robust Process


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Rebecca Goldberg is a strategy and operations consultant with more than a decade of experience. She has extensively published articles and case studies in the Washington Post, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business & Economy, and in the University of Virginia and Columbia University case collections. She writes in the areas of strategy, operations, and technology life cycles, as well as in negotiation, team dynamics, and collaboration. She has consulted with significant global clients in a variety of industries, including health care delivery, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, integrated technology solutions, professional services, insurance, and the military. She holds an MBA from the Darden School of Business; a BA from Tufts University, magna cum laude with highest thesis honors; and a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her two sons. Please visit for more information.

Elliott N. Weiss is the Oliver Wight Professor of Business Administration at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. Weiss teaches in the operations area and is the author of numerous articles in the areas of production management and operations research; he has extensive consulting experience, for both manufacturing and service companies, in the areas of production scheduling, workflow management, logistics, total productive maintenance, and Lean implementation. He is the author of over 175 cases and technical notes in the area of operations management.

Before coming to Darden in 1987, Weiss was on the faculty of the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. He has held visiting appointments at the Graduate School of Management at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is married with four children and one grandchild.


This is a truly creative and engaging book. Like Goldratt’s The Goal, this book teaches the principles and concepts that form the basis for effective management of operations through the medium of stories. Learning is fun and painless and yet the lessons are deep.
Morris Cohen, Panasonic Professor of Manufacturing & Logistics, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

What a great book—so inviting, interesting, and creative. Great practical Lean insights from a non-manufacturing point of view.
—Arthur V. Hill, Associate Dean for MBA Programs and Professor of Supply Chain and Operations, University of Minnesota

Goldberg and Weiss take key business concepts and make them accessible for anyone committed to self-improvement. Their approach is simple and effective…and reminds me how much more I can do to apply Lean thinking both in and out of the office for real results!
Kevin Klau, Senior Vice President, Business Units, Hach Company

The Lean Anthology
is full of rich nuggets of gold that can be applied to both personal and professional life. Rebecca Goldberg and Elliott Weiss combine storytelling and teaching through short vignettes that will revolutionize the reader’s thinking and lead to lasting business results bolstering your company’s competitive advantage. This pragmatic approach is certain to transform you, your team, and those around you.
Monica Barker, Director Strategic Marketing North America, AREVA, Inc.

Even experienced practitioners can use The Lean Anthology to see additional applications for Lean tools. This book is comprehensive, enlightening, refreshing, and fun to read—which allows the reader to easily follow the pragmatic presentation of each Lean concept and practice.
Frederick S. Buchman, Co-Author of Balanced Scorecard Strategies for Dummies

Must-reading for anyone with responsibility for or interest in any form of operations. Few managers understand and embrace the importance of continuous improvement. The challenge is to learn how to do it… this is the need this book fulfills.
Wallace Stettinius, author of Principles of General Management, The Art and Science of Getting Results Across Organizational Boundaries, and How to Plan and Execute Strategy: 24 Steps to Implement Any Corporate Strategy Successfully