Jim Womack / Industry Week Web Conference Archive (updated)


Here is a link to an earlier post on the conference and another link about “Lean Consumption” (including a link to a recent HBR article).

Click “Comments” to see some of my notes from what Womack said along on the conference.

The full archive (audio and slides) are now available online. An extended Q&A file isvalso available online.

Thanks to Industry Week for sponsoring the event.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Here are some of my notes:

    * What makes a “perfect process?”
    * U.S. companies do well on flow, flexibility, and pull
    * Do badly on capability (can you produce good parts consistently) and availability (are the machines running?)
    ” It’s hard to do flow when nothing works.”

    * Looking at suppliers, “hardly any examples of total Value Stream transformations”

    * The recent growth in interest in lean manufacturing is “frightful” because Womack fears anything that smells like a “program” or attempts at “easy victories”

    * From travels to India and Mexico, sees examples of low wages AND lean (it’s not either or). Suspects he will see the same in China when he travels there soon.

    * CEO’s are usually strategic thinkers or financial thinkers (very few process thinkers — Paul O’Neill from Alcoa was one). Ideal CEO is 1/3 each?

    * Talking about lean consumption, Womack mentioned how even lean manufacturers can have very unlean sales processes. “Toyota has a totally lousy sales system.”
    * “I know my car needs for 6 years out, but there’s nobody to tell that to.” If you could communicate long term needs for cars to someone like GM, could they plan better and even give you discount for planning your purchase? Womack says car companies still think car purchases are impulse driven.

    * Next book, coming out this fall, is “Lean Solutions.”
    * A lean solution solves the customer’s problem while reducing the producer’s cost.

    * When asked if lean was the way for U.S. manufacturing to remain competitive, Womack said:
    – Should do more “quick response” manufacturing from the U.S. instead of chasing low costs (low labor costs) overseas. Overseas stretches out lead times then usually leads to air freight costs when forecasts are bad.
    – Instead of focusing on taking cost out, companies should try to “put value in”
    – “Lazy intellectual defeatism” at companies leads to sloppy analysis that says China’s direct costs can’t be beat (ignores our ability to improve and the indirect costs.”


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