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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Book Review: e2 Continuous Improvement System

The Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership's (GBMP) Bruce Hamilton and Pat Wardwell have written a new book, e2 Continuous Improvement System.  Bruce Hamilton is infamous from the Toast Kaizen video and Pat is on the AME regional board with me so I was looking forward to reviewing their book.  

e2 stands for "everybody, everyday" a saying Bruce has made the tag line for GBMP's approach to Lean. The e2 Continuous Improvement System is a proven process for energizing and engaging employees in Lean learning and practices.  The key component of e2 provides tacit learning to make lean techniques relevant and exciting in the context of your organization.  This is a system I am familiar with from my experience with the GBMP team.

Bruce and Pat wrote this book to support their mission to keep jobs in the US.  Their experience has shown that copying Toyota's methods without careful consideration to their whole system will produce short-lived and even negative outcomes.  In this book they set out to educate everyone about the real power of behind TPS being human intelligence and creativity.

The book is comprised of 3 major sections: Foundation, Management, and Countermeasures.  The foundation section defines the e2 learning system, history of Lean thinking, and basic principles of Lean.  Elements like Kaizen, policy deployment, idea systems, and assessment make up a portion of the Management section.  Countermeasures is about the more well know tools used in improvement like 5S, visual systems, standard work, kanban, poka-yoke, and others.

Each lesson in the book contains practice exercises so you can learn by doing.  It also includes DVD lessons from their library of videos that are designed to amplify key points, offer examples, and supplement learning.  Lessons end with a reflection exercise which allows you to really think about your learning and these lessons.

This is a workbook style book with many visuals and examples.  At only 226 pages it flows well and is easy to read. It contains visual indicators for key points, practice exercises, DVD lessons, and more. This book serves as a complete training package for either independent study or group based book study.  You can even purchase an optional on-line review and self assessment tool to check your learning through short quizzes.

It is not surprising that many of the practice exercises include going to the Gemba to observe.  I would have liked a list of the supplemental training materials including DVD's to make purchasing them easier.  This book can also serve as a great reference guide after reading and learning but without an index your are going to have to rely on the limited table of contents.

e2 Continuous Improvement System follows a proven system of tacit learning of Lean based on the approach of everybody everyday. Any leader looking to transform their organization or is already managing and sustaining a transformation will want to read this book.  The lessons in this book are valuable for everyone in any organization.  I recommend you get this book today and start your Lean Journey now.

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