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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Review: The Remedy by Pascal Dennis

The Remedy: Bringing Lean Thinking Out of the Factory to Transform the Entire OrganizationI recently finished reading The Remedy – Bringing Lean Thinking out of the Factory to Transform the Entire Organization and wanted to share my review. The story, a sequel to Pascal Dennis’s business novel, Andy & Me, depicts the adventures of Lean-thinking protagonist Tom Papas and his mentor, Andy Saito, a retired, reclusive Toyota executive. The Remedy follows senior leaders Tom Papas and Rachel Armstrong, a new character, at a desperate automotive company as they try revolutionizing the operations at the company. Tom is charged to implement a Lean management system across an entire platform, the Chloe, a breakthrough "green" car. The future of the company is at stake. Although some in upper management are dubious, Tom converts much of the organization to Lean thinking, and he saves the day by eliminating waste. Tom and Rachel, supported by Andy regain the trust and respect of the customer.

Author Pascal Dennis is a lean business learner and practitioner who has written four books on the subject of lean business practices. In The Remedy, he shows how lean business practices can be expanded from manufacturing to all the other areas of your business-including design, engineering, sales, and marketing and all processes in between-and how doing so builds a more efficient organization at every level.

In the book Pascal talks about the short comings of traditional businesses in what he calls the “Big Company Disease”. This is characterized by silos, invisible problems, confused thinking, unclear work standards and visual management, and lack of learning. He introduces mental models which are the glasses we all wear to filter reality. In the end Pascal provides “the Remedy to Big Company Disease” simply as ‘see a problem, solve a problem, share what you’ve learned.” And the leader’s role in an organization is to ensure people are seeing, solving, and sharing – across the organization.

This business fable which many will find relatable to their own journey makes for easy reading. Each chapter ends with study questions to reinforce learning and stimulate thinking. The cartoon-like illustrations add so much to the book and bring the learning points out so the concepts are easy to grasp. The illustrations also provide easy reference points to find the supporting paragraphs to many key principles. They help solidify the concepts far better than any text book version of lean.

This book provides excellent reference to the benefits and pitfalls associated with moving Lean out of the manufacturing environment. It will be meaningful to anyone on a lean journey in business today to help illustrate that simple lean thinking principles apply everywhere in an organization

Highly recommended for early adopters and those who consider Lean to be an all encompassing business system. It is an excellent and practical book that should be part of your reference library.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that Pascal Dennis has been awarded his fourth Shingo Prize Award for Research and Professional Publication for The Remedy. With this kind of distinction he must be doing something right.


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  1. I have not read this book, yet. I'm sure I will at some point. Pascal's books are very well done and it is refreshing to read about lean in a fictional setting.

    The only issue I have is this once again is a book set around a manufacturing environment. I know it shows lean taken into design, sales, etc.. which is great. I bet it is easily translated to other environments. I would like to see a book that takes a fictional story approach about a service company or hospital or better yet government. Something that doesn't reinforce the "lean is for manufacturing" mindset.

    Thanks for the review.

  2. I agree Matt. Sounds like a good project.