Monday, March 28, 2016

Building a Fit Organization


There have been countless literary volumes written about Lean (I know I have read a lot of them) but alas organizations still fail to be excellent. Too many business leaders see process improvement as a mere project, something separate from the more “pressing” goals of profits and growth. That is where they go wrong. And that’s where Building the Fit Organization comes in.

My friend and Shingo Prize winning author, Dan Markovitz, has done it again with a new practical, hands-on guide to making Lean intrinsic to your company. If you read his previous book (A Factory of One), you will already know that Markovitz is an expert in Lean principles, but here he shows how those fundamental principles work in action.

Building the Fit Organization is a must read for any business leader who wants to achieve sustainable operational excellence. Markovitz presents a very readable book that provides simple and compelling advice on transforming an organization. By comparing a fit organization to athletes, he demystifies why organizations so often fail at process improvement initiatives, and presents useful tips for building operational excellence into the core DNA of a company culture. 

Rather than trying to copy Toyota, and failing leaders must learn from it, “learn how to convert their flabby organizations into ‘fit’ ones. Markovitz distills lean management into six principles, devoting a chapter to each, for getting fit:

1. Making an unshakeable commitment to
2. Increase value provided by
3. Doing the right work (things that deliver value to the customer)
4. In the right way (through standard work)
5. With continuous monitoring of processes (through visual management systems)
6. And structured coaching for everyone (using the scientific method).

Throughout the book Markovitz, makes these principles more understandable with an analogy many can relate to of physical fitness and athletic excellence. He draws parallels between the critical principles for business “fitness” and the principles of physical fitness – because the same concepts that make for a fit person make for a fit company. The result is a refreshing, easy-to-read, 193-page books free of Japanese terms and business jargon,

Markovitz uses a number of case studies to illustrate the principles with real world examples.  These companies show what can be possible (results) when implementing the principles of a fitter organization. 

And at the end of each chapter, he includes a “Monday Morning To-Do List” with practical steps for applying each principle. Appendix 1 provides a simple thought provoking self-assessment on how you and your company currently use or don‘t use the six principles. Appendix 2 offers a list of books to dig deeper into tools corresponding to each principles, now that you understand them better.

Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a five-person organization, you can embark on this fitness program. Implementing these principles will set you on the road to organizational excellence (fitness). What are you waiting for start getting “fit” today.



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