Lean Blog — 505: Art Byrne: Lean from the CEO’s Perspective, the Lean Turnaround Answer Book

My guest for Episode #505 of the Lean Blog Interviews Podcast is Art Byrne, who was a guest back in Episode 158 about 12 years ago — we discussed his book The Lean Turnaround.

Episode page with video, transcript, and more: https://leanblog.org/505 

Today, we’re discussing his new book, The Lean Turnaround Answer Book, an edited compilation of his “Ask Art” columns published by the Lean Enterprise Institute.

Art Byrne has been implementing Lean strategy in various U.S.-based manufacturing and service companies, such as Danaher Corporation, for more than 30 years, including The Wiremold Company, which he ran for 11 years. He retired as an Operating Partner at the private equity firm J. W. Childs Associates L.P.

In this episode, Art revisits the podcast after twelve years to discuss his new book, The Lean Turnaround Answer Book, an edited compilation of his “Ask Art” columns from the Lean Enterprise Institute website. Art shares his extensive experience implementing lean strategies across various industries, including his notable work with Wiremold and his role in private equity at JW Childs Associates. The conversation also covers Art’s motivations for writing his books and his continuous efforts to disseminate lean knowledge, addressing the practical challenges and questions that arise in Lean implementations.

Art elaborates on the essence of Lean principles, emphasizing the need for a fundamental shift in organizational philosophy and strategy. He recounts his experiences in transforming companies through Lean methodologies, including detailed anecdotes about reducing setup times, managing inventory, and improving operational efficiency. Art highlights the significant impact of lean on organizational performance, customer service, and financial health. The discussion also touches on the challenges of aligning traditional cost accounting with lean practices and the importance of engaging the finance department in the lean journey. Overall, Art’s insights offer a comprehensive guide to Lean implementation, reinforced by real-world examples and practical advice.

Questions, Notes, and Highlights:

  • Tell us about the book and how this one came to be…
  • Cost accounting and inventory?
  • Orry Fiume – “Real Numbers” book
  • The strategic value of setup reduction?
  • How was Lean utilized in your private equity work? How was your role different as a PE partner?
  • Looking for companies with a certain Lean potential? What factors are you looking for?
  • Best Lean turnaround story? More likely a smaller PE company than a large public company?
  • But Lean is not the default management approach for manufacturing? Higher than 10 years ago?
  • Boeing – did they forget what Shingujitsu taught them?
  • The problems caused by “make the month”

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