Reviews of Powering the Lean Enterprise by Bill Artzberger

Finally!  An easy to read and understand book about Lean and change.  Bill has condensed his decades of industry experience into an easy reading explanation of what lean is and what it can do for you, your team and your company. 

Marc Castillo – Senior Engineering Manager, SAFE Boats International, LLC

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Lean principles are game changers. Many organizations keep “beating a dead horse” and think that by working harder they can improve overall performance.

The only thing they get is an exhausted dead horse. Lean is a game changer because it looks at the entire enterprise in a whole new way. Instead of fatiguing employees with continuous clarion calls for results, lean empowers them with a new organizational perspective and a set of skills that helps them work smarter, not just harder.

Instead of providing clarity, many management gurus just end up complicating things. After all, if their theories don’t sound sufficiently erudite, how can they be profound?

Authors of books on lean principles tend to do the same thing—make things complicated—foregoing their initial promises to bring new enlightenment to managing organizational life.

They use mystical and arcane terms, such as kaizen, and talk about black belts, six-sigma and virtuous cycles. Their jargon makes readers think they had better buy a magic wand and enroll in Hogwarts Academy.

The standout genius or teacher in any field is always the person who is able to take what is incredibly complex, break it down to what is essential, and present it in a way that makes it seem simple. What we need today are more teachers and fewer experts. Bill Artzberger is one of those teachers.

Far from being watered down, Artzberger’s book, Powering the Lean Enterprise, gives you all the tools and knowledge you need to understand how to build an organizational culture that will streamline operations, improve quality and gain customer loyalty.

If the goal of lean is to identify and eliminate non-essential and non-value-added steps in any process, then this book itself is a learning process that gives you all the fodder you need without any of the fluff.

Raymond Shea, Business Professor and Management Consultant

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Traditional textbooks are often great substitutes for sleeping pills. Not so with Powering the Lean Enterprise. By combining the art of story-telling with theory based and practice proven content, Artzberger delivers a practical remedy for the common textbook.

Dr. John A. Rushing, GPHR, SPHR, Assistant Professor,  Barry University.

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What an excellent introduction to lean rules and principles. I am captured by Bill's extraordinary insight and understanding. I love the story format for presenting the material; I'll be using some of the book's quotes for the Psych class I'll be teaching in January.  I particularly enjoyed the way the narrative seamlessly connects the relevancy of basic psychological principles to sound business practices. This ability to build a bridge between two is what current Millennials clearly lack and desperately need.

If there was a single point in the book that really caught my interest and that was especially insightful and meaningful to me, it is when Warren says, "Principles should help companies make decisions.”  Many corporations spend time and money developing and distributing their values. All major corporations at some time have included respect and integrity among these values. However, because principles such as these do not provide guidance for making key decisions, they are not helpful. No one comes to work saying, “I was going to work without integrity today, but since it is a corporate value, I will work with integrity.”

Three cheers for Edgar who realizes: "I want every member of Stern’s management team to eventually become a good kata coach!"

Dr. Paul McCarty, CEO, Nova Institute of Technology; psychologist & education specialist; college professor; researcher

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Bill Artzberger is the managing partner of the Lean Learning Center with 25 years of real world experience in senior management.  The goal of lean is to streamline operations, improve quality, and gain customer loyalty so the knowledge in this book will be helpful to bosses, businesses, customers, employees and individuals.  The author shares his experience here with a friendly, helpful writing style I found interesting and appealing.  He uses exceptional real life examples to show how Lean policies and practices help businesses learn, unlearn, and relearn positive mindsets that benefit professional and personal improvement.

Lean techniques have been used for thousands of years as man learned by trial and error to gain knowledge and improve the environment.  For example, modern era businesses that used lean with great success include Ford Motors, Kingsford Charcoal, and Toyota.  Henry Ford used lean to provide greater value to customers while consuming fewer resources.  He understood that to change others he had to change himself and the way he did business.  

Change can be hard and often painful but is necessary to survive and thrive.  Artzberger shows how change can be less stressful through several fascinating case studies of businesses that improved by using lean techniques—health care, retail, food service, and dental practice.  The owners of these businesses learned step-by-step to establish effective communication with and gain cooperation of their employees and customers.  Each case study clearly shows the progression from dysfunctional to lean:  where to start, what steps to take in chronological order, and how the lean techniques change how a person thinks, talks, sees, acts, and reacts.

Each chapter discusses common problems and pitfalls and how to avoid them.  All the strategies, processes, rules and tools needed to launch a lean journey personally and professionally are clearly listed.  At the end of every chapter are helpful questions and discussion points.  If integrity and success are important to you personally and professionally, if your business needs a little or a lot of tweaking, or if you’re simply curious about the lean techniques, this book is a must read.

Laurel Johnson for Midwest Book Review

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Bill Artzberger captures and harnesses what is missing in so many faltering corporate improvement initiatives: 1) the importance of structured reflection on what is actually happening, and 2) using this reflection to learn and relearn how to proceed for sustainable, long term improvement.

Powering the Lean Enterprise is an easy and enjoyable must read for the leadership of any enterprise that is stuck and can’t quite figure out why strategic planning, goal setting and top down mandates for improved outcomes won't yield success. This book will quickly become a dog-eared resource on the desk of successful business leaders.  

Beth Wonson, CEO Beth Wonson Consulting and Author of Let Go of the Rock, A New Look at the Dynamics of Self-Management. www.bethwonson.com