The Machine That Changed the World – A Book Review

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the machine that changed the world coverThe Machine That Changed The World: The Story of Lean Production was first published in 1990. It was the result of a five-year research study called the International Motor Vehicle Program founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1979. It involved more than 50 scientists, engineers, social scientists, and management experts from more than 25 universities in 14 countries. In this book, the authors contrasted mass production against lean production and showed the advantages of lean production, which was important in making Toyota as the largest car manufacturer in the world.

Book Details

This paperback reprint was published in 2007 by Free Press (Simon & Schuster) publishing. It has 352 pages and is about 0.8 inch thick. The front cover shows the title at the middle part in large fonts on white background. The subtitle is at the top part above the title and the authors’ names at the bottom part. ISBN-10: 0743299795; ISBN-13: 978-0743299794

Price

$12.26 for the paperback edition, $42.31 for the hardcover and $13.65 for the Kindle edition

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Target Audience

The Machine That Changed the World is for readers interested in the history of lean production, the concept of lean thinking and its advantages. It is a guide for managers and leaders.

What Customers Say

Business Week described it as the most readable book on the changes reshaping manufacturing.

J.G. Heiser, who was working for a major software company, was fascinated that Toyota was able to update their vehicles faster than his company could bring out a new OS. He described Machine as not only a book about lean production, but a guide applicable to many industries in how business operates and how to deliver good products that customers want.

Chris Mondy stated that the book was a great read and a valuable source of information for a project.

Content, Approach, Style

The Machine That Changed the World is divided into an introduction and three parts. In the introduction or Chapter 1, a short history of the car manufacturing industry was discussed. In particular, three types of production were introduced: craft production, mass production and lean production. The first part is titled The Origins of Lean Production and contains two chapters that discuss the rise and fall of mass production, and the rise of lean production. The second part look in greater detail the elements of lean production across Chapters 5 to 8. It discussed how lean production works in running a factory, developing a product, coordinating supplies, dealing with customers and managing the enterprise. The third part is titled Diffusing Lean Production and discussed its spread, the barriers encountered, and suggestions in how to complete the transformation to Lean.

The book presents the ideas, reasoning and personal opinions of the authors in a very clear manner. The focus on Lean production, its principles, advantages and universality are discussed in plain language. The paragraphs are of readable length and the topics transition well, making the findings and interpretation of a five-year research such an easy read. The historical references clearly reinforce the points that the authors try to make.

Why Buy the Book

The Machine That Changed the World is a classic best-selling book about Lean production. Since the principles can be applied to almost any industry, learning about the lessons that spanned years in a shortened narrative is a great find. Coming from the viewpoint of independent academic researchers makes it a unique source of information, reference and guidance to how Lean thinking can transform products, enterprise, and life.

Books that Complement

Business Leadership for IT Projects by Gary Lloyd presents a practical guide to help business managers and project managers lead IT projects that deliver value and maximum return of investment.

David Pratt’s Great Lessons in Project Management is a compilation of stories that can aid project professionals gain knowledge, awareness and techniques from others’ experiences and be better in navigating situations and avoiding traps.

Author

James P. Womack was the research director of a consortium called the International Motor Vehicle Program in 1979 at MIT in Massachusetts, USA. Its aim was to understand the challenges being faced by the automotive industry. Dr. Womack received a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Chicago, his master’s in transportation systems from Harvard University, and his Ph. D in political science from the MIT. He led a number of studies on worldwide production services from 1975 to 1991. The IMVP, which received more than $5 million funding, was the most important. After publishing this book, he left the MIT and founded the Lean Enterprise Institute in August 1997.

Daniel T. Jones is a senior adviser to the LEI and is the Founder and Chairman of the Lean Enterprise Academy based in Ross-on-Wye, UK. He holds a BS degree in economics from the University of Sussex. Jones has co-authored several books with Dr. Womack about Lean Thinking. He published books also about Lean applications in healthcare and hospitals. He was the European director of MIT’s Future of the Automobile and IMVP. He is a keynote speaker in many Lean conferences in Europe and advises organizations in many sectors regarding their Lean transformations.

Dr. Daniel Roos was founding director of the IMVP and serves presently as Chair of the IMVP Advisory Board. Dr. Roos also served as Director of the MIT Center for Transportation Studies, and Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development. He was the Founding Director of MIT’s Engineering Systems Division until 2004 and serves as Chair of the Engineering Systems University Council. Professor Roos continues to teach at the MIT’s Engineering Systems and Civil and Environment Engineering department.

$12.26 for the paperback edition, $42.31 for the hardcover and $13.65 for the Kindle edition

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Jose Maria Delos Santos

Jose Maria Delos Santos

Jose is a subject matter expert and member of the writing team for Project-Management.com. He has written hundreds of articles including project management software reviews, books reviews, training site reviews, and general articles related to the project management industry.

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