A book that is more obscure than it deserves is Taiichi Ohno’s Workplace Management. When most people think of this father of the Toyota Production System, they focus on Taiichi Ohno’s Toyota Production System book. However, that book is more transcribed from Ohno’s thoughts. Workplace Management is more direct, and much more of his advice for actually managing the operation.
To fully be clear about my opinion, I actually think that people focus too much on Toyota. Copying Toyota is not the goal. You shouldn’t strive to be “the Toyota of the plastics industry” or “the Toyota of the chain link fence industry.” You should be focused on your own goals and focus on what works for you. What works for Toyota may not be what is right for you. I see people taking the “what would Toyota do?” approach so far that they copy things that would only make sense in the auto industry.
Jon Miller of Gemba Research transcribed this book recently in order to republish it. This is not a first book to read if you are interested in lean. But if you want to understand the roots of lean, and the mind of one of the masters, this is a great book to read. And you can check out a more thorough review at The Lean Library.
Which Taiichi Ohno book do you prefer, Toyota Production System or Workplace Management?