A few months ago I was approached by a couple publishers interested in turning our best blog posts into a book. I guess some of our writing is interesting… or at least entertaining. Of course we hope we’ve helped provoke some thought and conversation on what excellence is really about.
Through discussions with those publishers I learned about minimum lot sizes, batch runs, and long lead times. There seemed to be something fundamentally wrong with eschewing the very concepts we promote, so I decided to take a closer look at other publishing options. And I discovered "print on demand."
POD is relatively new, primarily due to the obvious technological issues. And as a new industry and technology there are a multitude of companies delivering a very wide range of service quality as standards, methods, expectations, and business models have not been fully developed and proven. This range of quality has cast a negative pall on the nascent industry.
I had some fundamental requirements: the book had to be professionally-printed, I wanted some editing and cover graphics support, I wanted Bill and I to retain all rights, and it had to be available via the major online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. That immediately weeded the field down from about twenty publishers to two: iUniverse and Xlibris. iUniverse is a venture of Barnes & Noble, and Xlibris is owned by Random House, which gives both of them the industry knowledge and management depth to deliver a superior service.
I chose iUniverse for a variety of minor reasons. Their cafeteria-style package provides editing, proofing, graphics design, indexing, and marketing support, all coordinated through an actual human project coordinator. The final product is available directly from the publisher as well as all major online retailers such as Amazon.
Printed in units of one. At a price comparable and sometimes even lower than traditional bulk printing.
That concept still boggles my mind. Almost 500 pages printed, folded, cut, bound, and covered. Then wrapped, boxed and shipped. All for $29.95 in our case, including author royalties, iUniverse profit, retailer profit, and even shipping if you belong to certain Amazon programs. One at a time.
I often write about the value of simple processes and the effectiveness of simple visual controls over complex software, but this is one case where technology makes all the difference. Orders from multiple sources are fed to the factory, where a computer analyzes each order with regards to size and layout, and then groups it into a continuous stream with other incoming orders of differing sizes and layouts. In order to optimize paper usage on wide format printers, it is often preferable to have a single order rather than multiple orders of the same book in order to provide the flexibility to more efficiently fill up the "jigsaw puzzle."
The blog has been a fun and rewarding experience. We thank you for adding to that experience through your comments, suggestions, questions, and emails. The book is designed to capture and organize some of our thoughts into a series of short stories than can be read whenever you have a few minutes.
Bill and I hope you enjoy the book. You can learn more about it on Amazon.
Formal book description:
A 450-page categorized compilation of favorite posts from the Evolving Excellence blog, this book offers different—even outright contradictory—viewpoints that explore various aspects of lean enterprise excellence. In the shared desire to see American manufacturing thrive, authors Kevin Meyer and Bill William H. Waddell have poured their knowledge, opinions, and ideas into their blog for the past two years. Sometimes tongue in cheek, usually provocative, occasionally humorous, but always passionate, they point out the failures of companies, organizations, and individuals in the manufacturing industry while also lauding those that understand true excellence.
“Evolving Excellence is the most insightful blog I have ever read.”
– Ross Robson, Executive Director of the Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing
“If you love manufacturing then we hope you’re reading Evolving Excellence. It’s a must-read for manufacturers and those who dream.”
– Pat Cleary, Senior Vice President, National Association of Manufacturers
“The authors are knowledgeable and they tell it like it is.”
– Bob Emiliani, author of Shingo Prize winning Better Thinking, Better Results
- Chapter 1 – Lean Machines – Thoughts on the fundamental aspects of lean manufacturing
- Chapter 2 – The False God of the Almighty Algorithm – Various rants and ramblings on MRP, ERP and enterprise software solutions to manufacturing problems
- Chapter 3 – Looking Lean vs. Being Lean – How some companies can look great and win awards, yet find themselves in bankruptcy court
- Chapter 4 – Ramblings on Lean Management and Culture – The myths and realities of people, culture and the soft side of lean
- Chapter 5 – Missing a Few Rungs on the Corporate Ladder – What we think about this matter of leadership
- Chapter 6 – Playing the Long Shot – And the latest buzzword – innovation !
- Chapter 7 – It’s About Cost, Stupid! – Diatribes on accounting, finance, and lean thinking
- Chapter 8 – Yet More Lean Supply Chain Nonsense – And of course we have to scoff at the great outsourcing binge
- Chapter 9 – A Little Bit of History – Tipping our hats to the great thinkers who brought lean to life
- Chapter 10 – Either They Get It or They Don’t – Stories of manufacturers who have made great strides and some who have made a mockery of lean
- Chapter 11 – News From India, Detroit and Other Exotic Places – Our ongoing reactions to the news of trials and tribulations in the auto industry
- Chapter 12 – Theory Meets Reality In the Heartland – A few comments on politicians, academia and other know-it-alls
- Chapter 13 – Are Houses Next? – And finally, tales of lean in places other than factories
- About the Authors
Visit Amazon for more information and to purchase.