A couple of comments and thoughts on a couple of books …
Shingo versus Shingo
A few weeks ago I wrote a piece contrasting Shingo’s ‘green books’-the original version translated by Shingo’s son and the later version translated by Drew Dillon, both brought to western audiences thanks to the efforts of Norm Bodek. Shame on me for writing, “Dillon made the original a lot more readable, but he also left a lot of fundamental points behind in the effort.” I implied that Drew Dillon was the source of the different translations – an assumption I had no basis for making. Both Norm Bodek and Drew Dillon wrote expressing rightful indignation. Said Norm, “Dr. Dillion is a great scholar and should receive an apology.” Wrote Drew, “I’m not quite sure what leads you to impugn my work so casually.”
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. In truth I have no idea why the two books ended up substantially different, and I do owe Dr. Dillon an apology. Messrs Bodek and Dillon speculated that the cause may have been different texts from Shingo, himself, or in final editing after Dillon’s work went to the published, or a number of other possibilities. The cause will likely never be known, but it is probably not important to know why. It is important to know that Both Norm Bodek and Andrew Dillon have made enormous contributions to the lean body of knowledge and implying otherwise is not something I would ever want to do.
This is a great lean book – I mean a genuine ‘must read’ lean book – although I have had to rack my brain to figure out just why. Russell Watkins is a very well traveled lean guy, and a very, very good writer. The book he wrote is a sort of ‘Shigeo Shingo meets a British Mark Twain’ effort. There is no grand unifying theory, nothing that a well-versed lean student will find that is particularly new, just a wealth of stories and examples of lean application, covering the waterfront of countries, industries and lean facets, written in a very compelling manner. It is witty, clever, and illustrates the principles with extraordinary clarity. A consultant like me will find it a treasure trove of examples and anecdotes to use in teaching; a lean leader will find a wealth of ideas to teach the principles, and an executive can get an introduction to lean in a manner that puts it into practical terms, rather than the ethereal stuff most lean leadership books adopt. Mostly, it is just fun to read.
In most regards John Quelch and Katherine Jocz have written the sort of marketing book one can expect from a couple of Harvard types. Lots of traditional theory, tweaked to apply it to the global economy and an increasingly social media dependent world. There is not a single mention of lean in the book. That said, its central point – that all business is local – is a vital point for companies struggling to integrate their lean efforts with their sales and marketing strategy. They write, “… Starbucks doesn’t reach customers through five thousand stores, it reaches customers through one store five thousand times.”
It is not possible for Pizza Hut to complete collectively with every pizza store out there. In fact, each Pizza Hut has to compete with the local pizza joints nearby. The fact that an individual Pizza Hut restaurant is part of a massive, global corportation really doesn’t matter much. It comes down to the value, service and prices at each Pizza Hut restaurant compared to that at the local competitor. Flip that around … the local pizza parlor owner doesn’t have to compete with mega-giant YUM! Brands. They just have to have a better value proposition than the one YUM! Brands Pizza Hut nearby.
Competing in one store five thousand times – with each store focused on its individual market is right up lean’s alley. Competing with five thousand one-size-fits all stores is mass production, get it from China stuff.
The authors don’t tie their excellent message of the market comprising of a whole lot of local markets, each with its own value proposition, back to lean – but you very easily can. This strikes me as a great book for the lean operations person to have his or her marketing and senior management team read, and then build upon. Once they understand the importance of local, and begin to ask how to serve their customers one at a time rather than en masse, lean will make a lot more sense to them.