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Take the Value-Stream Walk: Presentation by Jim Womack

Hear James Womack talk about purpose, process, and people as the keys to implementing and sustaining a true lean management system and as the essential metrics for evaluating lean efforts. He will note that the best lean tool a manager can have is a good pair of shoes for walking his or her value streams. The reason: Managers and executives must learn to think "horizontally" across functions in order to understand and improve the flow of value to customers. This means un-learning the traditional "vertical" thought process based on organizational charts and optimizing departments. A good practical way to learn horizontal thinking is to take a walk -- a value-stream walk -- on a regular basis. Womack will provide practical tips and a framework, based on his years of learning by walking real-world value streams, for what managers and executives should do when they take value-stream walks.

In This Presentation You Will See

  • Why you should occasionally think like a bystander (in minute 4)

  • Why Womack began walking (in minute 6)

  • Definition of a gemba walk (in minute 11)

  • Why you take a gemba walk (in minute 12)

  • Where you take a gemba walk (in minute 15)

  • The gemba walk as a horizontal journey (in minute 19)

  • Why organizations are vertical (in minute 25)

  • There is no substitute for face time (in minute 31)

  • Grasp the situation about how good your organization is (in minute 39)

  • Who should take a gemba walk (in minute 41)

  • Womack's big fear (in minute 45)

  • Gemba walk is not management by walking around (in minute 49)

  • How often to take a gemba walk (in minute 50)

  • Ask hard questions but be respectful (in minute 56)

  • Addressing accounting measures on the gemba (in minute 57)

  • and more


About the Speaker

James P. Womack, Founder and Senior Advisor, Lean Enterprise Institute

Management expert James P. Womack, Ph.D., author of the forthcoming book "Gemba Walks," is the founder and senior advisor to the Lean Enterprise Institute Inc., a nonprofit training, publishing, conference and management research company that he began in August 1997 to advance a set of ideas known as lean thinking, based initially on Toyota's business system and now being extended to an entire lean management system.

The intellectual basis for the Cambridge, Mass.-based institute is described in a series of books and articles co-authored by Womack and Daniel Jones over the past 21 years. The most widely known books are: The Machine That Changed the World (Macmillan/Rawson Associates, 1990, with Daniel Roos), Lean Thinking (Simon & Schuster, 1996), Seeing the Whole: mapping the extended value stream(Lean Enterprise Institute, 2001), Lean Solutions (Simon & Schuster, 2005). Articles include: "From Lean Production to the Lean Enterprise" (Harvard Business Review, March-April, 1994), "Beyond Toyota: How to Root Out Waste and Pursue Perfection" (Harvard Business Review, September-October, 1996), "Lean Consumption" (Harvard Business Review, March-April, 2005).

Womack received a bachelor's in political science from the University of Chicago in 1970, a master's degree in transportation systems from Harvard in 1975 and a Ph.D. in political science from MIT in 1982 (for a dissertation on comparative industrial policy in the United States, Germany and Japan). During the period 1975-1991, he was a full-time research scientist at MIT directing a series of comparative studies of world manufacturing practices. As research director of MIT's International Motor Vehicle Program, Womack led the research team that coined the term "lean production" to describe the Toyota Production System.

Womack served as the Lean Enterprise Institute's chairman and CEO from 1997 until 2010 when he was succeeded by John Shook. Womack remains active with LEI and the lean community. "Gemba Walks" (Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc. March 2011), is a collection of his popular e-letters on lean management plus new essays, based on 10 years of shop-floor visits with managers and executives pursuing lean transformations.


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