The book’s introductory chapters focus on an operations manager’s personal struggle while working at a site that has a severely negative culture. The site is undergoing a ‘fake lean’ transformation (Focused on the tools; not the business process). The first two chapters demonstrate the effects of a negative culture on an employee.
The operations manager is offered a new position as the plant manager of a ‘broken’ chemical plant. This is a large step for the new plant manager, but he agrees because he will do anything to get out of the negative cultural situation he is currently experiencing.
The plant manager arrives on site and determines that a lean transformation is what the site needs to improve their performance. The plant manager uses his previous experiences as an example of “What not to do?” Above all else, he anchors the transformation with a respect for people. The respect for people was the keystone item missing in his previous role.
The book continues to document the trials and tribulations of the plant leading up through the conclusion of their first kaizen event and ending with a gemba walk one year later.
The major themes explored in the book are:
• A focus on the role of the front-line associate and a respect for their position
• The effects of a negative culture on team members vs. a positive culture
• The process of running a kaizen event, in a process manufacturing site, with a focus on the social and emotional effects that is above and beyond the mechanics of the kaizen process.
• Mass production systems vs. lean production systems and their effect on the organizational culture