A few years back when I was working in the rail logistics business my main customer was Tata Steel, formerly known as Corus and formerly known as British Steel. Back in those days I knew them as Corus and so that is the name I will refer to during this post. I was always envious of Corus as an organisation and would have gladly exchanged companies. I worked in a shit hole and didn’t have a pot to piss in and these guys all seemed to have nice offices and even a canteen! Much more than that they seemed to have an organisation where the man at the top understood that people were key to the success of the business. The man at the top of my company was similar, so why then were things so different at the bottom of the heap?
The main difference between Corus and my own company was Corus were much better at pushing the untouched message from the CEO to the man at the coalface. Both leaders of the separate businesses believed in the same ideology but ours had more blockages in the pipe work. In my organisation, influential people put their own personal needs ahead of the business – a group of senior managers who all told greater fairytales, to their CEO, than they told their own children at bedtime.
I believe one of the reasons for this difference was education. Corus had a belief that benchmarking was a successful way forward. Seek out the very best in the world and copy what made them successful. For the people of Corus there were many influences worldwide and one of which was Toyota.
I remember being in the office of a Corus manager when I saw a copy of The Machine That Changed The World by James P. Womack, Daniel T.Jones and Daniel Roos. It was stood snugly next to The Goal by Eliyahu M.Goldratt and Jeff Cox. Wanting parity of intellect I picked up The Goal and started to tell my customer of the influence it had on me. My customer agreed but then said that if I thought The Goal was inspiring then I must read the grey book by the side of it.
Learning about the principles created by Toyota – known as Lean Principles – was an amazing time for me. My own company was not teaching anything like this and yet it seemed to make perfect sense. Although the book was teaching the tools of Lean Manufacturing I really believed that the same tools could be used in the world of service. Furthermore, I really believed that Lean would become a way of life. I have recently written a series of blog posts, starting when I penned The Thinking Journal, based on my own personal continuous improvement principles and the inspiration came from this book.
What is the most influential book you have ever read? Please share it with us.
The front cover of The Machine That Changed The World states, “Based on The Massachusetts Institute of Technology 5-Million-Dollar 5-Year Study On The Future of The Automobile.” Let me assure you I have little interest in automobiles of any kind so do not let this fool you into thinking it is a book about cars.
If you can grasp the principles of Lean then it can transform your life. You start to see waste everywhere and you start to question everything. You dig so deep into your own life and business that you get to the core of issues that most people are afraid to even disturb the topsoil.
If you want to improve your life, if you want to become a Daydreamer then read this book.