An eminently readable and highly authoritative overview.

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PRACTICAL KANBAN

FROM TEAM FOCUS TO CREATING VALUE

A comprehensive guide to implementation of the Kanban management method.

Kanban was originated by Japanese carmaker Toyota in the 1950s as a production scheduling and inventory-control system to improve efficiency in manufacturing. In more recent years, writes business-book author Leopold (Kanban Change Leadership, 2015, etc.), Kanban has been seen solely as a way to optimize teamwork. Instead, the author says, it should be seen more generally as “a tool to help you see the weak points in your system and generate better value for your customer.” With this broader understanding as the guiding principle, Leopold cogently and effectively delves into using Kanban through explanatory text and illuminating examples. The book contains six detailed, well-organized chapters, each delineated into logical sections. Each is enhanced by a closing summary as well as several suggested additional readings. The first chapter is an overview of fundamentals for the uninitiated. Here, the author shows how the system evolved from being used in industrial manufacturing to being used in “knowledge work” involving creative thinking, such as engineering. He discusses the general practices of Kanban and includes an understandable description of three Kanban “flight levels”: operational, coordination, and strategic. The second chapter relies not only on text, but also on numerous illustrations of sample “Kanban boards” (workflow charts) to show the method’s practical uses. A key concept emerges: “Less WIP [Work In Progress] means shorter cycle time.” Leopold deftly details some of the subtler nuances of Kanban while showing how one can use it to identify workflow disturbances. Subsequent chapters address using the system on a large scale, forecasting, and prioritization, with a final chapter on a specific Kanban implementation case study. One strength of this book is its use of nonindustrial examples to demonstrate how Kanban can extend beyond manufacturing; for example, Leopold describes a situation in which more than 200 project employees worked on a sales platform. Coordination across teams created havoc, and a Kanban board “quickly showed what could be done better.” “Gradually,” he says, “the barriers of team thinking were broken down.” Another of the book’s assets is its inclusion of interviews in which actual users answer specific questions about their Kanban experiences. The interviewees provide rich insights into the method’s practical applications. “Forecasting” is likely to be one of the more valuable chapters, as business managers are often asked to estimate output; it covers forecasting requirements and methods as well as measurement criteria. Although this somewhat lengthy section includes numerous formulae, diagrams, and charts, the content still remains comprehensible and actionable. Leopold wisely decides to end the book with a detailed case study of a Kanban implementation in the IT department of the STUTE Logistics Company in Germany. In a forthright manner, the author discusses the challenges and difficulties involved in building that organization’s first Kanban systems. According to the IT manager, “the evolving nature of Kanban…facilitated implementing all of these improvements in just one year.” The study offers engaging, powerful evidence of Kanban’s value.

An eminently readable and highly authoritative overview.

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-3-903205-00-0

Page Count: 354

Publisher: LEANability Press

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2018

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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