Dr Deming once said: “We know what we said, we don’t know what they heard.” In the evolution from believing lean is merely a set of tools to learning that it all starts at the point where we understand the bigger picture, John helps us to better understand the message.

A Service System is exactly a system and should therefore be seen from different perspectives; hence the book covers the same aspect from different angles. Some readers might (at first glance) find the repetitions unnecessary, but after reading again they will understand what the author is trying to convey.

John provides different perspectives and lets the reader find the solution matching the specific problems. This approach is extremely rare and makes the book more of a lexicon and compendium while at the same time engaging and encouraging readers to find their own solutions – not just copying tools.

The book helps to better think and this also goes for explaining the fundamental lean principle of value. We have all learned that the elimination of waste will increase value and therefore it is easily assumed that we need to manage waste. With help from Russell Ackoff, John Seddon and Deming, John makes us think differently:

Don’t manage cost: manage value. When value increases, the costs will decrease. […] Go for flow and costs decrease, but ironically, go for cost reduction and costs are very likely to increase! Why? Because a cost focus often brings worse service that backfires through increased failure demand.

This book is not just another input to the lean or systems debate; instead, it gathers evidence that many people try to do better and that by sharing different thoughts we all learn and have the ability to build more knowledge.

At the end of every section the author always references the sources and thereby encourages readers to learn more (or go see for themselves).

Having this book on your bookshelf will ensure you have access to a wealth of knowledge and information. Actually, leaving the book at the shelf is a shame; it should be within reach of any leader, lean practitioner, systems thinker and anyone else wanting to make things better.

A book review should also point out the things that need improving, but – to be quite honest – the only thing that should be changed is the last sentence of the author’s acknowledgements.

Dear John, don’t be so hard on yourself with all the work you do to help us all to think better, errors are hard to find. Personally I cannot wait for you to learn more, and inspire us more.

There is no need for a book summarising the top 100 lean and better thinking books – it is already here, but covering so much more.