Lean Acres: A Tale of Strategic Innovation and Improvement in a Farm-iliar Setting

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Synopsis: Change can be hard. It is often difficult to conceive performing tasks in a different order, in a different place, at a different time, or in a different manner altogether. And this is only for the individual. When we talk about organizational change the difficulty increases exponentially with each individual that is added to the equation. Regardless of organizational improvement methodology (Lean, Six Sigma, ISO, Balanced Scorecard) as programs they are difficult to implement; as disciplines they are difficult to understand. This book uses as its basis a fable the story is not untrue, but it is not fact either. It is a story in which the group dynamics are real, the problems are valid, and the solutions legitimate. It asks you to consider a complex environment with multiple classes interacting between functional units with requirements that are perceived as exclusive and unique, and personalities that reinforce presumed boundaries. It asks you to follow along as all these individuals work together using the basics of four quality methodologies (Lean, Six Sigma, Theory of Constraints, and Business Process Reengineering) to address the problems they face, discover solutions together, and move forward in their continuous performance improvement journey.

From the Author: Writing Lean Acres was a privilege and an honor, and was in no way a small undertaking.  A vast majority of books and training on the market today teach Strategy and Continuous Performance Improvement (Balanced Scorecard, StrateTree, Lean, Six Sigma, Theory of Constraints, and Business Process Reengineering) methods and tools from a static, academic perspective.  The theory is important, but the gains are in practical (and relevant) application.  I wanted to give the world a resource, an instruction manual and a guide, that marries the academic and the practical and continues one step further.  I wanted to include (and expose) the sophistication introduced by stakeholder management, real stakeholder management, and to emphasize the range of personalities, emotions, and struggles we encounter in all of our organizations every day. 
Each and every day throughout the crafting of this work, I recalled experiences and feelings and wove them into the story.  I would sit down in my office with the curtains drawn, look beyond my computer monitors, and dream with my eyes open.  I could see the farm, the animals, the problems, the possibilities...and when I had lived through a chapter, I came back and wrote down everything I heard, smelled, tasted, felt, and saw.  By observing the tale, I went beyond myself and endured the chaos that an even mixture of reality and imagination can muster.  This mitigated the schizophrenia that crept up now and again while giving voice and credence to over a dozen characters of different species.
But it was fun, and I hope to go back there someday.  Lean Acres is more than a book to me.  It is a part of me, and my sincerest wish is that the lessons, the guidance, and most of all the story become a part of you too. Until we meet again, may God bless you and yours.  - Jim Bowie

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