Lean Conversations reports on a workshop that immersed a group of artists in the fundamentals of Lean for three days, during which they conversed with some of the leading thinkers and practitioners of Lean and toured the Toyota factory in Georgetown, Kentucky. The workshop yielded important insights that address essential questions regarding how leaders can better use lean practices to spearhead positive change by leveraging an artist’s sensibility.

From the Foreword:

“With this book, Tom Richert, with his band of artists, tackles a new, tough, exciting, promising, important matter, taking us with them as they embark on a journey with an uncertain destination. This is the beginning of groundbreaking work.

“Tom argues that the body of thought and practice known as “lean” is powerful but has too long mired itself myopically in the world of “science” to the exclusion of an equally, or more, important dimension of human experience: art. If lean has been stuck in science class, what would happen if it wandered across campus to the art studio?”

John Shook, Chairman, Lean Enterprise Institute and Lean Global Network

Other praise for Lean Conversations:

“Read this book! I thoroughly enjoyed this infusion of fresh ideas to the Lean body of knowledge. The insights generated from gathering a group of artists for a Lean immersion at Toyota provide a fresh look at Lean Thinking from a unique viewpoint. The infusion of fresh ideas to the Lean body of knowledge will bring a new perspective to your understanding of Lean and the importance of People, Respect, Spirit, and Purpose.” 

Michael Orzen, Creator of the Lead with Respect & Conscious Coaching Workshop


“In this book Tom Richert uses insights from artists to teach the importance of distinguishing between Toyota’s strong sense of purpose to benefit society, and the short-term profit motive that leads to a weak imitation of the Toyota Production System in the West.”

Jeffrey Liker, Author of The Toyota Way


“Much of what we know as Lean has industrial engineering as its origin. Yet Lean practices with Toyota roots are human-centered. Nothing is more human-centered than art. Tom’s investigation of artists’ sensibilities and Lean is bold and surprising. It’s bound to have you question what you think you know to be true about Lean. Those who bring an open mind will be rewarded.”

Hal Macomber, Co-Author of Mastering Lean Leadership, a Pocket Sensei book


“Tom has captured a never seen perspective on lean.  This new angle of discussion will certainly open doors to a variety of fields into the lean community.    Thank you for exploring a hidden niche, Tom.”

Sammy Obara, CEO of Honsha.org – an Alumni Association from Toyota


“In Lean Conversations, Tom Richert is contributing a fresh and much-needed look at the philosophical, cultural, and even spiritual origins of Lean. The genius of this book is that Tom discovers these origins through conversations with artists who easily discuss their creativity in the Lean language of process, planning, observation and value. But for them, production is inextricable from emotion, and work is inextricable from purpose, meaning, feeling, and spirit. This dimension of Lean is rarely explored, and with this book, Tom is has deepened our understanding of the power of Lean.”

Robert Lewis Bostwick, President and Director of Design, Bostwick Design Partnership

Lean Conversations is available on Amazon.