Lean Manufacturing

Recommended Book: China, Inc. by Ted Fishman

By Jon Miller Published on November 7th, 2005

I had some trans-Pacific airplane time recently so I read China, Inc. by Ted C. Fishman. It’s not without flaws but it gives good context and perspective about China to much of the news and views you hear on China in the media today.
Although the author doesn’t talk about Lean manufacturing as such, the book is recommended reading for anyone who plans to make a career in anything related to manufacturing. It’s an easy read, and not an economics text like it may seem. There are enough human interest sidetracks to disappoint the serious China scholar and entertain or horrify the casual reader.
Several times I had to close the book and just think about the implications of what I was reading for manufacturing in the rest of the world. It may be because the rapid rise of China compressed our experience, but the book offers the kind of hindsight to understand the phenomena of manufacturing in China far more quickly than the West did to the workings of Japan’s economy, manufacturing and business culture.
If you’re not a reader, skimming the bullet points in the introduction might motivate you to turn a few more pages. If you want the just chapters most relevant to the future of manufacturing read chapters 3, 4 6, 7 and 8. If some of what you read in this book seems far-fetched, you need to go see it to believe it.
The reviews posted on Amazon.com for this book are almost as entertaining as the book itself. It seems the topic of China, or Mr. Fishman’s portrayal of it, causes people to take a strong position for or against this book. Do your own research and draw your own conclusions, but don’t underestimate China.

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