The Work of Management

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A Daily Path to Sustainable Improvement


ISBN: 978-1934109021

Published: February 2017

Author: Jim Lancaster

Pages: 171

Publisher: Lean Enterprise Institute


Author and CEO Jim Lancaster tells a practical and inspiring story on two levels. It’s a close-up, candid look at his personal transformation as a leader. It’s also a practical, in-depth, business case study of Lantech’s lean transformation, relapse, and comeback that American manufacturing – and other industries — can use to profitably transform themselves.

In his engaging story, Lancaster reveals:

  • Why Lantech, a stellar lean performer for a decade, struggled over time (like many other companies) to sustain gains and improve financial performance.
  • Why 60 to 90 minutes of daily frontline management activities are a CEO’s most important minutes of the day for sustaining and growing their business.
  • 8 steps executives can take to lead experiments to create a bullet-proof, real-time daily management system without expensive consultants.
  • Why daily management requires a major shift in managers’ mindsets and behaviors from giving orders and judging individuals on performance to asking questions and enabling good work by people at lower levels so metrics are routinely met.
  • How daily management and sustainable continuous improvement produces dramatic positive effects on the bottom line.

CEO to CEO: “Screw up your courage”

Lancaster knows the changes needed for daily management require courage by CEOs. “I have always had a problem convincing CEOs of one simple thing,” Lancaster writes. “They need to take the time to go where value is actually created. They need to learn to see the work and to see how their management system utterly fails to support the daily work. My most important advice is to screw up your courage, put aside your daily distractions, and walk out into the work to see how value is created at the frontline.”


Jim Lancaster is CEO and owner of, LLC. Lantech is recognized as the leader in stretch wrap technology and innovation. The company has sales and manufacturing headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, sales and manufacturing facilities in the Netherlands, sales and service operations in Australia, and sales offices in China. Lantech manufactures packaging and material handling machinery, including stretch wrappers, conveyors, and case-forming equipment. Products are sold worldwide through a distributor and partner network, and directly to large consumer goods companies, such as Procter & Gamble, Lever Brothers, Nestlé, Miller Brewing, and Pepsi. Annual gross sales exceed $130 million and the company employs approximately 475 associates.

Before joining Lantech, Jim worked in the financial industry with Catalyst Energy in New York City. In 1990, Jim joined Lantech as a Sales Manager in the Customs Machinery Group. After several promotions, he became President/CEO in 1995.

Lantech was one of the earliest companies to implement the Toyota Lean Principles in the early 90’s, as chronicled in Lean Thinking by James Womack and Dan Jones, the Harvard Business Review, and other publications. Jim has participated in the Lantech lean journey for the past 21 years and is now the lead executive driving lean throughout the organization.

Jim personally supports and advocates for Technical and Vocational education in Louisville, through his involvement and board Chairman position at Jefferson Community and Technical College and with many other educational related efforts.

Additional information

Weight 0.5 kg

Lean Enterprise Institute