Sample Business Studies Essay Paper on The Gold Mine: Book Summary and Applications

Book Summary

Balle and Balle’s The Gold Mine reflects the application of lean manufacturing principles in a struggling organization with operational improvement being the key outcome. The authors provide instructive and informational content to readers, through which the readers can see lean practices in a different yet achievable perspective. The book revolves around the story of Michael, who requests his retired father to help his best friend solve issues in his company thus save it from failing. Bob Woods is depicted as a curmudgeonly sensei capable of solving problems in the most effective ways. The writers use a systematic approach to present integrated ideas of how to implement the long used lean manufacturing process for reducing waste and maximizing value in the organization. The principles shared in the book can be implemented in different manufacturing settings, with positive outcomes for improvement and efficiency.

The storyline begins with the introduction of Phil Jenkinson’s company, which is facing a myriad of problems that result in inefficient profitability. The corporation produces terrific products and has a backlog of orders that it finds difficult to fulfill. Additionally, the company cannot generate enough money from its operations to pay for its expenses. Mike, a childhood friend of Phil Jenkinson, attempts to assist. He asks his father to help bring the company to profitability. The enterprise had acquired a competitor thathad planned to file for Bankruptcy hoping that the two would make a turnaround. Initially, Phil and his partner Matt thought the company had the antiquated technology, plenty of deadwood in the management, and inefficient operations. They believed that they could effect changesthat would help them gain from the extra capacity that the corporation provides (Balle and Balle 14).The result was constant cash flow problems due to various operational issues, including challenges in inventory management, engagement in unproductive activities, and motion without value (Balle and Balle 27). The first observation that Bob Woods makes is that in his quest for a solution, Phillapproached the problem as if it was a technical issue when he attempted to create a turn-around for his company. However, the issue was not technical. On the surface, it seemed like the problem was a failure to make profits, yet there could have been an underlying issue that needed to be addressed.

Through the continuous evaluation of various operational practices, Bob helps Phil to figure out the main issues affecting the enterprise. Consequently, Phil begins to see the profit capability of the company and gradually makes changes to enhance efficiency and performance. The story also brings out the interrelationship between key features of lean processes and incorporates aspects of other common value creation principles, including Kaizen practices and other Japanese manufacturing efficiency principles. In Balle and Balle, Bob makes it clear to Phil that efficiency and productivity in the business concern the people rather than the things(77). Improving the people’s performance by addressing adaptive challenges can enhance business efficiency. Through the use of a realistic storyline, Balle and Balle managed to show the impacts of poor business decision making, poor performance, and stress on health. Therefore, the book brings out the impression that operational efficiency can improve profitability in business andsimultaneously result in health benefits.

Applications to Real Life

For sustainable business profitability, organizations have to focus on limiting wastage, enhancing efficiency, and continuously improving the outcomes of operations. My previous work place was one such example where the there were persistent operational bottlenecks, which the company attempted to solve through the use of predictable solutions. The company was operating unprofitably and the norm was to identify challenges with supply management and the market without introspection and an understanding of the origin of the challenges faced. They ended up investing in operational aspects that added no value to the business strategy and created no revenue stream for the company. The result was an overall dissatisfaction among the management, which saw some of them leaving when the pressure was too high. Learning about lean manufacturing from the Gold Mine has made me see that when innovation is poorly done, performance is limited to inefficiency.

The gold mine reflects the theme of contemporary challenges in the manufacturing business sector such as those faced in my former company. While most companies recognize the need for changing their business strategies, they do not comprehend how they should go about the changes to ensure sustainability. If a problem is not approached in the right manner, it may not be solved. From my past experience, hiring business consultants can be costly since they rarely understand the business environment, and do not take as much time finding out more information as they should. In the case of my company, the management and operational reports provided recommendations which were not even implemented in the long-run yet the company had incurred costs in their development. Creating lasting change on operational efficiency in the company required the comprehension of the organizational context and interactions with operational aspects of the corporation to identify the sources of inefficiency before searching for solutions. The company management should have conducted a thorough assessment of operational environment to ensure that they identify all the facets of the problems that they faced to address them more holistically. 

Another theme developed through the book is that of root cause analysis. The descriptive aspects of the book bring about the difference between an assumed problem and the actual one. Effective problem solving requires understanding the drivers of the problematic situation and obtaining solutions that would be sustainable. For Bob to help Phil, he had to do more than listen to him. He visits the company, reviews every element of the operations, and asks for clarification where necessary. Only then does he determine the best approach to solving the issues. Through this theme, I realized that in my previous work place, the management probably failed to understand the root causes of the challenges faced and were solving the symptoms rather than the problems themselves.

The Gold Mine replicates the importance of gradual improvement, as in the case of Kaizen and lean practices towards efficient organizational performance. Based on the story, I would recommend enacting gradual changes in my former company although it may be relatively costly. The assertion that the capsule production does not have to be removed completely from the company immediately attests to the importance of gradual steps in lean manufacturing (Balle and Balle 40). Identifying bottlenecks in operations and coming up with distinct steps that can improve value in my company can be likened to the stepwise improvement and waste elimination that lean manufacturing practices outline. Waste can also define unproductive personnel.

Work Cited

Balle, Michael, and Balle, Freddy. The gold mine: a novel of lean turnaround. Lean Enterprises Inst Inc., 2005.