The Lean Information Management Toolkit - a book review

How can information managers apply the concepts of 'lean' management to their work? Steve Bailey reviews a book that sets out to provide practical help.

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'Lean' good practice

Ibbitson and Smith make the valid observation that 'Lean is a mindset, not a simple tool set to be dipped into when management makes demands for improvement' and it's certainly true that fully achieving lean across an entire organisation is indeed an exercise in holistic change management.  However, this book is rightfully called a 'toolkit' and does include a series of tools and techniques, such as the 5S, Kaizen Blitz and Fishbone analysis, all of which are covered in a useful and practical way within this resource and all of which have practical applications for the information manager; for example using '5 S' (which incidentally stand for: Sort, Store, Shine, Standardise, Sustain) as the blueprint for developing a classification strategy as Smith does in Chapter 4.  These are nuggets of good practice which can equally be applied to good effect either as a stand-alone project by the information manager keen to try new approaches to achieving familiar goals, or as part of a wider more ambitious lean-based change initiative across the organisation.

For the sceptic who maybe thinks that this all sounds fine in theory but what about the practice the toolkit ends with a series of case studies from organisations in a range of sectors all of whom have embraced lean and reaped the results.  Here's hoping that this report encourages many others to the same.

The Lean Information Management Toolkit by Andy Ibbitson and Robin Smith is published by The Ark Group and is available from

Steve Bailey is Senior Advisor, Records Management at JISC.

Image courtesy of Honou via Flickr.


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