LEAN Books

Recommended Reading / Resources:

We will be posting what we consider to be some of the better resources covering Lean Manufacturing, Execution, and Leadership Skills Development.  Click here for additional selections and reference materials.

  • Toyota Kata  -Managing People For Improvement, Adaptiveness, and Superior Results by Mike Rother, is very highly recommended for the serious lean practitioner wanting to learn how to instill a culture of continuous improvement and an inherent ability to adapt to an ever changing manufacturing climate.

    Of the many books that have been published about Toyota, there is one book that has finally managed to capture and succinctly convey the strategy responsible for the culture that presently defines Toyota. Written by Mike Rother, “Toyota Kata – Managing People For Improvement, Adaptiveness, and Superior Results” reveals the methodology used to develop people at all levels of the Toyota organization. Surprisingly, the specific techniques described in the book are not new, however, the manner in which they are used does not necessarily follow conventional wisdom or industry practice.

    Throughout the book, it becomes evidently clear that the current practices at Toyota are the product of a collection of improvements, each building on the results of previous steps taken toward a seemingly elusive target.

    Although we have gleaned and adopted many of Toyota’s best practices into our own operations, we do not have the benefit of the lessons learned nor do we fully understand the circumstances that led to the creation of these practices as we know them today.  As such, we are only exposed to one step of possibly many more to follow that may yield yet another radical and significantly different solution.

    In simpler terms, the solutions we observe in Toyota today are only glimpse of the current level of learning.In the spirit of the improvement kata, it stands to reason that everything is subject to change. The one constant throughout the entire process is the improvement kata or routine that is continually practiced to yield even greater improvements and results.If you or your company are looking for a practical, hands on, proven strategy to sustain and improve your current operations then this book, “Toyota Kata – Managing People For Improvement, Adaptiveness, and Superior Results“, is the one for you.

    The improvement kata is only part of the equation.  The coaching kata is also discussed at length and reveals Toyota’s implementation and training methods to assure the whole company mindset is engaged with the process.Why are we just learning of this practice now?  The answer is quite simple.  The method itself is practiced by every Toyota employee at such a frequency that it has become second nature to them and trained into the culture itself.  While the tools that are used to support the practice are known and widely used in industry, the system responsible for creating them has been obscure from view – until now.

    Transforming the culture in your company begins by adding this book, “Toyota Kata – Managing People For Improvement, Adaptiveness, and Superior Results”, to your lean library.

    Get it now: Toyota Kata – Managing People For Improvement, Adaptiveness, and Superior Results

    How is it that Toyota continues to thrive regardless of the circumstances they encounter?  While numerous authors and lean practitioners have studied Toyota’s systems and shared best practices, all too many have missed the underlying strategy behind Toyota’s ever evolving systems and processes.  As a result, we are usually provided with ready to use solutions, countermeasures, prescriptive procedures, and forms that are quickly adopted and added to our set of lean tools.</p.

    The true discovery occurs when we realize that these forms and procedures are the product or outcome of an underlying systemic thought process.  This is where the true learning and process transformations take place.

  • Chasing The Rabbit by Steven J. Spear, forward by Clayton M. Christensen.  How Market Leaders Outdistance the Competition and How Great Companies Can Catch Up and Win.  This book presents insights from a diverse range of companies and industries while sharing their common threads of success.  The book appears to present the basis for a transformation strategy that will take your business and culture to the next level.  This book is a valuable read for any executive who really wants to understand what makes high velocity organizations tick.

    NEW TITLE -> Updated, Revised – NEWLY RELEASED: The High-Velocity Edge: How Market Leaders Leverage Operational Excellence to Beat the Competition

    Get it now: Chasing the Rabbit: How Market Leaders Outdistance the Competition and How Great Companies Can Catch Up and Win, Foreword by Clay Christensen

    This book presents the four core capabilities that are common to high velocity organizations across a broad range of industries and services – including aerospace, military, retail, automotive, and health care.    To develop and achieve a company culture based on the capabilities presented and exemplified in this book will assure the results and successess that these high velocity organizations currently enjoy.

    We highly recommend this book to anyone looking to create a culture that will set their company apart from the competition to become a self-correcting, self-sustaining, learning organization.  This is one of the few books that exemplifies how the dynamic culture of a lean organization is developed, transformed, and sustained.

  • Know What You Don’t Know - How Great Leaders Prevent Problems Before They Happen by Michael A. Roberto.  Problem solving is one of the core capabilities and signature traits of lean, high velocity, organizations.  These skills are not only restricted to production operations but also extend to every facet of the company.  Learning to see and solve problems effectively is a “must have” core competency.Get it now: Know What You Don’t Know – How Great Leaders Preent Problems Before They HappenAgile organizations are effective problem solvers, a distinguishing trait that separates the leaders from the followers.  Learning to identify problems and taking immediate corrective action instills a sense of urgency and further creates a culture accustomed and adept to change and rapid continual improvement.This is an excellent book that discusses the impediments to effective problem solving and how to overcome them.  This book is an excellent read and worthy of our rating as a recommended resource for purchase.
  • The Goalby Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt.  Simply one of the best books on the market that explains manufacturing principles in a clear and concise manner.  This book serves as a reference and resource for many training programs on the Theory of Constraints.  This is an all time favorite and a must read for any plant or operations manager.  If you work in manufacturing or operations – you need this book!

    Get it now:  The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

  • Velocity from the AGI-Goldratt Institute and Jeff Cox.  This book effectively demonstrates that the combination of Lean, Six Sigma, and the Theory of Constraints is a much better solution than simply one or the other.  This book also demonstrates how to organize and align priorities so they yield the greatest return on the bottom line.  This book shows how to break through the barriers that keep management teams from achieving their goals.  If you work in manufacturing or operations – you need this book!Get it now: Velocity:  Combining Lean, Six Sigma and Theory of Constraints to Achieve Breakthrough Performance – A Business Novel
  • Make or Break: How Manufacturers Can Leap from Decline to Revitalization (Future of Business Series) by Kaj Grichnik.  This book is one of the that delivers a clear and conscise message about the current state of manufacturing.  There are few people that really “get it”, these guys do.  A great read that provides amazing insights that are relevant and timely.  Although the book was released prior to the great automotive crisis, the essence of the current turmoil is certainly eluded to in the text.

Get it now:  Make or Break: How Manufacturers Can Leap from Decline to Revitalization (Future of Business Series)

  • Instant Turnaroundby Harry Paul and Ross Reck, PH.D.  Getting people excited about coming to work and working hard.  You will learn how to tap into and harness the discretionary effort of everyone on your team.  This book tells a story that reveals how your leadership style and that of your frontline management team affects and directly impacts the performance of your team.  This leadership style works.  A lean culture is dependent on the engagement and effective interactions of all of your employees – including the executive management.  This book teaches a simple yet powerful strategy to tap into and harness the discretionary effort that every employee is wanting and willing to give – if the conditions are right.Get it now: Instant Turnaround!: Getting People Excited About Coming to Work and Working Hard
  • Lean Manufacturing That Worksby Bill Carreira.  Powerful Tools for Dramatically Reducing Waste and Maximizing Profits.  This is a must read “hands-on” book that presents a very clear and concise Lean strategy that takes Lean to the core of your business.  An excellent presentation of the basic tools and their use using real life examples to convey their application.  The approach is realistic and practical, the tools are excellent, and the results are believable.  This book is great for the Lean Practitioner looking for an approach or the general population looking to learn more about Lean and anyone in between.Get it now: Lean Manufacturing That Works: Powerful Tools for Dramatically Reducing Waste and Maximizing Profits
  • Lean Thinkingby James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones.  Eliminating waste lies at the core of this book.  A must have book for any company seriously looking to take Lean head on.  A classic text that is the basis for many lean initiatives.Get it now: Lean Thinking : Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, Revised and Updated
  • Going Leanby Stephen A. Ruffa.  Another superb lean reference, this book presents a conceptual look at Lean principles and the successes enjoyed by well known companies in diverse businesses.  Stephen has found the thread that magically ties all of these companies together while they appear to be so different at the surface.Get it now: Going Lean: How the Best Companies Apply Lean Manufacturing Principles to Shatter Uncertainty, Drive Innovation, and Maximize Profits
  • Lean Six Sigmaby Michael L. George.  Combining Six Sigma Quality with Lean Speed.  Achieve major cost, inventory, and lead time reductions in less than a year.  This book builds on the concept that Lean and Six Sigma are complementary to improving your business and eliminating waste.Get it now: Lean Six Sigma
  • The Elegant Solution by Matthew E. May.  Toyota’s Formula for Mastering Innovation.  A fresh perspective to sustaining continual improvement through innovation in your organization.  This is an excellent book and well worth the read.  Matthew gains a perspective from inside Toyota that few authors have had the opportunity to experience or convey in writing.Get it now: The Elegant Solution: Toyota’s Formula for Mastering Innovation
  • A Sense of Urgencyby John P. Kotter. John does a great job presenting what “The sense of urgency” is and looks like. Join provides relevant insight to create the urgency every business needs to stay on top of their game.Get it now:  A Sense of Urgency

The above list is certainly not exhaustive, but certainly serves as a solid base on which to build.  A paraphrased “Druckerism”:  To efficiently do what is not required is to diminish your effectiveness.  Study the few and true lean references and accomplish much or read the many and accomplish little.

Books currently under review:

    • The Innovators Tool Kit- Our “in store” review was enough to make this a must have / must buy decision.  The true proof is in the reading.  Comments will follow soon!

      Get it now:  Link To Be Provided Soon!

      Additional commentary to follow our review.  At first glance, this appears to be an excellent text.

      Soft Cover.

    • The Big Ideaby Donny Deutsch with Catherine Whitney.  How to Make Your Entrepreneurial Dreams Come True, From the AHA Moment to Your First Million.  This book is both a source of inspiration and strategy to launch the “Big Idea”.  The topic of the book is inspiring and the endorsements are impressive but something seems set this book apart from others in the same category.  We’ll have to read the book to see if it can deliver on its promises.

      Get it now:  The BIG IDEA, How to Make Your Entrepreneurial Dreams Come True, From the AHA Moment to Your First Million

Your Recommendations:

If you would like to recommend a book, or offer your suggestions, feel free to leave a comment or send an e-mail with your recommendations to LeanExecution@gmail.com or you can tweet us @Versalytics.

Click here to visit our book store for additional selections and reference materials.

  1. May 30, 2010 at 11:40 am

    I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writing

  2. June 25, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Been reading your blog now for quite some time and really love it. I don’t know if it’s your style or not , but do you think you could do a post on the oil spill in the gulf?

    I love your thoughts and opinions, and would love to see your comments on this sad event.

    • June 26, 2010 at 2:54 pm

      Lucy, I have already provided a limited commentary on the oil spill as a contributor to other sites. The wisdom to avoid a disaster is often superseded by the knowledge required to make money. Great risks yield great returns and even greater losses when they are realized.

  3. Fred
    September 5, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    Excellent selections. Thank you.

    • September 6, 2012 at 11:22 am

      You are quite welcome and thank you for visiting.

  1. February 3, 2011 at 7:28 pm

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