Our friend and training partner Steve Elliott of Constant Improvement Consulting, Inc. has annotated this reading list for both new and experienced Lean enthusiasts. You can find information about his introductory webinar series at https://patternresearch.com/free-webinar-kicks-off-lean-government-webinar-series/
The Change Agent’s Guide to Radical Improvement, by Ken Miller. Copyright 2002 by American Society for Quality. This is a handbook chock full of exercises, templates forms, and step-by-step instructions for how to work your way through implementing Lean in your organization. I was a member of a book club that read this book and met every week to go over one chapter. It brought up some good discussions!
We Don’t Make Widgets, Overcoming the Myths that Keep Government from Radically Improving, by Ken Miller. Copyright 2006, Governing Books. If you are in government, you need to read this book. It’s small: 118 pages; you can read it in a day.
Extreme Government Makeover, Increasing our Capacity to Do More Good, by Ken Miller. Copyright 2011 by Governing Books. I’m a Ken Miller fan; have you noticed? Another good book for government employees.
Good to Great, by Jim Collins. Copyright 2001 by Jim Collins Published by HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. The first line of this book is: “Good is the enemy of Great.” Think about it. Complacency is an insidious, seductive siren. Good enough is good enough. If you believe that, you’ll never be great. This book identifies great companies and the common threads that make them great. Read this book.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean, Lessons from the Road, by Jamie Flinchbaugh and Andy Carlino. Copyright 2006 Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Again, aimed at manufacturing. But it contains some of the best real-life examples of how to overcome problems usually passed over in books trying to champion a new methodology. Things like: Where do you start, how do you overcome resistance, and managing expectations.
Lean for Dummies, by Natalie J. Sayer & Bruce Williams, Copyright 2007 by Wylie Publishing, Inc. Need I say more? Like all the Dummy books it gets right to the meat and lays it all out.
Lean Six Sigma for Service, by Michael L. George. Copyright 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies. At last, a book about Lean that isn’t aimed at manufacturing.
Lean Thinking, by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones. Copyright 2003, Free Press. This is one of the very first books about Lean I read and one of the few available when I got interested in Lean. A good overview of Lean Thinking – but definitely aimed at manufacturing.
Office Kaizen, by William Lareau, Copyright 2003 American Society for Quality. This is the book that translates manufacturing into service and describes how to identify Lean concepts in an office environment. For example, waste in the office is waiting for a return phone call or a signature, or being given an assignment to create a report that isn’t needed.
Kaizen Event Planner, by Karen Martin and Mike Osterling. Copyright 2007 by Karen Martin and Mike Osterling. 2010 reprint by CRC Press. Charts, graphs, checklists worksheets, and a CD in the back. If you’re going to facilitate a Kaizen event, this will help to make sure you are really prepared.
The Big Book of Six Sigma Training Games, by Chris Chen and Hadley Roth. Copyright 2005 McGraw-Hill. Let’s face it, if you’re going to do any training, you’re going to have to have exercises for your class. Somewhere in here is an exercise that you can use. It will, at least, get your brain cells working on the kinds of things you can do.
Innovator’s Toolkit, Second Edition by David Silverstein, Philip Samuel and Neil DeCarlo. Copyright 2012 by BMGI. Wiley & Sons. Buy this book. Study this book. Memorize this book. Reference it weekly. People will think you’re a great consultant. You don’t have to tell them how you got that way.
Visual Thinking, by Nancy Margulies and Christine Valenza, Copyright 2005 by Nancy Margulies and Christine Valenza. Crown House Publishing. OK, this isn’t strictly a Lean book, but if you ever have to stand up in front of a white board with a marker in your hand this will make you look better. With a bit of practice, you can wow people with your fantastic cartoon capabilities. And, you’ll be able to get simple concepts across to everyone.
Hoshin Handbook, by Pete Babich. Copyright 2005 by Pete Babich. Total Quality Engineering. At some point you will realize that Lean is just one part of the puzzle. If you are going to have an organization with purpose and direction, there has to be a way to get the entire organization aligned and to coordinate everyone’s efforts. This is how it’s done.