10 Lean Books Lean Manufacturing Gurus & CEOs Read

Are you looking for lean books that help you create sustainable change? In this article, we will show you 10 best lean books every lean enterprise should read.

Inception of Lean Concept
Lean manufacturing concept was popularized by lean book "The Machine That Changed the World: The Story of Lean Production" by James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones and Daniel Roos. It's the result of a 5-year study about the Toyota Production System conducted by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Since then, many leading lean tools such as 5s, Kaizen, Visual Control, PDCA, Kanban, Control Chart, SMED, Poka Yoke, Hoshin Kanri, Value Steam Mapping and so on have been adopted by companies of all sizes in virtually all industries such as manufacturing, retailing, software development, construction, healthcare and service businesses. Moreover, lean concept has been adapted in general business management area such as new product development, startup development, customer experience management and so on.

Recently, our readers ask us what are some of the best lean books out there? Well, it is not easy to answer because there are hundreds of lean books in the market to choose from. Then, what are some of the best lean books you should read?

How to Find Lean Books?
We conducted a short survey about the landscape of lean books and found that Shingo Prize Award has maintained a good collection of lean books. Anyway, there are lots of criticism about selection criteria and many people say that they are not practical enough for practitioners.


Best Lean Books


Then, we search for lean books recommendations over the internet and found that some business leaders also read lean books so we start collecting the data. We also examine if each book get a strong endorsement from authority figures such as CEOs of lean organizations and CEO of Forture 500 on Amazon.com and in the "forward" section of each lean book.

After that, we remove out-of-print and obsolete lean books from the final list.

The list of 10 best Lean Books is as follows:
  1. The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World's Greatest Manufacturer by Jeffrey K. Liker

  2. Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones

  3. A Study of the Toyota Production System: From an Industrial Engineering Viewpoint by Shigeo Shingo and Andrew P. Dillon

  4. Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production by Taiichi Ohno and Norman Bodek

  5. Lean Production Simplified: A Plain-Language Guide to the World's Most Powerful Production System by Pascal Dennis

  6. The Lean CEO: Leading the Way to World-Class Excellence by Jacob Stoller

  7. Value Stream Mapping: How to Visualize Work and Align Leadership for Organizational Transformation by Karen Martin and Mike Osterling

  8. The Lean Enterprise: How Corporations Can Innovate Like Startups by Trevor Owens and Obie Fernandez

  9. Extreme Toyota: Radical Contradictions That Drive Success at the World's Best Manufacturer by Emi Osono and Norihiko Shimizu

  10. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

Do you think these lean books deserve the place on your bookshelves and why?