7 Best Lean Books of All Time (2017-2018 Edition)

We rank lean books based on type of tools, overall popularity, industry awards and executive endorsements to find the best lean books of all time you can trust.

Inception of Lean Concept
Lean manufacturing concept was popularized by the 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 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Since then, lean has been adopted by companies of all sizes in virtually all industries such as manufacturing, retailing, software development, construction, healthcare and service businesses. Moreover, the lean concept has been adopted in general business management area such as new product development, startup development, customer experience management and so on.

What are the Most Important Lean Tools?
According to the article titled "Lean Implementation and Organizational Transformation: A Literature Review" by Yadav et al., the authors have reviewed more than 350 articles and case studies and found some of the most important lean tools as below,

- Kaizen (Continuous Improvement)
- VSM (Value Stream Mapping)
- A3 Reporting
- Statistics
- SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Die)
- Kanban

The author explained more that the most important thing for successful lean implementation is to use the right tool for the right purpose. Otherwise, you will end up applying the same tool in all situations.

In Search of the Best Lean Books?
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?

Lean Books Data Collection


- First, we search for lean books on Amazon.com, Goodreads.com, LinkedIn.com and News Sites. The idea is to check how often each book is mentioned to determine overall popularity.

- Then, we check if each book gets positive reviews or industry awards

- After that, we check if lean books get strong endorsements from authority figures such as CEOs of lean organizations and CEO of Fortune 500 on Amazon.com and in the "forward" section of each lean book

- We group lean books based type of lean tools

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


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