7 Best Lean Books of All Time

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

In Search of the Best Lean Books
Lean manufacturing concept has been adopted by companies of all sizes in virtually all industries. To recommend a book about lean,
- We don't use our personal opinion.
- Existing lean book suggestions we found on the internet are evaluated.
- Data collection plan is used for the objective evaluation.
- Books are categorized based on each lean tools.
- Various metrics are used for evaluation.
7 Best Lean Books of All Time are as below:
  1. The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World's Greatest Manufacturer by Jeffrey K. Liker (Basic Lean Concept)

  2. Gemba Kaizen: A Commonsense Approach to a Continuous Improvement Strategy by Masaaki Imai (Kaizen)

  3. Value Stream Mapping: How to Visualize Work and Align Leadership for Organizational Transformation by Karen Martin and Mike Osterling (Value Stream Mapping - VSM)

  4. Understanding A3 Thinking: A Critical Component of Toyota's PDCA Management System by Durward K. Sobek II and Art Smalley (A3 Reporting)

  5. Statistics for Six Sigma Made Easy! by Warren Brussee (Statistics)

  6. Quick Changeover for Operators: The SMED System by Shigeo Shingo (Single Minute Exchange of Die - SMED)

  7. Kanban Made Simple: Demystifying and Applying Toyota's Legendary Manufacturing Process by John M. Gross and Kenneth R. McInnis (Kanban)

Data Collection
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).

The reason we make this article is because of an e-mail from our reader. Recently, our readers ask us what are some of the best books on lean manufacturing out there? Well, it is not easy to answer because there are hundreds of books about lean manufacturing in the market to choose from. Then, what are some of the best books you should read?

- First, we search for books on Amazon.com, Goodreads.com, LinkedIn.com, News Sites and blogs related lean manufacturing. 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 each book gets 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 book

- We group the books based type of 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. 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. And the most important lean tools are as below,

1. Kaizen (Continuous Improvement)
2. VSM (Value Stream Mapping)
3. A3 Reporting
4. Statistics
5. SMED (Single Minute Exchange of Die)
6. Kanban

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

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