10 Greatest Lean Books for The Ultimate Lean Enterprise

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.

Lean concept is considered one of the most popular management practice that can be used anywhere from manufacturing to service environment, from automotive industry to retail industry. Since lean concept is practice oriented, it has been adopted very well by both practitioners and academics. Therefore, the aim of this article is to provide the list of best lean books for our readers.

In Search of the Best Lean Book
According to a short survey we conducted, we found that the best "classic" lean book is 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). As of today, this book has been cited more than 12,000 times by both research and industry publications.

Then, we believe this book is the most appropriate lean book that everyone can lean more about overall lean concept.

Lean Philosophy or Lean Tools
Many people believe that the success of lean manufacturing program depends largely on the understanding of "lean philosophy" or "lean culture" which we disagree.

According to the book "A Study of the Toyota Production System: From an Industrial Engineering Viewpoint" by Shigeo Shingo, Toyota Production System is the series of "tools" or "techniques" or "components" implemented inside Toyota as below,

- 1945: Autonomation / Setup Reduction
- 1947: Separation of Machine Work and Worker
- 1948: Reduction of Upstream Transportation
- 1950: Synchronization of Machining and Assembly Lines / Visual Control (Andon)
- 1953: Supermarket System for Machine Shop
- 1955: Numbering System for Supplied Parts
- 1958: Removal of Warehouse Slip
- 1961: Pallet Kanban
- 1962: Poka Yoke / 15 Minutes Setup / Company Wide Kanban
- 1963: Multi Process Operations
- 1975: Toyota Production System

Then we believe the best way to implement lean concept is to follow Toyota's footsteps. By implementing each lean tool gradually and separately, a company can create the incremental changes while building the appropriate environment that foster a company wide adoption of Toyota Production System.

Data Collection
It's good to understand the overall lean concept but it's also essential to learn how to use lean tools effectively. Since there are significant numbers of lean tools to choose from, we will identify top 10 tools and relevant lean books as below,

- We gather the list of lean tools available via Encyclopedia Operations Management

- Then, we use Google Trends to determine how much each tool is searched by Internet users as below,

Lean Books Ranking

- As you can see from the above graph, we can compare the search volume of 3 lean techniques, namely, Heijunka, Jidoka and Takt Time. The result shows that people want to know more about Takt Time

- Search Volume or Search Interest indicates the importance of each tool in the eyes of Internet users

- After that, we compare all lean tools and make the list of 10 tools with the highest search volume

- Finally, we find the best book for each lean tool on Amazon.com using number of citation as a metric

The Results
The list of 10 Greatest Lean Books for Ultimate Lean Enterprise together with the categories and numbers of citations are presented as below,

3) The Visual Factory: Building Participation Through Shared Information by Michel Greif (Visual Control, Citation=195)

4) Understanding A3 Thinking: A Critical Component of Toyota's PDCA Management System by Durward K. Sobek II and Art Smalley (PDCA, Citation=112)

5) Kanban Made Simple: Demystifying and Applying Toyota's Legendary Manufacturing Process by John M. Gross and Kenneth R. McInnis (Kanban, Citation=77)

6) Understanding Statistical Process Control by Donald J. Wheeler (Control Charts/SPC, Citation=729)

7) A Revolution in Manufacturing: The SMED System by Shigeo Shingo and Andrew P. Dillon (SMED/Quick Changeover, Citation=916)

8) Zero Quality Control: Source Inspection and the Poka-Yoke System by Shigeo Shingo (Poka Yoke/Mistake Proofing, Citation=655)

9) Hoshin Kanri: The Strategic Approach to Continuous Improvement by David Hutchins (Hoshin Kanri/Policy Deployment, Citation=65)

10) Value Stream Management: Eight Steps to Planning, Mapping, and Sustaining Lean Improvements by Don Tapping, Tom Luyster and Tom Shuker (Value Steam Mapping, Citation=108)

What are some of your favorite lean tools and lean books?