10 Best Lean Books Ever Written

We rank top lean books based on lean tools, popularity, industry awards and endorsements from business leaders and the result is the best books ever written.

Lean thinking concept has been adopted by companies of all sizes in virtually all industries. Because it focuses on improving quality, how information and materials flow and it provides principles to create value and a roadmap for organizational transformation. It's the result of a 5-year study about how Toyota Motor Japan (which is now considered the world's greatest manufacturer) transform their company using Toyota Production System, conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Today lean thinking concept is behind the innovation to create radically successful businesses around the world.

Finding the Best Lean Books
We are requested by a reader who is a new lean manager to suggest good lean books or lean six sigma for his leadership development. In order to recommend books to read,

- First, we search for lean books, books about Toyota Production System, lean thinking, six sigma and lean six sigma on Amazon.com, Goodreads.com, LinkedIn.com, News Sites and blogs related to 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 business leaders such as top management of lean organizations, top management of Fortune 500 companies, leading lean experts and lean manager on Amazon.com and in the "forward" section of the lean books.

- We group lean books based on each lean tool.

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

10 Best Lean Books are as below:
  1. The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World's Greatest Manufacturer by Jeffrey K. Liker (Basic Toyota Production System Concept)

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

  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 Sobek II and Art Smalley (A3 Reporting)

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

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

  7. Taiichi Ohnos Workplace Management by Taiichi Ohnos (Workforce Management)

  8. 5S for Operators: 5 Pillars of the Visual Workplace by Hiroyuki Hirano (5S)

  9. Zero Quality Control: Source Inspection and the Poka-Yoke System by Shigeo Shingo (Mistake Proofing)

  10. Real Numbers: Management Accounting in a Lean Organization by Jean E. Cunningham and Orest Fiume (Lean Accounting)

Is improving quality and materials flow important to you? Do you think these lean books deserve the place on your bookshelves and why?

- Womack, J. P., Womack, J. P., Jones, D. T., & Roos, D. (1990). Machine that changed the world. Simon and Schuster.

- Pavnaskar, S. J., Gershenson, J. K., & Jambekar, A. B. (2003). Classification scheme for lean manufacturing tools. International Journal of Production Research, 41(13), 3075-3090.

Related Article
- 7 Best Six Sigma Books of All Time

Last review and update: September 15, 2018

About the Editor

Ben Benjabutr is the editor of SupplyChainOpz. He holds an M.Sc. in Logistics Management with 10+ years of experience in various functions in supply chain magement. In his free time, he enjoys reading business and management books. You can learn more about him here or connect with him via TwitterQuora and Google+ or drop him a line via e-mail.