Resources: Books

Introductions to Lean management

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

Classic, essential reading, this book introduces a few key concepts, then explores them through three in-depth case studies.

This Is Lean: Resolving the Efficiency Paradox by Niklas Modig and Par Ahlstrom

A much shorter introduction which focuses on the apparent (but only superficial) contradiction between “resource efficiency” and “flow efficiency.”

A Factory of One: Applying Lean Principles to Banish Waste and Improve Your Personal Productivity by Daniel Markovitz

This is the best translation of Lean principles to the daily experience of knowledge workers I know of.

The Spirit of Kaizen: Creating Lasting Excellence One Small Step at a Time by Robert Maurer

Short, easy, and inspiring. Maurer can really explain the value and power of the persistent, incremental pursuit of excellence.

Using Lean in public service organizations

We Don’t Make Widgets: Overcoming the Myths That Keep Government from Radically Improving by Ken Miller

Extreme Government Makeover: Increasing Our Capacity to Do More Good by Ken Miller

Miller is definitely the go-to thinker on the application of Lean tools to government. And like all great reads, he’ll make you laugh, cry, fume, and argue with your best friend over whether “this could really work.” Even better, you can re-read these short books later, learn something new, and see even more that you want to test out.

Peak Performance: How Denver’s Peak Academy Is Saving Millions of Dollars, Boosting Morale and Just Maybe Changing the World by Brian Elms with J.B. Wogan

Using structured problem solving as a management tool

Managing to Learn: Using the A3 Management Process to Solve Problems, Gain Agreement, Mentor and Lead by John Shook

Two books for the price of one. See how structured problem solving works from both the perspective of the project leader challenged to crack a hard nut AND from the perspective of the supervisor coaching the leader through the process.

Basics of visual management boards

Personal Kanban: Mapping Work, Navigating Life by Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry

Simple and intuitive, it will change the way you work and the way you plan your next family vacation.