All posts by Jonathan

Lean Translation Expertise

8 Lean Management Books You Must Read

Translation is half language, half subject matter expertise. Our subject matter is Lean Management and business under the Lean Philosophy.

As you may have noticed, It's also a personal passion of mine. Here I've listed some of my favorite books on the Lean-topic, which I think are an essential read for anyone interested in learning about Lean.

8 Essential Books on Lean Management

​Some of these books are heavy duty educational while others are easier to read. The list is in no particular order and I'd recommend reading them all. So you might as well start from number 1:

1. The Machine That Changed the World: The Story of Lean Production-- Toyota's Secret Weapon in the Global Car Wars That is Now Revolutionizing World Industry

This cornerstone of Lean literature was published way back at the beginning of the 90s.

It's one of the first books that not only describes process models, but rather focuses on lean principles that have been proven in the automotive industry (Toyota in particular). Those principles are the foundation for efficient processes and are the key to understanding the Lean Philosophy. This book should be found in every Lean expert's personal library!

2. Learning to See: Value-Stream Mapping to Create Value and Eliminate Muda: Value Stream Mapping to Add Value and Eliminate Muda (Lean Enterprise Institute)

This is THE best book to learn the fundamentals of Value Stream Design. Full of practical advice, it tempts its readers to go out and analyze their first Value Streams themselves.

But bear in mind: A Value Stream is much more than just a tool to visualize the production processes. It‘s a method to analyze the entire material flow of a product throughout the entire company - INCLUDING all value adding and non-value adding activities!

With the help of thecorresponding information flow and the collection of facts and figures the value chain can be understood as a whole and eventually optimized in a holistic approach! But before getting started, there is one thing we need to do first: Learning to see!

3. Lean Thinking: Banish Waste And Create Wealth In Your Corporation

If you want to become Lean, you first have to think Lean.

This book is an eye-opener and a fundamental piece of Lean literature. I recommend it especially for those who are just getting familiar with the topic. 

The book shows in a very comprehensive way how much waste is surrounding us every day - and how much effort and money goes down the drain! It helps the reader see through the eyes of the customer if they would be wearing lean glasses. This enables the reader to observe and question his own processes with regards to the customer's needs.

At the end, you will be able to realize how much waste is hidden in your company and where you will find it.

4. The Toyota Product Development System

There are newer and arguably more rounded books about Lean Development, but I still like to recommend this classic one and here's why.  "The Toyota Product Development System" works with lean principles and tries to straighten up a few old paradigms. 

In reality, executing Toyota's system is a very complex undertaking that usually takes a culture change and years of hard work.

Let's not forget: Lean is not a fashion trend. To create a lean development system, the product development system must fuse together the people, processes and technology. Only this holistic approach will contribute to the overall success of a lean company.

This book goes even further and makes no stop at the company boundaries by explaining how the suppliers need to be part of this system. Overall, this is an exciting piece of literature for the first steps towards a lean enterprise.

5. Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results

Lean Experts like to look up to Toyota and follow their lead. But what makes Toyota so successful? Their tool box has been copied over and over again, but not always successfully.

Here's the reason why: It takes a lot more than just tools and methods to perform Lean transformation - it's about thinking patterns and behavior models.

Mike Rother describes a real culture of improvement (Improvement Kata) and how the behavior and guidance of the supervisors (Coaching Kata) will help developing the employees. Handing out predefined solutions will never establish a real culture of improvement.

Instead, the support and development of people is put in the foreground. Helping employees to find their own ideas and solutions, through a coaching process based on mutual trust and respect, is the basis for a sustainable improvement culture.

6. Lean Administration I: How to make business processes transparent


Lean Administration II: How to manage office and service processes

​These workbooks are great for all improvement experts who want to take the first step into the indirect and administrative areas. The toolbox in these books is extensive and covers many different areas and departments.

It takes a skilled optimization expert to adapt the tools to the addressed problem (and NOT the other way around!) A successful Lean kick-off
and sustainable implementation in the indirect areas demands an experienced Lean project manager.

This book doesn't emphasize the high level of social competence that is needed to perform Lean outside of production in highly non-transparent and people-driven processes.

These workbooks are rather great reference books for the most important Lean methods in the indirect and administrative areas! And that's simply the reason they are valuable to anyone starting the journey into the wide field of Lean Administration!

7. Practical Lean Accounting: A Proven System for Measuring and Managing
the Lean Enterprise

Taking a glance at the financials helps answer the question: "What does Lean do for me and my value streams?" As the title already states, this book describes a practical approach with lots of detailed real life examples.

Due to the numerous examples, the content is very comprehensive and it does not take a university degree in business economy to understand the brilliant idea behind Lean Accounting.

The most interesting part is the Value Stream Costing. It connects "Value Stream Thinking" with financial indicators and figures. Finally, we get financial indicators that really help to make the right decisions!

Just trying to implement the Lean Accounting approach without having performed any lean activities in the company is not helpful. Lean Accounting needs and supports Lean, because it can show in a simple and highly efficient way what Lean does to your financials.

Plus, it helps making the right decisions based on the right indicators.

8. The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses

This book focuses on the learning process within the optimization and change process by observing the behavior of successful startup companies.

The Lean way to entrepreneurship consists of a continuous learning process followed by continuous adaption of the product or the service to match the customer's needs. Several real life examples of startups are given to underline this conclusion. Admittedly, the book relies very much on examples from the IT sector.

Nevertheless, the recurring innovation and learning cycle is the constant element of success for any business. Successful (startup-) companies fully understand their customer's needs and constantly question their own actions in that regard.

 Unfortunately, the simply task of "reacting to change" and the permanent ability of "continuous learning" are often confused. Continuous learning will lead to the capability of quickly and consequently reacting to changing markets and customer's needs. Simply reacting will lead into the unknown.