Having read more books than we can shake a stick at, these are our Top 10 Lean Books that we believe should be in every Lean Process library.  Don’t just take our word for it though - these books come highly recommended.  How many of the top 10 have you read?

The Machine That Changed the World

The book that started it all!  The Machine That Changed The World is an excellent read to understand the foundations and history of Lean in the automotive industry.  The book is based on the author’s research at MIT.

Lean Thinking

Lean Thinking is a follow on from The Machine That Changed The World, written by Daniel Jones & James Womack.  It is a more practical book in that it explains the ‘how to’ of lean manufacturing.  It does not necessarily delve deeply into the step by step actions required to implement a specific lean tool.  Rather it sets out the guiding principles that should govern any lean implementation.

Learning to See

Learning to See is a spiral bound workbook that is perfect for Lean practitioners.  It takes the reader step-by-step through the process of creating a value stream map.  It does this by way of a worked example in the book.  Each section is clearly laid out and contains clear diagrams and informative sidebars.

Creating Continuous Flow

This book is produced in the same format as Learning to See.  The focus of this book though is on creating flow throughout a process.  This is a natural progression from Learning to See.  In a lean transformation, a value stream map is used to identify opportunities for improvement.  Once a process has been identified as a constraint, this workbook can be used to improve the flow at a process level.

The Toyota Way

Outlining the 14 principles of the Toyota Production System, this is a must read for anyone interested in lean manufacturing.

The Toyota Way Fieldbook

Following on from the previous recommendation, this fieldbook takes the 14 principles of the Toyota Production System and provides a hands-on implementation guide.  There are case studies, tips to help and traps to avoid as well as reflection questions in each section.

Getting the Right Things Done

Written by Pascal Dennis this “leader’s guide to planning and execution” gives a clear walkthrough the process of strategy deployment.  Highly recommended if you need to clarify, align and focus on your major initiatives.

Creating a Lean Culture

David Mann’s superb work on how to sustain lean conversions.  Learn about the four key principles of lean management: leader standard work, visual controls, daily accountability process and discipline.

The Lean Six Sigma Pocket Toolbook

A quick reference guide to the lean six sigma toolbox.  Covering tools for improving quality, velocity and reducing variation and complexity.  The purpose of each tool is described along with when to use it, how to use it and some tips.

The Gold Mine: A Novel of Lean Turnaround

The Gold Mine is a novel of a lean turnaround.  That’s right, a novel!  This is great for those who find traditional textbooks and how to guides dull and boring.  You can follow the characters through the story and you’ll be amazed at exactly how much you learn in the process.


Bestselling books on lean manufacturing

  • The Lean Six Sigma Pocket Toolbook: A Quick Reference Guide to 100 Tools for Improving Quality and Speed
  • The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World's Greatest Manufacturer
  • Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results
  • The Toyota Way

Top 10 Lean Books

by Lean Process time to read: 6 min