By Jon Miller | Post Date: January 5, 2007 1:07 AM | Comments: 10
From time to time we get e-mails asking for recommendations on books or articles to read for people who are just starting out learning about Lean manufacturing and how the Toyota Production System applies to their business. The reading list section of our website sorely needs to be updated, as there have been many good books on Lean in the past years.
I have not read many of the new books on Lean. I am still finding delight in the old books. Here are my top 5 lean manufacturing books for beginners:
1. Of course at the top of my list is Taiichi Ohno's Gemba Keiei. This is the Japanese version, not the out-of-print English translation, or the new translation which we are working on currently. This one book teaches a lot of valuable lessons.
2.The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World's Greatest Manufacturer by Jeffrey Liker does a great job of telling through stories and illustrations who Toyota is today and covering a broad range of beliefs, principles, mindsets, tools and behaviors that make them a great company. The Toyota Way Fieldbook is a companion to this that I personally found a bit disorienting at times, perhaps it attempts to serve too diverse an audience or serve as a field book for too wide a set of ideas, but it is a solid reference.
3.Toyota Production System by Yasuhiro Monden. This book covering the theory and nuts and bolts is by a Japanese professor who has had a long relationship with people at Toyota, thinks clearly and writes well. It's not a quick or easy read, but worth reading until you understand it.
4.Today and Tomorrow by Henry Ford is more than just an antidote to the heavy emphasis on Toyota and Japanese authors. Ford is a genius and has some genuinely great insights in this book. This is one of the starting points of Lean thinking and it is important to read Ford with an open mind, as eagerly as we might read the exciting bestseller business books of the moment.
5.The Sayings of Shigeo Shingo by Shigeo Shingo is interesting because it helps get us in the mind of one of the most important industrial engineers of the last half century and a vital contributor to the development of Lean manufacturing, and because most of his techniques have been explained better by later authors who learned from him. The reading can be awkward at times due to the translation but the ideas come through clearly and is worthwhile.
These five may not be a good place to start for everyone. It depends on what your role and goal are. I certainly don't mean to snub any of the authors who have made valuable contributions to the understanding of the Toyota Production System, but these are the top 5 for the moment.
What are the top 5 Lean manufacturing books that you recommend to people who are starting out? What is your latest favorite? What is the one book you would tell someone to read to learn more about Lean?
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