We understand that learning is a lifetime effort and that understanding many points of view can truly benefit a Lean Six Sigma practitioner. Smarter Solutions has provided this recommended reading list of books that our staff has found to be valuable in their learning and growth. The list includes topics related to Lean Six Sigma, business, and some that are about general topics that were found to be interesting. Have fun reading these books!
Business Reading Topics
- Real Numbers: Management Accounting in a Lean Organization, by Cunningham and Fiume (March 25, 2003). This book covers a view of how the Lean Principles apply to accounting and the financial side of business.
- The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement, by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox (July 2004). This book was a must read by everyone in manufacturing from the 1990s. It is an easy reading book about the theory of constraints methods in a factory setting.
- Velocity: Combining Lean, Six Sigma and the Theory of Constraints to Achieve Breakthrough Performance – A Business Novel, by Dee Jacob, Suzan Bergland and Jeff Cox (December 29, 2009). This book is a sort of update to “The Goal” book where a business is using Lean and Six Sigma methods and is still not succeeding. It is an easy reading book that shows how the Theory of Constraints still applies in companies with a Lean Six Sigma program.
- Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, by Jim Collins (October 16, 2001). This book discusses the motivations in a company that is doing well to continue improvement to become a great company.
- How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In, by Jim Collins (May 19, 2009). This is a follow on book to “Good to Great” where Mr. Collins evaluates companies that were great and fell from greatness and why some companies did not fall. This is a book that, supposedly, the current Toyota CEO read and then recognized their issues, leading to many changes within Toyota.
- Advocacy: Championing Ideas and Influencing Others, by John A. Daly (August 30, 2011). This book explains methods to successfully advocate within your organization when you are not in a position of authority. Mr. Daly provides a half day session in our Master Black Belt course on this topic, of which many students consider as the best part of the class. All Black Belts have found cases where they are responsible to drive a change, and they do not have the authority to make it happen. Reading this book will help you succeed in these cases.
- Understanding Variation: The Key to Managing Chaos, by Donald J. Wheeler (September 4, 2000). This book is short and succinct. Its only goal is to make people understand variation in the right way. Wheeler walks through the topic in a way that everyone can understand. Some of his control charting ideas do not match the current best practices, but the way the book addresses variation makes it a must read for newcomers to the Lean Six Sigma world.
- The Toyota Way, by Jeffrey K. Liker (December 17, 2003). This book dives into the cultural side of the Lean concepts. You can find information in the book that provides an understanding to why the Lean concepts are not beneficial in some organizations and what cultural aspects you need to develop to support the success of a lean program.
- The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything, by Stephen M.R. Covey, Stephen R. Covey and Rebecca R. Merrill (February 5, 2008). This book was provided to us by a client we were about to work with so that we would understand the requirement for trust. The authors make an excellent case for developing a trust based environment before you can create a good business environment that will accept change and improvement. The impact of trust is not well understood in today’s businesses.
- Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (February 16, 2010). This book provides many compelling stories that shed new light on how to create real change through the integration of emotions with reasoning. The authors use an analogy of an elephant and its rider. The rider represents rational and logic decision making, while the elephant represents emotional or gut response. The book describes a three step process of directing the rider, motivating the elephant, and shaping the path.
- Leading Change, by John P. Kotter (January 15, 1996). Kotter provides information on driving change in an organization. It is the reference from which almost all change management methods are derived. If you examine any big change that struggled or failed within your organization, you can trace the causes to a failure in one of his ten steps.
General Reading Topics
- AIAG – Potential Failure Mode & Effects Analysis, V4 and Measurement Systems Analysis V4. These two blue paperback books are from a series of handbooks that the AIAG published to standardize the quality practices of the three main US automakers. They are well written workbooks that thoroughly cover these two subjects. Almost all writing on these topics derives from these two books.
- Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell (April 3, 2007). This is a wonderful book about thinking and decision making. It will provide an out-of-the-box view of these processes. A good general learning topic for LSS belts.
- Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell (November 18, 2008. This is a book that documents anecdotal stories about successful people. The big take-away is that there is no single factor that drove their success; it was an interaction of the right person, in the right place, at the right time. A three factor interaction!
- Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (October 17, 2006). This book is not about lean and six sigma, but it does use the LSS analyze tool set to examine economic data in unique ways. It is a fun book to read, but there are real lessons in data analysis along with how to confirm data based conclusions.
- SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (October 20, 2009). A follow on book about the analysis of data with methods we use in LSS. This book is not as much about the methods as the first book, but it makes the reader think again about different ways to consider data.
- A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson (September 14, 2004). This book has nothing to do with Lean Six Sigma, but it is a well-written book about science and discovery. Bryson covers nearly everything about science in an easy to read book about the people of science, what they faced in efforts to share their discoveries, and how they succeeded. It is more about the people of science than the science itself. You will learn more about science than you expect, and will see how difficult it is to change a paradigm held by the leading people of the time, an issue that many LSS practitioners do face in their projects.
Additional Reading Topics
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
- All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin
- Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
- BPMN Method and Style by Bruce Silver
- David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
- The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization by Peter Senge
- Getting Things Done by David Allen
- Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
- The New Rules of Marketing by David Meerman Scott
- The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale
- Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin