I learned that February is the library lovers’ month. Many of us don’t visit libraries anymore, but still, keep our love for books. In my case, I have a weak spot for continuous improvement books. Books are an excellent way to learn, find inspiration, or have a good time. My CI learning experience includes traditional classroom training, webinars, hands-on workshops, and others. But my favorite way to learn more about CI is by reading books. Perhaps, it is because I can go at my pace, reading, learning, and practicing.
Continuous improvement books
There are thousands of books about CI out there. Although there are real gems, there are also some that are not very good. As a result, finding the right one can be difficult. Some publications are best suited for beginners, while others are for people with some experience.
Here is a list of my favorite CI titles
- Gemba Kaizen by Masaaki Imai – This book is an introduction to kaizen and gemba. Although the book contains all the traditional lean jargon, it is easy to read. In addition, includes various case studies including hospitals, product development, ground transportation, and logistics.
- Lean Production Simplified by Pascal Dennis – The title says it all, it contains a simplified explanation of the lean system. The book includes a description of various concepts like five S, visual management, standardize work, and others.
- The lean turnaround by Art Byrne – If you are an executive looking to start a culture transformation, this is the one for you. It focuses on lean as a strategy to create value and transform the company.
- Lean Office and Service Simplified by Drew Locher – If you work in an office or service environment, look no further. The author presents all lean principles and concepts from a non-manufacturing perspective. He describes how to use tools like value-stream, standard work, flow, visual management, and others. In addition, it provides several examples and implementation strategies.
- The Toyota Way to Service Excellence by Jeffrey K. Liker and Karyn Ross – The authors explain how to use the lean principles, practices, and tools to provide better services. Moreover, it contains case studies in various service industries. The examples include financial services, telecommunications, health care, and insurance.
- People: A leader’s day-to-day guide to building, managing, and sustaining lean organizations by Robert Martichenko, Steve Gran, Roger Pearce, & 4 more – This book is a leaders’ guide to build and sustain a lean organization. It provides guidance for all the tasks, activities, and behaviors a leader needs to transform the organization and get long-term success.
- Lean Thinking by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones – This publication is a best seller classic. It goes from the principles to lean thinking to action, presenting how to close the gap between customers and providers. It also has case studies to explain those concepts. One of them is Wiremold Company with Art Byrne as its president and CEO. Yes, you are right, he is the author of the #3 on my list.
You read continuous improvement books, and then what?
The short answer to that question is that you learn, explore, and practice lean. Learn new ways to do things. Second, you explore how to apply those ways within your business. Third, you keep learning by teaching others how to do it. And third, you keep learning and practicing.
The secret to a continuous improvement culture transformation is that lean, or CI, is a system, not a group of tools. The focus should be on the people and the learning process. One common mistake is to spend too much time learning and using tools. Instead, focus on working with the people. The real success is, being able to engage your team in CI. That is to say, do not waste your time reading books unless you are committed to learn and teach.
What else you can do?
To increase your learning opportunities, combine reading books with hands-on workshops and training. For even better results, get a serious professional to help you along the journey. We all need a coach or mentor to guide us through the challenging steps of transforming a culture. Here in Better Process Solutions, we are ready to help. Get in touch!