Based on the Toyota Production System (TPS), Lean thinking is a mindset focused on eliminating waste and creating value for the customer, discarding unnecessary steps and procedures during the creation of a product or service. When combined with Motorola-developed Six Sigma, which elevates product/service quality by reducing variation, the result is a streamlined process improvement framework known as Lean Six Sigma – a highly effective tool that enables organizations to statistically and systematically continuously improve their processes and capabilities.
Because a major part of the Lean Six Sigma method includes a holistic evaluation of a given business, manufacturing, or production process and subsequent training for designated employees, its adoption and implementation are commonly viewed as an investment by upper-level management and stakeholders. Supply chain professionals working in Lean Six Sigma environments should make similar investments in themselves to enhance their knowledge of customer-focused continuous improvement and operational efficiency, ultimately better positioning them to improve their organizations.
Below are five must-read Lean Six Sigma books we recommend (in no particular order) for supply chain professionals looking to advance or refresh their expertise in process improvement and Lean management.
Lean Six Sigma: Beginner’s Guide to Understanding and Practicing Lean Six Sigma
by Jim Hall & Tina Scott (2016)
This “Beginner’s Guide” is aimed at an audience new to the Lean Six Sigma philosophy and covers both the basics of Lean thinking and Six Sigma. The book provides a detailed overview of the DMAIC process and real world application to allow readers to take full advantage of the tool. One of the authors’ primary goals, in addition to giving a solid overview of what it takes to improve production, growth, and services, is to get readers speaking and understanding the language of the Lean Six Sigma process. When finished with this book, readers will be able to apply its contents immediately.
Lean Production Simplified, Third Edition: A Plain-Language Guide to the World’s Most Powerful Production System
by Pascal Dennis (2015)
Author Pascal Dennis highlights the concepts of visual management, Five S, and Total Productive Maintenance, with an underlying theme labeled, “House of Lean Production”. He also emphasizes the importance of organizational culture regarding Lean management, and how to blend Lean tools with cultural aspects. More notable topics include just-in-time delivery of parts and products, the Jidoka principle, Hoshin planning, and case studies in industries beyond manufacturing. This book is a must read for supply chain professionals who want to develop a deeper appreciation for the intricacies of the impacts supply chain decisions have on the manufacturing floor environment.
Lean Supply Chain and Logistics Management (Mechanical Engineering) 1st Edition
by Paul Myerson (2012)
As the title suggests, this book discusses Lean management techniques with an emphasis on identifying and eliminating waste in an organization’s supply chain and logistics operation. A historical perspective is offered in the beginning, “from Lean manufacturing to Lean enterprise,” followed by Lean implementation opportunities, how to apply Lean Six Sigma in the real world, and trends and projections for the future of Lean Six Sigma. Lastly, the book contains several insightful case studies that demonstrate potential long-term improvements and bottom-line savings of Lean Six Sigma project deployments.
Lean Supplier Development: Establishing Partnerships and True Costs Throughout the Supply Chain
by Dr. Chris Harris Ph.D., Rick Harris, & Chuck Streeter (2010)
Lean Six Sigma can apply to a variety of processes, from methods for deploying Plan For Every Part (PFEP) to building partnerships of mutual improvement with supplier development, as illustrated by authors in this book. They also highlight the importance of maintaining an effective information flow, interactions between Lean customers and partners, and real world examples to cover common contingencies. In summary, the book is full of helpful, practical templates and formulas for successfully implementing PFEP, routes, supermarkets, pull signals and true cost sourcing.
Innovating Lean Six Sigma: A Strategic Guide to Deploying the World’s Most Effective Business Improvement Process
by Kimberly Watson-Hemphill & Kristine Nessen Bradley (2016)
“Innovating Lean Six Sigma” likely covers the widest array of topics of the books recommended on this list. It provides a progressive model for applying fundamentals of Lean Six Sigma to your organization and helps readers to build a strong foundation. Further, the book outlines specifics for leveraging Kaizen events for quick fixes to major operational challenges. The authors have made this book a robust guide for executives deploying and maintaining successful process improvement initiatives and discusses the importance of necessary culture changes surrounding continuous processes improvement.
Supply chain professionals have ten things to do and time for two, and luckily, many of the books listed above are also available in audio format, which could save some time in digesting their excellent content. We hope these books provide you with new insight into, or serve as references for, the Lean Six Sigma methodology, and that you can apply their knowledge toward building and improving your organization’s Lean supply chain.