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There is much to be learned from the history of Lean that applies powerfully today in every aspect of the business.

In this summary of key points from The Birth of Lean, LEI Chair Jean Cunningham shares insights from her reading of the book, and invites you to share thoughts as well.

Conversations with the Founders of TPS

The Birth of Lean is a fascinating look at the origins of lean, written in the words of the people who created the Toyota Production System (TPS), including Taiichi Ohno and Eiji Toyoda.

Through personal interviews and annotated talks, you will hear first-person accounts of what these innovators and problem-solvers did and why they did it. You’ll read rare commentaries that explain the interplay of (sometimes opposing) ideas that created a revolution in thinking.

Best Sellers
  1. Everything I Know About Lean I Learned in First Grade by Robert Martichenko
  2. Managing to Learn: Using the A3 management process by John Shook
  3. Learning to See by Mike Rother and John Shook
  4. Getting the Right Things Done by Pascal Dennis
  5. The Gold Mine by Freddy Ballé and Michael Ballé
  6. Value-Stream Mapping Workshop Participant Guide by Mike Rother and John Shook
  7. Lean Product and Process Development, 2nd Edition by Allen C. Ward and Durward K. Sobek II
  8. Creating Continuous Flow by Mike Rother and Rick Harris
  9. Building a Lean Fulfillment Stream by Robert Martichenko and Kevin von Grabe
  10. On the Mend by John Toussaint, MD and Roger Gerard
by Jean E. Cunningham and Orest J. Fiume

Companies throughout the world are using lean principles to dramatically change the competitive landscape while generating new profitability and market share. As these companies transform, however, financial executives are usually not prepared for how lean principles affect finance and do not know how to streamline accounting.

The management accounting model illustrated in Real Numbers points the way to unlocking the true profit potential of lean.

by Jean Cunningham

The The Value Add Accountant expands the Real Numbers message by providing detailed examples of how to reveal accounting waste, start a personal value add transition, and get buy in on these pivotal accounting changes.

This book also describes how accounting can effectively evaluate corporate waste reduction and improvement activities.

by Liz McCartney and Zack Rosenburg


Getting Home is the inspiring story of how a nonprofit used lean principles to help rebuild homes for desperate survivors faster and wound up reconstructing the entire disaster recovery process.

The book also details an innovative, 9-step blueprint for how private industry, relief agencies, volunteers, and all levels of government can work together to dramatically shrink the time between when disasters hit and victims get home in a prompt, efficient, and predictable way.

Using the A3 management process

Managing to Learn reveals the thinking underlying the A3 management process found at the heart of lean management and leadership.

A unique book layout puts the thoughts of a lean manager struggling to apply the A3 process to a key project on one side of the page and the probing questions of the boss who is coaching him through the process on the other side. As a result, readers learn how to write a powerful A3—while learning why the technique is at the core of lean management and lean leadership.

by Art Smalley

In Four Types of Problemscontinuous improvement expert and author Art Smalley shows you how to break the “hammer-and-nail” trap.

He demonstrates that most business problems fall into four main categories, each requiring different thought processes, improvement methods, and management cadences.

by Jim Lancaster

Author and CEO Jim Lancaster tells a practical and inspiring story on two levels. The Work of Management is a close-up, candid look at his personal transformation as a leader. It’s also a practical, in-depth, business case study of Lantech’s lean transformation, relapse, and comeback that American manufacturing – and other industries — can use to profitably transform themselves.

by Mike Rother and John Shook

20th Anniversary Edition

This groundbreaking workbook, which has introduced the value-stream mapping tool to thousands of people around the world, breaks down the important concepts of value-stream mapping into an easily grasped format.

Value-stream maps are the blueprints for lean transformations and Learning to See is an easy-to-read, step-by-step instruction manual that teaches this valuable tool to anyone, regardless of his or her background.

by Mike Rother and Rick Harris

Creating Continuous Flow is the next logical step after Learning to See. The value-stream mapping process defined the pacemaker process and the overall flow of products and information in the plant.

The next step is to shift your focus from the plant to the process level by zeroing in on the pacemaker process, which sets the production rhythm for the plant or value stream, and apply the principles of continuous flow.

by Art Smalley

Creating Level Pull shows you how to advance a lean manufacturing transformation from a focus on isolated improvements to improving the entire plantwide production system by implementing a lean production control system.

This workbook walks you through the implementation process using a clear question-and-answer format, supported by diagrams, value-stream maps, and all the key formulas. Using a realistic example facility, you see how to make the transition to a robust pull system.