I had a very nice father’s day weekend. I got to spend some time with a very good friend of mine biking for a good cause. And on Sunday, my family handed me several great gifts, including two assorted six packs of beer. Does it get much better than that? I’m anxious to try the Central Waters Mudpuppy Porter. I’m also an avid reader, and was excited when I opened wrapping paper (well, after my three-year old opened the wrapping paper) holding two books by my favorite authors – Calico Joe by Grisham, and the new Inferno, by Dan Brown. I’ll probably stay up much too late for several nights in a row burning through the pages.
I’m also an avid reader of Lean related books, although I try not to read those when I’m on my way to see the sandman. Throughout the quarter I’ll try and keep track of several titles I might be interested in reading, or that might apply to something we’re trying to accomplish at work, and order them in a bundle. And when that bundle arrives… well, sometimes it just feels like Christmas in July. As was the case this week!
Why did I choose these titles you ask? I chose Lean Thinking because I think it is important to read about the history that helped shape the way we think about lean today. I chose the Toyota Way for the same reasons, and although I have the Fieldbook, I’ve never read the original. I chose the Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement because I’m a very big fan of the Toyota Way to Lean Leadership, and this book appeared to have a focus on linking strategy to performance. I’m hoping to find nuggets to use as we continue to learn about what hoshin kanri looks like in our organization.
I chose Real Numbers because we seem to spend egregious amounts of time discussing how to manage our budgets, and I’m really hoping for a few insights to help me figure out how to help others see the waste I do. Everything I Need to Know About Lean I Learned In First Grade is a great lean overview book that I’ve read before, but thought I’d add to our group’s lean library. People, also with Martichenko as an author, seems to be well connected to my teaching themes this year around how to be lean leaders. As does The Lean Turnaround, by Art Byrne, who touts having implemented lean successfully in over 30 companies. I’m hoping he’ll have some messages that can help me convey the importance and value of a well-developed and aligned strategy deployment system across our business.
Does that seem like too much to read? Probably, especially considering I already have several others in the queue! But, I’m excited to get to some of them. I opened up the table of contents for Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement and saw chapter titles such as “Lean Processes Start with a Purpose”, “Sustaining, Spreading, Deepening: Continuing Turns of the PDCA Wheel”, and “Continuous Improvement as a Way of Life”. They might end up a little higher on my priority list. And The Lean Turnaround boasts titles such as “Don’t Just Do Lean, Be Lean” and “Lean Everywhere”.
I once asked a lean author (whose work I respect very much) what blogs or books he reads to keep up with new information. His answer surprised me a little, when he said in general he avoids reading books and blogs because most of what he reads is just a slightly different take on concepts that have already been explored. He believed the best way to learn was simply to do – to apply the concepts, to kaizen, and to improve. It is true – you can’t truly learn what it means to think lean from a book, you have to experience it for yourself. I think for now though, at this point in my journey, I still have many concepts that I can absorb by reading the teachings and anecdotes of others.
Maybe after another 20 years of doing this, I’ll feel the same way he does about new books and blogs, or whatever medium we’re using then. But I hope not. I hope I still have a fire burning in me (and a humble spirit) to learn something new everyday by listening to what others are experiencing.