Lean and Operational Excellence books

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We’re keen readers of any books that explore culture, teams and systems thinking. The list we’ve compiled here meet that criteria, and we’ve enjoyed sharing these around TeamAssurance HQ during this first part of 2019. While they’re not the classic Lean and Operational Excellence books, we think they capture the essence of the principles. The real-life stories and experiences are highly relatable, and for that reason are a great starting point for both frontline and leadership. Here’s our top 3 (with blurbs from the respective publishers).

Matthew Syed – Black Box Thinking

For people working in safety-critical industries, getting it wrong can have deadly consequences. Consider the shocking fact that preventable medical error is the third-biggest killer in the United States. And most of those mistakes are never made public, because of malpractice settlements with nondisclosure clauses. For a dramatically different approach to failure, look at aviation. Every passenger aircraft in the world is equipped with an almost indestructible black box. Whenever there’s any sort of mishap, major or minor, the box is opened, the data is analyzed, and experts figure out exactly what went wrong. Then the facts are published and procedures are changed, so that the same mistakes won’t happen again. By applying this method in recent decades, the industry has created an astonishingly good safety record….So why don’t we all embrace the aviation approach to failure rather than the health-care approach?

Daniel Coyle – The Culture Code

He demystifies the culture-building process by identifying three key skills that generate cohesion and cooperation, and explains how diverse groups learn to function with a single mind. The Culture Code offers a roadmap for creating an environment where innovation flourishes, problems get solved, and expectations are exceeded.

General Stanley McChrystal – Team of Teams

What if you could combine the agility, adaptability, and cohesion of a small team with the power and resources of a giant organization?

General McChrystal’s book had the biggest impact on pushing our perspectives.

A special mention to Dan Pink’s Drive. I first came across Dan Pink from his highly entertaining Ted talk, which covers much of the same ground as the book. His ideas around autonomy, mastery and purpose should be mandatory viewing for anyone in a leadership position that wants to engage and motivate a team.

We’d love to hear your recommendations for Lean and Operational Excellence books! Send us a note and link to [email protected].

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