Book 12: A Book About Leading Lean


Book 12 in the #EmptyShelf Challenge was a bit of a disappointment for me. This short book (149 pages) initially intrigued me with its focus on leading Lean organizations, versus Lean itself. There is so much written on Lean, but comparatively little on leading Lean. The presentation, though, was disappointing.

Title: PEOPLE: A leader’s day-to-day guide to building, managing and sustaining lean organizations
Authors: Steve Gran, Robert Martichenko, Walt Miller, and Roger Pearce
Publisher: LeanCor (2012)

What the book is about

The introduction to this book explains that there are many books that focus on the practical application of Lean principles in organizations, but there are few that address how leaders lead the process of transforming their organizations “through development of lean people.”

The authors provide a brief explanation of foundational Lean principles and then launch into 15 rapid-fire chapters that present many important leadership principles, but which are here applied to the Lean organization. Some of those topics include:

  • The importance of leading from a foundation of purpose and values
  • How the leader should be a student as well as a teacher
  • Why respecting people is important
  • …and many more

Once again, these leadership principles are generally true, and applicable in nearly every leadership setting, but in this book they are present in the context of developing a Lean organization.

Why I read this book

I’m always on the lookout for books that help leaders bridge the gap between the tactical and the strategic. Organizations are full of tactical experts. We have few strategic thinkers, though. Strategic thinking, vision, and culture development are the realm of leadership. There are few books that help leaders make the connection between their strategic responsibilities and the daily tactical activities. I hoped that this book would be an effective tool for leaders.

However, as I said, the book was a bit of a disappointment for me.

Favorite idea

So why didn’t I like the book? The book is packed with points about leading Lean organizations. They are great points. Wonderful points. However, the rapid-fire presentation, with barely more than a paragraph for each important point, and little to no discussion or illustration of the points, made it very hard to digest all the ideas. The book was overwhelming!

Having said that, I don’t really have a favorite idea from the book.

Do I recommend this book?

Well, not really. However, the book will keep a space on my bookshelf because it really does have many good, practical tips. If I need ideas for a leader wanting to improve in one of the areas in this book, it will give me a number of great tips.

(Click here to learn more about the #EmptyShelf Challenge.)

Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at] with your questions.

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