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Lean in King County Readings

  • King County, Wash. governs with ‘Lean’ approach

    It isn’t just about changing what you do, it’s changing how you think about what you do. And that kind of cultural change in any organization is hard, let alone government.

Recommended Lean Books

The Remedy

The Remedy

Pascal Dennis

This book has an extremely widespread application as the tools, techniques, and methods described are at a level that achieves the goals of Lean and operational excellence without tying them down to a specific industry or work stream. The book provides practical knowledge for Lean champions, managers, and executives driving toward operational excellence enterprise-wide.

The Remedy is a compelling business fable that shows how Lean quality improvement business practices—traditionally associated with manufacturing--can dramatically improve the service areas of your business-including design, engineering, sales, marketing and all processes in between. (The Shingo Prize)


Big Company Disease

Pascal Dennis

Big Company Disease is a one-hour webinar presented by Pascal Dennis. This webinar complements "The Remedy.”



Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Switch asks the following question: Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives? The primary obstacle, say Chip Heath and Dan Heath, is a conflict that’s built into our brains. Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems – the rational mind and the emotional mind – that compete for control.

The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that Oreo cookie. The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. This tension can doom a change effort – but if it is overcome, change can come quickly. (

Toyota Kata<="">

Toyota Kata

Mike Rother

Toyota is the most successful Lean organization in the world. In his book Toyota Kata, Mike Rother demystifies Toyota’s process for managing people – a process that generates initiative among everyone in the organization to adapt, improve, and keep the organization moving forward. Rother especially calls attention to two important management routines, or kata: the improvement kata and the coaching kata. Through understanding these routines at Toyota, we can begin to learn how to build improvement into our daily culture at King County.

Lean Production Simplified

Lean Production Simplified

Pascal Dennis

Given the array of Lean principles, concepts, and tactical tools, it can be challenging to understand how everything interrelates and even more difficult to develop a mastery of it all. Pascal Dennis’ book, Lean Production Simplified, is a great book for introducing many Lean elements in a way that is both accessible and concise. From 5S to Hoshin Kanri (strategic planning), Dennis goes an inch deep and an inch wide about most every Lean topic. Don’t be intimidated by the fact that “production” is in the title; most of the concepts in this book can easily be translated to our work at King County.

We don't Make Widgets

We Don't Make Widgets

Ken Miller

We Don’t Make Widgets breaks through common perceived barrier to implementing Lean in government and draws many parallels between private and public sectors. More concretely, the book not only provides examples of how to start improving now, but also indicates what we can measure to ensure that continuous improvement is built into our work. Miller’s book helps us to understand that – just like for-profit industries – government also has customers and products, and use processes to deliver those products. It is only from this foundation that we can begin to apply Lean technical tools to our work at King County.

Factory Of One

A Factory of One

Daniel Markovitz

Most people apply Lean tools to processes and systems. But what about the fundamental machine of production: you? In A Factory of One, Daniel Markovitz teaches you how to apply Lean principles to your individual work, so that you get more high-quality work done in less time and with less effort. “No matter what kind of work you do, you’re involved in transforming some type of input into a different form of output that a customer wants,” says Markovitz. “That act of transformation makes you, in essence, a factory – and that means that you can benefit from Lean tools and concepts.”


Lean Thinking

Jim Womack and Dan Jones

Written in a clear straightforward style, this comprehensive work is a "must read" for anyone starting a lean journey. It describes the main concepts of lean and gives specific manufacturing examples of the concepts in action in a variety of industries. Authors James Womack and Daniel Jones interview key people and examine the lean conversions in a step-by-step manner. In the process, they explore the obstacles each organization overcame to reap the benefits of lean production. The authors use case studies from a wide range of industries to distill out the essential principles of lean and explain how to apply them in a variety of environments.


Getting the Right Things Done

Pascal Dennis

For companies to be competitive, leaders must engage people at all levels to focus their energy and enable them to apply lean principles to everything they do. Strategy deployment, called hoshin kanri by Toyota, has proven to be the most effective process for meeting this ongoing challenge. In Getting the Right Things Done, Pascal Dennis outlines the nuts and bolts of strategy deployment, answering two tough questions that ultimately can make or break a lean transformation: What kind of planning system is required to inspire meaningful company-wide continuous improvement? How might we change existing mental models that do not support a culture of continuous improvement?


The Hitchhiker's Guide to Lean

Jamie Flinchbaugh and Andy Carlino

The book's 10 chapters cover lean principles and thinking, lean leadership moves, the roadmap for lean transformation, common pitfalls of lean journeys, building an operating system, lean accounting, lean material management, lean in service organizations, and how individuals can apply lean to improve themselves.


Creating a Lean Culture

David Mann

This modern day classic provides the critical piece that will make any lean transformation a dynamic continuous success. It shows you how to implement a transformation that cannot fail by developing a culture that will have all your stakeholders involved in the process and invested in the outcome.


Gemba Kaizen

Masaaki Imai

Written by Masaaki Imai, pioneer of modern business operational excellence and founder of the Kaizen Institute, Gemba Kaizen presents global case studies from a wide range of industries. The methods presented in Gemba Kaizen reveal that when management focuses on implementing kaizen (incremental, continuous improvement) in the gemba (the worksite) unique opportunities can be discovered for increasing the success and profitability of any organization.


The Toyota Way

Jeffrey Liker

The Toyota Way reveals the management principles behind Toyota's worldwide reputation for quality and reliability. You'll learn how Toyota fosters employee involvement at all levels, discover the difference between traditional process improvement and Toyota's Lean improvement, and learn why companies often think they are Lean--but aren't. The fourteen management principles of the Toyota Way create the ideal environment for implementing Lean techniques and tools.


The Toyota Way Fieldbook

Jeffrey Liker and David Meier

The Toyota Way Fieldbook is a companion to the international bestseller The Toyota Way. The Toyota Way Fieldbook builds on the philosophical aspects of Toyota's operating systems by detailing the concepts and providing practical examples for application that leaders need to bring Toyota's success-proven practices to life in any organization.


Managing to Learn

John Shook

Managing to Learn by Toyota veteran John Shook reveals the thinking underlying the vital A3 management process at the heart of lean management and lean leadership. Constructed as a dialogue between a manager and his boss, the book explains how A3 thinking helps managers and executives identify, frame, and then act on problems and challenges. The A3 Report is a Toyota-pioneered practice of getting the problem, the analysis, the corrective actions, and the action plan down on a single sheet of large paper, often with the use of graphics.


Learning to See

Mike Rother and John Shook

In plain language and with detailed drawings, this workbook explains everything you will need to know to create accurate current-state and future- state maps for each of your product families and then to turn the current state into the future state rapidly and sustainably.