Recommended Reading for the Manufacturing Mind
On this blog, we talk a lot about manufacturing excellence, and how that topic relates to ERP (especially to our favorite ERP, Epicor). While much of what we read today is digital, when I’m on a video conference call, it’s always interesting to see what’s on the bookshelf behind the “talking heads.” So, sticking with topics like manufacturing, ERP, Lean, etc., I thought I’d share with you a few of my top picks:
The Goal by Eli Goldratt – This is the proverbial “bible” and a great place to step off into the world of manufacturing excellence. Eli is actually a physicist who had a small farm in Israel, and one day his neighbor asked for his help in scheduling the production of his farm equipment business. Having no background in conventional scheduling, Eli used his observational skills as a scientist to turn the production scheduling world on its head. This is actually an entertaining story about a fictitious manufacturing company where Eli’s findings are applied, and they make total sense. The thought process and approach to manufacturing taught in this book is core to modern production management.
Good to Great by Jim Collins – He and a group of graduate students set out to analyze the most profitable companies on the planet and figure out why they succeed. Is it because they have a patent or technical innovation? Is it because of the leadership of the company? Many hypotheses are put forward and the ultimate answer becomes a unique approach to excellence. This is a must read! (Feel free to check out his website too!)
Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun by Wess Roberts – This is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek approach to learning from an ancient warrior and leader, but it has some surprising and powerful information. For example, how did one person assemble an aimless band of tribal nomads into the most disciplined and motivated fighting force known to man? Lots of parallels and takeaways for modern managers!
The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker – This book summarizes the Toyota Production System, which is one of the key beginnings of lean manufacturing. It also explores all of the innovative ways that Toyota drove quality into every aspect of their organization and, in the process, became a dominating force in automotive manufacturing globally. (He actually has a whole series of these books, but I’d suggest starting with the first one, subtitled “14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer.”)
I have quite a few more books in my library, but I think these four form the core of my background in production, management, quality, and continuous improvement. If you don’t have them, I suggest you order them, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do because they are all great reads!