Great Books You Didn’t Know Were About Lean


There are many books that are not at all about lean, but the lessons they contain are very helpful to a lean journey. Here's one such example:

Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni

While the creativity and storytelling in most business novels is generally an insult to the word ‘novel,' Patrick Lencioni's work in Death by Meeting provides a very pleasant surprise. It is easy to read and you sense the emotions and issues that real people deal with every day. The heart of this book focuses on turning the dragging, lifeless and even painful experience of “the business meeting” into a dynamic essential element of the nervous system of any company.

The first premise of Death by Meeting is the conflict is not to be avoiding in meetings but encouraged. Different than personal conflict, idea and position conflict is what is needed to make tough decisions and take the company forward. The second major premise is that we can not have multipurpose meetings. We should have some meetings for information and others for decision making, each with a different style and cadence. Lencioni specifically suggests four types of meetings. The 5-minute Daily Check-in, the 45-90 minute Weekly Tactical, the 2-4 hour Monthly or Ad Hoc Strategy and the 1-2 day Quarterly Off-site Review.

Few if any proposed meeting structures come closer to what you would expect to see in a truly lean company. A lean company has (a) tremendous focus on the task at hand, (b) a disdain for waste such as that demonstrated when meetings lack purpose and structure and (c) a respect for the benefit of structure and standardization, such as proposed by the rhythm these meetings have. We highly suggest taking a look at this book, and then a more serious look at your own meeting structure.

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Jamie Flinchbaugh
Jamie Flinchbaugh is an accomplished Entrepreneur, Senior Executive, and Board Member with more than 20 years of success spanning finance, manufacturing, automotive, and management consulting. Leveraging extensive operational experience, Jamie is an invaluable asset for a company seeking expert guidance with process improvements, lean strategies, and leadership coaching in order to transform operations, reduce costs, and drive profitability. His areas of expertise include continuous improvement, entrepreneurship, coaching and training, process transformation, business strategy, and organizational design.


  1. I mention it alot but will piggy back on Jamie’s post —

    The book “Hardwiring Excellence” by Quint Studer is, on the surface, about managing hospitals. It’s really about managing people and organizations in a very TPS-friendly style (although he never says “lean”). Gemba and servant leadership are among the lean topics he covers without mentioning lean. Can’t recommend it enough to healthcare folks. Manufacturing people who want a “stretch” should check it out and see what you can adapt.


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