If you’re going to read only one book about the Toyota Production System, this classic has to be on the shortlist. The Machine that Changed the World is a deep, fascinating history and analysis of the impact of implementing Lean thinking on an enterprise, focused on the cultural manufacturing practices and philosophy embedded in Toyota. The contrasts against other car manufacturers are illuminating and occasionally brutal illustration of how not to operate.
Lean thinking is commonly associated with a focus on eliminating waste and building maximum efficienices into supply chains and production lines. The element not so commonly referred to (but just as vital and given equal prominence/priority by Toyota) is respect for people – the idea that your people are an enormous asset and should be given the space to use their brains and tools to act on the systems they work in to make things better.