In my opinion, these are the books you should read and have on your bookshelf – they’re on mine – and some of them are even signed by the authors! They are listed here in no particular order.
My #1 recommendation for those who want to learn about Six Sigma is iSixSigma; my #2 rec is this book. This book is the simplest, shortest read on the list – 86 pages, big type and a good overview of Six Sigma and what it can do for your organization. You’ll finish it on your next flight and still have time to enjoy a beverage.
This is the book that ignited the revolution and convinced companies and organizations around the world to stop thinking quality is incremental improvement and instead think about achieving breakthrough improvement. Nobody spins a story like these authors! And while you might think that this book is a bit dated (published in 2000), I can assure you that the ideas, strategies and tactics used then are still applicable today. In fact, our 2019 industry survey substantiates them.
For decades, Juran’s Quality Handbook has been the essential reference guide every quality manager and industrial engineer needs to do their job and improve quality. It covers applications, procedures, techniques and strategies, and the newest version includes Lean, Six Sigma and the Shingo Prize. I own the fifth edition, and it’s been the "go to" reference since I started doing Six Sigma in the 1990s. (As an aside, I was honored to attend Dr. Juran’s 100th birthday celebration in 2004 – a highlight of my quality career.)
Lean Six Sigma and Minitab: The Complete Toolbox Guide for Business Improvement
by Quentin Brook
I’ve known Quentin Brook for decades; in fact, we both were trained in Lean Six Sigma at GE in the 1990s. Over the years, he’s honed his guide for managers, Black Belts and Green Belts into one of the most useful guides I’ve ever seen. It’s practical, hands-on and includes useful examples.
Six Sigma Memory Jogger II: A Pocket Guide
by Michael Brassard, Lynda Finn, Dana Ginn, Diane Ritter, Cathy Kingery and Michele Kierstead
If you’re actually doing Lean Six Sigma, then you’ll inevitably need a quick refresher of how a tool works. Again, iSixSigma’s your go-to resource, but if you want a quick reference that Learn more about Six Sigma Memory Jogger II: A Pocket Guide »
If you’re going to roll out Lean and/or Six Sigma to your organization, you should bundle this book with Leading Change (below on this list). You can thank me later, because this book gives you the hands-on framework of what to do and how to do it for your first 90 days. And "Zink" (Dr. Stephen Zinkgraf) knows from his 50+ Six Sigma deployments including AlliedSignal and Motorola.
Design for Six Sigma: The Tool Guide for Practitioners
by Lisa A. Reagan and Mark J. Kiemele
If you want to take your Black Belt skills to the next level, Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) is what you should look into. This guide about DFSS is both comprehensive and exceptionally well written. And I’m not just saying that because iSixSigma project managed, edited and published this book – although it did allow me to become intimately familiar with the content and quality of it.
When you’re stuck in the "rat race" of large corporations, it’s useful to poke your head out of the cubicle once every year and give this book a quick read. Covey talks about the seven most important habits of effective people – you know, the people we all look up to in the organization. In this book, you’ll be reminded to: be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think win-win, seek first to understand (then be understood), synergize (don’t gag. . . I hate this type of "corporate speak" too) and sharpen the saw. This book includes the quick fixes that I wish everyone in an organization would read and become familiar with.
I wish I could tell you that work will be all unicorns and rainbows. But it won’t be. You’ll find people who don’t like you, people who are always upset and people who like to argue. Getting them to say "yes" to what you want is critical to your success in business (and life). And this is the one book you should read multiple times over your career to help resolve disputes so you can solve problems.