Reading Suggestions

This topic contains 9 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Mike Carnell 4 months, 3 weeks ago.

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    Aaron Olson

    Hello all,

    I’m looking for some reading suggestions with the following criteria:

    -Black Belt Level (prep or otherwise; I’m working as a green belt with aspirations to increase my understanding and become a black belt), with a good, understandable approach to statistics and DMAIC OR lean principles
    -Engaging book (I’m not much of a reader – though, I did enjoy “The Goal” by Goldratt as an introduction to principles of reducing waste, theory of constraints, and drum-buffer-rope)
    -your top 3 suggestions for books – I want to keep my list small at first


    Kristen Hill

    Hi Aaron,
    Glad to see your interested in learning more! My favorite book isn’t one that really talks directly about Six Sigma, but it’s a great book to help people understand how to apply statistical process control to situations that most people experience already. It’s called Understanding Variation: The Key to Managing Chaos by Donald Wheeler. It’s a short book and not written as a text book, so I think you might enjoy it.
    Good luck!


    Mike Carnell

    @aaronolson Juran’s book called Managerial Breakthrough from 1964 is a great book to build your foundation on. You need to understand the difference between breakthrough and control.

    The Deviants Advantage. Great book and a good understanding about fringe idea becoming social convention.

    The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fxxx. Aside from an interesting title it helps you figure out how to prioritize.

    Leaning Into Six Sigma. It is about understanding you do not have to choose between SS and Lean. You can do both. And because I wrote some of it.

    Remember this is about thinking. Not about tools.

    Just my opinion


    Robert Butler

    I’ll second Kristen’s recommendation and add The Cartoon Guide to Statistics by Gonick and Smith. It’s the book I recommend to my engineers when they want to get some additional understanding about basic statistics issues.

    You should also understand the value of good statistical graphics and what they are – to this end I’d recommend The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Tufte. His other three books on the issue of graphical presentation are also worth reading/examining visually (after all these are books about graphical representations).


    Aaron Olson

    @rbutler @mike-carnell @misskristen Thank you all for the reading suggestions. I will begin making my way through these books very soon. As always, I appreciate the help!


    Jane Martel

    Hi, Aaron.

    If I could only keep one book in my work collection, it just might be The Quality Toolbox by Nancy Tague, published by ASQ, I think it is. It’s not necessarily a book that you would read cover to cover (though I think I did!); instead, it’s a great reference book.

    Happy reading,



    If you want to go to the Lean side try the ‘2 Second Lean’ book by Paul Akers.

    I highly recommend if you are a YouTube person and want to watch Paul speak, pull up the Iowa Lean Consortium event. It’s an hour+ but well worth it if you do any kind of lean work. His videos make it very real.



    We should all read the classic “How to Lie with Statistics” by Darrell Huff. It’s short, very readable, and it’ll help you recognize when you’re “being led down the garden path” by the way others, and maybe yourself, represent the data.


    Mitchell Schaub

    Patrick Lencioni’s “Five Dysfunctions Of A Team,” an excellent, engaging book for Six Sigma practitioners that are competent and confident in improving processes, but looking to improve team management techniques. Remember that SixSigma is dependent upon teamwork and cooperation, not just raw data. I can second many of the above recommendations, especially Professor Tufte’s “Visual Display of Quantitiative Information.” Tufte also offers one-day courses that may be available in your area, they are definitely worth checking out.


    Mike Carnell

    @aaronolson I saw the suggestion for lean in an earlier post. There is a book called Lean Acres by Jim Bowie. It is probably the easiest read and most understandable Lean book I have ever read.

    I gave a copy to a young woman who was in Middle School. She read it and then we had some conversations about it. She got it.

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