Our books tell the stories from decades of work
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The Joy of Lean: Transforming, Leading, and Sustaining a Culture of Engaged Team Performance

Our newest book, published by ASQ Quality Press, was released in November 2016:

The Joy of Lean:

Transforming, Leading, and Sustaining a Culture of Engaged Team Performance

By Dodd Starbird

Has your organization tried Lean already?
If so, you surely see and feel the Joy of Lean in your workplace now, right?

Don’t worry. If you’re not quite to joy yet, you’re not alone.

As it attracts more and more attention as a successful business philosophy that can improve results in any type of organization, Lean has still sometimes been misunderstood as a method for just cutting expenses. The useful ideas of eliminating waste and driving greater efficiency can pick up a negative spin, with perceptions of job cuts, employees doing more with less, and managers squeezing more productivity from each person. None of that sounds very joyful.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. This book will show leaders how to cultivate a positive Lean Culture of excellence that creates value for customers, profitable growth for businesses, sustainable cost reduction, and fulfilling jobs for employees.

  • Lean Culture means empowerment.
  • Lean Culture means better value for the customer.
  • Lean Culture means better performance for the organization.
  • Lean Culture means a more engaging, rewarding, and yes, even joyful role for each employee.
  • And Lean Culture provides the competitive advantages that a team needs to survive and grow.

We call the approach Lean Engaged Team Performance (Lean ETP). It’s a purposeful combination of value innovation, process excellence, performance measures, team goals, collaborative norms, organizational structure, enabling technology, and most of all, visionary leadership. And it’s hard to achieve and even harder to sustain, but it’s worth the journey!

Praise for The Joy of Lean:

  • "For a young growth company, the self-discipline of Engaged Team Performance and a commitment to process improvement do not initially sound too joyful. But all we needed was one team to try. Our leaders and employees came together… operating at the best service levels we had ever achieved."

    Jana Schmidt President and CEO, Ecova, Inc.
  • "Life is supposed to be an adventure, and work is a core part of that journey. The Joy of Lean will help you develop a culture where everyone takes joy in coming to work every day to contribute something that will change the world for the better."

    Dr. Fred Moll Co-founder and CEO, Auris Surgical Robotics, and co-founder of Intuitive Surgical
  • "The Joy of Lean provides practical advice that every organization should follow when pursuing a Lean transformation. Dodd Starbird delivers the content in an easy to understand, even humorous way that makes this an important and enjoyable read for anyone, not just leaders for whom the book is most intended."

    Drew Locher Author of Lean Office and Service Simplified
  • "Dodd Starbird fixes the limitations of most Lean implementations by shifting focus from eliminating waste to achieving excellence – and it’s spot on!"

    David Marquet Author of Turn the Ship Around!
  • "At its heart The Joy of Lean is about leaders building relationships: relationships with your customer and with your employees. Engaged Team Performance is all about empowering your employees to demonstrate care while attracting new customers, strengthening client relationships, or delivering products and services every day. The Joy of Lean provides the key to any successful business."

    Art Bacci Head – Hong Kong Group, Principal International
  • "Business, especially a growing business, is ultimately about people working with people. The Joy of Lean outlines key principles for driving a culture of business performance. Working with Dodd Starbird’s ETP principles, we have been able to deliver sustainable value to our business, and our teams remain engaged."

    Beth Rothwell President, VfD Companies

Download the first chapter of the book

See what The Joy of Lean is all about!

Visit to order a copy today!

Get a copy of The Joy of Lean, and start spreading joy in your own organization!

Building Engaged Team Performance: Align Your Processes and People to Achieve Game-Changing Business Results

And here’s the book that started it all, our original story about Engaged Teams, published by McGraw-Hill, hit the shelves in October 2010:

Building Engaged Team Performance:

Align Your Processes and People to Achieve Game-Changing Business Results

Engaged Team Performance (ETP) is focused on the implementation process for radically improving the effectiveness and efficiency of production groups: people who share responsibility for delivering some kind of product or service to some kind of customer, whether in a manufacturing or a transactional/service environment.

The book demonstrates the implementation approach through a detailed case study of an actual ETP effort that improved a team’s labor efficiency by 41%, saving $1.2 million per year for a division of the Principal Financial Group®. Process streamlining initially drove 17% improvement in labor efficiency, but they gained another 24% from aligning the team performance with the process and the customer. Cycle time was reduced from 2-3+ days to 24-hour turnaround and customer satisfaction in field distribution dramatically increased. Lean and Six Sigma process improvement tools were essential to getting almost halfway there, but ETP took the results to the next level.

The key to Engaged Team Performance lies in completely integrating processes, measures, team goals, visual work, collaborative norms, and organization to work efficiently and effectively for the customer and the business.

Engaged Team Performance is all about:

  • Capable, effective processes with efficient flow
  • Focus to deliver consistently on critical customer requirements
  • Visual and available data for immediate decision-making
  • The right staffing and resources for sustainable capacity
  • Deep personal skills and knowledge, supported by a long-term development plan
  • Standards and accountabilities for both team and individual performance
  • Flexible organization with norms to support collaboration
  • Strong, yet engaging leadership that lets the team own the execution
  • Team goals (supported by individual standards) and incentives for team success

Principal Financial Group® Project Summary

Take a look at our detailed case study using Engaged Team Performance

Integrated in a mutually supporting way, the above attributes help organizations to vastly improve their results, both in effectiveness of performance for customers and efficiency in use of resources. The approach draws upon a core understanding of customers’ needs and requires strong, proactive leadership.

The book begins by discussing the history of process and performance improvement and illustrating some of the challenges in typical organizations. We then demonstrate the steps to achieving Engaged Team Performance using a detailed case example as well as some other stories from companies who have actually done it. We conclude with guidance for senior leaders in how to enable (and not unintentionally disable!) the performance of the teams that work in their divisions.

This book is intended to guide directors, managers, and supervisors of departmental work teams in engaging those teams to deliver great performance. Other interested readers would include process improvement professionals, project managers, information technology and business architecture leaders, and senior executives who want to drive performance across an enterprise. Although the cases cited are from an insurance company and a refinery, the principles and implementation process apply to any private industry or public sector organization where people work in teams to produce any product or service.

In short, Engaged Team Performance is all about combining the concepts of a Lean Six Sigma process with a flexible organization, applying those principles down to the most critical level of a departmental working team, and sustaining that team to work efficiently and effectively for the customer and the business.

Get the original book and change the game

Building Engaged Team Performance is available for purchase online


Download a synopsis of Building Engaged Team Performance (McGraw-Hill, October 2010)