September 21, 2021

10 Operations Management Books for Leaders: Top Tactics and Strategies

As a leader, it is important to understand the operations management process so that you can lead your team in an efficient and productive manner. The books below will give you some insight into how this process works, what mistakes to avoid, and best practices for success. Whether you are looking for something specific or just want to get inspired by other leaders' stories of success, these 10 books are sure to help!

Operations management is a critical part of any business, but it can feel overwhelming when you are the only one doing it. 

Operations managers have to juggle many tasks at once - from hiring new employees to shipping products out on time. 

Luckily, there are plenty of Operations Management Books for Leaders that will help guide your day-to-day decisions or give you the long term strategy you need. Check out our list below!

Discovering the Best Operations Management Books

Do you work in operations management and want to learn how to use operations management tools and techniques?

 If this is the case, we believe operations management textbooks are an excellent resource for you. However, if you're a busy operations leader looking to develop sound operations strategies, we believe you'll need a different set of resources.

 But, what kind of OM book is used by successful and influential business leaders in the real world?

Factors Influencing the Order of Operations Management Books

To provide a list of the best books to recommend, we first exclude certain types of books, such as operations research, production systems, procurement, decision sciences, and, of course, operations management textbooks.

We believe they are insufficiently practical for busy executives. The books are then ranked using the following criteria:

Citation Analysis: We compiled a list of books by conducting a Google Scholar search. Then, look at how many times each book has been cited in other publications (citation analysis). This citation may include references to publications other than operations management textbooks.

- Book Awards: We also compile a list of books by reviewing the book awards given out by the world's leading newspapers and magazines.

Real World Operations Management Book Recommendations

However, you're a busy operations leader who would like to formulate sound operations strategies, we believe you need different resources.

But, what kind of operations management book is used in real world by successful business leaders?

Let’s discuss some books recommended by great leaders-

The Goal: A Process Of Ongoing Improvement

Jeff Bezos recommends (CEO of Amazon)

The Goal, a gripping novel written in a fast-paced thriller style, is transforming management thinking around the world. It's a book you should recommend to your industry friends - even your bosses - but not to your competitors.

 Alex Rogo is a stressed-out plant manager who is trying everything he can to improve performance. His factory is on the verge of collapse. 

His marriage is also in trouble. He has ninety days to save his plant, or it will be closed by corporate headquarters, resulting in the loss of hundreds of jobs.

It takes a chance meeting with a former professor - Jonah - to help him break free from conventional ways of thinking in order to see what needs to be done. Alex's struggle to save his plant is more than just compelling reading. 

It contains a serious message for all industry managers and explains the ideas that underpin Eli Goldratt's Theory of Constraints (TOC).

Execution: The Art of Getting Things Done

Andrew Liveris recommends (CEO of The Dow Chemical Company)


When the book Execution was first published in 2002, it revolutionised the way we did our jobs. It assisted thousands of business people in making the final leap to success by analysing the discipline of getting things done.

- Growth will be slower in the near future. However, a company that executes well will have the confidence, speed, and resources to move quickly when new opportunities arise.

Competition will be fiercer, with companies looking for every advantage they can get.

 - Governments will play new roles in their respective national economies. Companies that execute well will be more appealing as partners and suppliers, as well as better prepared to adapt to new regulatory waves.

 - Every leader's top priority will be risk management, and every company will be looking for a competitive advantage in detecting new internal and external threats. Forget creating a "vision" and then delegating its execution to others:

Execution teaches you how to connect people, strategy, and operations – the three pillars of any organisation – to build a business based on dialogue, intellectual honesty, and realism. 

With real-world case studies, such as the diverging paths of Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan Chase and Charles Prince at Citigroup, Execution offers the realistic and hard-nosed approach to business success.

Gerard Kleisterlee's Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap...And Others Don't (Chairman of Vodafone and a former CEO of Philips Electronics)

From Good to Great The Obstacle

Built to Last, the seminal management study of the 1990s, demonstrated how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into an enterprise's DNA from the start.

But what about the company that was not born with exceptional DNA? How can good, mediocre, or even bad companies achieve long-term greatness?

The Research

This question plagued Jim Collins' mind for years. Is it possible for a company to defy gravity and transform long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority?

 And, if so, what are the universal distinguishing features that propel a company from good to great?

The Criteria

Collins and his research team identified a group of elite companies that made the leap to great results and maintained those results for at least fifteen years by using tough benchmarks. What a fantastic idea! 

Following the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that outperformed the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, outperforming a composite index of the world's greatest companies, which included Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.

The Parallels

The research team compared the good-to-great companies to a carefully chosen set of comparison companies that did not make the transition from good to great.

What was different this time? Why did one group of companies become truly great performers while the other group remained mediocre?

Over the course of five years, the team examined the histories of all twenty-eight companies included in the study. 

Collins and his team discovered the key determinants of greatness after sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews. They discovered why some companies make the leap and others don't.

Reengineering the Corporation: A Business Revolution Manifesto

The Corporation's Reengineering

In a survey conducted by Forbes Magazine, a panel of experts voted.

Reengineering the Corporation, the most successful business book of the last decade, is a pioneering work on the most important topic in business today: achieving dramatic performance improvements.

 This book walks readers through the process of completely redesigning a company's processes, organisation, and culture in order to achieve a quantum leap in performance.

Michael Hammer and James Champy have updated and revised their seminal work for the New Economy they helped to create, promising to help corporations save hundreds of millions of dollars more, increase customer satisfaction even further, and become even more agile in the years ahead.

Competing Against the Clock: How Time-Based Competition Is Reshaping Global Markets

Tim Cook recommends (CEO of Apple Inc.)

Competing Against the Clock

Today, time is the most important factor. Indeed, time, according to George Stalk, Jr. and Thomas M. Hout, is the strategic equivalent of money, productivity, quality, and even innovation.

Time-based businesses provide a wider range of products and services at lower costs and with faster delivery times than their more pedestrian competitors.

 Furthermore, the authors demonstrate that by refocusing their organisations on responsiveness, companies are discovering that long-held assumptions about cost and customer behaviour are incorrect:

 When lead times are reduced, costs do not rise; rather, they fall. Costs do not rise as a result of increased investment in quality; rather, they fall. Costs fall when product variety increases and response time decreases; they rise.

Time-based businesses provide a wider range of products and services at lower costs and with faster delivery times than their more pedestrian competitors. 

Furthermore, the authors demonstrate that by refocusing their organisations on responsiveness, companies are discovering that long-held assumptions about cost and customer behaviour are incorrect: 

When lead times are reduced, costs do not rise; rather, they fall. Costs do not rise as a result of increased investment in quality; rather, they fall. Costs fall when product variety increases and response time decreases; they rise.

Today's new-generation businesses recognise time as the fourth dimension of competitiveness and, as a result, use flexible manufacturing and rapid-response systems, as well as place a high value on R&D and innovation.

 Factories are in close proximity to the customers they serve. Organizations are built to produce quick responses rather than low costs and control.

 Companies focus on reducing, if not eliminating, delays and attracting the most profitable customers by leveraging their response advantage.

How To Get Things Right: The Checklist Manifesto

Jack Dorsey recommends (Co-founder of Twitter and CEO of Square)

The Manifesto of the Checklist

In his most recent best-seller, Atul Gawande demonstrates what the simple concept of a checklist reveals about the complexity of our lives and how we can deal with it.

 The modern world has provided us with incredible knowledge. Nonetheless, avoidable failures continue to plague us in health care, government, the legal system, the financial sector, and almost every other organised activity.

 And the reason is simple: the volume and complexity of knowledge today has outstripped our ability as individuals to deliver it to people in a consistent, correct, and safe manner.

We train longer, specialise more, and use ever-improving technology, but we still fail. Atul Gawande makes a compelling case that we can do better by employing the most basic of tools: the checklist.

In gripping stories, he reveals what checklists can and cannot do, as well as how they could lead to dramatic improvements in a wide range of fields, from medicine and disaster recovery to professions and businesses of all sizes.

 And the insights are having an impact. Already, a simple surgical checklist developed by the World Health Organization based on the ideas described here has been adopted as a standard of care in more than twenty countries.

Steve Jobs recommends The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail (Co-founder and a Former CEO of Apple Inc)

The Innovators' Predicament

A classic example of innovation. Clay Christensen's work continues to underpin today's most innovative leaders and organisations, from Steve Jobs to Jeff Bezos.

By renowned author Clayton M. Christensen, this is the best-selling classic on disruptive innovation.

His work has been cited by some of the world's most well-known thought leaders, including Steve Jobs and Malcolm Gladwell.

Clayton Christensen, an innovation expert, shows how even the most outstanding companies can do everything right and still lose market leadership in this classic bestseller—one of the most influential business books of all time.

 Christensen explains why most businesses fail to capitalise on new waves of innovation. 

He claims that regardless of industry, a successful company with established products will be pushed aside unless managers understand when and how to abandon traditional business practises. 

The Innovator's Dilemma provides a set of rules for capitalising on the phenomenon of disruptive innovation, using both successes and failures from leading companies as examples.

The Innovator's Dilemma is a book that no manager, leader, or entrepreneur should be without. It is sharp, cogent, and provocative, and it is consistently cited as one of the most valuable business ideas of all time.

Beyond Large-Scale Production in the Toyota Production System

TIME Magazine named this book one of the top 25 most influential business management books.

Toyota Manufacturing System

Taiichi Ohno, the inventor of the Toyota Production System and Lean manufacturing, shares the genius that has distinguished him as one of the most disciplined and creative thinkers of our time in this classic text.

Ohno's book explains how Lean principles can improve any production endeavour by combining his candid insights with a rigorous analysis of Toyota's attempts at Lean production. 

This work is a must-read for all students of human progress because it provides a historical and philosophical description of just-in-time and Lean manufacturing.

 On a more practical level, it continues to inspire and instruct those seeking to improve efficiency through waste elimination.

Straight From The Heart, Jack

James Dimon recommends (CEO of JPMorgan Chase)

Straight From The Heart, Jack

He was known as Neutron Jack. He was dubbed "the world's toughest boss." Then Fortune dubbed him "Manager of the Century."

 During his twenty-year tenure as CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch defied conventional wisdom by transforming the company from an ageing behemoth into a lean, mean engine of growth and corporate innovation.

 In this remarkable autobiography—a classic business book and runaway New York Times bestseller now updated with a new afterword by the author—Jack Welch takes us on a wild ride through his remarkable life.

Welch tells his intensely personal storey with his well-known fire and candour, from his working-class childhood to his early days at G.E. Plastics to his life at the helm of the world's most successful company. 

And, despite chronicling billion-dollar deals and high-stakes corporate standoffs, Jack is ultimately a storey about people—from a man who built his career on expecting nothing less than the best from others and himself.

My Time at General Motors

Bill Gates recommends (Co-founder and a Former CEO of Microsoft)

My Time at General Motors

Only a few business books have achieved the status of classic, having stood the test of time for more than three decades.

Even today, Bill Gates considers MY YEARS WITH GENERAL MOTORS to be the best business book to read, and Business Week has named it the top choice for its "bookshelf of indispensable reading."

 When MY YEARS WITH GENERAL MOTORS was first published in 1963, it became an instant best-seller. 

It has since been used as a management manual, providing personal glimpses into the practise of the "management discipline" by the man who perfected it. 

This is a storey that no other businessman could tell: a distillation of a half-century of intimate leadership experience with a massive industry, as well as an inside look at dramatic events and creative business management.

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