EFI Group’s End of Summer Reading List for Industry: Find out which Books Made the Cut

We all know that manufacturing is currently facing an array of challenges. From the skills gap to jobs going overseas, there’s much to be addressed at every juncture.

The good news is that nothing inspires new ideas and innovative solutions more than a challenge.

Just as Ro Khanna set forth a vision for American manufacturing in Entrepreneurial Nation, most of the books that made our Summer Reading List for Industry did so because they present a fresh perspective and approach to what’s happening right now in industry and in business generally.

Of course, it’s summer, so we also included two selections that are unrelated to manufacturing and business, but which we think will have great appeal for those of us who enjoy engineering, math and science.

Here are the books that made our End-of-Summer Reading List for Industry:

Since we recently sponsored Ro Khanna’s keynote address at the SME Annual Conference, we topped our list with books similar to his Entrepreneurial Nation:

Made in the USA: The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing
By Vaclav Smil

While some economists argue that shipping low-value jobs overseas matters little because the high-value work remains in the United States. Smil asks, do we want a society that consists of a small population of workers doing high-value-added work and masses of unemployed? In this book, Smil assesses various suggestions for solving America’s manufacturing crisis.

Producing Prosperity: Why America Needs a Manufacturing Renaissance
By Gary Pisano and Willy Shih

Harvard Business School professors, Pisano and Shih, show the disastrous consequences of years of poor sourcing decisions and underinvestment in manufacturing capabilities. They reveal how today’s undervalued manufacturing operations often hold the seeds of tomorrow’s innovative new products, arguing that companies must reinvest in new product and process development in the US industrial sector.

This next group of books focus on Lean Manufacturing, a topic EFI Group will be speaking about at the 2013 Mid-Atlantic Lean Conference, Nov 5-6:

Going Lean: How the Best Companies Apply Lean Manufacturing Principles to Shatter Uncertainty, Drive Innovation, and Maximize Profits
By Stephan Ruffa

This book sets aside the notion that efficient operations and powerful innovations are only possible when business is steady and demand is growing. Instead, companies must adopt the powerful mindset is that chaos should be the norm.

The Lean Turnaround: How Business Leaders Use Lean Principles to Create Value and Transform Their Company
By Art Byrne

Few business leaders have applied Lean strategy as successfully as Art Byrne has. In this book, this legendary business leader shares everything he has learned during his remarkable career and shows how anyone can achieve similar results.

Back to Basics: How Kaizen Based Lean Manufacturing Turned a Failing Manufacturing Plant into a Success Story
By Bill Gaw

A business novel that follows the fortunes of a manufacturing plant manager as he learns to implement lean manufacturing, saving both his plant and his career. The unique format gives readers a front row seat for learning how to make lean practices practical and successful.

Our third set of books are focused on innovation across all businesses and industries:

Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace
By Gordon MacKenzie

Creativity is crucial to business success. But too often, even the most innovative organization quickly becomes a “giant hairball” – a tangled, impenetrable mass of rules, traditions, and systems, all based on what worked in the past. In this funny book, MacKenzie shares the story of his own professional evolution, together with lessons on awakening and fostering creative genius.

The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?
By Seth Godin

The safety zone has moved. Conformity no longer leads to comfort. But the good news, according to Godin, is that creativity is scarce and more valuable than ever – which means that choosing something unpredictable and brave in business today is more logical than playing it safe.

Poke the Box
By Seth Godin

Godin knows that one of our scarcest resources is the spark of initiative in most organizations (and most careers). This book is a call to action to the person with the guts to say, “I want to start stuff.”

Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs
By Larry Keely, Helen Walters, Ryan Pikkel and Brian Quinn

Using a list of more than 2,000 successful innovations, including Cirque du Soleil, early IBM mainframes and many more, the authors applied a proprietary algorithm and determined ten meaningful groupings that provide insight about innovation. The book explores these insights to diagnose patterns of innovation within industries, identify innovation opportunities and evaluate how firms are performing against competitors. The framework has proven to be one of the most enduring and useful ways to start thinking about transformation.

Finally, here are the two books we included just for fun:

Lady or the Tiger? And Other Logic Puzzles Including a Mathematical Novel That Features Godel’s Great Discovery
By Raymand Smullyan

The paperback reprint of Smullyan’s most successful book of puzzles is a mind-bending, pleasurable romp through the world of logic. For all ages and all levels of difficulty, these puzzles range from those that can be solved in minutes to those that will beguile for hours.

A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines
By Janna Lavine

Kurt Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems sent shivers through Vienna’s intellectual circles and directly challenged Ludwig Wittgenstein’s dominant philosophy. Alan Turing’s mathematical genius helped him break the Nazi Enigma Code during WWII. Though they never met, their lives strangely mirrored one another – both were brilliant, and both met with tragic ends. Here, a mysterious narrator intertwines these parallel lives into a double helix of genius and anguish, wonderfully capturing not only two radiant, fragile minds but also the zeitgeist of the era.

All descriptions excerpted from Amazon.

We hired EFI Group to help us figure out a project and scope it, and I felt confident they would keep a keen eye on it. They had to deliver quickly and they did it well. They are especially good at project management when you don’t have the resources to do it internally. Reliability is the word I would use to describe EFI Group.
— Coatings Industry Professional
EFI Group is timely. We’ve had a lot of situations when we’ve been in a time crunch and they’ve responded very quickly. They are detail oriented and efficient. They’re a good group of people who also have a lot of strength in pre-engineering — the thought process to get to preliminary design and making sure we’ve investigated all the potential asks of a project to ensure we didn’t miss anything. They have great attention to detail up front which is very important to any project because having that detail-oriented deep dive into the pre-engineering phase sets the stage for the success of the rest of the project, making the process smoother and making it much easier to keep the project on schedule and on budget.
— Mike Quigley, Engineering & Maintenance Manager, Food Industry
I’ve worked with EFI Group for a while, so I know they have a good, knowledgeable staff. We know we’re going to get the results from them we expect. From my interactions with all the different EFI team members I’ve worked with, I know they have knowledge across many industries. Equally, I never have to follow up with EFI Group and, in some cases, they keep me on track.
— Ryan Fredsall, General Manager, Pacer Minerals LLC
We view EFI Group as a team that can dimensionalize our capability to execute projects. We can articulate what it is we want to do and they can take that input and run with it without much intervention from us. They’re able to move a project along independently and only engage us when it’s time to bring us up to speed or get more input to drive a project to conclusion. That’s one of the reasons I view them as an excellent contractor.
— Environmental Engineering Industry Professional
EFI Group has good engineers and good customer service. We know when we get an EFI engineer on a project, we’re going to a get a good job from them and it’s been a productive relationship for both of us — I genuinely like the people.
— Corporate Director, Project Management in Food & Flavors Industry
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