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My heart sank when the review copy of Mark Hamel’s new book, Lean Math, landed in my inbox with a 20 megabyte thud. I was an English major in college, and was voted “Biggest Poet” among my classmate quants in business school—I wasn’t really thrilled at the prospect of trudging through 435 pages of equations, formulas, and more Greek letters than fraternity row at Ole Miss. 

The good news is that I didn’t have to read all 435 pages. And neither will you. Lean Math is not a turgid disquisition on some long-overlooked point of lean implementation. Instead, it’s a reference book that will help you all along the stages of your lean journey. Totally new to lean and need to know how to calculate takt time? A little farther along and need help calculating kanban quantities? Really advanced, and want to delve into the math of fractional factorial designs in Design of Experiments (whatever the hell that means)? Check, check, and check.

Although Lean Math caused me PTSD flashbacks to my grad school statistics class, it’s a terrific guide to both theory and practice—including helpful warnings about typical errors in usage of all the formulas and models.

You could probably find most (if not all) of the information through the all-powerful Google search, but you’d be a fool to do so. You wouldn’t be sure of the accuracy of the information you found; you’d have to figure out how to apply the concepts to your specific situation; and it would be drastically more time consuming.

Get Lean Math for the bookshelf. It’ll be a great doorstop when you’re not using it, and it’ll be invaluable when you need it.