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John Y. Shook

John Y. Shook

Chairman and CEO, Lean Enterprise Institute

John Shook is recognized as a true sensei who enthusiastically shares his knowledge and insights within the Lean Community and with those who have not yet made the lean leap.

Shook learned about lean management while working for Toyota for nearly 11 years in Japan and the U.S., helping it transfer production, engineering, and management systems from Japan to NUMMI and subsequently to other operations around the world. While at Toyota's headquarters, he became the company's first American kacho (manager) in Japan. In the U.S., Shook joined Toyota’s North American engineering, research and development center in Ann Arbor, MI, as general manager of administration and planning. His last position with Toyota was as senior American manager with the Toyota Supplier Support Center in Lexington, KY, assisting North American companies implement the Toyota Production System. As co-author of Learning to See John helped introduce the world to value-stream mapping. John also co-authored Kaizen Express, a bi-lingual manual of the essential concepts and tools of the Toyota Production System. In his latest book Managing to Learn, he describes the A3 management process at the heart of lean management and leadership.

Shook is an industrial anthropologist with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee, a master’s degree from the University of Hawaii, and is a graduate of the Japan-America Institute of Management Science. He is the former director of the University of Michigan, Japan Technological Management Program, and faculty of the university’s Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering.

He is the author of "Toyota’s Secret: The A3 Report"; Sloan Management Review, July 2010 and "How to Change a Culture: Lessons from NUMMI"; Sloan Management Review, January 2010, which won Sloan’s Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize for outstanding article in the field of organizational development.

Shook is a sought-after conference keynoter who has been interviewed on lean management by National Public Radio, Bloomberg News, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, and numerous trade publications.

Articles by John Y. Shook
Managing Workflow—the Lean Way
The main responsibility of CIOs and other information technology managers is to create an environment for work to flow, according to John Shook, CEO, Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI) and Alice Lee, LEI executive director, writing in CIO magazine. More »
Managing to Connect the Macro with the Micro
LEI Chairman and CEO John Shook explains management PDCA: improving the way we align people with process to achieve purpose, connecting macro level business objectives with micro levels of value creation throughout the organization. More »
Lean Leadership Lesson: First Thing, Grasp the Situation; Last Thing, Grasp the Situation (Appendix 1 to the eletter “Lead from the Front, Lead from Behind”)
In this appendix to his eletter on lean leadership, LEI CEO Joh Shook explains how leading in a lean management company requires a radically different set of skills and mindset than required by traditional modes of leadership behavior such as is taught in American business schools and championed in popular literature. The thinking and skills demanded by lean management focus less on providing the right solution and more on providing the right questions. More »
Policy Deployment: aka Strategy Alignment, aka Hoshin Kanri (Appendix 2 to the Eletter “Lead from the Front, Lead from Behind”)
As a way of illustrating the most common misconception about hoshin kanri, namely, that it’s a top-down deployment process, LEI CEO John Shook explains in Appendix 2 to his eletter “Leadership Again,” how a middle manager at NUMMI, the Toyota-GM joint venture, made an impact on the organization. More »
Where Lean Leadership Begins
As with all lean practice, leadership begins with grasping the current state. For lean leaders that means understanding the external business environment, the organization's internal environment, and our own capabilities, according to LEI CEO John Shook. "Lean thinking teaches us that we are all leaders," Shook said.  "We are all teaching all the time, and we are all leading all the time by example. " More »
Presentation: Learning To See - Making Value Flow From End to End
What’s most  difficult in production often isn’t making the product but  organizing all the parts and materials that go into it, notes LEI CEO John Shook in the presentation “Learning To See: Making Value Flow From End to End.  ” He covers how lean management developed to solve this problem from Henry’s Ford Highlight Park, MI, assembly line to  the development of the Toyota Production System. He covers key TPS elements and methods such as value-stream mapping, built-in quality, one piece flow, waste elimination, total system efficiency, and developing people as problem solvers. More »
What Are the Lean Enterprise Institute and the Lean Global Network
John Shook, CEO of the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), describes LEI and the Lean Global Network, a group of 18 education-oriented nonprofits dedicated to spreading lean thinking. Shook was speaking at a meeting of the Lean Enterprise Institute Hungary, a network member. At about 10:40 into the video, John summarizes lean management as a different way of thinking about work, not as cost cutting or shrinking the size of companies. “Rather than just cutting cost, it’s properly understood as a way of thinking, said Shook.  ” Lean companies want everyone deeply engaged in solving company goals, which means giving customers More »
Books by John Y. Shook
Learning to See Learning to See
Value-stream maps are the blueprints for lean transformations and Learning to See is an easy-to-read, step-by-step instruction manual that teaches this valuable tool to anyone, regardless of his or her background. This groundbreaking workbook, which has introduced the value-stream mapping tool to thousands of people around the world, breaks down the important concepts of value-stream mapping into an easily grasped format.   The workbook, a Shingo Research Prize recipient in 1999, is filled with actual maps, as well as engaging diagrams and illustrations.    More »
Kaizen Express Kaizen Express
Kaizen Express is a concise but precise illustrated guide to the fundamentals of the Toyota Production System (TPS) and how to implement them. It is ideal for individuals or teams starting a lean transformation or in need of a quick refresher on the fundamental concepts of lean manufacturing. More »
Managing to Learn: Using the A3 management process Managing to Learn: Using the A3 management process
Managing to Learn by Toyota veteran John Shook, reveals the thinking underlying the vital A3 management process at the heart of lean management and lean leadership. Constructed as a dialogue between a manager and his boss, the book explains how “A3 thinking” helps managers and executives identify, frame, and then act on problems and challenges. Shook calls this approach, which is captured in the simple structure of an A3 report, “the key to Toyota’s entire system of developing talent and continually deepening its knowledge and capabilities.  ” More »