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Lean Enterprise Institute CEO John Shook Tells Entrepreneur Lean Management Is About Value Not Costs

Lean management concepts aren’t just for big multinational car companies, and they aren’t just about cost cutting, according to John Shook, chairman and CEO of the nonprofit Lean Enterprise Institute.

The concepts are primarily about delivering value to customers, Shook says in an interview appearing in the February issue of Entrepreneur magazine. And they work for companies in all industries and of all sizes, including startups.

“Lean thinking is delivering value for customers with minimal resources,” says Shook in the interview titled Trimming the Fat, How to Adapt the Lean Movement to Your Startup. “It is not about cost reductions. Instead the focus is on customer value. There’s nothing so meaningless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

Shook explains what he means by a lean enterprise and answers questions about how entrepreneurs can build in lean principles from the start, stay lean as their companies grow, and keep their organizations flexible. He also warns entrepreneurs about lean “traps” to avoid.

About John Shook

John Y. Shook learned about lean management while working for Toyota for nearly 11 years in Japan, 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. 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, the prototype lean business system. In his latest book Managing to Learn, he describes the A3 management process at the heart of lean management and leadership.

About the Lean Enterprise Institute

Lean Enterprise Institute Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Cambridge, MA, makes things better through lean research, education, publishing, and conferences. Founded in 1997 by management expert James P. Womack, PhD, LEI supports other lean initiatives such as the Lean Global Network, the Lean Education Academic Network, and the Healthcare Value Network. Visit LEI lean.org more information.