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James P. Womack

James P. Womack

Founder and Senior Advisor, Lean Enterprise Institute
jwomack@lean.org

Management expert James P. Womack, Ph.D., is the founder and senior advisor to the Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc., a nonprofit training, publishing, conference, and management research company chartered in August 1997 to advance a set of ideas known as lean production and lean thinking, based initially on Toyota’s business system and now being extended to an entire lean management system.

The intellectual basis for the Cambridge, MA-based Institute is described in a series of books and articles co-authored by Womack and Daniel Jones over the past 20 years. The most widely known books are: The Machine That Changed the World (Macmillan/Rawson Associates, 1990), Lean Thinking (Simon & Schuster, 1996), Lean Solutions (Simon & Schuster, 2005), and Seeing The Whole Value Stream (Lean Enterprise Institute, 2011). Articles include: "From Lean Production to the Lean Enterprise" (Harvard Business Review, March-April, 1994), "Beyond Toyota: How to Root Out Waste and Pursue Perfection" (Harvard Business Review, September-October, 1996), “Lean Consumption” (Harvard Business Review, March-April, 2005).

Womack received a B.A. in political science from the University of Chicago in 1970, a master's degree in transportation systems from Harvard in 1975, and a Ph.D. in political science from MIT in 1982 (for a dissertation on comparative industrial policy in the U.S., Germany, and Japan). During the period 1975-1991, he was a full-time research scientist at MIT directing a series of comparative studies of world manufacturing practices. As research director of MIT’s International Motor Vehicle Program, Womack led the research team that coined the term “lean production” to describe Toyota’s business system.

Womack served as the Institute's chairman and CEO from 1997 until 2010 when he was succeeded by John Shook.

Jim Womack can be contacted at:

Lean Enterprise Institute
215 First Street, Suite 300
Cambridge, MA, 02142
e-mail: jwomack@lean.org
Tel: 617-871-2900
Fax: 617-871-2999

Articles by James P. Womack
Lean Thinking at 20, Part 2: A Q&A with Jim Womack and Dan Jones
Twenty years ago Jim Womack and Dan Jones helped launch the lean movement as we know it today with their key book Lean Thinking. Now, for a second day, we have the opportunity to ask the two authors to reflect on how lean thinking and lean practice have evolved since the book appeared. LEI senior editor Tom Ehrenfeld has asked Jim and Dan for their thoughts on a range of topics; please feel free to add your thoughts, comments, and questions. More »
Lean Thinking at 20: A Q&A with Jim Womack and Dan Jones
Twenty years ago Jim Womack and Dan Jones helped launch the lean movement as we know it today with their key book Lean Thinking. Yesterday we shared some thoughts on the book’s message; now we have the opportunity to ask the two authors to reflect on how lean thinking and lean practice have evolved since the book appeared. Please feel free to add your thoughts, comments, and questions over the next two days. More »
The Tesla Way vs. The Toyota Way
Does Tesla offer a Way of working that can challenge TPS? Perhaps a bit more time, and the development of a complete Tesla Business System, will get us closer to an answer. More »
Remembering Jim Harbour
"We in the Lean Community stand on a lot of shoulders. One broad pair belonged to Jim Harbour, who passed away last Saturday at age 86.  " Read Jim Womack's tribute to the former Ford and Chrysler executive and auto industry analyst. More »
Lean Government
"We in the Lean Community have no standing on whether a government should regulate any activity or provide any service," writes Jim Womack. "We can only make the humble suggestion that better decisions can be reached if the debate starts with a clear statement of the actual problem, followed by a structured process to identify and test countermeasures.  " More »
Bringing Respect for People to the World's Sweatshops
Jim Womack weighs in on how we might use lean thinking and practice to tackle the ongoing, systemic problem of sweatshop labor. More »
Starting Up, Growing Up, and Starting Over
In an essay first published in Gemba Walks (2nd Ed) and adapted for the Post, LEI founder and thought leader Jim Womack reflects on the lean movement, the lean startup movement, where the two communities meet, and where these two communities might be going, together. More »
Hooray for Honda
"We in the lean movement talk an awful lot about Toyota. But Honda has always been my favorite company in the lean universe," writes Jim Womack. "They were enormously helpful to me and the MIT research team.  .. and they were the first to apply lean logic in creating a global production and engineering system.  " More »
Gemba Walks Note to 2nd Edition
See the Note to 2nd Edition from the book Gemba Walks, 2nd Ed. More »
Gemba Walks, 2nd Ed. Foreword by John Shook
See the Foreward by John Shook from the book Gemba Walks, 2nd Ed. More »
Introduction by Jim Womack Gemba Walks, 2nd Edition
See the Table of Contents from the book Gemba Walks, 2nd Ed. More »
Bad People or Bad Process?
See the Table of Contents from the book Gemba Walks, 2nd ed. More »
Constancy of Purpose Gemba Walks, 2nd ed.
See the Table of Contents from the book Gemba Walks, 2nd ed. More »
The Work of Management
See the Table of Contents from the book Gemba Walks, 2nd ed. More »
Book Value: Jim Womack on Ford Methods and Ford Shops
Jim Womack, author of Lean Thinking and founder of The Lean Enterprise Institute, reflects on one of the books that greatly influenced his thinking. More »
Books by James P. Womack
Gemba Walks, 2nd Edition Gemba Walks, 2nd Edition
A collection of essays by Jim Womack based on the many gemba walks he has taken around the world. The 2nd edition contains 12 new essays in sectors such as healthcare and government. More »
Lean Thinking, 2nd Edition Lean Thinking, 2nd Edition
In the expanded second edition of the landmark book Lean Thinking, the authors revisit the companies studied in the first edition to discover that the continuing application of lean thinking has permitted these firms to prosper. In the first of two new chapters, the authors track the trend in inventory turns – the lean metric that cannot lie – across all industries, singling out one industry for special praise. Then they return to companies examined in the original book, reexamining the progress at Toyota, Wiremold, Porsche, Lantech, Pratt & Whitney, and Freudenberg-NOK. In this variety of companies and production environments, More »