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Jean Cunningham

Jean Cunningham

Principle, LEI Faculty, Jean Cunningham Consulting

Jean Cunningham is widely recognized for her pioneering work in Lean Accounting, IT, HR and other non-production functions such as lean business management and the lean office. Jean previously served as CFO at Lantech Inc., whose transformation was featured in Lean Thinking, and Marshfield Door Systems. She also served as the voluntary CFO for the Association of Manufacturing Excellence.

Jean is principle of Jean Cunningham Consulting, which provides lean business management services including workshops, kaizen events, and strategic coaching. She is in demand as a speaker at lean conferences and teaches Lean Accounting for The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, Master of Business Operational Excellence program. She has a bachelor’s in accounting from Indiana University and a master’s from Northeastern University’s Executive Program. Jean is co-author of Real Numbers: management accounting in a lean organization and Easier, Simpler, Faster: systems strategy for Lean IT, which won 2004 and 2008 Shingo Research Prizes, respectively.

Articles by Jean Cunningham
It's Not All About the Cash: How to Help Leadership Understand Lean's Financial Benefits
Lean's cost savings might not show up immediately on the income statement -- but that doesn't mean there were no cost savings! Oftentimes the financial benefits of lean are other benefits in disguise, and it's important that we teach our leaders how to recognize them. Jean Cunningham explains. More »
Advice from the Gemba: Standardizing Work for Leaders with Varied Tasks
How, many people ask LEI, can you possibly standardize a leader's work when even they can't predict what their work will look like on a given day? The answer: by adopting the right approach. Three LEI faculty members weigh in. More »
What the Books Don't Tell: Explaining the Financial Benefits of Lean
It's a curious fact that very few books about lean address the topic of finance. Questions about lean's financial benefits are often the first that leaders skeptical about launching a transformation ask, so it's a wonder why this is seldom addressed. Lean accounting pioneer and LEI faculty Jean Cunningham now weighs in on this information gap in lean finance, along with suggestions for how to bridge it at your company. More »
Advice from the Gemba: Keeping Senior Leadership Committed
The cost savings of lean are not always apparent in the short term. If your senior leadership was skeptical going into the transformation, this situation can easily make them lose confidence and pull the plug. What's the best way to keep them onboard and committed? Three lean practitioners share their thoughts. More »
Why and How to Engage Finance in a Lean Transformation. An Interview with Jean Cunningham
There's often a disconnect between an organization's lean and finance departments, especially when a lean transformation is underway. In her newest piece for the Lean Post, Jean Cunningham explains the root causes, potential dangers, and solutions to this all-too-common problem. More »
Putting Financial Value on Lean Transformation
What is the ROI on a kaizen event? How does Lean stack up against other revenue generation or cost-saving initiatives? While Jean Cunningham says questions like these reflect an incomplete and superficial grasp of Lean, she's using them as the impetus for helping people understand the financial benefits of their lean efforts. More »
When to apply IT to lean improvements
Are Lean and IT friends or foes?   Is that really the right question?  Instead, ask when should we introduce technology.    In the following graphic, which is related to the use of kanban with suppliers, each phase of the learning/implementation used technology differently.    Technology was applied only where it could aid in quality or waste reduction.  At the end, technology helped with data analysis. (Source: Jean Cunningham, Jean Cunningham Consulting.  ) Read a Q&A with Jean about how lean thinking affects your information technology needs. More »
Financial Worries? Take Action with Lean Now!
During the global economic crisis, many companies are worried about having enough cash to make their businesses run smoothly. Lean-thinking companies have an advantage because lean often conserves cash.  While a complete lean transformation can take years, there are focused lean actions you can take in the short term to free cash. More »
Books by Jean Cunningham
Real Numbers Real Numbers
Companies throughout the world are using lean principles to dramatically change the competitive landscape while generating new profitability and market share. As these companies transform, however, financial executives are usually not prepared for how lean principles affect finance and do not know how to streamline accounting. The management accounting model illustrated in Real Numbers points the way to unlocking the true profit potential of lean. More »
Workshops Taught by Jean Cunningham
Capturing the Value of Lean This workshop will show the connectivity between the various types of lean tools, techniques and concepts and how the benefits of using lean can be captured in both quantitative and qualitative aspects. Participants will be asked to bring specific problems or challenges with them to this workshop and throughout the day, "real-life" examples, applicable to their situation, will be given to show how to capture the benefits of lean based upon their specific need. More »