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Josh Howell

Josh Howell

Senior Coach, Lean Enterprise Institute
Joshua Howell is senior coach, co-learning activities at the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI). Howell was an architect and implementer of a lean operating system for retail stores at Starbucks Coffee Company, where he also created a team of coaches to facilitate and sustain the lean transformation globally. Among its improvements, the system improved the quality of products and experiences, increased product availability, and reduced waste in stores (eg. coffee waste). It was implemented in an innovative way, where managers had “problem solving experiences” to develop that critical capability.
As senior coach, Howell supports co-learning partnerships across a variety of sectors, most notably retail, restaurants, and construction. He designs and facilitates hands-on learning experiences that develop capability for practices like work improvement, skill building, and A3-based problem solving.  Through direct involvement in lean transformation efforts, he conducts research into the implementation of lean business systems. Howell holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame.
Articles by Josh Howell
"What Did I Transform Today?"
A lean approach to coaching is incomplete if nothing has changed for the better, says Josh Howell, who shares how he learned that it is not enough to only think, talk, write, and draw. Best to conclude each day by asking yourself, "What did I transform today?" More »
Workers Unite for Better
The local strike by hospitality workers in Boston has led Josh Howell to contrast this situation with the lean culture at Dreamplace Hotels and Resorts in Tenerife, where front-line workers produce and socialize beautifully messy A3-sized papers sharing ideas for improvements. More »
Lean Coffee-Inspired Coaching
Lean Coffee has been praised for making meetings more productive by giving all participants a say in creating an agenda that works for everyone. LEI Senior Coach Josh Howell recently chose to incorporate Lean Coffee principles into the 2017 Lean Coaching Summit, which he organized and hosted back in July. Here's how he did it and what we as coaches can learn from it. More »
Advice from the Gemba: TPS Mythbusting
Despite its fundamental role in a lean transformation, the Toyota Production System is not an easy thing for many to grasp. In this special installment of Advice from the Gemba, three of LEI's accomplished faculty discuss the most common misconceptions they hear about TPS from their workshop participants. More »
Big Problems? Start Small
"In problem solving, we’re taught to ask a simple question, “Is this problem within my scope of control?” If yes, then we go after it. If no, then we escalate it to the next level of management. But for that to happen, I’ve learned it’s sometimes necessary to engage frontline team members in thinking about their work (steps, stuff, and time involved for transformation per a customer need) first.  " More »
A More Prepared Coach
"Many coaching situations we enter.  ..  with so little knowledge about the situation and how things work," writes Josh Howell. "Instead we rely on our wits and our ability to “ask effective questions.  '" But neither wits nor questioning skills will guarantee a productive coaching session if you haven't taken time to prepare yourself. Read more. More »
Experimenting with LEI's Transformation Model
Josh Howell, senior coach at LEI, reflects on LEI's Lean Transformation Model. "We set out to better understand the model, its value, and its usefulness," he writes. "We did this by trying to incorporate it into everything that we do and through experimenting with you, our customers.  " More »
The Case for Lean Thinking in Retail and Service Organizations
Josh Howell, senior coach at LEI, recently joined Ron Pereira at Gemba Academy for podcast conversation on coaching, lean thinking for retail and service organizations, and what respect for people really means. Check out some of the highlights here. More »
Hanging Up My Cape
"Managers and front line workers hustle to work around problems resulting from poorly designed work systems.  .. and with such pride!" writes lean coach Josh Howell. While he remembers them fondly, read why Howell is long past his superhero days. More »
How to Fold a T-Shirt
Training Within Industry Job Instruction is a four-step method that teaches an individual how to do a job correctly, safely, and consistently while meeting all requirements. In this video, LEI senior coach Josh Howell demonstrates standardized training for standardized work. More »
Are You Playing Today’s Game or Yesterday’s?
Are your coaching sessions with your staff inspiring 3-pointers or are they all air? LEI coach Josh Howell has some tips on how to keep your head in the game. More »
Workshops Taught by Josh Howell
Lean in the Service Industry: A simulation-based workshop (at the 2019 Lean Summit) In the U.  S. private sector, the service industry accounts for about 80% of GPD and employment. Lean and the Toyota Production System (TPS) began in manufacturing. But do they apply to services?  The simple answer is yes. But how? Come join us for a one-day simulation-based learning experience that explores lean thinking and practice in the service industry.   Using a food service retail scenario, we’ll “learn to see” three intersecting flows—customer, product, and various types of information—and common problems that directly impact sales and costs. Then, we’ll learn and practice several proven and practical improvement techniques that can boost More »
Managing to Learn at the Gemba This session builds capability to effectively observe the gemba in a purposeful way and to define a clear problem to solve. This is built off of the fundamental framework of A3 thinking from Managing to Learn by John Shook. More »
Managing to Learn Remotely: A3 Management - At Your Pace, At Your Place By attending this remote workshop, you and your classmates will be led by seasoned coaches one section at a time. Allowing you the space & time you need to reflect and apply the learning along the way. This approach helps you solve real problems at your company by collecting real-time data, collaborating with colleagues, and gathering feedback and support from peers and senior coaches. More »
Strategy Deployment and Alignment through Hoshin This workshop will help leaders understand Policy Deployment as a process for "de-selecting" initiatives down to the ones the organization can really achieve while aligning them with company strategic objectives and deploying them down through the organizational ranks. More »
Understanding Lean Transformation Come explore the components of the Lean Transformation Model, see examples of what others are doing and reflect upon some potential gaps to close within your own organization. More »
Using Training Within Industry (TWI) Techniques for Rapid and Sustainable Problem Solving Join us for a workshop based on scientifically-proven Training Within Industry (TWI) techniques designed to help you and your team (and the organization) learn faster. More »