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Josh Howell

Josh Howell

President, Executive Team Leader, Lean Enterprise Institute
Joshua Howell is president and executive team leader at the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI). He supports co-learning partnerships across a variety of industries such as retail, restaurants, and construction, exploring how organizations transform for higher levels of performance with lean thinking. As a coach, he designs and facilitates hands-on learning experiences with solving meaningful problems by improving the work, believing such activities can add up to enterprise-wide lean transformation. Regular e-letters and podcasts are how he shares what he's learning with lean practitioners worldwide. 
Prior to joining LEI, Howell was an architect and implementer of a lean operating and management system for retail stores at Starbucks Coffee Company, where he also created a team of lean coaches who helped facilitate and sustain the changes globally. The system enabled improved quality for products and experiences, increased product availability, and reduced waste (eg. brewed coffee). It was implemented by creating problem-solving experiences for managers at all levels, developing that critical capability across the company.
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
Boeing Ex-Executive Alan Mulally Discusses a "Working Together Management System"
In this rare and revealing interview, Alan Mulally discusses lean management principles, including: the role of a CEO during a turnaround, how to take a “people-first” approach to leadership, and how to encourage people to share real information – good or bad. More »
I'm Josh Howell, Ask Me Anything
Since becoming LEI’s president a few months ago, Josh Howell has made it a priority to talk with you and visit your workplaces as much as possible. Please join in an Ask-Me-Anything conversation with Josh by sharing questions you have about the lean movement and the business struggles and problems you face. More »
All Lean Is Local
When I think about the idea of “all Lean is local,” I think about the fundamental entry point question for any Lean thinker in any situation, which is: “what's the problem to solve here? What's the problem to solve now?” More »
"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
Key Concepts of Lean Designed for individuals and teams that want to gain a better understanding of the components and underlying philosophy of lean, based on the Toyota Production System (TPS), and how the elements and philosophy work together to create a Lean Enterprise. More »
Lean in Service: A simulation-based workshop This workshop is designed for learning by doing with no up-front instruction. By discovering some key points through the simulation and receiving others “just-in-time” from the instructor, you will develop a deeper understanding of the why behind the techniques you experience. Engaging reflection sessions ensure that your learning objectives are met. 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 »
Managing to Learn: Gaining Agreement This workshop introduces the A3 management process and the way of thinking represented in the A3 format that capture the heart of lean management. Participants will be provided an overview of various forms and uses of the A3 format and will have an opportunity to create their own A3. Working in small groups, they will be able to read, discuss, and evaluate each another’s A3s. More »
Managing to Learn: The Use of the A3 Management Process This workshop introduces the A3 management process and the way of thinking represented in the A3 format that capture the heart of lean management. Participants will be provided an overview of various forms and uses of the A3 format and will have an opportunity to create their own A3. Working in small groups, they will be able to read, discuss, and evaluate each another’s A3s. 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. We will practice in real time through a lock-building simulation. More »