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John Y. Shook

John Y. Shook

Senior Advisor and Executive Chairman, Lean Enterprise Institute
jshook@lean.org

John Shook is recognized as a true sensei who enthusiastically shares his knowledge and insights within the Lean Community and with those who have not yet made the lean leap.

Shook learned about lean management while working for Toyota for nearly 11 years in Japan and the U.S., 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. In the U.S., Shook joined Toyota’s North American engineering, research and development center in Ann Arbor, MI, as general manager of administration and planning. His last position with Toyota was as senior American manager with the Toyota Supplier Support Center in Lexington, KY, assisting North American companies implement the Toyota Production System. 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. In his latest book Managing to Learn, he describes the A3 management process at the heart of lean management and leadership.

Shook is an industrial anthropologist with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee, a master’s degree from the University of Hawaii, and is a graduate of the Japan-America Institute of Management Science. He is the former director of the University of Michigan, Japan Technological Management Program, and faculty of the university’s Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering.

He is the author of "Toyota’s Secret: The A3 Report"; Sloan Management Review, July 2010 and "How to Change a Culture: Lessons from NUMMI"; Sloan Management Review, January 2010, which won Sloan’s Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize for outstanding article in the field of organizational development.

Shook is a sought-after conference keynoter who has been interviewed on lean management by National Public Radio, Bloomberg News, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, and numerous trade publications.

Articles by John Y. Shook
Back to Basics: John Shook on the Role of Questions in Coaching
In this throwback to the classic John Shook eletter "Coaching and Questions; Questions and Coaching," we learn the impacts of asking coachees the right questions, as opposed to giving them the answers. More »
Book Value: The Mental ABC's of Pitching
"With both the All-Star Game and our Lean Coaching Summit approaching, I got to thinking about ways that non-lean books offer insights into coaching and mastery," writes LEI Chairman and CEO John Shook. Read more More »
“Do I have to be a team leader for the rest of my life?"
In this reprint of his latest e-letter, LEI Chairman and CEO John Shook reflects on the powerful lessons in the new book, "The Work of Management," by Jim Lancaster. More »
Job 1?
Ford CEO Mark Fields just decided he needed to cut costs. Then he suddenly realized he had 1400 people he didn't need so decided to eliminate their jobs. Did he need those people two weeks ago? Will he need them two weeks from now? More »
A Thriving Community of Practice
"Lean theory and practice are thriving here in early 2017 with the arrival of a small but rich batch of new books," writes LEI Chairman and CEO John Shook. "These recent and upcoming books all bring new ideas and new stories that can help grow and energize the lean community.  ..  " Read more. More »
Lean Quotes from John Shook to Inspire You and Your Team
We share with you some inspiring quotes from LEI CEO John Shook. More »
Managing Workflow—the Lean Way
The main responsibility of CIOs and other information technology managers is to create an environment for work to flow, according to John Shook, CEO, Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI) and Alice Lee, LEI executive director, writing in CIO magazine. More »
Innovation in the Work
"Innovation is a popular – and important – concept," writes LEI Chairman and CEO John Shook. "So, here are three questions. What is it? What does lean thinking have to say about it? So what?" Check out John's responses, and don't forget to follow his link to a new animation on innovation and lean. More »
You Can't Know If You Don't Know
Recently LEI Chairman and CEO John Shook found an interesting blog by Dr. Helen Kales of the University of Michigan, musing on a powerful set of words that can mean everything in lean thinking. The set of words resonated with John too, and he now shares his thoughts on the value it holds in his latest piece for the Lean Post. More »
Reflecting to Learn: Takeaways and Reflections on the A3 Process
In the wake of yesterday's interview with Mr. Isao Yoshino on the roots of the A3 process at Toyota, LEI Chairman and CEO John Shook shares more context about A3s and how they came to be. More »
How the A3 Came to Be Toyota’s Go-To Management Process for Knowledge Work (intro by John Shook)
A3 thinking is synonymous with Toyota. Yet many often wonder how exactly this happened. Even if we know A3 thinking was created at Toyota, how did it become so firmly entrenched in the organization’s culture? Retired Toyota leader Mr. Isao Yoshino spearheaded a special program that made A3s Toyota’s foremost means of problem-solving. Read more. More »
Malpractice in the New England Journal of Medicine
Several weeks ago, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article by two physicians bashing lean and questioning its effectiveness. LEI Chairman and CEO John Shook found the piece full of holes and misconceptions and now shares his thoughts on the piece in the form of a rebuttal. More »
Learning from John Wooden: Everyone Is a Teacher & a Coach
John Wooden was arguably the most successful, probably the most influential, and certainly the most studied coach in the history of US sports. Learn why his coaching was so effective and what it means for lean thinking and practice. More »
Japanese Cult Invades Saskatchewan Government
Lean has become a political football in the normally congenial province of Saskatchewan. Read what John Shook has to say about the matter. More »
Book Value: The Mental ABC's of Pitching
It's time for a little lean baseball! Inspired by the Red Sox World Series win, John Shook decided to return to one of his favorite reads, The Mental ABC's of Pitching by H.  A. Dorfman. More »
A Connecticut Yankee Machinist in Toyoda’s Castle
“Culture matters,” John Shook tells us in his post about Charles A. Francis, an American who worked for Toyota group founder Sakichi Toyoda in the early 1900s, “but never let stereotypical views of national character be used as an excuse to not do the right thing.  ” Read this remarkable story of a missing piece to the larger story of continuous innovation in process technology between the United States and Japan over the past 150 years. More »
A Sensei in One's Own Land
In his first piece for The Lean Post, John Shook addresses the question of if, when, and how you and your organization should work with an external coach. More »
Managing to Connect the Macro with the Micro
LEI Chairman and CEO John Shook explains management PDCA: improving the way we align people with process to achieve purpose, connecting macro level business objectives with micro levels of value creation throughout the organization. More »
Lean Leadership Lesson: First Thing, Grasp the Situation; Last Thing, Grasp the Situation (Appendix 1 to the eletter “Lead from the Front, Lead from Behind”)
In this appendix to his eletter on lean leadership, LEI CEO Joh Shook explains how leading in a lean management company requires a radically different set of skills and mindset than required by traditional modes of leadership behavior such as is taught in American business schools and championed in popular literature. The thinking and skills demanded by lean management focus less on providing the right solution and more on providing the right questions. More »
Policy Deployment: aka Strategy Alignment, aka Hoshin Kanri (Appendix 2 to the Eletter “Lead from the Front, Lead from Behind”)
As a way of illustrating the most common misconception about hoshin kanri, namely, that it’s a top-down deployment process, LEI CEO John Shook explains in Appendix 2 to his eletter “Leadership Again,” how a middle manager at NUMMI, the Toyota-GM joint venture, made an impact on the organization. More »
Where Lean Leadership Begins
As with all lean practice, leadership begins with grasping the current state. For lean leaders that means understanding the external business environment, the organization's internal environment, and our own capabilities, according to LEI CEO John Shook. "Lean thinking teaches us that we are all leaders," Shook said.  "We are all teaching all the time, and we are all leading all the time by example. " More »
Presentation: Learning To See - Making Value Flow From End to End
What’s most  difficult in production often isn’t making the product but  organizing all the parts and materials that go into it, notes LEI CEO John Shook in the presentation “Learning To See: Making Value Flow From End to End.  ”He covers how lean management developed to solve this problem from Henry’s Ford Highlight Park, MI, assembly line to  the development of the Toyota Production System. He covers key TPS elements and methods such as value-stream mapping, built-in quality, one piece flow, waste elimination, total system efficiency, and developing people as problem solvers. More »
What Are the Lean Enterprise Institute and the Lean Global Network
John Shook, CEO of the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), describes LEI and the Lean Global Network, a group of 18 education-oriented nonprofits dedicated to spreading lean thinking. Shook was speaking at a meeting of the Lean Enterprise Institute Hungary, a network member.  At about 10:40 into the video, John summarizes lean management as a different way of thinking about work, not as cost cutting or shrinking the size of companies.  “Rather than just cutting cost, it’s properly understood as a way of thinking, said Shook.  ” Lean companies want everyone deeply engaged in solving company goals, which means giving customers More »
Books by John Y. Shook
Learning to See Learning to See
Value-stream maps are the blueprints for lean transformations and Learning to See is an easy-to-read, step-by-step instruction manual that teaches this valuable tool to anyone, regardless of his or her background.  This groundbreaking workbook, which has introduced the value-stream mapping tool to thousands of people around the world, breaks down the important concepts of value-stream mapping into an easily grasped format.   The workbook, a Shingo Research Prize recipient in 1999, is filled with actual maps, as well as engaging diagrams and illustrations.    More »
Kaizen Express Kaizen Express
Kaizen Express is a concise but precise illustrated guide to the fundamentals of the Toyota Production System (TPS) and how to implement them. It is ideal for individuals or teams starting a lean transformation or in need of a quick refresher on the fundamental concepts of lean manufacturing. More »
Managing to Learn: Using the A3 management process Managing to Learn: Using the A3 management process
Managing to Learn by Toyota veteran John Shook, reveals the thinking underlying the A3 management process found at the heart of lean management and leadership. Constructed as a dialogue between a manager and his boss, the book explains how “A3 thinking” helps managers and executives identify, frame, and act on problems and challenges. Shook calls this A3 approach, “the key to Toyota’s entire system of developing talent and continually deepening its knowledge and capabilities.  ” More »
Workshops Taught by John Y. Shook
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 »
Online - Introduction to Lean Thinking and Practice This online course serves as an introduction to the key concepts, philosophies, and tools associated with lean thinking and practice. Designed through a joint effort between the Lean Enterprise Institute and the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. 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 »