About the Lean Enterprise Institute

The Lean Enterprise Institute conducts research and shares practical information that advances lean thinking and practice.

Lean Enterprise Leaper

The Lean Enterprise Institute Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Boston, MA, with a mission to make things better by advancing lean thinking and practice. It was founded in 1997 by management expert James P. Womack, PhD.

Compared with traditional “think” tanks, we are a “do” tank. In partnership with select organizations, we carefully develop hypotheses about lean thinking and experiment to see which approaches work best in the real world. We then share and teach what we discover, providing new methods for organizational transformation.

We strive to answer every leader’s and manager’s most pressing question: “What can I do next to make a difference in my organization?”

What can I do next to make a difference in my organization?

We carry out our mission through value streams: Lean Education, Lean Learning Materials, Co-Learning Partnerships, the Lean Summit conferences, and our website lean.org.

We exchange information across the world through the Lean Global Network, consisting of more than thirty nonprofit organizations similar to LEI, sharing a joint mission in different countries.

By building a robust lean community through our website, and public events, we try to give leaders and managers the courage to become lean change agents. Any company, executive, manager, team leader, or team member wishing to join the transformation to a lean way of creating value is welcome in our Lean Community. We exist to support everyone who is starting or continuing their lean journey.


Years of Lean Coaching Experience


People Trained


Partner Companies Coached

About Lean Thinking and Practice

Rooted in purpose, people, and process, lean thinking & practice is a practical approach to organizing people within organizations and businesses to collaborate around achieving a shared purpose. Lean thinking & practice promotes:

  • Shared learning, engagement, and alignment across all levels and functions of the organization
  • Showing respect for the intelligence and contribution of all people
  • Continuously improving the processes used to achieve their purpose

Through lean thinking & practice, organizations create the most value for the customer, employee, business, and society by engaging everyone in problem-solving and improvement toward minimizing resource use.

Ultimately, a lean thinking & practice-based management approach benefits all stakeholders.

  • The customer receives increasingly higher quality products and services that better meet their needs and are delivered at the right time at better prices.
  • The organization fulfills its purpose of serving the customer while growing and prospering.
  • The employees become more engaged in their work, moving them toward achieving their fullest potential.
  • The shareholders receive an acceptable return on investment. And the community gains stability from successful companies and citizens.
  • The suppliers learn, grow, and prosper, along with the organization.
Jean talking to board of directors at a visual wall

Meet the LEI senior advisors and staff

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Jim Benson teaching Personal Kanban at Lean Summit

Meet the LEI faculty

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James P. Womack Scholarship and Philanthropy Fund

Our education systems rarely teach lean thinking and practice. To close these gaps in learning, LEI established the James P. Womack Scholarship & Philanthropy Fund (JPW Fund). The JPW Fund supports LEI’s mission by funding creative learning experiences in partnership with schools teaching lean thinking and community-based service organizations willing to provide gemba-based learning and improvement opportunities.​

To create innovative learning experiences, the JPW Fund is:

  • Partnering with educational institutions (universities, community colleges, vocational tech schools, etc.), NGOs, and other training organizations who provide students and faculty willing to learn,
  • Partnering with community organizations that use lean thinking to improve the delivery of services and serve as a learning gemba, and
  • Providing financial assistance and grants to teaching faculty and students to learn, practice, and conduct research on lean thinking

To provide the resources needed to establish and sustain the JPW Fund, LEI seeks support from its community of lean learners, corporate sponsors, and foundations who share Jim Womack’s vision and LEI’s mission to make things better.

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Lean thinking & practice in the news

News & Press Releases

Press Release | September 22, 2021

Finding Practical Continuous Improvement Information Is Easier and Faster on the New Lean Enterprise Institute Website

Improved navigation and functionality at the new lean.org, which launched September 21, 2021, make it easier and faster for businesses to find comprehensive content about continuous improvement.  Lean…

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Press Release | September 13, 2021

New Business Management Book is an HR Executive’s How-to Manual for Inspiring People and Creating Cultures of Continuous Improvement Anywhere

Author Kiyoshi Furuta, former human resource executive and CEO of Toyota Boshoku America, reveals his HR secrets in Welcome Problems,…

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Press Release | September 8, 2021

Executive and Continuous Improvement Leader Joins the Nonprofit Lean Enterprise Institute

Richard Vellante led the implementation and expansion of a successful lean continuous improvement effort as executive chef and executive vice…

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