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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 what they want, when they want it, with minimum waste. It is that way of thinking that underlies the application of lean tools, such as 5S.

This way of thinking about work, which became known as lean manufacturing or lean management, developed at Toyota City as a series of experiments from about the mid-1930s until the mid-1970s. In the 1980s, Shook was the only American working there. “It was me and 70,000 Japanese trying to figure out how to transfer their production management system overseas.”

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