Josh Howell's eLettersJosh Howell is president and executive team leader 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 lean coaches who helped facilitate and sustain the transformation globally.
Solutions from Afar
May 12, 2020
The pandemic exposes the problems with problem-solving using traditional management thinking--and offers an opportunity to apply lean thinking to address the most critical issue of the day: how to keep employees and customers safe as we re-open for business. read more »
The Lab is Open
April 14, 2020
Why it's important to create a way to challenge assumptions and develop know-how, solve problems, and continuously improve--even during a crisis. read more »
In Lean We Trust; Especially in a Crisis
March 17, 2020
When phone calls and cancellations started coming in, the COVID-19 crisis became more than a news report about somewhere else. We knew we had our own situation to deal with. read more »
What is the value to be created here and now?
February 25, 2020
Karen Gaudet has written Steady Work (!), a wonderful new book about her experience as a regional director of operations for Starbucks Coffee Company. read more »
My Personal Turning Point: Reflecting on a Decade as a Lean Coach
January 14, 2020
Last year I sat in the offices of several "lean champions" at their companies, agents of change who are trying to instill lean thinking throughout their organizations. Each had been in the role for years. A hallmark of their offices was a corner filled with rolled up flip chart papers - artifacts of past lean activities like value-stream maps. And a hallmark of our conversations were expressions of frustration with others who were not sustaining changes or choosing to make any in the first place. I could relate. read more »
Grit, PDCA, Lean and other four-letter words
December 10, 2019
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of what author Angela Duckworth calls Grit. She defines grit as a sort of mash-up between passion and perseverance. What I’ve been thinking about is the way that grit overlaps with lean thinking and the sustained work of applying PDCA over many cycles over a sustained period of time. read more »
The Challenges of Coaching
November 12, 2019
I’ve stepped into a new role recently, assuming responsibility for a variety of new-to-me jobs. One of my new jobs is writing this monthly e-letter. For this job, and many others, I have a lot to learn about the work, leaving me wanting for some semblance of routine, however small. As a team leader (i.e. player-coach), I’m also responsible for supporting others who find themselves in similar situations. read more »
October 15, 2019
A few weeks ago, during a day-long meeting with an executive management team, the topic of standardized work came up … again. It’s been popping up in conversations rather frequently of late. read more »
A Revelation at the Gemba
September 5, 2019
During my travels this summer, both personal and for LEI, I’ve been reflecting a lot on the Institute’s 20+ year history while thinking about my role in shaping its future. I’ve also been talking to many of you, the members of the Lean Community, taking advantage of community gatherings like the annual Designing the Future and Lean Coaching Summits, to better understand your current challenges. I’m also meeting with potential collaborators who can help further LEI’s mission of advancing lean thinking via thought-leading content, experimentation, coaching, and training. read more »
Reflections from LEI’s New President, Josh Howell
June 3, 2019
Josh Howell, an experienced manager and lean management coach, is LEI’s new president and executive team leader. Read his note to the lean community and share your thoughts. read more »
Solutions from Afar
A leader's job isn't to provide solutions to problems; it's to teach and coach their staff to solve problems themselves--at the gemba.
Solutions from Afar
The pandemic exposes the problems with problem-solving using traditional management thinking--and offers an opportunity to apply lean thinking to address the most critical issue of the day: how to keep employees and customers safe as we re-open for business.
Single Week Exchange of Business
You’ve no doubt heard of a single-minute exchange of dies in manufacturing, but what happens when you need to changeover your entire customer base in a few days? Here's the story of how a couple of lean thinkers did just that when the pandemic upended their business.