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Josh Howell's eLetters

Josh 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.
  • 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 »

  • Standardize Locally
    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 »

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