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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.
  • Encountering Problems and Resistance
    October 13, 2020

    The doctor entered with a comforting bedside manner. We small talked. She asked about my work and I answered, in short. “Lean? You mean that Toyota thing?” In spite of the mask, I could read ‘Oh Brother’ on her face. “Yeah, we tried that here.”  read more »

  • The Hidden Value of Filling Out the Paperwork
    September 8, 2020

    Battle Creek, MI, where Toyota’s largest supplier Denso is located, was just added to my list of places to “go see” when the pandemic subsides. Why? Because I read about their use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) in creating standardized work. Jeffrey Liker reports on this example of Industry 4.0 in his upcoming revised edition of The Toyota Way (due out October 2020), an excerpt of which was published recently on the Lean Post. read more »

  • Changing Routines
    August 11, 2020

    Living through a pandemic is giving me a new appreciation for the value of routines and how they come to be. On the one hand, while sheltering-at-home, I’ve developed and keep tweaking an extensive morning routine: wake up, pour a glass of homemade cold brew, read something and/or go for a run, clean myself up, plan out my workday, shoot off a few emails and messages on Slack, fire up Zoom, huddle up with my colleagues, and eat lunch with my family. I have never had this much consistency in my day-to-day. I’ve been a high-volume business traveler for the past decade or so. read more »

  • Being ‘Right’ is Not Enough
    July 14, 2020

    All of us have problem-solving experiences to reflect on and learn from. And what better time to draw out that learning than now, when we as a society are tackling massive problems like the coronavirus pandemic and racism. In my case, I keep thinking about one experience when I failed.   read more »

  • Searching for a Path Toward Healing
    June 9, 2020

    Dr. Kiame Mahaniah, the CEO of Lynn Community Health Center, shares the message he wrote to his staff about finding a path toward healing after the recent spate of racial violence and resulting civil unrest.  read more »

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Other Josh Howell Related Content


  • Are You Creating the Right Environment?
    Turner Construction is working hard to develop the "right environment" in which productive lean inquiry is baked into the working space of each situation their team is facing, writes Josh Howell.
  • Creating Better Jobs and Better Work: A WLEI Podcast with Josh Howell and Sarah Kalloch

    As we slowly emerge from the long pandemic, LEI and colleagues like the Good Jobs Institute are deeply committed to helping produce decent jobs. In this conversation LEI LEI President Josh Howell spoke with Executive Director Sarah Kalloch of the Good Jobs Institute about ways they are both working to help foster good work. WLEI Host Tom Ehrenfeld moderated this conversation.

  • Who, or What, Is Your Company Investing In?
    After reviewing the stellar work by a frontline supervisor who improved the problem of rotisserie chicken running out of stock, Josh Howell asked: will technology work for your people, or the other way around?