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John Shook's eLetters

In pioneering books such as Learning to See, Managing to Learn, and Kaizen Express John Shook has taken Lean Thinkers from the fundamentals of implementing lean business systems to new territory.
  • What's your problem
    October 31, 2018

    There may be nothing more fundamental to lean thinking and practice than problem solving. For that matter, there may be nothing more fundamental to being human than problem solving. We breathe, we eat, we create civilizations – we deal with (solve, tackle) problems every step of the way. read more »

  • A Humble Conversation
    June 28, 2018

    For the past two years, John Shook and Edgar Schein have enjoyed the honor of engaging in an on-stage dialogue. The occasion? The Lean Healthcare Academic Conference at Stanford. Read more about the exchange. read more »

  • Want Better Employees? Be a Better Employer.
    December 7, 2017

    Every nation in the world is on a quest to create more jobs. As they should be.But, we don’t want just “jobs.” We want good jobs. Our friend Zeynep Ton offers a prescription for good jobs. Ton, MIT professor and author of the Good Jobs Strategy, has seen jobs from many angles. Growing up in her native Turkey, Prof Ton had the opportunity to observe tough but decent paying factory jobs. In her university research in the US, where the economy has steadily moved from manufacturing to the service sector, Professor Ton has observed with dismay the sad state of service jobs and the wide variety of policies with which firms approach the employment of people under the pressure of harsh business strategies. But, the good news: Ton has also identified firms – like Costco, Trader Joes, Mercadona, and Toyota – that do a great job of treating employees right. And she shows how and why the firms reap the rewards just as well as do the employees. read more »

  • “Do I have to be team leader for the rest of my life?"
    June 27, 2017

    At his talk at the Lean Transformation Summit earlier this year, and at conferences since then, including Industry Week and Shingo, Lantech CEO Jim Lancaster shared these words, expressing a Groundhog Day-like despair at having to solve the same problems on a daily basis (“Didn’t we do this yesterday?”). As he voiced his anguish, I looked out and saw a good 600 of the 660 listeners looking down at their feet in a shared response, his comment the awakening whap of a “Zen stick” (as Dan Prock would say, see PS below) inspiring each listener to reflect, “Yes, that’s me!” and ask, “If he can break the cycle, why can’t I?” read more »

  • A Thriving Community of Practice - Book Report
    February 7, 2017

    I am often asked why the “lean movement” has outlasted so many business improvement movements that have come and gone. For some ad hoc thoughts in response to interview questions in that regard, check out my conversation with Roberto Priolo at Planet Lean. Surely one sign of the health of any community is the continuing evolution of theory and practice. Read more. read more »

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Other John Shook Related Content

Books

Articles

  • The Remarkable Chief Engineer
    How can a system in which "we are all connected and no one is in charge" support purposeful and productive work? Toyota's famed Chief Engineer system has much to offer in this regard. John Shook explores how the leadership styles of, and ways of working by, the CE might provide something of a roadmap for all of us.
  • How Standardized Work Integrates People With Process
    In this three part series on SW, John Shook argues that "the Toyota Way is a socio-technical system on steroids. A test for all our lean systems is the question of how well we integrate people with process (the social with the technical). Nowhere does that come together more than in the form of standardized work and kaizen."
  • Is Lean Thinking Art or Science? Yes
    Calling the recent book Lean Conversations a landmark initiative on lean and the arts, John Shook observes that "If Jean Cocteau’s famous observation that 'art is science made clear' has meaning, we can all benefit from further exploration of the relationship between lean thinking and art & science."

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