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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.
  • 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 »