When I founded the Lean Enterprise Institute in Boston in 1997, I wanted to create a global network of non-profit institutes working horizontally to advance the ideas of lean thinking by conducting Lean Summits, presenting workshops, and offering translations of lean workbooks in their country or region. But I knew that doing so would depend on initiatives by members of the lean community across the world. The idea was not to create a pyramid, with LEI Boston at the top, but rather a network of independent institutes committed to common principles, with each node collaborating with every other node. So I’ve watched and waited for special individuals to come forward with the desire to advance our joint thought process in each country or region.
The first volunteer was Jose Ferro in Brazil, who I had worked with in the MIT International Motor Vehicle Program beginning in 1986. Jose was a business school professor in Sao Paulo but decided he wanted to more directly influence Brazilian industry by taking on the leadership of Lean Institute Brasil (“Brazil” in American English) on a full-time basis in 1998. (You can check on their activities at https://www.lean.org.br/.)
The most recent recruit is Yalcin Ipbuken in Istanbul. In a thirty-year career with the massive KOC group in Turkey, Yalcin led the group’s internal consulting division and its external search for new ideas and trends. With the cooperation of KOC, Dan Jones and I participated in a very successful Lean Summit in Istanbul in 1998. But we were only reaching a portion of Turkish industry and I suggested to Yalcin that we should wait until he retired and could set up a non-profit organization that would include all Turkish firms as well as interested individuals in the region. We have just signed the formal agreement, and I would now like formally to welcome Lean Enterprise Institute Turkey to the global network. We look forward to an intense and fruitful collaboration in the years ahead! When they launch their web site later this month, we’ll pass along the URL so you can read about their activities.
I hope that everyone in the lean community will find the activities of the current global affiliates of interest and that some of you will come forward as the next recruits in establishing lean institutes. The rules are very simple: A Lean Institute must be a non-profit organization not engaged in traditional consulting. It must have a board representing the spectrum of local industry. It must be financially self-supporting. It must be willing to work with other affiliates as part of a team to spread lean knowledge across the globe. And it must energetically promote the concepts of lean thinking in its local and regional community through publications (including translations of LEI workbooks), workshops (including local versions of LEI workshops), and Lean Summits.
I have asked Jose Ferro, as the pioneer with the first affiliate, to take the lead in developing the global network and Jose has been traveling extensively on behalf of the global community. (Indeed, in the past month he has been in the UK, Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany, France, Denmark, Italy, Poland, Turkey, and India!) If you or others you know have an interest in taking the initiative in a particular country or region, we will be delighted to discuss global affiliation.