Home > About Us> People> Steven Spear
Steven Spear

Steven Spear

LEI Facutlty member, Steven Spear, senior lecturer in MIT’s Engineering Systems Division, senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and author of The High-Velocity Edge: Market Leaders Leverage Operational Excellence to Beat the Competition, which received a 2009 Shingo Prize for Research Excellence is a well known thought leader for his expertise on how organizations compete on the basis of process excellence and execution.

His Harvard Business Review articles about Toyota (“Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System” and “Learning to Lead at Toyota”) have become part of the lean manufacturing canon. His 2005 Harvard Business Review article on applying lessons from superb industrial companies in hospitals, “Fixing Healthcare from the Inside Today,” received his fourth Shingo Research Prize and his first McKinsey Award from HBR. His work has appeared in leading medical journals including Annals of Internal Medicine and Academic Medicine as well as the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Fortune.com, and Industry Week.

Actively engaged with practitioners, Spear helped develop and deploy the Alcoa Business System, regularly credited in the company’s annual report as the source of billions of dollars in repeated savings, and he helped create the Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative’s Perfecting Patient Care system, credited with preventing untold human suffering among hospitalized patients. His client base has spanned leading institutions in heavy industry, high-tech, software, financial services, and medical care.

Well-regarded as an instructor, Spear was on the Harvard Business School faculty for six years, has been on MIT’s faculty for four, and teaches in Harvard Medical School programs. He has worked with Toyota on workshops for developing senior leadership at its North American suppliers. As a faculty member for the Lean Enterprise Institute, Steven Spear works with leaders helping them build high velocity organizations.

Steve has helped produce the See to Solve software program, which addresses the problem of senior leaders being blindsided by crises and of front-line staff being overwhelmed by relentless process breaks that aggravate and chew up time, by providing quick and easy-to-use interfaces on mobile devices.

Articles by Steven Spear
Contributor’s Corner: Learning With 10X Speed at US Synthetic
How rapid learning cycles helped the synthetic diamond manufacturer slash its idea-to-test turnaround time from 43 days to 4.  5 days -- and create a significant advantage in the market. More »
Learning to Face Challenges with Agility and Resilience
In this excerpt from his book The High-Velocity Edge, Steven Spear explains how Toyota managed to adapt quickly to a catastrophic fire at one of its suppliers. He emphasizes that the company's internal qualities can benefit all companies seeking to be responsive to today's challenges. More »
Why Doesn't Lean Have a Seat at the Table?
Why hasn’t Lean spread more widely, asks Steven Spear, suggesting that it has not been framed in a way that addresses the strategic concern of managers. Instead it is primarily taught as just tools. And let’s face it, the licensed electricians don’t get a seat at the table. More »