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Jim Womack's eLetters & Columns

Jim Womack’s efforts to spread Lean Thinking throughout the world led him to found the Lean Enterprise Institute. While he was the CEO and Chairman of LEI (Jim is currently the Senior Advisor of LEI), he wrote a very popular series of eletters about lean. These are those letters, please feel free to share them with your colleagues. Jim Womack's efforts to spread Lean Thinking throughout the world led him to found the Lean Enterprise Institute.
  • The Power of Yokoten
    September 22, 2020

    I’ve written a lot about yokoten in recent years – the practice of spreading good (lean) ideas horizontally between and across organizations from their point of initial success (“Yoko” means in Japanese horizontal.) It turns out that this is hard, even for the methods and tools needed to create lean value streams. Lean requires practice, even when the theory is clear and simple, and it’s hard to find enough teachers with enough experience and time to lead the cycles of practice needed for sustainable yokoten. read more »

  • Maintaining Emotional Heijunka During a Pandemic
    March 31, 2020

    In this timely reflection, Jim Womack calls for "emotional heijunka": taking a deep breath, identifying the most important problems that must be addressed in a given process, and screening out the emotional inputs we are bombarded with so that we don't get into the dumps or soar with false euphoria. read more »

  • Join the Conversation and Stop the Rework
    May 9, 2019

    In the spring of 1997, as I was starting the nonprofit Lean Enterprise Institute, I visited a company that I hoped would be a founding sponsor. I explained to the senior leadership that a lean enterprise was far more than a brilliant production organization, as had they assumed. It was also a brilliant product development organization including a brilliant production process design team. read more »

  • Getting Over Gemba-phobia
    July 22, 2011

    “I work in a company where leaders think gemba walks are scheduled visits to the factory to look at performance visibility boards (forgetting to turn around and look at the work.) How do we try and correct this false thinking?” Jim responds with shared observations and suggestions for helping leaders learn how to walk the gemba.  read more »

  • Gemba Walk Checklist
    July 13, 2011

    Jim responds to this question from his Gemba Walks webinar: “Do you find it easier to complete your Gemba Walk if you have a pre-defined form to take with you on the walk?” read more »

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