The non-profit Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI) on August 24 announced a CEO succession plan in which James P. Womack, Ph.D., founder, chairman and CEO, will step down on September 27, 2010. Womack, who led the MIT research team that coined the term “lean production,” founded LEI in 1997 to advance lean principles around the world and in all types of businesses.

LEI senior advisor John Y. Shook will become CEO and chairman of the board of directors. The management transition, which will occur at the regular September meeting of LEI’s board, concludes a two-year process of succession planning.

“I have always known that no leader should stay too long,” said Womack. “I believe that now is the right time to move forward with our transition plan as LEI prepares to launch the next phase of its life. There is no one better qualified than John Shook to implement that new phase. He combines deep lean expertise with management experience. He is the perfect combination of Lean Thinker and executive.”

Lean Thought Leadership
“I am honored that Jim and the board of directors are entrusting me to lead LEI in its next phase,” Shook said. “For 13 years Jim has set a high standard for all of us. His energy and thought leadership inspired LEI and the global lean community to do great things. I look forward to building on this strong foundation. LEI’s non-profit mission will not change; we will continue to promote the application of lean thinking around the world to every type of service and industry, indeed, to every human endeavor.”

“While the mission will remain the same,” Shook continued, “LEI will be flexible to adapt to meet the changing needs of the Lean Community. The lean movement has matured over the 13 years since Jim founded LEI. I look forward to engaging with Community members to learn how LEI can best support their continually evolving needs“.

 “John Shook is the perfect successor to Jim Womack,” said LEI board member Peter Ward, professor and department chair, Department of Management Sciences, The Ohio State University. “John has been a mentor to LEI since its launch, one of its most influential authors, and a champion of its nonprofit educational mission. The board looks forward to his leadership.”

About John Shook
Shook was the first American manager at Toyota's headquarters in Japan, general manager of planning and administration for Toyota's engineering center in Ann Arbor, MI, and the senior American manager at the Toyota Supplier Support Center in Lexington, Ky. He helped Toyota transfer its management system to North America and around the world.

Shook has written or co-authored several important lean management books and articles. He is co-author of LEI’s classic Learning to See workbook that established value-stream mapping as the tool used around the world for identifying and eliminating sources of nonvalue-adding activities and for system redesign. In Managing to Learn, Shook described for the first time the dynamics of lean management and leadership and how they are supported by the A3 management process.

He also co-authored Kaizen Express, a practical guide to the fundamental elements of the Toyota Production System (TPS), the first comprehensive lean business system. He helped translate into English The Birth of Lean, a compilation of first-person accounts by the Toyota executives who created TPS. He has written numerous articles and book chapters, is a frequent presenter at major conferences, and has authored the Lean Management column for LEI’s Web site. Shook is a lifetime member of the Shingo Academy and serves on the Shingo Prize board of governors. He is a member of the board of Adrian Steel Corporation of Adrian, Mich., and the non-for-profit International Student Conferences based in Washington D.C.

About James Womack
Ground-breaking books co-authored by Womack and Daniel Jones formed the intellectual basis of LEI. The best known are: The Machine That Changed the World (with Daniel Roos), Lean ThinkingSeeing The Whole: mapping the extended value stream and Lean Solutions. Womack also wrote a popular monthly e-letter about lean management. He made the CEO succession announcement in an e-letter to the Lean Community.

From 1975 to 1991, Womack was a full-time research scientist at MIT, directing a series of comparative studies of world manufacturing practices. As research director of MIT’s International Motor Vehicle Program, Womack led the research team that in 1987 coined “lean production.” He also is a member of the Shingo Academy. 

While stepping down from his management role, Womack will remain at LEI, continuing to write and participate in research.

Ready for the Future
Shook will build on LEI’s accomplishments of the past year, including:


About Lean Enterprise Institute
Lean Enterprise Institute Inc., was founded in 1997 by management expert James P. Womack, Ph.D., as a nonprofit research, education, publishing, and conference company with a mission to advance lean thinking around the world. We teach courses, hold management seminars, write and publish books and workbooks, and organize public and private conferences. We use the surplus revenues from these activities to conduct research projects and support other lean initiatives such as the Lean Education Academic Network, the Lean Global Network and the Healthcare Value Leaders Network. Visit http://www.lean.org for more information.