TWI Network
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John Y. Shook

John Shook Photo


John Shook is an industrial anthropologist who began his observations and analysis of companies, their operations, and organization during his first tour of companies in Japan in 1977. This led to John learning about lean while working for 11 years with Toyota in Japan and the United States, helping that company transfer production, engineering, and management systems from Japan to its overseas affiliates and suppliers.  During his seven-year stay at Toyota's headquarters, he became the company's first American "kacho” (manager) in Japan.  In the United States, John became a part of Toyota’s North American engineering and R&D center in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1991, as general manager of administration and strategic planning.  His last position with Toyota was as senior American manager with the Toyota Supplier Support Center in Lexington, Kentucky, the company’s organization to assist the efforts of North American companies to implement TPS. 

This real-world experience in implementing lean principles throughout an organization gives him insight into the challenges faced by those who are interested in lean enterprises.  As co-author of the classic Learning to See, John helped introduce value-stream mapping, the standard tool used by lean practitioners around the world for identifying and eliminating sources of non-value adding activities and for system redesign. In Managing to Learn, 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. John has written numerous articles, book chapters, is a frequent presenter at major conferences, and has authored the Lean Management column for LEI’s web site,

John is now transitioning to a new role as Chairman and CEO of the Lean Enterprise Institute, the not-for-profit research and education institute founded by Dr. James Womack.  He is the former director of the University of Michigan, Japan Technological Management Program, and founded two independent, successful consulting groups, the Lean Transformations Group, LLC and the TWI Network, Inc.  John 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 directors of the Adrian Steel Corporation of Adrian, Michigan, and the not-for-profit International Student Conferences based in Washington DC. 

 John is widely recognized as a true sensei who enthusiastically shares his knowledge and insights within the lean community and with those who wish to make the leap.


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