Lean Enterprise Institute, USA

+1 (617) 871 2900
Mailing Address
215 First St., Suite 300 Cambridge, MA 02142 USA
Supported Languages


The Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc. (LEI) is a nonprofit research, education and publishing institute with the goal of making things better through Lean thinking and practice. Through co-learning partnerships with leading universities, companies and organizations across all sectors, and with an online community of 300,000+, we gather the best in Lean learning and share it with you.

LEI grew out of the MIT research team that was responsible for coining the term “lean production” to describe the revolutionary production and management system they identified at Toyota, as explained in the groundbreaking book The Machine That Changed the World (Womack, Jones, & Roos). Director of the research initiative, Dr. James P. Womack, established LEI in 1997 to share these principles and practices with the world. Today LEI is led by John Shook, Toyota’s first American manager in Japan and one of the people responsible for bringing TPS / TMS to the United States at NUMMI.

LEI is the proud cofounder and sponsor of the Lean Education Academic Network, the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value / Healthcare Value Network, the Lean Product and Process Development Network, and the Lean Global Network.


John O’Donnell

Executive Director


John O’Donnell joined the Lean Enterprise Institute in November, 2007 to serve as the first Executive Director of the Lean Global Network (LGN).  At LGN John oversees a network of 16 institutes whose mission it is to advance lean thinking and practice throughout the world in order to make things better for individuals, organizations and society.  As Executive Director, John’s role is to encourage LGN institutes and partners to work together to develop and strengthen their lean thinking capabilities in order to create value for customers and ensure the success of our institutes. John joined LEI in after 30 years of service with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA).  Within RITA, John ran a fee-for-service organization leading a staff of 160 transportation professionals overseeing a $50 million research portfolio.  John also served as the Acting Associate Administrator of the Bureau of Transportation Statistics towards the end of his DOT career. John was one of the federal government’s lead analysts in the Chrysler loan guarantee deliberations and was a principal author of the landmark Department of Transportation Report to the President on the U.S. Automobile Industry, 1980 which publicly introduced the “$1,500 comparative cost advantage of the Japanese automakers”.  This significant finding pointed to the fundamental differences between the Japanese and western production process and served as the launching point for many of the industrialized nations’ investigations into the Toyota production system, including MIT’s International Motor Vehicle Program.   From 1987-90, John served as Program Coordinator and Research Affiliate for Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s International Motor Vehicle Program.  The program produced the critically acclaimed book, The Machine That Changed the World.   John holds degrees in Economics and Management from Boston College and the University of New Hampshire and was a member of the federal government’s Senior Executive Service for over seven years during which he completed several courses in leadership at the Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia.

James P. Womack

Founder and Senior Advisor


Management expert James P. Womack, Ph.D., is the founder and senior advisor to the Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc., a nonprofit training, publishing, conference, and management research company chartered in August 1997 to advance a set of ideas known as lean production and lean thinking, based initially on Toyota’s business system and now being extended to an entire lean management system. The intellectual basis for the Cambridge, MA-based Institute is described in a series of books and articles co-authored by Womack and Daniel Jones over the past 20 years. The most widely known books are: The Machine That Changed the World (Macmillan/Rawson Associates, 1990), Lean Thinking (Simon & Schuster, 1996), Lean Solutions (Simon & Schuster, 2005), and Seeing The Whole Value Stream (Lean Enterprise Institute, 2011). Articles include: “From Lean Production to the Lean Enterprise” (Harvard Business Review, March-April, 1994), “Beyond Toyota: How to Root Out Waste and Pursue Perfection” (Harvard Business Review, September-October, 1996), “Lean Consumption” (Harvard Business Review, March-April, 2005). Womack received a B.A. in political science from the University of Chicago in 1970, a master’s degree in transportation systems from Harvard in 1975, and a Ph.D. in political science from MIT in 1982 (for a dissertation on comparative industrial policy in the U.S., Germany, and Japan). During the period 1975-1991, he 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 coined the term “lean production” to describe Toyota’s business system. Womack served as the Institute’s chairman and CEO from 1997 until 2010 when he was succeeded by John Shook.

John Y. Shook

Chairman and CEO


John Shook is recognized as a true sensei who enthusiastically shares his knowledge and insights within the Lean Community and with those who have not yet made the lean leap.

Shook learned about lean management while working for Toyota for nearly 11 years in Japan and the U.S., helping it transfer production, engineering, and management systems from Japan to NUMMI and subsequently to other operations around the world. While at Toyota’s headquarters, he became the company’s first American kacho (manager) in Japan. In the U.S., Shook joined Toyota’s North American engineering, research and development center in Ann Arbor, MI, as general manager of administration and planning. His last position with Toyota was as senior American manager with the Toyota Supplier Support Center in Lexington, KY, assisting North American companies implement the Toyota Production System. As co-author of Learning to See John helped introduce the world to value-stream mapping. John also co-authored Kaizen Express, a bi-lingual manual of the essential concepts and tools of the Toyota Production System. In his latest book Managing to Learn, he describes the A3 management process at the heart of lean management and leadership.

Shook is an industrial anthropologist with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee, a master’s degree from the University of Hawaii, and is a graduate of the Japan-America Institute of Management Science. He is the former director of the University of Michigan, Japan Technological Management Program, and faculty of the university’s Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering. Shook also helps companies learn lean management through the Lean Transformations Group, LLC, and the TWI Network, Inc.