LGN’s flagship institute, Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc., was founded by Jim Womack and LEI and its lean learning partners have been active in North America for almost 20 years. LEI has close working relationships with lean practitioners, universities, and associations in all 50 states and across Canada. However, we recognize there is growing interest in the region and new sectors (government, services, etc.) for more lean knowledge and technical support.

Our goal for advancing lean thinking and practice throughout North America is to identify like-minded lean thinkers and practitioners and facilitate connections and learning opportunities among interested companies, institutions and individuals. Our approach is to provide a unified and coordinated strategy to advance lean thinking in the region through selective education and awareness activities, as well as engage in co-learning projects and partnerships.

Our development activities in North America are led by John Shook and Mark Reich of LEI.

If you or your organization would like to learn more about our activities in North America, please contact us at info@leanglobal.org

Leadership Team

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.

Mark Reich



As a hands-on general manager of the Toyota Production System Support Center (TSSC), Mark Reich directly implemented the Toyota Production System (TPS) or managed its implementation in a variety of industries, including automotive, food, furniture, and healthcare, among others.

Reich spent a total of nine years at TSSC, established by Toyota to share TPS know-how with North American companies. During a two-year tenure as GM, Reich doubled the number of companies supported from 20 to 40. He transitioned TSSC from for-profit to nonprofit status so it could better support its original mission to strengthen North American manufacturing and help any organization interested in implementing TPS. He also expanded the client base beyond manufacturing to hospitals, schools, low-income food distribution, and other nationally prominent nonprofits.

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.

Other Regional Initiatives