Less than a week after he was named James Womack's successor as CEO of the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), John Shook was heading to Tokyo University in Japan to check on the latest developments there and "reach out to old friends."
In his new role, Shook will likely take many more trips to explore the latest trends in the business world. The current LEI senior adviser says he doesn't plan to make any drastic changes in his new role but will be busy interacting with the business community to determine their needs. "I will recognize as Jim Womack recognized when he asked me to take the reins that the landscape has changed in last 13 years since LEI was formed," Shook says. "So what I have to do first is reach out to the community and understand what the community needs are. My favorite words of Taiichi Ohno were begin from need.'"
Shook says LEI will continue to visit operations, keep in touch with the business community through online avenues and engage in discussions thorough conferences and events with various thought leaders.
Womack announced on Aug. 24 through his online newsletter that he would step down on Sept. 27 as CEO of the organization he founded in 1997. Womack is credited with coining the term "lean production" and is known as co-authoring with Daniel Roos and Daniel Jones "The Machine That Changed the World," considered one of the first books detailing Toyota's lean production system.
"I have always known that no leader should stay too long," said Womack in a prepared statement. "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."
Shook was the first U.S. manager at Toyota's headquarters in Japan, according to LEI. He also served as general manager of planning and administration for Toyota's engineering center in Ann Arbor, Mich., and the senior U.S. manager at the Toyota Supplier Support Center in Lexington, Ky. He helped Toyota transfer its management system to North America and globally.Shook has written or co-authored several lean management books and articles, including "Learning to See" and "Managing to Learn."