Womack is the founder and chairman of the Lean Enterprise Institute, a nonprofit education, publishing, conference, and research organization chartered in August, 1997, to advance a set of ideas known as lean production and lean thinking, based on the Toyota Production System and now being extended to an entire Lean Business 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, Lean Thinking, Seeing The Whole: mapping the extended value stream, and Lean Solutions. The Institute conducts research activities in a wide range of industries to create a tool kit of methods for implementing lean thinking and the necessary leadership behaviors. The Institute also sponsors educational meetings, workshops, senior management seminars, and conferences through the year and helps people to apply lean thinking in manufacturing and entirely new applications such as healthcare, retail, air travel, and distribution.
Womack received a B.A. in political science from the University of Chicago in 1970, a master’s degree in transportation systems from Harvard University 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.
The five-step thought process for guiding the implementation of lean techniques is easy to remember, but not always easy to achieve:
1. Specify value from the standpoint of the end customer by product family.
2. Identify all the steps in the value stream for each product family, eliminating whenever possible those steps that do not create value.
3. Make the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence so the product will flow smoothly toward the customer.
4. As flow is introduced, let customers pull value from the next upstream activity.
5. As value is specified, value streams are identified, wasted steps are removed, and flow and pull are introduced, begin the process again and continue it until a state of perfection is reached in which perfect value is created with no waste.
I urge you to check out http://www.lean.org/ at which you can obtain a free LEI membership and access to a wealth of resources.