Jim Womack Stepping Down
I know this post is a few days behind, but the news is big enough to warrant posts for several weeks. Jim Womack is stepping down as the CEO of the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI). Mr. Womack was the founder of LEI in 1997 and a integral part of bringing lean to the fore front in the United States. Without Mr. Womack, who knows where the U.S. would be in regards to understanding lean thinking. He has had such a enormous impact on lean thinkers.
Mark Graban posted about the announcement over at the Lean Blog last week. I want to look at it from a different lens.
I am glad to see the change. Not because I think Mr. Womack is “past his prime” or lean has “passed him bye” as you hear with coaches in sports or people in business. I am glad to see him role modeling leadership traits that he has helped us come to understand.
The first is succession planning. It wasn’t a hap-hazard plan that he was going to step down and now who to we put in his place. “Oh look John Shook is here lets have him takeover.” It was a two year process where Mr. Womack and Mr. Shook worked closely together, assuming so Mr. Shook could learn the ins and outs of LEI and “The LEI Way.”
The second trait Mr. Womack is role modeling is one you don’t see much from very top leadership. Humbleness. Mr. Womack sees it is time for change and understands that Mr. Shook can bring in the right change. Not scrap everything and start over change like you see in a lot of traditional leaders, but understand “The LEI Way” and improve upon it type of change. Too often you will see top leaders stay at the top until everything crumbles around them, then points fingers, and gets forced out. Mr. Womack sees it is time to step down even when things are going well for LEI, expansion into health care is a good example, because it is best for LEI.
I wish Jim Womack all the best and I thank him for pushing all of our thinking to the limits.
I also look forward to the future of LEI and what John Shook will bring to the table.