Lean Enterprise Institute Executive Chair Jean Cunningham Inducted into the Shingo Academy

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The award-winning author and executive pioneered the application of lean management concepts in accounting, human resources, and information technology.

Jean Cunningham

LEI Executive Chair Jean Cunningham is inducted into the Shingo Academy, which honors business leaders who have distinguished themselves in operational excellence.

I am so surprised and honored to receive this recognition. When my books won Shingo Awards, it became a key part in creating the confidence to continue to share what I had learned so that others might learn and be inspired as well.

Jean Cunningham, executive chair and interim CEO of the nonprofit Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI), today is the newest member of the prestigious Shingo Academy, which honors business leaders who have distinguished themselves in operational excellence.

Cunningham was inducted during a ceremony at the Shingo Institute’s annual conference on April 30, 2019, in Cincinnati. The Institute is part of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University.

“I am so surprised and honored to receive this recognition,” Cunningham said. “When my books won Shingo Awards, it became a key part in creating the confidence to continue to share what I had learned so that others might learn and be inspired as well. The recognition from Shingo for my books is a key reason I feel I was able to do the work that eventually enabled me to be recognized by the academy.”

Cunningham, who became executive chair and interim CEO of Boston-based LEI in March 2019, is the co-author of the acclaimed book, Real Numbers: Management Accounting in a Lean Organization, regarded as an essential text for learning lean accounting. She is co-author of Easier, Simpler, Faster on applying lean principles to IT processes. Both books were awarded the Shingo Prize for Research in 2004 and 2008, respectively. Last year, she published The Value Add Accountant on how finance and accounting can innovate and add value in strategic improvement efforts.

Early Lean Production Success
Between 1993 and 2005 Cunningham served as CFO at two manufacturing companies, where she pioneered integrating lean manufacturing with finance, IT, HR, marketing, and other business functions. One company was capital equipment manufacturer Lantech, an early example of lean production success and lean enterprise innovation that was featured in Harvard Business Review, business best-seller Lean Thinking, and The Work of Management published by LEI in 2017.

Cunningham’s work experience began at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), where she broke ground as the first woman plant controller. In that role, she created a fully engaged team approach to create excellence in the function. She later left finance for operations.

In 2006, she founded Illinois-based Jean Cunningham Consulting, providing strategic guidance, lean management coaching, and other continuous improvement practices globally to companies in manufacturing, services, and healthcare.

Cunningham, a sought-after speaker and keynoter at conferences, was inducted into the AME Hall of Fame for Manufacturing Excellence in 2018. She teaches Lean Accounting at the Ohio State University Master of Business Operational Excellence program.

About LEI
Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit training, publishing, and research organization based in Boston, MA, with a mission to make things better through lean thinking and practice to create more value and prosperity while consuming the fewest possible resources. Founded in 1997 by management expert James P. Womack, PhD, LEI conducts research, teaches educational workshops, publishes books and ebooks, runs conferences, and shares practical information about lean thinking and practice. Visit LEI at lean.org to learn more.

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