Five years ago we lost a wonderful man, deeply loved by everyone who knew him. Alan has left a significant mark in lives of everybody who was lucky to know him, to talk to him, to learn from him, and to laugh with him.
We were privileged to work with Alan, and to know him as a wonderful and supporting friend.
Alan has left us bright memories about his warmth, intelligence and kindness. These memories will always stay.
Many thanks to everyone who sent us their memories of Alan Leader. We will keep on publishing them.
Dr. Alan H. Leader received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Rochester, and his doctorate in business from Indiana University. In addition to several years of industrial production experience, he taught Management at Western Michigan University and the University of Guam, earning tenure and the rank of Professor at both. He was appointed Dean of the College of Business and Public Administration at the UoG, and Dean of the School of Business and Economics at Southern Connecticut State University. He left SCSU for Seattle, taught at Seattle University, and consulted (as Leader Associates) with businesses, governmental units and universities. Dr. Leader was a Jonah’s Jonah with the A.Y.Goldratt Institute (AGI).
He served on the international and educational committees of his University District Rotary Club and was its President for one term, the Volunteer Service League of the University of Washington Medical Center and was its President for one term, volunteered at the John Stanford International School, in the National Defense Executive Reserve, and was an active certified Mediator in Washington for the Snohomish, Island, and Skagit counties Dispute Resolution Center until the week before he died.
Dr. Leader presented papers and published widely in the areas of organization structure and effectiveness, decision making, strategic planning and continual quality improvement. He was awarded the Order of the Chamorri by the government of Guam, the Award for Teaching Excellence by WMU, the Herman B Wells Leadership Seminar Research Grant by IU, and a Ford Foundation Fellowship. Dr. Leader was named Dean Emeritus by SCSU. He was involved with the Theory of Constraints since the late 1980s, was a member of the Goldratt Schools faculty, and chaired the Thinking Processes Committee of the TOCICO. Alan was a Founding member of TOCPA.
His goal was to help people learn and apply rules of logic and common sense to everyday life. He believed that people have the necessary intuition, knowledge and experience to make good judgmental decisions about themselves and their relationships with others. He assisted them to become more effective in their homes and at their places of employment, and to live happier, more fulfilling lives.
Alan Leader was married (Louise Bush Leader) with two sons, two daughters-in-law, three granddaughters and a great granddaughter.
Alan in 1950:
Alan in 2005, teaching in a Goldratt Schools Application Expert Program in Vilnius:
In a meeting of Goldratt Schools Faculty, 2005
Louise Bush Leader
I deeply appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this Tribute to my husband, Alan. You had the opportunity to know him as a colleague. You knew him as a person who listened carefully, evaluated everything he learned rationally, and challenged himself and others to think beyond any conceptual box. Attending the meetings, especially the international ones, was always a high for him. He loved being with people of different ethnicities, countries, cultures and learning from them. I also loved attending them with one caveat – they were always held on our wedding anniversary and much too often in Las Vegas.
Alan and I knew each other from when I was 3 and he was 5. We shared a group of friends through high school and the University of Rochester. We did not really look at each other until we were 18 and 20, at which point, in one day, we decided that we would spend the rest of our lives together. It was probably the only time that either one of us made a consequential decision without any earlier thought process. Luckily, it worked for 64 and ¾ years.
The Alan I knew, and that many of you shared, was a person of great ability with a sincere concern for other human beings and how to make the world, large or small, better for them. I think that his view of life and that of Eli’s were very similar. This allowed them to like and respect each other even when they did not always agree on a point under discussion.
I am glad that Alan meant something to many of you and that he may have had some impact on your lives. That knowledge would have given him much joy. The best tribute, I think, is if your memory of him will make you smile.
Memories of my friend Alan Leader
A friendship that was to last for so many years began in New Haven when Oded and I travelled to the US to present a Jonah’s Jonah course at the offices of the Goldratt Institute. Alan was part of a wonderful group of people, Dick and David, Jackie and Jerry and Dennis. From the start Alan and I just clicked, our humour was brilliant, at least for us, and I was captivated by his intellect coupled with his natural humility. I met Lou, his wife at our final meal together and suddenly I had two kindred spirits in the US, that remain even now, so very close to both our families.
I was to spend so many hours in Alan’s company over the years. Jonah conferences were always fun, teaching with Alan at Georgetown University remains a highlight, especially his singing in the cavernous hall that was the Car Barn. As my time with Alan progressed we both realised that the TOC/TP was fundamental to our journey together. We worked on a variety of TOC related activities, from teaching in Slovakia, developing mediation programmes – where Alan led with such great insight, and so much more. We sat on the TOC-ICO Thinking Process sub group for some time, whilst Alan was the chair of that group. I would often bounce ideas off Alan knowing that his unique insight would always spot where I had drifted away from the core of what I was trying to say – he became rather rapidly one of my most valued mentors on my own journey.
But our friendship went deeper than just a working relationship. We visited Alan and Lou at their home in Seattle and that remains one of our highlights of visiting the US. They made both of us so very welcome in their home and we had such great fun. Indeed, life with Alan around was always fun. Lou and Alan came to stay with us in the UK and we took them around Scotland – what a trip with so many funny memories, Audrey trying to prepare our sandwich lunch in the middle of nowhere with the rain pouring down, Alan and I tried to help with our umbrellas but we all got rather damp! Whilst waiting in the queue to watch the Edinburgh Tattoo Alan entertained the crowd with singing as only he could and the memories of that time will stay with us and even now remain so very special. When our daughter Suzie was married, Alan and Lou came along with Kathy and Dick, Oded and Carol. Once more the laughter that surrounded our garden the afternoon following the wedding itself was very much inspired by Alan and his unique way of laughing!! We even found a stone statue of a man playing cricket that looked just like Alan which still takes wicket in front of our millstones.
So, in what would have been his 90th year, just some memories of our special friend for both Audrey and myself. He will always be missed, by us and our family, and his legacy will always be his compassion, his humanity, his humility and above all his passionate love of life.
Dr. Charlene Spoede Budd
Reflections on Alan Leader
Alan was a remarkable intellectual/practical individual. He displayed both a solid ever-questioning intellect and the need to see the practical results of applied theories. Alan held strong beliefs, but was always willing to listen (for a not-unlimited time) to opposing views. Alan absorbed TOC vociferously and never wavered from his total support of its logic for the remainder of his life. He was challenging and questioning of the logic of a proposed position. No matter how hard he pushed colleagues, though, his sense of humor and graciousness endeared him to his close friends.
I was one of those friends and his colleague for about three years during the JEMBA (Joint Executive Master of Business Administration) program. This group of 8 or 9 individuals met several weekends each year from the Fall of 1998 through about December of 2001. Alan originally was the JEMBA group’s strategy expert. Later, when someone else wanted to cover strategy in our workshops, Alan switched to Management Skills. He probably could have taken over any of the academic specialties (operations, accounting and finance, project management, marketing, and strategy) and indeed led many of our attempts to integrate the business disciplines in which we specialized.
My training in TOC, while exciting and forcing me to focus on all areas of business rather than my specialties of accounting and finance, also caused me considerable consternation and depression. One such incidence occurred during my first Jonah course at the end of the first week of a two-week course when I became convinced that there is no need for internal management to know a product’s full-allocated-cost-per-unit amount to make good operating decisions as I had been taught and fully believed until that point. While embarrassing, acknowledgement of this truth was not too difficult.
During one of our many JEMBA discussions, Alan, by closely questioning my logic concerning accounting’s “controlling” aspect where accounting basically views itself as a puppet master pulling the organizsation’s “strings” of activities and evaluating and reporting the organization’s results. He and other JEMBA participants (Marjorie Cooper, Janice Cervany, Rex Draman, James Holt, Dick Peschke, Steve Simpliciano, and one or two others that typically dropped in) were relentless and compelling. I suddenly realized that accounting/finance not only was not the center of an organization’s world, it never should be in that command position. I was devastated. When we weren’t in session, I avoided the group for the remainder of the weekend. That Sunday, in the Hartford airport awaiting our flights home, Alan and I discussed the weekend and how we had overcome so many business stereotypes. Then he launched into what our future world could look like if we could successfully teach others our insights and how to use TOC skills for the good of mankind. I went home thoughtful and hopeful.
Alan and I used to speak on the phone in between our JEMBA meetings. We also met at TOC conferences and had entertaining and enlightening conversations. I miss those conversations and wish I again could speak with him and absorb his wisdom.
Charlene Spoede Budd
PhD, CPA (retired), CMA, CFM, CGMA, Professor Emeritus, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, USA
I met Alan in October 1994 in a Jonah-Jonah program we ran in AGI in New Haven. Alan then was the Dean of the School of Business and Economics at Southern Connecticut State University. He was involved with TOC since the late 1980’s. Alan was extremely enthusiastic about TOC in general and especially about the thinking processes. The Jonah-Jonah program was based on the newly published “It’s not Luck”. We had many outstanding quality and intellectual discussions on many subjects and aspects underlying TOC and especially the Thinking Processes. Alan was very dominant in the program, focused and devoted to the learning and the deepening of understanding of the whole team.
For Alan TOC was instrumental in pursuing his goal to help people learn and apply rules of logic and common sense to everyday life. He moved to Seattle to teach in Seattle University where he continued to teach and promote TOC in the academic environment.
Alan was actively involved with TOCICO as the chair of the Thinking Processes Committee. He joined Goldratt Schools as a faculty member and taught in the logistics Application Expert Programs around the world contributing with his wealth of knowledge, passion for learning and delivering deep insights to our students. Alan was a Founding member of TOCPA. Everybody loved him and appreciated his contribution.
Alan did a magnificent work in editing and contributing to the TOC books that we published.
Alan was full of energy, optimism and an incredible passion for learning and understanding. It so happened that many of the TOCICO conferences were around his birthday and it was always a pleasure to have a gathering to celebrate these occasions.
Alan will always be missed.
Dr. Marjorie J. Cooper
Tribute to Alan Leader
I met Alan when I was part of the Goldratt Institute’s JEMBA Team charged with developing a program that could be used with MBA and Executive MBA programs to teach Theory of Constraints. Alan was a real inspiration to our group. With his background as a Dean, he often helped us see what aspects of the program we were developing would be most appealing to a Dean of a College of Business.
Alan was helpful at getting to the heart of some of our arguments as well. He helped strip away non-essentials and led us to consider the most important aspects of doing business efficiently and successfully. Alan was especially good on supply chain management and strategy issues. We really enjoyed those meetings and always looked forward to interacting with our colleagues.
Marjorie J. Cooper
ThM, PhD, Professor of Marketing, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, USA
I met Alan in September 2005 when we were teaching in Goldratt Schools Application Expert European Program in Vilnius. I immediately and absolutely fell in love with Alan’s sharp thinking, graciousness, humor, the very tender and caring way he treated anyone he communicated with, and his laughter that was always light, kind and very catching. The feeling that I always had whenever I was in Alan’s vicinity was that he brought sunshine on everything and everyone around him. We spent altogether 5 weeks in Vilnius and many meetings of Goldratt Schools Faculty in different places in the world.
I got to know Louise at the end of 2005, when she came with Alan to one of the Vilnius AEP sessions. The photo below is taken in the lobby of the venue where we conducted the Vilnius program. Friendship with Alan and Louise has been precious for me, personally and professionally.
Alan agreed to be the editor for my first book Behind the Cloud, on a very short notice, and Louise was very much involved in helping us to get the book ready for publishing under a strong time pressure. I very much appreciate their time and effort.
It was always easy to talk to Alan. Alan gave you undivided attention, unbiased views and willingness to contribute his knowledge, experience, logical thinking and passion for life. And you would laugh together with him.
I miss those conversations and his light happy laughter.
Dr. James Holt
My Praise of Alan Leader
In higher education, there are skills of administration and skills of teaching. Alan Leader excelled in administration. Most Deans of business schools are generalists, but not Alan. Alan was a Globalist, meaning considering the whole system. The Theory of Constraints fit perfectly with Alan’s point of view. As a Globalist, Alan knew all parts of the system well enough to find what needed to be improved in every area. I recall a situation with five of Jonahs from the same company struggling with in injection. Since I knew these Jonahs very well, I went to the Intermediate Objectives of their solution. Alan saw I had missed listing the obstacles and called me out. I tried to make some excuse about ‘knowing the system’, but he insisted. So, I took the time to do the analysis right and found I had jumped in the wrong direction. From that time forward, I saw Alan Leader as an expert in TOC detail as well as an expert in systems analysis, a remarkable administrator.
James R. Holt
PhD, Professor Emeritus, Washington State University, USA
Our big thanks to James Holt for sharing with us a great video taken in a Goldratt Schools Faculty meeting in Fort Lauderdale, USA, 2006.
Dr. James Cox
Unfortunately for me I didn’t know Alan that well. We spoke for a few minutes at most events but I wasn’t a close friend. I was not involved with the TOC MBA program; I was single-handedly trying to run the APICS E&R Foundation during that time period.
I congratulated Alan on his editing a publication for Goldratt Schools and he was so gracious. He said that my complement meant so much to him because as a fellow academic I knew how much work went into editing and reviewing others’ works. I thought to myself; I wish I had gotten to know him better over the years.
James F. Cox
PhD, CFPIM, CIRM, Professor Emeritus, University of Georgia, USA