Who are the Lean Thinking CEOs?

A question came in from a blog reader — simple question with no simple or easy answers:

Who are the Lean Thinking CEOs?

My first thought is Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, for his famous customer obsession and belief in long-term thinking (as shown in this good video that’s been all over the lean blogosphere, including the LSS Academy). I heard recently that Bezos actually participated first hand in a kaizen event, which is pretty momentous for a CEO to do.

Who else is there in the large Fortune 500 space? Is it more likely to find a “lean CEO” in a smaller, private, or family business?

There are lean thinking healthcare CEOs:

Who else would you add to the list, for any industry? Create a blog comment or I’ve asked people to post on twitter under the hash tag #leanCEO.


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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

7 Comments on "Who are the Lean Thinking CEOs?"

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  1. Meredith says:

    Scott Armstrong of Group Health is making a decent go of it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Larry Culp at Danaher.

  3. Steve Kayser says:

    I nominate Cincinnati Children's Hospital CEO Jim Anderson. He has focused on using lean principles from the likes of Toyota and many other MFG companies and the results have been spectacular. Steve Kayser

  4. seekingtraceevidence says:

    These managers have elements of lean:
    B.D. Jellison of Roper Ind.
    Dave Roberts of Carlisle Cos
    Bruce Flatt of Brookfield Asset Mgm
    Richard George of Suncor
    Mark Papa of EOG Res
    Robert Livingston of Dover Corp

  5. pete abilla says:

    Bezos is well-known for being a strong proponent of Lean Thinking as shown here and here.

  6. Mark Graban
    Twitter:
    says:

    Suggestions from Twitter (search #leanCEO):

    – Gary Kaplan CEO of Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle

    – Terry Leahy, Tesco

    – Alan Mullaly, Ford

    – Les Cross of DJO

    – Akio Toyoda, Toyota

    And one person said:

    trying to think of lean ceo's to answer the twitter from Mark Graban's #leanceo, but can't think of anyone i'm sure of

  7. Anonymous says:

    Dover has Robert A. Livingston

    Illinois Tool Works has David B. Speer

    USG has William C. Foote

    Suncor has Richard L. George

    Sears has Eddie Lampert.

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