Lean is Common Sense? #ObviouslyLean

I’ve been amused by the Hotels.com “Captain Obvious” character and TV commercials. Hotels.com is, um, a site where you book hotels. Obvious.

It’s often said that Lean is “common sense.” If that’s true, I guess it goes along with the phrase that common sense is uncommon.

Aspects of a Lean culture often seem like common sense, but only in hindsight. We should involve all employees in identifying and solving problems. Obvious. Simple. Then why doesn’t that happen in most organizations?

As David Mann says, the challenge isn’t that Lean is complicated… the challenge is that it’s very different than the way most organizations operate.

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To celebrate the “obviousness” of Lean, I’ve created some images (that I shared on Twitter with the hashtag #ObviouslyLean) and I’d invite you to create and share your own.



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A Contest:

And here is a blank template you can use to create your own (click on it for a larger file and download it). You can add text using PowerPoint or a graphics editor and then save as a .png or .jpg.  Here is a PowerPoint template you can use.


If you have one to submit, post it to Twitter with the hashtag #ObviouslyLean or submit it for consideration via the form below. You might be selected to receive a copy of a book from my “Inventory of Duplicate Lean Books” or a copy of The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. It’s just that obvious.

By submitting an image, you grant Mark Graban to post your image on LeanBlog.org (not all submissions will be published).

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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 book 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.


  1. Chad Walters
    Chad Walters

    I really do think Lean is common sense, but when Lean isn’t applied or practiced properly it becomes something much more questionable. So GOOD Lean application is common sense. L.A.M.E. is not so much.

  2. Andrew Lockwood says

    Mark, my phrase is: “This isn’t your typical flavor-of-the-month corporate program. It’s a way of life”.

    Great post!

  3. Mark Graban

    Congratulations to Chad Walters for being our contest winner.

    You can choose from the “duplicate Lean book prize closet”:

    Gemba Kaizen (2nd edition)
    Managing to Learn
    Hardwiring Flow: Systems and Processes for Seamless Patient Care

    Let me know which you’d like.

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