Healthy Addictions


I was working in my home office this morning, about 9 AM. It's icy, cold, rainy here in Texas. It was below freezing and raining, yet here comes a jogger running down the street.

I thought, wow, she's nuts. I'm not a runner. But, I always hear of the addiction to running and the “high” you get from it. It's mostly a healthy addiction, I guess. What impressed me was that this runner was so dedicated (or addicted) that she would (or had to) run in such lousy conditions.

I was working on lean stuff (not the Blog, but the day job). I guess I'm addicted to lean (or the Blog, as some have wondered). I love the feeling of helping others make improvements. I love seeing the light bulbs go off when you teach people to see things in a lean way. I love making things better and seeing improvements take shape. That's addicting and it gets to the point where it's fun and it doesn't feel like work to think about it and plan on a Sunday morning.

I thought about “bad conditions” and wondered about all of the lean sites I've worked in (back in the manufacturing world) and the sites I've heard about where managers moved away from lean when times got bad or stressful (this is a very common complaint). That was always a real shame, because we backtracked or sent a bad message to the organization about lean, by not having a constancy of purpose. The organization wasn't yet “addicted” to lean where they had to do lean even if it was tough or if we had the equivalent of freezing rain in the business.

Are you addicted to lean? Would you have stayed home today or jogged in the ice?

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. I as well love helping people and improving processes…there is little in life that is more rewarding. This said, I must admit that at 9AM on Sunday mornings (rain, shine, or ice and snow) I am on my way to church with my family. I haven’t found a better way to help people and make the world a better place! Life is physical (jogging in the sleet), mental (learning and applying the lessons), and spiritual (worship and service). I guess you could call that the “Lean Life System!”


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