Two Years of Lean Blogging


Lean Blog: Misunderstandings About Value Stream Mapping, Flow Analysis, and Takt Time

The link above is my first blog post, from January 2005 (back when the blog looked like this). I let the blog “birthday” slip by again this year. Time for a little “hansei” or reflection.

Year 1

I started the Lean Blog (then the “Lean Manufacturing Blog”) for two reasons: 1) putting articles on a blog was easier than emailing articles out to friends and colleagues and 2) I was looking for some intellectual stimulation in the job I had then. They say “idle hands are the devil's tools.” In this case, an idle mind led the Lean Blog (as I've said, it's a better habit than a gambling problem).

I've happily continued the blog, even though I have plenty of stimulation and enjoyment in my current day job, coaching hospitals in lean methods. People email and thank me for the time I put into the blog and I appreciate that. I'm glad the blog is helpful or inspirational, though I realize the blog is cynical at times. I try to keep that under control, but that's my personality, for better or worse. I've tried to focus more on “respect for people” and realizing that executives deserve respect, as easy as it can be to pick on them or blame them. One thing I've been challenged by a reader about (in a positive way) is to step back and ask “why would an executive be acting that way?” rather than just criticizing the person (although I still think Bob Nardelli is a jerk and a perfect example of the kind of leader we should all avoid being).

As I talked about a year ago, I consider the Lean Blog to be a way for me to learn. It's not all about me pushing my opinions (although I'll share them) or telling the world how much I know about Lean. It's about inquiring, asking questions, throwing theories out there (and sometimes being corrected by readers). Blogging forces me to learn, to grow, and to stretch my mind. That was a huge benefit in Year 1 and it continued in Year 2.

Year 2

Another thing I'm happy about is the growth of the Blog in Year 2. Growth in the number of readers (often topping 700 a day now) and growth in content. We've added new contributors and new perspectives to the blog. The LeanBlog Podcast started in July and has provided a great learning opportunity for myself that I've been able to share with others. Being able to network and talk with folks like Norman Bodek, Jeff Liker, Jim Womack, and others (like fellow Lean Blogger Jamie Flinchbaugh) is a wonderful opportunity that I'm thankful for.

I'm also thankful for my friends in the lean blogging community. We have a very cooperative, supportive, and helpful network of lean bloggers out there, which is great. I hope y'all keep up the blogging, they are almost too many to mention at this point (see my links in the left hand column). I'm glad that we continually get new bloggers into the lean “blogosphere.” There's nothing stopping any of you from starting up your own blog. As I mentioned above, I highly recommend blogging as a learning journey. If you'd like to blog on this site, feel free to email me using the link in the left-hand column.

Year 3

Where is the Lean Blog going in Year 3? I hope the content continues to stimulate, question, inform, and entertain. I hope more of you will continue to share your lean experiences (good or bad) here on the blog or on the Message Board. I hope to be able to share more of my direct experiences in health care, as I hope more of you will join me and others who are doing important and rewarding work in that arena.

One thing you that you might notice that I have an direct advertiser (The 5S Store) and might take on a few others. One thing that I will continue to value is the editorial integrity of the blog. In our 5S feature last week, there were many negative mentions of 5S (the lean practice, not the store). My goal was to not just say “5S is good” in an effort to help someone sell more 5S tape. If we take on software advertisers, the “Siren Song” series will continue, for example. If it comes down to it, I'd rather risk angering an advertiser than risk losing my readers or my credibility. The blog survived without advertising and it would survive without. I will make sure that ads are relevant to the lean community. I will use proceeds from the blog to help grow the site and will give back through additional contests.

As always, I'm open to feedback. Let me know what I should or could be doing, or what I shouldn't be doing.

With sincere thanks,


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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. Thank you for that suggestion. That is a very good idea. I wish I could offer that service (it has been suggested before), but I’m afraid I wouldn’t have the time to properly manage something like that. If I was running the Blog as a full-time business, that would be a feature to consider.

    Even then, I’m not sure if an automated board would provide proper screening of jobs/companies or candidates. Not sure if I’d want to feel responsible for any bad matches, etc.

    That said, are you aware of any “plug in” job board features (say, linked to hotjobs, etc.)?

  2. Maybe there is a way to facilitate job “match making” via the LeanBlog Message Board? There is a “private message” feature where people could post their resumes (without contact info) and, in theory, they could be contacted by someone who is interested in talking to them. Something to think about.

  3. Mark,

    Love the blog. Really helpful for me and my colleagues. The podcasts are just great.

    I don’t know how you manage a day job!?!?! My head hurts just reading what you write…I just can’t imagine reding all those articles and posting such insightful comments. Then the whole podcast thing…wow you are superman!

    Looks like all that lean learning is treating you well. The value flowith from your blog!

  4. Thanks for the comment, Anonymous. The blog is partly a creature of me being on the road and in hotel rooms a lot of evenings away from home. Such is the life of a consultant.

  5. Holy smokes batman! That graph is UNBELIEVABLE! As you may remember (I emailed you recently) I just started blogging this week. I have had 176 visits and 342 page views since Monday. Well I was pretty stoked about that until I saw your stupid graph! Ha! Just joking. You inspire me and I will strive to be half as good as you. Keep up the great work Mark.

  6. Mark,

    I have been enjoying your blog and have been learning from it as well…I’ve even added it to my leader standard work as part of my on-going learning! Thanks again for the time you put into making educational for us all!


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