Updated: My Personal Kaizen for the Day

Watching the news about the tragic bridge collapse in Minnesota, it's easy to feel helpless, what can we do if something like that happens to us? The odds are very slim, but it *is* a possibility that any of us could be trapped, someday, where our vehicle is submerged in water, a life threatening situation. I've been told as much in the “safe driving” class that my company put me through, but I never acted on it.

Lean people should like proactive safety measures, especially inexpensive ones. Doing a personal “FMEA,” the odds of being submerged are very low, but the impact of it happening is very high (drowning and death).

That said, I ordered two “lifehammers” for myself and for my wife, to keep in our vehicles in case something like that ever happens. Not even $10 each for a little piece of mind. I'll probably buy a number of them for friends and family. Maybe you can do the same. Not to overreact or worry folks, but to be preventative.

I ordered the “keychain” versions that are small and supposedly break your window out with less effort than the full sized “hammer” version (and both allow you to cut your seatbelt, if needed). Some of the models are backordered/sold out right now, wonder if that's because of the attention this has gotten on the news? The brightly colored ones are probably the easiest to see in an emergency (yellow, neon green, or orange).

Full disclosure: I do receive “affilliate fees” from amazon on these items, but I will donate any referral fees for these safety items to the American Red Cross (link to donate online), unless somebody can suggest a better relief organization for the Minnesota area. Additionally, I will personally match the fees out of my own pocket. I'll give a full accounting here on the Blog about how many get ordered and how much I am able to donate.

Updated: No purchases of the safety devices… I received mine and plan on having them as “just in case.” I went through “standard work” with my wife about how to use it. The problem with a safety device like this is that you can't practice using it, unless you want to shatter a window. No thanks. But, there are some videos that show it in use, which at least gives you confidence the thing works.

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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. Mark,

    Good thoughts. The old Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared” is actually very lean. Those that are not prepared often cause waste, even possibly human life.

    Another thing for all of us lean thinkers to ponder is “what if I was the first person to witness this?” What would we do if we were the first responders? What process would we follow to try saving someone’s life? Would our lean thinking experience help us solve that problem better? If not, how could we improve?

    Also Mark please don’t spend your hard-earned on anything related to the blog. We all know and respect your high ethical standards…no need to prove anything! In fact I’d be happy to make a Red Cross donation in the name of the Lean Blog. I’m the one getting the free value from your hard work!

  2. Thanks, anonymous. I didn’t think it was a matter of proving anything, I just thought it would be a nice gesture. The referral is only about 50 cents per lifehammer, so I doubt the donation is going to break the bank. I just wanted to do what I could to encourage people to buy those and/or support relief efforts.


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