My Visit with the Lean Dentist, Part 1


Here is a photo of me and Dr. Sami Bahri, the World's First Lean Dentist. I spent the afternoon at his office, observing their “gemba”, talking with him and with his staff. What an incredible afternoon. I still need to absorb it all, but I will write about some highlights and what I saw.

If you zoom in on the photo, you can see some visual controls… a very manual (yet effective) “andon” system that indicates when somebody in a patient treatment area needs assistance. If you need a hint, it's the green cards.

That's good and all, but the Lean Dentist isn't about “Lean Tools.” It's a story of Lean Culture and an amazing spirit amongst all of the employees. It was my privilege to be hosted by them today.

Additional Posts: Part 2 | Part 3 | Q&A with Dr. Bahri Part 1 | Part 2

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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. Wish he was in DFW area.

    My wife tried to reschedule with her dentist and the next opening isn’t until mid DECEMBER!

    Oh my we need lean dentists everywhere.

  2. Sounds like your dentist is just too busy… I have a good one in Keller (does good work… not “lean” but he’s not too busy, so waiting times aren’t bad). Email me if you want info.

  3. Hi Mark,

    also here in Germany there are good examples of “lean” dentists around. I know at least two -one in Bamberg, the other one in Leipzig- where there is almost no waiting at all.

    Just this morning I had an appointment and was again surprised in a very positive way. After 15 min I had my inlay back in and was out of the door heading towards the office.



    PS.: Perhaps it is worthwhile a story – what do you think?

  4. Ralf – glad to hear you didn’t have to wait. But is that “lean”?

    When I get a chance to write more about Dr. Bahri’s office, you’ll be amazed with how “Lean” they are in terms of attitudes and culture. That’s the thing that counts, not the use of tools, not even lack of waiting time (because the office might just be very underutilized and not busy, hence no waiting).


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