Some Questions for Managers


Some rhetorical questions to managers who say they want to “be Lean”:

  • Do you properly train new employees or do you just throw them into the job to figure it out themselves?
  • Do you label those who speak up and identify problems (those asking for help) as trouble-makers?
  • Have you provided tools and equipment that work properly and support the employees in their work?
  • Do you know what problems your employees are facing? Have you seen why they aren't making their numbers or providing the proper level of service?
  • Are you seen as a help or a hindrance by your employees? Are you seen by them at all?

If the answer to those questions is “yes” (and there are still workplaces where this is the case), is “Lean” really the first step you should take as an organization? If the leaders aren't willing to look in the mirror, asking “What will I do differently to help lead this organization?”, is the “Lean” effort worthwhile?

For those who are wondering what prompts the questions…. an anonymous email…. from, of all places… a hospital. Not some backward knuckle-dragging 1970's era Taylorist factory… So much work to do in healthcare…

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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. As a proud member of the Philadelphia chapter of the International Society of Industrial Knuckle Draggers, I can only respond to your broad brush stereotyping of my ilk with a spats-slapping, monocle dropping, mustache curling ‘Harummmph’, man.

    Poor Mr. Taylor. That fellow will be vilified for the balance of written history, I fear, for his draconian-style management edicts and mandates but, some of the work Taylor did in the area of mapping and modeling of work tasks were, and continue to be, incredibly important tools for leaning out the enterprise.

    Today, I may use Rational Rose to capture ‘Use Cases’ but the actual outcome is not much different than Taylor’s work.

    I live near what remains of Taylor’s last home in Philadelphia and sometimes when I walk by ‘Boxly’ in the evening I can hear the clicking of a stopwatch……….

  2. It’s not easy to find this kind of approce expecially here in Italy but there is well know proverb ” Treat other in the say way you would like to be treated ” :-)
    I use and ask my friend & Co- worker to use this approce … I belive it’s a long term winning strategy.


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