My Book’s Cover Design


They say “don't judge a book by its cover,” but I hope you like the cover that my publisher and I have come up with. I was pretty steadfast that Lean is about people and the cover should reflect that.

Some background: this is a photo that represents what a Lean improvement team might look like — this could be from an inpatient unit, an O.R., an E.D., or any number of hospital departments. It looks like a team, don't you think? The MD's are part of a cross-functional team that includes nurses, techs, and others (represented by those in the scrubs). Many of the stock photos out there show an all-powerful MD standing, usually arms crossed, in front of their subservient support staff. To me, this photo represented “team” since they are all standing together, apparently working together.

It also helps illustrate that it's not an outside “expert” who is coming up with the ideas. There's certainly a role for consultants (conflict of interest: I'm a consultant), but the key is teaching people how to improve their own processes, teaching them how to identify and prioritize problems that need solving for the benefit of that patients, the staff, and the hospital. That's what my book is about. It's still due out July 23.

The cover design also reveals that the foreword for my book was written by J. Michael Rona, the former president of Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, WA.

For more info, visit (my “real” site design is still coming), where you can sign up for my newsletter with updates.

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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,

    I like the intent. I wonder if the picture could show the team engaged in solving something together, instead of posing, looking up at some camera in an obvious pose. Again, I’m not an expert, but am just thinking from a consumer’s perspective.

    For me, I’d want a book cover of this type to speak the following message to me:

    Leadership, Compassion, Empathy, “Building People and Patients, before Building an efficient Hospital Shop”, Lean for Hospitals (& Healthcare by extension), Teamwork, Better for Patients, Better for the Business of Hospitals.

    If I were a healthcare professional, academic, or consultant within the healthcare industry, I might want a book cover to speak the above items to me — that might compel a purchase.

    What about this: with your publisher, list a number of attributes you want the cover to visually “speak” and, with the use of creative tension, work with the artist to build. That would sound fun.

    Again, I’m just throwing out ideas.

    Also — would it be appropriate to have patients involved as part of the team? I don’t have an answer, but am wondering. What do others think?

  2. Peter – great points and great questions. We talked through a lot of similar things, almost ended up not going with any picture because any one we had available was possibly problematic in one way or another. We were working with the limitations of photos we could purchase as opposed to having staged for our own purposes.

    Something with a patient directly might ask the pharmacy, lab, or support services folks to think this wasn’t for them.

    Someone asked “where is admnistration? they’re partners in this”, which is a good point (but you could argue that one of the people in scrubs is an administrator who changed clothes to go to the “gemba” or one of the MD’s is also the CEO of the hospital).

    After all of the work and the different alternatives we looked at. I’m happy with the cover of the book. We had to decide to not let the search for “perfect” get in the way of “good” I think.

    Maybe we’ll get our own picture staged for the 2nd edition :-)

  3. Fair enough.

    Great job, Mark. We’re all very proud of you. I wish you huge success for your book and, perhaps, this book could be a catalyst for positive change in the healthcare industry, benefiting industry as well as the patients that it serves.


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