A German Lean Community – Online and Offline


By Ralf Lippold:

[Mark's Note] Today's post comes from a good friend of the Lean Blog, Ralf Lippold, a frequent commenter on the blog from Leipzig, Germany. I asked him to write about a Lean group he has started. I also hope he'll write soon about the links between Lean thinking and System Dynamics.


1) What is your group?

Two years and six months ago, coming back from a Lean Summit, I thought, being a “Lean Thinker” by nature, “Is there really no lean group around in Germany similar to the Lean Blog or LEI's website?”

There actually wasn't really and as I was already member of XING, I stepped forward and sent an application for a new group. The group's name should be: “Lean Thinking” (http://www.xing.com/net/lean) and so I started off together with an old friend, Ruben Huber, who also is a strong “Lean Thinker”

The differentiation of XING compared to other internet networks is that it provides the ability to set up such a special interest group and attract people from a non-lean background due to the diverse interest background of XING members (being a general business orientated network that originated from Germany and is running in several dozen languages to present day).

The main purpose of the group is to bring lean thinkers together, sharing their thoughts, stories in order to bring organizations -their own and in general- to a sustainable customer focused business.

Anybody from around the globe is heartily invited to join in.

2) What was the purpose of your recent meeting?

LTT stands for what it is: Lean Thinkers Meeting (instead of meeting there is a T for the German word Treffen). Discussions on shared problems in a virtual discussion room is practical in some sense but never can make it for the personal meeting.

Starting with a mere 10 people for the 1. LTT (first LTT) at my former University for Applied Sciences Dresden to now around 40 participants during the 2. LTT (2nd LTT). It is planned to do LTTs twice a year in Germany (with regional LTT on local demand).

The vision is to manage a global LTT meeting every few years somewhere in the world (similar to the Society of Organizational Learning Global Forum, which recently took place in Muscat, Oman, and hosted about 400 people from 47 countries on the questions around “Organizational Learning” – pretty close to “Lean Thinking” actually.

3) Are there any lean specific topics of interest going on in Germany or highlights from the meeting?

The most discussed topics in the group was finding the barriers that make a change to a lean enterprise not yet sustainable. In a broader scope, “Lean Thinking” is coming back to companies and universities to be taken seriously and researched on. A few years back the first “lean hype” was over and it looked just like another management theory.

Now we all learn that “lean thinking” is an attitude of doing things -looking from the customer's perspective- and this is extremely difficult to implement in living and set organizational cultures (like anywhere else in the world).

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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. …. it is amazing how the human mind works. Preparing a presentation for a workshop giving at City of Dresden, and having in mind past workshops with colleagues, and friends on lean I remembered a Beergame simulation at the first LTT at my alma mater back in October 2007.

    Back then lean emerged slowly into the business world here in Germany. Interestingly the Eastern parts have not been part of this journey too much even though the parallels to Toyota or Japan in general are pretty obvious (at least the times during the GDR for 40 years).

    This memories has put up a search for the blog where I posted the video of the Beergame workshop, and so I have found (by surprise, or serendipity) your blog entry once again Mark. Perhaps it is about time to team up, as things get going here in Dresden, and SEMICON Europa 2012 just approaching next week.



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