Lean is More than a Toolkit


I had a great conversation with a fellow healthcare lean thinker the other day. She shared my book, Lean Hospitals: Improving Quality, Patient Safety, and Employee Satisfaction, with the CEO and some other executives at a hospital she works with.

After reading my book, the CEO made exactly the comment I'd want to hear after people read my book. I'm paraphrasing a bit, since this is second hand, but he said he now understood that Lean is not just a toolkit. He understood that Lean is a way of thinking and a management system.

Exactly! I'm glad that the message got across since that was a major goal of mine with the book. Lean is not a bunch of tools like 5S and kanban. Nor is Lean just a bunch of week-long events. Lean is a way of operating, thinking, and managing — each and every day. I hope more hospitals get the message. Thanks to those of you who are spreading the word!

Ironically, I got my first non-5 star review on amazon (4 stars)… the reviewer said basically that I did a good job covering tools, but not so much on principles and philosophy. Oh well. I disagree. If you'd like to post a review, please visit the amazon page for my book: Lean Hospitals: Improving Quality, Patient Safety, and Employee Satisfaction

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

1 Comment
  1. Bill Spohnholtz says

    I appreciate your push for lean thinking not lean tools. I’m a programmer who works in our lean department and I’m constantly being asked if I can make a spreadsheet or tool to fix problem xyz. No, I can’t – I can make a tool to assist with problem xyz, but the problem exist in the process. Give me a new process and I can give you a new tool.

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