Who are the Lean Thinking CEOs?


A question came in from a blog reader — simple question with no simple or easy answers:

Who are the Lean Thinking CEOs?

My first thought is Amazon's Jeff Bezos, for his famous customer obsession and belief in long-term thinking (as shown in this good video that's been all over the lean blogosphere, including the LSS Academy). I heard recently that Bezos actually participated first hand in a kaizen event, which is pretty momentous for a CEO to do.

Who else is there in the large Fortune 500 space? Is it more likely to find a “lean CEO” in a smaller, private, or family business?

There are lean thinking healthcare CEOs:

Who else would you add to the list, for any industry? Create a blog comment or I've asked people to post on twitter under the hash tag #leanCEO.


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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. Meredith says

    Scott Armstrong of Group Health is making a decent go of it.

  2. Anonymous says

    Larry Culp at Danaher.

  3. Steve Kayser says

    I nominate Cincinnati Children's Hospital CEO Jim Anderson. He has focused on using lean principles from the likes of Toyota and many other MFG companies and the results have been spectacular. Steve Kayser

  4. seekingtraceevidence says

    These managers have elements of lean:
    B.D. Jellison of Roper Ind.
    Dave Roberts of Carlisle Cos
    Bruce Flatt of Brookfield Asset Mgm
    Richard George of Suncor
    Mark Papa of EOG Res
    Robert Livingston of Dover Corp

  5. pete abilla says

    Bezos is well-known for being a strong proponent of Lean Thinking as shown here and here.

  6. Mark Graban says

    Suggestions from Twitter (search #leanCEO):

    – Gary Kaplan CEO of Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle

    – Terry Leahy, Tesco

    – Alan Mullaly, Ford

    – Les Cross of DJO

    – Akio Toyoda, Toyota

    And one person said:

    trying to think of lean ceo's to answer the twitter from Mark Graban's #leanceo, but can't think of anyone i'm sure of

  7. Anonymous says

    Dover has Robert A. Livingston

    Illinois Tool Works has David B. Speer

    USG has William C. Foote

    Suncor has Richard L. George

    Sears has Eddie Lampert.

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