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
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. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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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