Podcast #105 – Bill Waddell & Adam Zak, “Simple Excellence”


Podcast #105 is a conversation with the co-authors of the new book Simple Excellence: Organizing and Aligning the Management Team in a Lean Transformation from Productivity Press.

They are Adam Zak, a regular guest blogger here on Leanblog.org and Lean-focused executive recruiter and Bill Waddell, a Lean consultant and frequent blogger over at EvolvingExcellence.com.

Here, we talk about their book and their thoughts on Lean leadership, talent development, and other topics. You can find the official book website here.

To point others to this episode, use the simple URL: www.leanblog.org/105.

For earlier episodes, visit the main Podcast page, which includes information on how to subscribe via RSS or via Apple Podcasts.

If you have feedback on the podcast, or any questions for me or my guests, you can email me at leanpodcast@gmail.com. Please give your location and your first name. Any comments (email or voicemail) might be used in follow ups to the podcast.

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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. Good podcast, packed a lot of information into 24 minutes.

    I question one point when Bill said that sales needed to be the Voice of the Customer. I think that is one of the stumbling blocks in applying Lean to sales. A statement like that can be perceived by sales and also many “change agents” to mean that they become the data collection arm of the organization (not that Bill meant that).

    The Voice of Customer through sales alone can be somewhat distorted. Just sit in a meeting with your salespeople and ask them to all write down the company’s value proposition for a certain product/market. Value is an input to your company not an output. Voice of Customer and Voice of Market needs to be derived from customers and non-customers not internally. Sales probably have a better handle on it than anyone but sales is typically structured so that they are very tactically driven. A reason that will cause this not to happen.

    Sorry to dwell on that 30 second clip of a great 30 minute podcast. Thanks to Bill and Adam for writing such a solid book and providing a great basis for not so much at how Lean can be applied but how Lean can assist your thoughts to Simple Excellence.

  2. I highly recommend this book and think highly of the content. I picked this gem up and practically read it cover-to-cover, finding it hard to put down. For a long time I’ve been looking for good ideas/advice for better leading and influencing management to help bring about lean/flow/excellence in the organization. Well, this book fills a massive void and I can’t but help obsessing over it, picking up again and again. Thank you!


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