Mark Graban's - Lean Healthcare, Lean Hospitals, Healthcare Kaizen, Lean Thinking, Lean Manufacturing, Toyota Production System

Podcast #118 – Jim Womack on GM, Toyota & Lean Six Sigma


MP3 File (run time 29:14)

womackEpisode #118 is a follow up to podcast #116 with  Jim Womack, founder and former Chairman of the Lean Enterprise Institute, now their Senior Advisor and author of the new book Gemba Walks, available in paperback, Kindle format, iBooks, and other formats.

In this episode, we talk about both GM and Toyota – their challenges, Jim's reflections on the companies, and thoughts about where they are headed in the future. Jim also answers reader questions about the word “lean” itself and the combination of the Lean and Six Sigma methodologies.

For a link to this episode, refer people to

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

You can use the player (use the VCR-type controls) at the top of the post to listen to a streaming version of the podcast (or click here for the streaming audio and RSS subscription). The streaming link is faster for one-time listening (hardly any delay to start listening). Or you can use the download link to put it on your iPod or other MP3 player.

If you have feedback on the podcast, or any questions for me or my guests, you can email me at or you can call and leave a voicemail by calling the “Lean Line” at (817) 776-LEAN (817-776-5326) or contact me via Skype id “mgraban”. 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 is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent book is an anthology titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

  1. Michael Lombard
    Michael Lombard says

    I love listening to interviews with Mr. Womack. He can talk for so long without losing track of his point and without losing the listener. The man can tell a story.

    I particularly liked his take on the “Lean Sigma” debate (debate or false choice?). I’m paraphrasing, but I think he said that no matter how much training do on whatever methodology you prefer, it won’t matter if you fail to change the way managers think and the way work is structured. So we should cheerfully move forward together.

    1. Mark Graban says

      Thanks, Mike. Glad you liked the podcast. It’s always fun to talk with Jim and I’m glad I can share it with others!

  2. Richard Chapman says

    Yesterday asked Jim (via videolink) a question on Gemba in the office at the Australian Lean Summit in Melbourne.

    His answer was very encouraging – yes, yes and yes. As important as in the factory. He doesn’t see the distinction that worries some of us who have to make it happen.

    My particular concern is so much workflow disappears inside computers or intrays and becomes invisible.

    1. Mark Graban says

      I don’t think gemba is only about what you can see with your eyes. Going to the gemba is a process of talking with people and engaging with them. I think part of this can include talking about the things that might otherwise be invisible.

      Go to the gemba, talk to the people, show respect. This requires more than eyes.

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