A Lean Guy Reads Fast Company, February 2013 Issue


FCAs part of my occasional “A Lean Guy Reads…” series, I found some ideas related to Lean in the current issue of Fast Company magazine. Click on any of the images for a larger view or what I was reading.

The selected blurbs cover asking why, solving problems without assigning blame, treating employees respectfully, and more.

Ideas and Whys

We love the question “why?” in the Lean world. It's great to see others discover that asking “why?” is a powerful method, whether it's “5 whys” or not. It's interesting, though, that Jonathan Taplin says that asking why doesn't make people defensive. One criticism I have heard of “the 5 whys” is that the question “why?” makes most adults defensive (that's especially true in a culture of fear and blame).


The CEO Doesn't Know All

In this interview with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, he admits that he will often admit that he doesn't have all of the answers. Saying, “You know, I really have no idea” can be a brave thing for a leader to say.


John Toussaint often says the same thing about himself when he was a hospital CEO at ThedaCare… he had to shift from the traditional “white-coat leadership” model of being all knowing and “in charge.” As he shifted to Lean leadership styles, he had to personally transition toward a model of coaching, asking questions, relying on others, etc. He touches on this very nicely in a new article he wrote that will be published soon… will share that article when it's published and reference back to this.

Ask Questions Instead of Assigning Blame

This short piece addresses the need to avoid blame. Ask questions. Figure out why a failure happened and how to avoid it in the future.


Being Bossy Was Never Cool or Fashionable

This snippet talks about how leaders should be respectful of their employees and not play the “because I'm the boss” or the “because I said so” cards. See the second column, “2) The Subordinate.” Ugh, I dislike the word subordinate as much as I do “consumer.”


I really hope that “because I said so” is indeed “out of fashion.” Is it? I still see a lot of that running around…

From the San Antonio Paper

For the “Lean Startup” fans, the word “pivot” is certainly becoming overused, as shown via this headline about Justin Bieber. His “pivot toward adulthood”? Good grief. But, the word “pivot” certainly is trendy, even when not applied toward Eric Ries' “The Lean Startup” concepts.




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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.


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