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

Dilbert’s Boss Wonders Why His “Half-Wits” Aren’t Creative

There were a few great Dilbert cartoons this week that are relevant to Lean culture discussions.

Even when the cartoons aren't directly Lean related (as these are), we can still find thought-provoking ideas related to Lean.




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Managers can't force creativity. When you put pressure on people – through unrealistic deadlines, targets and quotas, and the like, creativity goes down.

When people are just trying to avoid getting yelled at, they quit taking risks and creativity suffers.

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In a Lean context, the “freedom to do their jobs” includes the freedom to define “standardized work” and the freedom to practice “kaizen” (or continuous improvement).

A Lean leader, of course, doesn't micro manage or call people half-wits.


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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. 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 project is an book 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 Comment
  1. Mark Graban

    When I started my career at GM, in about 1995, we had a plant superintendent (assistant plant manager, basically) who yelled and screamed one day about how employees “only did exactly what they were told.”

    I thought this was ironic, because he worked daily to instill a culture of fear… he one day was screaming about how you have to “beat down on them, beat down on them, beat down on them, until they do exactly what they are told.”

    I thought, “What the hell, you can’t have it both ways…” and his managerial buffoonery was one of the reasons I left GM after two years to head off to grad school.

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