What I’ve Been Reading Lately: Not Doing Kaizen, Engaged Sailors, Etc.


Every once in a while, I have too many browser windows open and it slows my computer down. That's when I dump a bunch of links in a post that clears out the Lean Blog backlog.

Dan Markovitz had a thought provoking post called “How not to build a kaizen culture in three easy steps,” where he sadly describes what his wife is facing with with what they call “kaizen” in her hospital. It sounds more L.A.M.E. than Lean. He also shares examples of places that are doing better.

I've blogged before about the Lean thinking mayor of Detroit, Mike Duggan. This new article, “In Detroit, a different kind of mayor,' it describes how Duggan is spending time out and about seeing how city employees do their work. In Lean, we'd call this “go and see” or going to the “gemba” (the place where the work is done). As compared to past imperial mayors, Duggan often drives himself around — either this shows he's a man of the people or that he is losing productivity by not being driven around, as the article suggests.

On The Lean Post, Eric Ethington writes about “Reading the Signs.” He asks, “How often does your organization settle for an inferior process design or process fix, bandaged together with labels and signs?” Amen. I've been saying for a long time that a warning or caution sign is often the SYMPTOM of a problem that needs to be solved. The sign is often not the solution (or often not the best solution). I have a separate blog about this and a keynote talk that I've done a few times on this topic.

Finally, here's a nice video (hat tip to our new KaiNexus CEO Allan Wilson for sharing it) that talks about the shifting role of leader from a boss who barks orders to one who shares their “intent” and gives employees (in this case, U.S. Navy sailors) the leeway to decide HOW to get things done.

The video features former nuclear submarine commander, David Marquet. He has a book, Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders, that reminded our new KaiNexus VP of Sales Jeff Roussel of another book that's been recommended to me before, It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy.

What do you think of the video or the articles?

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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. This by far is the best video I have seen on leadership. The days of getting the team in a room, telling them what to do and then hitting them with a “2 x4” until the job gets done are over. Team empowerment separates the winners from the also ran.


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