Lean is Common Sense? #ObviouslyLean


I've been amused by the Hotels.com “Captain Obvious” character and TV commercials. Hotels.com is, um, a site where you book hotels. Obvious.

It's often said that Lean is “common sense.” If that's true, I guess it goes along with the phrase that common sense is uncommon.

Aspects of a Lean culture often seem like common sense, but only in hindsight. We should involve all employees in identifying and solving problems. Obvious. Simple. Then why doesn't that happen in most organizations?

As David Mann says, the challenge isn't that Lean is complicated… the challenge is that it's very different than the way most organizations operate.

To celebrate the “obviousness” of Lean, I've created some images (that I shared on Twitter with the hashtag #ObviouslyLean) and I'd invite you to create and share your own.








A Contest:

And here is a blank template you can use to create your own (click on it for a larger file and download it). You can add text using PowerPoint or a graphics editor and then save as a .png or .jpg.  Here is a PowerPoint template you can use.


If you have one to submit, post it to Twitter with the hashtag #ObviouslyLean or submit it for consideration via the form below. You might be selected to receive a copy of a book from my “Inventory of Duplicate Lean Books” or a copy of The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. It's just that obvious.

By submitting an image, you grant Mark Graban to post your image on LeanBlog.org (not all submissions will be published).

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn.

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  1. Mark Graban says

    Two entries from Chad Walters:


    Owly Image

    Thanks for the entries.

  2. Chad Walters says

    I really do think Lean is common sense, but when Lean isn’t applied or practiced properly it becomes something much more questionable. So GOOD Lean application is common sense. L.A.M.E. is not so much.

  3. Andrew Lockwood says

    Mark, my phrase is: “This isn’t your typical flavor-of-the-month corporate program. It’s a way of life”.

    Great post!

  4. Mark Graban says

    By Vivienne:

  5. Mark Graban says

    Here’s the first #ObviouslyLeanStartup image:

  6. Mark Graban says
  7. Mark Graban says

    By Jordan Petry:

    “Lowest price may not mean lowest cost.”

  8. Mark Graban says

    Congratulations to Chad Walters for being our contest winner.

    You can choose from the “duplicate Lean book prize closet”:

    Gemba Kaizen (2nd edition)
    Managing to Learn
    Hardwiring Flow: Systems and Processes for Seamless Patient Care

    Let me know which you’d like.

  9. […] Lean principles are counterintuitive (such as the way smaller batches can be more efficient). See my Captain Obvious photos/meme in this post. Sample […]

  10. […] it’s just “common sense,” why isn’t it more common, even in manufacturing? Some things about Lean are actually […]

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