Are You Making Excuses or Solving Problems?


Here is a 10-minute talk I gave at the 2014 Lean Transformation Summit. I'm introduced by Jim Womack and we do Q&A at the end.

Looking at your own organization today, do you hold yourself back by making excuses or do you get creative and find new ways of doing things? Many organizations aspire to a culture of continuous improvement… at least for a while, until it gets difficult. Leaders say things like, “We don't have time for improvement.” Is that an excuse that leads you to give up or is that a problem that you can solve with a bit of moxie and creativity?

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

  1. Chad Walters says

    Nice shirt. :D

  2. David Bueford says

    Great video maybe we should just change the over used word Kaizen. Kaizen has become synonymous with non-value added sessions to tackle issues managements believes important. There are hundreds just go do it activities (like ginger ale example) that don’t get done simply because it not a management issue or tied to a metric.

    I never really tie Just Go Do and Kaizen together even though it’s a part of the process. Kaizen too often can feel like a promotional marketing program rather than a serious lean activity. You really hit the nail on head in your video.

    Also one more small thing… The term “expert problem solver” would give the impression that one could solve all problems. Wouldn’t expert in the methods of problem solving be more appropriate? It’s these small things that perplex the average worker. We need to be clear that they have the answers and the consultants and lean teams just provide the tools.

    1. Mark Graban says

      Thanks for your comment, David.

      I’d rather try to educate folks and reclaim the word “Kaizen” rather than give up on it (the same could be said for the word Lean and the mistaken or misguided things that get said or done in the name of Lean).

      Kaizen, or anything, can be a serious effort or just a marketing program. I’m fortunate to work with organizations that are taking it seriously.

      Sure, “expert in the methods of problem solving” is maybe a better term, but “expert” is a term that is really vague. Expert certainly doesn’t mean “all done learning” or “perfect.”

  3. […] Everybody (or nearly everybody) complains about not having enough time for improvement – that includes time for staff and time for managers. The challenge is how to go from “lack of time” being an excuse to being a problem that you solve (see my video about this). […]

  4. […] I’ve said before (and in this video) a “lack of time” is a problem to solve, not an excuse to hide behind. If improvement […]

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