Podcast #233 – Katie Anderson, A Lean Thinker Living in Japan


Today's guest is Katie Anderson, and we're talking about her experiences living in Tokyo for 18 months and what she's learning about Lean culture, Japanese culture, and how those aren't always one and the same.

I first met Katie through the Healthcare Value Network and our participation in that collaborative. She's an experienced Lean healthcare practitioner, coach, consultant, having worked for Stanford Children's Hospital and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation before starting her own consulting practice.

Katie has been generously sharing her experiences in Japan and her reflections on her blog, which I highly recommend. Also, see a list of posts that she referenced in our discussion. You can also find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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For a link to this episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/233.

For earlier episodes of my podcast, visit the main Podcast page, which includes information on how to subscribe via RSS, through Android appsor via Apple Podcasts.  You can also subscribe and listen via Stitcher.

Here is her meishi, which she discussed in the episode:

In this episode, we discussed topics including:

  • What are some of my initial observations about Lean as practiced in Japan? Or Japanese culture in general?
  • Have you been able to visit healthcare organizations? What do you see in terms of lean?
  • What have you seen or learned about Kaizen?
  • One thing you've blogged about is the concept of intention… tell us more about that.
  • What has surprised you most about living in Japan?
  • People often debate whether it's necessary to visit Japan to learn more about Lean or to understand Lean better. What would be your general advice to people?

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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. On this day in history in 1933 Toyoda Automatic Loom Works heard from what is now Toyota Motor Corporation the first documented TPS denial, “This will never work here! We’re special. We’re different. We’re a complex automotive manufacturing company not a simple loom business.”

    Great line! Thanks for sharing Mark. Katie, I look forward to hearing more about your experience in Japan.


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