Labor Day and Lean – Creating Better Workplaces, Not L.A.M.E. Ones


Today is the Labor Day holiday in the United States (and in Canada, as I recently learned). It's not just a day of rest or a celebration of people who work… it's a also day to acknowledge unions and the labor movement.

There's currently a big “labor dispute” with the Alina health system in MinnesotaThe Minnesota Nurses Association has been outspoken against Lean, which I think is a shame since they either misunderstand Lean or choose to portray it in a negative light.

It makes me wonder though why it's always called a “labor dispute” instead of a “management dispute” or “labor-management dispute” when it takes two sides to disagree.

Lean is supposed to help create a better workplace, end of story. If that's not happening, it's more likely “L.A.M.E.” or “Fake Lean” that's taking place.

Here are some past blog posts about Lean and Labor Day, and a podcast with Prof. Zeynep Ton about her fabulous book The Good Jobs Strategy:

Have a great holiday and best wishes to everyone who is working to create better workplaces.

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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. Don’t forget, next month is Boss’s Day in the United States (Monday, October 17). It is a day to appreciate our employers. Though, appreciation could be substantially diminished by all the waste, unevenness, unreasonableness, blame, and stress that workers endure.

  2. Great article, Mark! I couldn’t agree more. Labor day is about honoring the workers who have helped our country prosper. We should definitely not put negative emphasis on the word “labor”, as it only reveals our capacity of working hard to achieve our goals.


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