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


3373106750_2ddd4772d9_zToday 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:

Labor Day – Our Obligation for Worker Safety

Labor Day Reflections for a Safer Week (and Years) Ahead

Podcast #228 – Zeynep Ton, “The Good Jobs Strategy”

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

Photo by Flickr user Walt Stoneburner, used under Creative Commons license.


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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. Bob Emiliani says

    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. Jason Morin says

    Your tribute to Labor Day makes me think of Pal’s Sudden Service. In an industry known for high turnover, it’s a great case study of how coaching and investing in employees leads not just to great business performance, but low turnover and a better quality of life for the employees.

  3. Ethel says

    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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