Podcast #266 – Karyn Ross on Lean for Service Excellence


My guest for Episode #266 of the podcast is Karyn Ross (@KRCLean4Service on Twitter), co-author of the new book (with Jeff Liker): The Toyota Way to Service Excellence: Lean Transformation in Service Organizations.

Update January 2017, the book is now a recipient of the Shingo Professional Publication Award. Congratulations!

I have an extra copy of the book to give away (the publisher sent me two copies). I'll give one away to one person who tweets about the podcast before Friday 10/28 using the link below (or clicking here):

Check out @MarkGraban's podcast with @KRCLean4Service on her new book about #Lean service - #LeanBlogContest Click To Tweet

Karyn first learned about and applied Lean in companies like Paychex and Zurich Insurance and has worked with other service sector companies as a consultant.

In this episode, we'll discuss her book and the important applications of Lean in service settings. Karyn says delighting customers requires something different than a “mechanistic Lean implementation” approach – and I agree completely. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.

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For a link to this episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/266.

Topics, Quotes, and Links for this episode:

  • Karyn's consulting website
  • Her article “‘Leaning Out' Processes? Or Creating Service Excellence?
  • Please tell us about your background… how did you get introduced to Lean?
  • How did this book come to be?
  • Are there any common mistakes that you see happening out there in the name of Lean or Lean being mistakenly applied?
  • Maasaki Imai's book Kaizen
  • Rich Sheridan podcast about Menlo Innovations
  • “How we get there is as important as where we're going”
  • Why she and Jeff Liker were “overwhelmed with stories about mechanistic Lean”
  • “Lean is more important in services because you often can't see the work…” – you need to focus on service and the customer
  • “Learned helplessness” or “mandated helplessness?”
  • My post she mentions about how to design poor service
  • Getting away from the culture of “I can't”
  • Learning by doing with a coach is important… a “sensei” (one who has gone before you)
  • “Lean transformation isn't an end in itself…” – satisfying customers and delighting them are more important
  • Service means, of course, serving other people

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.

Thanks for listening!

Video with Karyn Ross

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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. Awesome discussion! I appreciated Karyn’s insights and perspectives on applying Lean to the service sector. Thanks so much!


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