How Lean Thinkers Shop? Plus the Lean Blog Holiday Gift Guide 2016


I'm guessing most “Lean thinkers” stayed home the other day on the “Black Friday” shopping day. Why might this be?

For one, I think we tend to put safety first, so we avoid jostling, pushing, and shoving for discounts (and the injuries that can follow, sadly).

Second, we hate the “waste of waiting,” so we don't want to stand (or sit) in line just to shop. We can shop online (today is “Cyber Monday“) to reduce our “waste of motion” of getting to the store. But realizing that it creates the “waste of transportation” of moving goods to us.

Third, Lean thinkers might buy gifts on more of a “just in time” basis so that we don't have to warehouse an inventory of gifts for a month? Or, do we “level load” our shopping to not have a spike in spending if we have the space at home to store gifts?

Finally, we realize that putting a big spike of demand into retail supply chains causes a lot of stress on manufacturers, including the “bullwhip effect.” So, we “level loading” our holiday shopping a bit would have some benefit to retailers and manufacturers?

Lean Blog Gift Guide

Around this time of year, many newspapers, publications, and websites create something like a “Holiday Gift Guide.”

The last time I did a “Holiday Gift Guide” was 2011:

Many of those items are still available.

Here are a few new items I've found for 2016:

A New Label Maker

Label makers are a much-used (and sometimes over-used) piece of equipment for 5S and other Lean practices.

The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted a new DYMO label maker that will be available in December, the “MobileLabeler.”


Yeah, it's possible to get excited about a label maker. Instead of a clunky built-in keyboard, you can use your smartphone to design and format a label, sending it wirelessly to the printer.

I don't see this listed on Amazon yet, but you can find other DYMO label makers via this link.

Other 5S and Visual Management Supplies

I'd like to thank my friends at StoreSMART for being a continued sponsor of

You can find many items that will improve and facilitate your 5S and visual management activities.

Check out their site.

“Practicing Lean” eBook

Practicing Lean book by Mark Graban

My latest e-Book project is still available via:

1) (where you can buy and download as a Kindle, ePub, or PDF… or read it online… and you can name your own price)

2) Amazon's Kindle Store (the easiest way to get it onto your Kindle device or app… available for a fixed price of $7.99)

Thanks to all of my other collaborators and contributors to the book, we've raised just over $1000 for the non-profit Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation.

It's a book with our reflections about the early days of our Lean journeys and learning. I hope you enjoy it.

Creative Safety Supply Gifts

Another sponsor of the blog, for many years now, has been Creative Safety Supply.

Or other items, including a free 5S posters and guide, along with other helpful 5S supplies.

Give the gift of safety this holiday season :-)

Books by Lean Blog Podcast Guests

Some of my 2016 guests on the Podcast have books available that you might want to buy or ask for… see links to their books on these podcast episode pages:

Make Cocktails the Visual Way

Are you tired of measuring? Do you hate dirtying shot glasses and all the messy clean up that follows?

The retailer Uncommon Goods has some visual cocktail glasses that allow you to:

  1. Have clear standards for making a drink right the first time
  2. Let you tell normal from abnormal immediately (if you're the type to complain about too much gin)

Here is their Gin & Tonic diagram glass:


And there are similar glasses for other cocktails:


Or, you could just drink wine or something that doesn't require mixing. Are glasses like these a helpful visual for your spouse or partner?  ;-)


Of course, our goal for a Lean culture is that everybody's more likely to have a good day that's engaging, challenging, and enriching. That said, those of you who are working very hard to change a culture will have some bad days or “don't ask” days. And, there are probably healthier ways of coping instead of alcohol…

“Lean Hospitals,” 3rd Edition

Lean Hospitals 3rd Edition Shadow small

The third edition of my first book Lean Hospitals was released back in June.

If you have it on your wish list, you can send people to this link to buy through Amazon or you can have them order a signed copy through my website.

My Healthcare Kaizen books are also available through Amazon.

Visual Toast

Are you a “Toast Kaizen” aficionado who hates not being able to visually see the status and doneness of your toast?

This Gourmia GWT430 Stainless Steel Wide Slot Toaster With See Through Window will allow you to SEE how dark your toast is at any given moment. Tell normal toast from abnormal toast… right now!


Random Lean Gifts

There are a number of items available on Amazon that have no connection to “Lean” other than their names:

Butler Lean Treats Nutritional Rewards for Dogs

Lean Body RTD Whey Protein Shake

GNC Total Lean Lean Shake 25 Natural Chocolate

NutriBullet Lean 1200W Hi-Speed Blender/Mixer

The Republic Of Tea Get Lean Tea

Kashi GOLEAN Crunch! Cereal

Eat Clean Stay Lean: The Diet: Real Foods for Real Weight Loss

That reminds me of the book Lean Health by our friend Paul Akers:

Listen to my podcast with him about this book from early 2016:

Any other ideas for Lean holiday gifts?

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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.


    • Well, I don’t admonish people ;-)

      I alluded to the idea with my admonishment about creating a spike in demand… I guess I was thinking of the retailers and their supply chains instead of spreading out the love :-)

      Good point!


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