Podcast #283 – Jim Lancaster, CEO of Lantech, on “The Work of Management”


Joining me today is Jim Lancaster, CEO of the company Lantech, a manufacturer that is the leader in stretch wrap technology and innovation, as well as case handling equipment.

Jim is also author of the new book, published by the Lean Enterprise Institute, titled The Work of Management: A Daily Path to Sustainable ImprovementYou can read chapter 1 of the book via this PDF.

You can also check out a recent webinar that Jim presented through LEI.

In today's episode, we talk about the book, Lantech's multi-stage “Lean journey,” and some of his lessons learned along the way.

Thanks to LEI for arranging the interview and for the review copy of the book.

Streaming Player (Run Time 49:03)
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For a link to this episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/283.

This episode is sponsored by the eVSM Group. It's almost 20 years now since the book “Learning To See” was published and value stream maps were established as central to a lean deployment. What has changed rapidly, however, is the supporting eVSM toolset that captures and analyzes the initial wall maps, making it easy to do “what-if” studies and prioritize improvements. Receive a free eBook and see the state of the art at evsm.com/2020.

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.

Topics and Questions in the Episode

  • Please introduce yourself and give us a quick snapshot of Lantech
  • How did Lantech get to be featured in Lean Thinking?
    • What happened after the book was released?
  • You wrote about some examples of “faux lean thinking that had been allowed to continue for a decade.”
    • What were your key lessons learned?
    • Advice for others about avoiding “faux lean” or recovering from it?
  • How would you describe your daily management system?
    • What's the most important leadership mindset shift that's required?
  • How would you summarize the results for Lantech from Lean?
    • What are your next challenges?
  • Have you ever tried to help hospital or health system CEOs in Louisville or Kentucky?
    • What advice would you give to them as a leader?
  • Focusing on “running the business” and not “being a Lean zealot”
    • What problems does the business need to solve? Or is this “a hobby?”
  • Why “pushing inventory on others” isn't really Lean
  • Why process makes Lantech FASTER at making decisions

PDF Episode Summary

You can download a 4-page PDF summary of this post:

You can also read and share this shorter LinkedIn summary.

Thanks for reading and listening!

Quotes to Share

Click any image for a larger view…

Jim Lancaster Lean Freakin' Hobby
Jim Lancaster Lean Lantech doubled the business
Jim Lancaster Lean people development
Jim Lancaster Lean decisions

Videos of Jim Lancaster

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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. I ended up listening to this twice. I am definitely going to buy the book. His description of the decision-making standards in the daily management system was clear and informative. I loved his take on cultural barriers in healthcare being like orange pylons that no one tries to move. Really great interview and insights from Jim. Thanks.

    • Glad you liked the episode. There’s now a PDF summary of the episode available if you scroll up in the post… maybe that’s a helpful reference or it’s something you can share to help spread his ideas to those who don’t listen to podcasts.


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