Join Me for an Upcoming Lean Healthcare Study Trip to Japan


I'm getting really excited about the third trip I'll be taking, in partnership with Kaizen Institute to study Lean healthcare in Japan.

The trip is February 26 to March 2, 2018. There's still room in the tour if you'd like to join us. Learn more on my website about the trip or you can register through the Kaizen Institute site (please tell them I sent you – as a marketing partner, I do receive a commission for each attendee who learns about the trip through me).

Read my blog posts about past trips.

Today, I can share an interview with Carsten Otto, a Senior Consultant with Kaizen Institute Consulting Group. He's the Lead Consultant for the tour. We'll also be joined by a Kaizen Institute logistics coordinator and a translator. These tours are always so well run. All of the planning during the week is done for you… which frees your mind up to learn and collaborate with our hosts and fellow attendees.

Here is a PDF of the interview with Carsten, with the text below:

Q: How do I benefit by participating in the KAIZEN Insight Healthcare Tour in Japan?

A: Nice to meet you, everyone! My name is Carsten and I will be your lead consultant of this tour, facilitating your learning together with Mark Graban, our guest lecturer. I have no doubt you will have a remarkable learning experience in Japan with us. We will visit many Gembas to include both hospital and non- hospital environments. From each visit, we will review what we see and hear, and discuss how you can apply this to your own situation. We will share many case studies. You will meet and network with colleagues around the world and that will be extremely stimulating and encouraging. And most of all, you will be immersed in the culture and mind of KAIZEN in the place where it was born. Come join us to FEEL KAIZEN. This is only possible in Japan and this will be a once in a lifetime experience for you!

Q: What is your professional experience in helping the healthcare sector?

A: I have worked in the healthcare environment since 1984. I started as the Head of Maintenance for a German hospital and later helped multiple hospitals as a Manager of Continuous Improvement, and later as CEO. In 1999, I became a consultant at Kaizen Institute and started helping organizations in various sectors. I have helped numerous hospitals in different countries worldwide.

Q: What challenges did you face working in hospitals? What was different about serving as a consultant for hospitals?

A: When I was working in hospitals as an internal staff member, it was hard to see things with an outside perspective. So, it was hard sometimes to break certain paradigms to make breakthrough improvements. I must say my work as a consultant can be much more efficient as even doctors respect what I can do for them! Regardless of my position, internal or external, the challenge is that diverse groups of people have different priorities. As an example, administrative teams can be highly cost-conscious while nurses are doing anything to help the patients; everyone is doing their job. I find out the challenge is to run the organizational CI work effectively while respecting everyone's position and creating the same goals internally to achieve outstanding results.

Q: How do you make improvements for hospitals?

A: I always compare healthcare to aerospace, where mistakes are not tolerated.

When we deal with people's lives, it makes a difference if there are standards or not. KAIZEN achieves this goal through Total Quality Management and the Zero-Defect-Philosophy. KPIs such as number of deaths in the units, unsuccessful treatments, treatment lead time, and patient satisfaction are only a few examples. I will be looking forward to sharing many stories such as how we created the most popular hospital for pregnant mothers. I will share my view of what medical science and labor science, like KAIZEN methodology, have in common! It is very interesting!

Q: Some words of encouragement to the tour participants, please.

A: In healthcare, a matter of a second or a millimeter dictates a life or a death. There

is no time for waste and a mistake. If you are reading this, I believe you already share the view with me; KAIZEN can do so much to help us! I am confident that I can answer most of the questions concerning Healthcare, but sorry, no medical questions to me, please! I am looking forward to seeing you in Japan to have many interesting exchanges. I am here to help you to create KAIZEN culture, mindset and practice for your organization!

Here is the plan for the week, Monday through Friday (click for a larger view):


And here is a PDF about the tour.

I hope you can join us. In the previous trips in 2012 and 2014, we had attendees from countries including the U.S., Canada, Belgium, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia. It's great to learn from our Japanese hosts, but I fully expect that this trip will be another global group. It's so valuable to learn about healthcare in other countries – the differences and the challenges – and to compare notes with each other.


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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.



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