Episode #4 of the “Lean Whiskey” Podcast: Nikka, Performance Reviews, KPIs, and an Interrupting Cat

Mark and Jamie

After the last episode that had the first guest host (Chris Burnham), I'm once again joined by Jamie Flinchbaugh for another “Lean Whiskey” podcast.

In Episode 4 of Lean Whiskey, Mark Graban and Jamie Flinchbaugh (and a cameo from his cat Rocco), longtime friends, lean thinkers, and whiskey enthusiasts, join forces to enjoy a casual conversation — mostly about lean and a little bit about whiskey. 


Here is the fourth episode if you want to stream it:

Subscribe, Rate, and Review!

Please check out the main LeanWhiskey.com page if you want to subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, or RSS. Please rate and review the podcast too!

Cheers! If you have any feedback or ideas for the podcast, let us know!

Episode #4 Show Notes

We recap Mark's recent trip to Louisville, including our friends at Glenns Creek Distillery, before tipping our glasses with Japanese whiskey, both from Nikka. Jamie is tasting the Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt, named after the father of Japanese whiskey, Masataka Taketsuru. Mark is tasting the Nikka Coffey Malt, named after the Coffey Still

While also covering topics like our “lean pet peeves” and binge-watching shows, we talked about benchmark data and its purpose for driving improvement. In our Lean in the News segment, we look at benchmarking data both from IndustryWeek's Best Plants competition, as well as national healthcare safety data. We explore that there are no standards for these metrics, and ask whether it really matters. 

In our Reader Mail segment, we explore Dr. Deming's Point 12: “abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective.” Is this lean? Can reviews be lean? What would make them fit better in a lean environment? 

Here are some links from the show: 

Please review us and subscribe!

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

Did you like this post? Make sure you don't miss a post or podcast — Subscribe to get notified about posts via email daily or weekly.

Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

Get New Posts Sent To You

Select list(s):
Previous articleEmbracing and Helping Surgeons Accept Change — Instead of Blaming & Labeling Them
Next articleLeadership as Defined and Depicted so Well by a Normandy War Memorial
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. Another great discussion gentlemen! Nikka makes some fantastic whisky, their Coffee Grain being the only bottle on my shelf at the moment. Interesting to think of the pot still as batch processing, even though some would likely argue that this method itself is value added in the eyes of the customer.

    Glad that you brought up productivity in healthcare as an example of a benchmark that has been misused due to not truly understanding the difference in processes between health systems and the number of opportunities present to improve or eliminate non value added activities vs. just reducing staff.

    In terms of medical errors, I agree that the work to better standardize the measurement of these is going to be extremely difficult and has the potential to be non value adding. Coding itself can have a huge impact on whether or not an incident is counted as an error or not. I think the time would be better spent by individual health systems buckling down themselves and prioritizing the reduction of errors. Without external pressure to do so though, via metrics, how many will actually make it a priority?

    Keep up the great work guys!

    • Hey Cory – Thanks!

      Batch processing doesn’t mean it’s not a value-adding step… of course the distilling is one of the value-added steps in the whiskey value stream. I highly value them turning beer into whiskey :-)

      And the aging time in the rickhouse is very much value-added, since it changes the product and generally makes it better. That’s not the “waste of inventory” unless the distillery can’t find a buyer when they’re done.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.