Episode #11 of the “Lean Whiskey” Podcast: A King is Saved, and a Workweek Shortened

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Susan Pleasant and Jamie Flinchbaugh

In Episode 11 of Lean Whiskey, Mark Graban gets a rest, and Jamie Flinchbaugh co-hosts along with long-time friend and colleague Susan Pleasant, who was first a client and later a partner.

Susan brings 30 years of operations experience, and has consulted for 12 years, first at the Lean Learning Center and now with SPleasant Consulting. Jamie and Susan met for dinner last year at the IndustryWeek conference in Pittsburgh at a whiskey bar and restaurant, where Susan was introduced to Dalmore, which became our theme for the whiskey for the episode. 

We discuss an experiment at Microsoft in Japan with a 4-day work week, which actually had the effect of increasing productivity. We explore the value of the experiment, the relationship between a person and their work, and how to measure output for a range of different types of work. 

We also explore a listener question about how a lean organization sets goals, as many individuals and organizations are still in the mode of setting goals for the year. We finish the discussion by returning to whiskey and discussing why it's the drink of choice for both of us. 


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Jamie Flinchbaugh is an accomplished Entrepreneur, Senior Executive, and Board Member with more than 20 years of success spanning finance, manufacturing, automotive, and management consulting. Leveraging extensive operational experience, Jamie is an invaluable asset for a company seeking expert guidance with process improvements, lean strategies, and leadership coaching in order to transform operations, reduce costs, and drive profitability. His areas of expertise include continuous improvement, entrepreneurship, coaching and training, process transformation, business strategy, and organizational design.

5 Comments
  1. Mark Graban says

    Thanks for doing the episode, Jamie and Susan. I also love Dalmore whisky, including their “Cigar Malt” release. I think it was designed to pair with smoking a cigar. I don’t smoke cigars, but I love the whisky. I’ve also been able to try the King Alexander III release, but a whole bottle is very pricy.

    When I was in Edinburgh a few years ago, a bartender said that the King Alexander release was his absolute favorite whiskey by far.

  2. Mark Graban says

    Another thought… commuting just 4 times a week (instead of 5) would be hugely beneficial to a lot of people.

    One issue that comes in healthcare is the 12-hour shifts that many nurses work. Many nurses say they love that schedule because they only have to commute three times a week, among other benefits.

    The problem is FATIGUE. There are studies that show that cognitive errors and healthcare errors are MUCH more likely to occur in the 11th and 12th hour of a shift, which is an argument to NOT work 12 hour days.

    So, the employee perspective matters, but the customer perspective and safety have to be more important.

    If somebody at Microsoft makes an error because they’re mentally fatigued at the end of a 10-hour day… I guess that’s not the end of the world.

    1. Jamie Flinchbaugh says

      Thank you Mark. I agree, and I think for these reasons, there is no single solution for all environments. You also can’t test changes such as this on a single-variable basis. You have to look at what other unintended consequences you create and how much they matter.

      1. Mark Graban says

        Great points… I agree…

  3. Mark Graban says

    One other comment, Jamie and Susan, from your discussion about whiskey being a traditionally male customer base…

    When I toured the Four Roses distillery in Kentucky last year, they had a display about old ads. In the mid 20th century, the powers that be in the U.S. prohibited the marketing of liquor to women. Women could not be pictured in whiskey ads. So, some brands (like Four Roses) tried to get around this law by using imagery of flowers… things they thought would catch a woman’s eye. It was all pretty paternalistic, on both sides of that dispute… but the laws were eventually changed.

    I can’t find a good history of that through a quick Google search.

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