Some Lean and Leadership Thoughts From Inauguration Day


Here, I wanted to share a few thoughts and ideas from yesterday's inauguration ceremony…

First off, stealing the show was poet Amanda Gorman. I was really impressed with her words, her poise, and her delivery. It's a masterclass for any of us who are speakers, especially her gestures that match up with her words.

As told in this CBS news story, the 22 year old Harvard graduate has worked really hard to overcome a speech impediment, which is an inspirational story of purpose and perseverance.

President Biden has set a goal of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days. In the meantime, he's going to sign an executive order requiring passengers to wear masks on planes, so thank you for that.

Back to his big, hairy, audacious (and important) goal, I'm reminded of the W. Edwards Deming quote:

“By what method?”

This article talks about the challenge:

For Biden, 100 Million Vaccinations in 100 Days Not Easy

“I think it's an attainable goal. I think it's going to be extremely challenging,” said Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers.

My friend Jon Miller has written a really detailed post on the Gemba Academy blog:

How to Vaccinate 100 Million People in 100 Days

Jon writes, in part:

“There is a scientific way to design and execute even such large-scale rollouts. Organizations that practice lean management have been doing it for decades. It's a fairly simple matter of following a set of principles, starting smaller, testing them out rapidly, learning and adapting as you scale up. Here are some of the lean process design principles and how they might apply to vaccinating 100 million people in 100 days.”

Reaching this goal, or even coming close, is going to require approaches, such as:

  • Lean process design
  • Effective training on “standardized work”
  • Supply chain and logistics expertise
  • Engaging people in continuous improvement

Jon writes about that and more, in much more detail, in his post.

And I'm hosting a panel discussion today with four healthcare leaders who will be sharing their lessons learned about ramping up the Covid vaccinations and how Lean has helped:

Improving the COVID Vaccination Process: Lessons from the Field (Expert Panel Discussion)

I hope you can join us for the live session, or the recording will be available.

I was impressed with comments that President Biden made about respect and dignity:

From the video description:

“During his speech, President Biden notes that if he hears anyone talk down to someone, they will be fired on the spot.”

This article has the complete remarks:

Biden promises appointees he will fire them ‘on the spot' if they disrespect others

“But I am not joking when I say this, if you are ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect… talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot,” the 46th president of the United States said on Wednesday. “On the spot. No ifs, ands or buts. Everybody… everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity. That's been missing in a big way the last four years.”

“I'm confident you have the capacity to do it,” he later added. “We're gonna be judged. We are gonna be judged whether or not we restore the integrity and competency in this government… I need your help badly.”

“We have to restore the soul of this country, and we're counting on all of you to be part of that. It's not hyperbole. The only thing I expect with absolute certitude is honesty and decency — the way you treat one another, the way you treat the people you deal with. And I mean that sincerely,” he said.

His remarks remind me of the late Paul O'Neill and the way he set the tone that everybody in the workplace deserved to be treated with respect, as you can read about here:

And, this week, you can also get a FREE Kindle book that contains transcripts of O'Neill speeches where he elaborates on these concepts:

I hope you'll check it out…

Oh, and this is meant to funny, building on a photo that was widely meme-ed yesterday.

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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. Good leaders are comfortable with “I don’t know.”

    Here’s an interesting exchange in that WaPo article about Dr. Fauci:

    At one point, for example, he was asked whether an offer from Amazon to aid the vaccine distribution effort would have been welcomed during the Trump administration. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

    Fauci said he didn’t know. Then he celebrated his ability to offer that response.

    “One of the new things in this administration is if you don’t know the answer, don’t guess,” he said with a chuckle. “Just say you don’t know the answer.”

  2. More on / from Fauci:

    ‘One of the things that was very clear as recently as about 15 minutes ago, when I was with the president, is that one of the things that we’re going to do is to be completely transparent open and honest if things go wrong.

    ‘Not point fingers but to correct them and to make everything we do be based on science and evidence. I mean that was literally a conversation I had 15 minutes ago with the president, and he has said that multiple times,’ he noted.


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