Best of Lean Blog 2011


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Best of Lean Blog 2011

Posts & Essays from Mark Graban's

About the Book

This e-book includes selected essays and commentary from Mark Graban's from the year 2011.

The book was published INCREMENTALLY, adding a month's "chapter" at a time. Earlier buyers received a lower price and received FREE updates as the book progressed. The price started at $0.99 when the book was just January's content and the price goes up $1 each time a month's content was added. The final price was set at $9.99 as that is also the price at the Kindle Store. The book will also be available soon through the Nook Store and Apple iTunes Store.

Themes include:

  • Lean healthcare
  • Lean leadership
  • Lean examples in everyday life

The book also includes full podcast transcripts of Bob Lutz (former GM executive), Eric Ries (on Lean Startups), and Dr. Richard Shannon (on Lean and patient safety).

Posts such as podcasts, videos, and administrative updates about my books or blog are not included in this eBook. As a collection of blog posts, this book has not gone through professional editing and may have grammatical errors or a formatting glitch here or there. Note to Kindle users - you will have to manually copy the .mobil file to your Kindle reader. This eBook is also be available through the Amazon Kindle store to make things easier for Kindle users.


"I read Mark Graban's LeanBlog every day. It is a wonderful source of information for people both new and experienced with Lean management. Mark's Best of 2011 compilation of blog postings are intellectually stimulating and practical, and will be valuable addition to your Lean library. - Bob Emiliani,

About the Author

Mark Graban
Mark Graban

Mark Graban is an internationally recognized consultant, author, professional speaker, and blogger. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus. For his full bio, visit

Mark's newest book (2023) is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation.

He is the author of the book Lean Hospitals, which was the first healthcare book selected as a recipient of the Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award. Mark has also co-authored Healthcare Kaizen and was the editor of the anthology Practicing Lean, published through LeanPub. He published Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More in 2018, originally on LeanPub.

Mark Graban

Episode 101

About the Contributors

Mark Graban
Mark Graban
Mark Graban is a consultant, author, keynote speaker, and blogger in the world of “Lean Healthcare.” In June 2011, Mark joined the software company KaiNexus as their “Chief Improvement Officer,” to help further their mission of “making improvement easier” in healthcare organizations, while continuing his other consulting and speaking activities. He is the author of the book Lean Hospitals: Improving Quality, Patient Safety, and Employee Engagement (Productivity Press), which was selected for a 2009 Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award and is being translated into seven languages. A 2nd revised edition was released in November, 2011. Mark has also co-authored a new book, titled “Healthcare Kaizen: Engaging Front-Line Staff in Sustainable Continuous Improvements,”due out in April 2012.. He is the founder and lead blogger and podcaster at, started in January 2005. Mark earned a BS in Industrial Engineering from Northwestern University as well as an MS in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from the MIT Sloan Leaders for Global Operations Program (previously known as Leaders for Manufacturing). Mark has worked in automotive (General Motors), the PC industry (Dell), and industrial products (Honeywell). At Honeywell, Mark was certified as a “Lean Expert” (Lean Black Belt). Since August 2005, Mark has worked exclusively in healthcare, where he has coached lean teams at client sites in North America and the United Kingdom, including medical laboratories, hospitals, and primary care clinics. Mark’s motivation is to apply Lean and Toyota Production System principles to improve quality of care and patient safety, to improve the customer/patient experience, to help the development of medical professionals and employees, and to help build strong organizations for the long term. From June 2009 to June 2011, Mark was a Senior Fellow with the Lean Enterprise Institute, a not-for-profit educational organization that is a leading voice in the Lean world. Mark served as the LEI’s “Chief Engineer” for healthcare activities, including workshops, web & social media, and other publications. Mark also served as the Director of Communication & Technology for the Healthcare Value Network, a collaboration of healthcare organizations from across North America, a partnership between LEI and the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value. Mark continues as an LEI faculty member. Mark is a popular speaker at conferences and private healthcare meetings. He has guest lectured at schools including MIT and Wharton and has served as a faculty member for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. He has been quoted and interviewed in many publications, including Health Affairs and the New York Times.

Table of Contents

  • 1 January 2011
    • 1.1 Individual NFL Player Incentives – Why Are They Necessary? Do They Distort the Game?
    • 1.2 St. Louis Paper Features Lean at Barnes-Jewish Hospital
    • 1.3 Las Vegas Paper Writes Series on Patient Safety Failings, Hospital Culture
    • 1.4 Sorry I Can’t Help You, Mr. Customer – It’s Against the Rules!
    • 1.5 Invest in Robots or in People? Amazon Makes the Lean Decision
    • 1.6 Do Good Coaches Brush Off Feedback from the Team as Whining?
    • 1.7 (Complaining About) Resistance is Futile
    • 1.8 Cases of Technology “Solutions” Looking for a Problem?
    • 1.9 An American ED Doc in New Zealand – Reflections on Pushback and Learning
  • 2 February 2011
    • 2.1 Super Bowl Footballs – Made in America (Ohio!)
    • 2.2 Coach Vince Lombardi on Striving for Perfection
    • 2.3 So What If You Don’t Have Stats for Offensive Lineman?
    • 2.4 Lean Methods to Improve Cardiac Surgery Featured in Annals of Thoracic Surgery
    • 2.5 Lean Mindsets for Healthcare
    • 2.6 Texas Snow Days Expose the Gaming of Standardized Tests
    • 2.7 Toyota’s Video Showing How TPS Helps Healthcare; Recent NASA Report Exonerates Toyota?
    • 2.8 Guest Post: Continuous Improvement’s Continuous Mistakes
    • 2.9 Living in Your Customers’ Shoes – Airport Car Rentals and Lessons for Healthcare?
    • 2.10 Best “Back of a Business Card” Ever, Seen at HIMSS
    • 2.11 “Project Search,” Lean, Cincinnati Children’s, and Respect for People
    • 2.12 Enough with the Factory Bashing, Please – Healthcare Professionals and WIRED Magazine
    • 2.13 Systems in Place to Prevent These Medication Errors? Seems Not…
  • 3 March 2011
    • 3.1 Blog Post About Preventable Errors Felled by Preventable Error
    • 3.2 What Are Barriers to “Kaizen” in Healthcare?
    • 3.3 The Workplace, “Bosses,” Health, and “Authentic Conversations”
    • 3.4 How to Make Oatmeal (or Lean)… Wrong
    • 3.5 From The Lean Edge: Alternatives to Hospitals Spending, Building, and Hiring More
    • 3.6 From the LEI Summit: Mike Rother on Toyota’s View on ROI
    • 3.7 Updating “A Vision for a Lean Hospital”
    • 3.8 GM Blames Layoffs on the Japan Earthquake and JIT; Should Instead Look in Mirror
    • 3.9 An Astronaut’s Viewpoints on Systems & Patient Safety
    • 3.10 Command-and-Control Killed this Cosmonaut? Lessons for Our Organizations…
    • 3.11 What’s Your Role in Hospital Quality?
    • 3.12 Does Setting a Goal for Number of Kaizens Violate “Kaizen Spirit”?
    • 3.13 Simple Brilliant Error Proofing at the Amazing In-N-Out Burger
  • 4 April 2011
    • 4.1 Lean, Value & Waste: Better to be Creative than to Cheat Your Customers
    • 4.2 More Trust, Less Fear
    • 4.3 Management Journal Article about Children’s Medical Center Dallas
    • 4.4 Guest Post: “Soft Skills”: From Spongy to Solid
    • 4.5 Questions about and Lessons from a Steering Wheel Falling Off
    • 4.6 Said the Unsafe Taxi Driver, “Well, Did I Hit Anybody?”
    • 4.7 How Do We Judge Safety?
    • 4.8 Revisiting Taxis, Medical Errors, and Systemic Problems
    • 4.9 HealthLeaders Article: Systemwide Process Improvement
    • 4.10 It’s Harder to Tolerate Waste “When You Know What Good Looks Like…”
    • 4.11 Talk Preview – “Why Your Hospital Should be Like a Factory… Or At Least Some…”
    • 4.12 Everybody Deserves Workplace Respect – Even the T.S.A.
    • 4.13 Doofus and Leanie Cartoon #4 – GM vs. Toyota
    • 4.14 Michigan Hospitals Cut VAP Rates 70% Using Checklists
  • 5 May 2011
    • 5.1 Fox News Channel Understands “Lean” Better than the WSJ
    • 5.2 Guest Post: What is “Yokoten?”
    • 5.3 Are We 84.7% Certain We’re in the 90th Percentile?
    • 5.4 How “Waste” is Like Osama Bin Laden
    • 5.5 Guest Post: Relying on Culture or Technology to Improve Patient Safety?
    • 5.6 Lean or “Customer Development” – Get Out of the Office
    • 5.7 Checklists Promoted and Debated on “Grey’s Anatomy”
    • 5.8 “Like Lean” – NY Jets Coach Rex Ryan
    • 5.9 “Like Lean” Leadership: Presidential Hopeful Herman Cain
    • 5.10 An Unexpected Lean Thinker and her “Kaizen Lifestyle”
    • 5.11 If management stopped demotivating their employees…
    • 5.12 Time & Motion Studies Are Not “Discredited,” Just How They Are Used
  • 6 June 2011
    • 6.1 Dr. Gawande’s Commencement Address: Cowboys or Pit Crews?
    • 6.2 Frequently Highlighted Passages in “Lean Hospitals”
    • 6.3 Stopping the Blame Game
    • 6.4 Guest Post: The Chain of Improvement
    • 6.5 Opportunities for Domestic Medical Tourism to Lean Hospitals?
    • 6.6 Newt Endorses Lean & Six Sigma for Government; Staff Quits on Him
    • 6.7 Rest in Peace, Eli Goldratt, 1947-2011
    • 6.8 Introducing Dr. Les Muda: The World’s First Lean Healthcare Comedian
    • 6.9 Beware Your Leadership Shadow
    • 6.10 Real-Time Office Kaizen With the Help of Twitter; Practicing What I Preach
    • 6.11 Be Careful When Going to the Gemba
  • 7 July 2011
    • 7.1 Funny Kaizen Cartoon from Lean Pathways
    • 7.2 “All Men Are Created Equal” – In Your Workplace?
    • 7.3 Denver Health’s Lean Patient Safety Improvements on PBS’ NewsHour
    • 7.4 A Lean Guy Reads Inc. Magazine, July/August 2011
    • 7.5 What Makes a Hospital Great? Culture
    • 7.6 A Great Poster in a Lean Hospital Lab – Asking Why
    • 7.7 Collected Quality & Cost Results from Healthcare Value Network Members
    • 7.8 Forget Pull or Push, Focus on Improving Patient FLOW Instead
    • 7.9 Build, Measure, Learn – in Startups, Healthcare, and Careers
    • 7.10 Waste Upon Waste Upon Waste – U.S. Overproduction of Dollar Coins
    • 7.11 Changes in Mac OS X “Lion” and Parallels to Workplace Changes
    • 7.12 Two Cases of Writers Misrepresenting Lean Manufacturing
    • 7.13 MD or MBA as CEO? Wrong Question?
    • 7.14 Of Blogs and Books (or from Solo to Silo); The Need for Lean in Publishing
  • 8 August 2011
    • 8.1 ThedaCare’s CEO: “The Goal is Zero – The Target is Improvement”
    • 8.2 Quality Digest Column w @KaiNexus: Reclaiming the word “Kaizen”
    • 8.3 The Global Spread of “Lean Hospitals”
    • 8.4 Podcast #126 – Bob Lutz on “Car Guys vs. Bean Counters”
    • 8.5 Wasted Data Entry on my Microwave – Why Enter the Date??
    • 8.6 Dear “Lean Six Sigma” Crowd – Lean is About Quality, Too
    • 8.7 In Three Words – What You Do
    • 8.8 Waste & Respect for People in Hospice or a Dell Factory
    • 8.9 Podcast #127 – Dr. Rick Shannon: Lean, Clinical Outcomes & Patient Safety
    • 8.10 Quitting a Software Application: Safari vs. Chrome & Error Proofing
    • 8.11 Suggestion: Make Suggestions (U.S. Government Poster from 1945)
  • 9 September 2011
    • 9.1 Lean Healthcare “Success” Without Benefits? What?
    • 9.2 How Often Do You Hear “How Can I Help You?” From Your Manager?
    • 9.3 Do Happier People Work Harder? I Think So
    • 9.4 Coaching, not Berating, when Mistakes are Made
    • 9.5 Band-Aiding the Process – Literally
    • 9.6 A Kaizen Quote from Taiichi Ohno
    • 9.7 A Kaizen Quote from Seth Godin
    • 9.8 Radiology Patient Flow Improvement Using Lean at a German Hospital
    • 9.9 Interesting Article: Obliquity, the Indirect Path to Success
    • 9.10 Analogy from “The Lean Startup” for any Lean Journey?
    • 9.11 Automation is Not Always the Answer, in Retail or Healthcare
    • 9.12 Everyday Lean: Error Proofing Sidewalk Grates (photo by @karenmartinopex)
    • 9.13 “Lack of Time” for Kaizen is a Problem Statement, not an Excuse
  • 10 October 2011
    • 10.1 Transcript of Podcast #115, With @EricRies on #LeanStartup
    • 10.2 Lean in Hospitals: Which Tool or Which Need?
    • 10.3 ‘Moneyball’ Lessons – Listen to Your Front-Line Staff
    • 10.4 Good News, Bad News on GM Doubling ‘Volt’ Production
    • 10.5 Paul O’Neill on Lean Leadership for Healthcare
    • 10.6 Lean Healthcare featured on PBS Nightly Business Report
    • 10.7 Yes, We Need Staff Ideas – But, How to Manage Those Ideas?
    • 10.8 World Series Defect: Wrong Pitcher
    • 10.9 Cost Containment is not the Primary Focus of Lean – But Costs Go Down
  • 11 November 2011
    • 11.1 Data Without Context Isn’t Very Helpful; Don’t Overreact to Each Up & Down
    • 11.2 The Need for Pilots (Not the flying kind) at the TSA?
    • 11.3 True Story: Funny Canadian Border Agent Asks About My Books
    • 11.4 Dwight’s Doomsday Defect Prevention Device on “The Office”
    • 11.5 Proof that 100% Inspection is not 100% Effectiv
    • 11.6 Honoring Our Troops with Better Service through Lean
    • 11.7 Babies and Kittens and Monkeys, Oh My! This Improves Patient Safety?
    • 11.8 What’s Changed in Lean Healthcare Since 2008?
    • 11.9 An Interesting Take on the Use of Japanese Terms in Lean
    • 11.10 Interview with Dr. Les Muda, the World’s First #Lean Healthcare Comedian
    • 11.11 A Lean Guy Reads the Globe and Mail – Shoelaces & Plane Crashes
  • 12 December 2011
    • 12.1 The Lean Blog Holiday Gift Guide
    • 12.2 One Problem with Healthcare Data
    • 12.3 A Good Lean Healthcare Journal Article with a Puzzling Title
    • 12.4 Missing the Inventory Target at Target & Lessons Learned
    • 12.5 Will Suggestion Boxes be a Trend in 2012? What Method(s) do we Need for Employee Engagement?
    • 12.6 What can Golf Cart do for You?
    • 12.7 Parallels Between Lean Startups and Lean Publishing

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