Mark Graban

Speech Topics

Successful organizations have learned how to engage everybody in improvement and innovation. That’s easier said than done when leaders and change agents have bad habits, including pushing change on others, from the top down or from a position of expertise. Having the “right” solution to a problem or the “right” strategy for an organization means nothing if you can’t get alignment and buy in from others. In this keynote, Mark Graban shares personal stories and practical strategies for shifting your approach to change, combining proven methods used in multiple industries.


· “Great new info on Change Management… have a Masters on this topic…. still learned a lot.”

· “Very polished, self-aware, critical thinker.”

· “I really felt that his message was timely as many of us are just a few years in on our journey. It was great to hear the ‘expert’ tell us that it’s okay to not be an expert.”

Lean is not just a methodology for cost cutting. Leading healthcare organizations are engaging every employee in improving patient care and the patient experience. In this talk, you will hear specific examples and stories about how hospitals are improving customer service and how they are often directly involving the patients and their families in this process.

As organizations progress with Lean, it’s natural for them to shift from just implementing a few tools and completing a few projects. The best Lean organizations have embraced “Lean thinking” and that includes the key mindsets that shape our culture and drive the behaviors that create change and sustain excellence.

In this talk, Mark Graban shares key Lean mindsets, pairing the important conceptual background of Lean with real-world stories that bring these principles to life, vividly contrasting traditional healthcare thinking with Lean thinking. Using the mindsets explained in this talk will increase your chances for success, speeding up your Lean journey.

This talk can be tailored to your particular hospital or medical specialty, with examples that will be relevant and engaging.

How does Lean help hospitals? Lean helps your leaders and staff work together to improve patient safety and quality, reduce waiting times, reduce cost, and more! In this talk, Mark Graban provides an engaging overview of the Lean methodology and its powerful applications in various healthcare settings. Moving beyond mere tools, Graban’s talk illustrates the foundations of Lean as a management system and an organizational culture, using examples and lessons learned from his own work and leading hospitals around the world.

This talk can be anything from a one-hour overview, a longer in-depth session, or a facilitated discussion with senior leaders that helps clarify your organization’s plan and progress.

Leading healthcare organizations are discovering the benefits of engaging all staff members and clinicians in ongoing quality and process improvement efforts. Some organizations are saving millions each year based on the small ideas implemented by staff and managers. But it sounds easier than it really is. In this talk, Mark Graban describes key principles, the mechanics of a working Kaizen approach, and the important role and behaviors required of leaders at all levels.

Versions of this talk include short overviews, half-day interactive workshops, and longer working sessions that help you start creating a culture of continuous improvement – today.

In this presentation, Mark Graban raises serious points in a humorous way. Why do healthcare organizations so frequently rely on posted signs, warnings and “be careful” exhortations with staff members? Mark presents a practical taxonomy of these signs and leads a discussion about alternative approaches that identify the root causes and truly help prevent these problems that harm patients or staff far too often.

“Mark’ s lively revelation of the weakness of signage was a fun and enlightening visual example of unclear signals in the workplace. Understanding what signs do (or don’ t do) created a reminder to be constantly observing how work happens now and the opportunities to improve. The presentation was a welcome respite from the cadence of traditionally styled presentations.”

-Cindy Jimmerson, Lean Healthcare West

“I was enthralled by the power of this presentation to ignite some chord in so many around the simple, yet elegant litany of signs and to watch an audience become participants in an extended exchange well beyond the talk.”

-Dr. Mark Jaben

Health care professionals often say things like “we don’t want assembly line medicine” or “we can’t turn our hospital into a factory.” What fears are behind those statements? Do people in health care picture factories as cold, robotic, frantic, unthinking workplaces?

Actually, a Lean factory is one where employees always have the supplies, equipment, and time needed to do their job the right way, safely, every time. A Lean factory is one where employees quickly speak up when they see a problem (or even when they make a mistake) and managers run to help. A Lean factory is a more humanistic environment that produces better quality, lower cost, and happier employees. The same can be true in healthcare!

In this keynote, Mark Graban talks about the culture and characteristics of Lean factories, giving examples of how patients and staff members would be better off with the adoption of  a Lean culture and management system – to help hospitals be the highest quality and most caring environments, as well as being more satisfying workplaces for all.


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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized expert in the field of “Lean Healthcare,” as a consultant, author, keynote speaker, and blogger. Mark is also the Vice President of Improvement & Innovation Services for the software company KaiNexus.

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, the first healthcare book to win this award, and is being translated into eight languages. A 2nd revised edition was released in November, 2011. A 3rd edition will be released in 2016.

Mark has also co-authored a second book, titled Healthcare Kaizen: Engaging Front-Line Staff in Sustainable Continuous Improvements, which was released in June 2012 and also a Shingo Research Award recipient in 2013. A newly revised and condensed edition, The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen: Leadership for a Continuously Learning and Improving Organization was released in August, 2013.

His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation.

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. From 2005 to 2009, Mark was a senior consultant with ValuMetrix Services, a division of Johnson & Johnson, where he led projects in the United States, Canada, and England. He currently consults independently for healthcare organizations.

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 is a popular speaker at conferences and private healthcare meetings. Mark has spoken across the U.S., in multiple provinces across Canada, and other countries including Finland, Holland, Sweden, Japan, and China. He has guest lectured at schools including MIT, Wharton, the UT Health Science Center Clinical Safety and Effectiveness course, and Ohio State University and has served as a faculty member for the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. He has been quoted and interviewed in many publications, including Health Affairs and the New York Times.

Mark and his wife live in the Dallas / Fort Worth, Texas area. He serves on the board of the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, the board of the AME Southwest Region, and on the advisory board for the Michigan Lean Consortium. Mark is also an advisory board member for the startup technology company Homeward Healthcare.

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