Japan Gemba visits: Lean in hospitals and manufacturing – a preview of recent site visits

It’s been a busy few weeks for me filled with great learning and travel! But all of this “doing” also means that I haven’t been able to keep up with writing.

I’m about to jump on a trans-Pacific flight alone with a two-year old and five-year old, so as you might imagine, blog writing is not going to happen on the flight.

I wanted to give you a highlight of posts to come, which I’ll share from some of my top tweets the past few weeks. You can follow me on Twitter (@kbjanderson) to get more real time insights, photos and articles that I enjoy.

Visit to a Tokyo hospital

I had a follow up conversation with the Medical Director of Quality Improvement and one of the business managers of Quality a few weeks ago. It was a great exchange about quality and process improvement in both Japanese and Western hospitals.

You can read about my previous visits to this hospital, including my discussion about healthcare quality and leadership with the President and attending the hospital’s Quality Committee.

International Lean connections

Over the past 48 hours I’ve meet up with Lean practitioners from Spain, Poland, Italy, Germany, and Japan!

It was great to meet so many new people from around the world who share my passion for developing people, and I really enjoyed being back in the gemba to learn from Japanese manufacturing organizations.

Gemba visits with Langas Group

Thank you to the Langas Group from Poland who invited me to join their Lean study trip this past week. And thank you to them to extending the invitation to my friend at Toyota mentor Mr. Yoshino on my request!

I was only able to join for 24 hours, but it was a fabulous experience. I jumped on the Shinkansen (90 minutes from Tokyo to Nagoya) in time to meet Mr. Yoshino and join the Polish group for dinner.

Yesterday, we visited Toto (the toilet makers) and AVEX (a high precision instrument supplier). I was very impressed with both companies and look forward to having time to write so I can share more of my take aways.As I’ve written before, they might not call themselves “Lean”, but they have a deep practice of developing people, kaizen, and visual management.


At Toto, we had three different interpreters working simultaneously – Polish, Italian and English!

Sushi boat lunch


Back to Tokyo to meet with Rafa from Spain!

After the tours, I got back to Nagoya in time to meet Rafael Lucero, who was visiting Japan from Spain. Rafael is putting together a Lean study trip to Japan for Spanish audiences this August! I was able to introduce him to Mr. Yoshino and I am going to help make connections with hospitals in Japan.

You can read about Rafael’s planning trip to Japan on his blog.

Lean teaching and coaching in the U.S.

And now it is time to fly to the United States!

I’ll be spending time with family, as well as working with one of my healthcare clients and teaching a Lean Coaching class with my friend and mentor Margie Hagene. One of our topics will be how to ask more effective questions.

Note – if you are in Japan, I’ll be teaching a one-day version of this course in April through Temple University. (See tweet below for link).

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