33 episodes

Mark Graban and Jamie Flinchbaugh are two guys with a lot in common: Lean, writing books, speaking, consulting... and a love of good whiskey. Like the Car Talk guys, they both went to MIT... but Lean isn't rocket science. Let's hope they can hold their liquor, because they're not holding back on sharing their opinions... it's time for Lean Whiskey... Lean talk with a fun spirit!

Lean Whiskey Mark Graban Podcasts

    • Business
    • 4.9 • 9 Ratings

Mark Graban and Jamie Flinchbaugh are two guys with a lot in common: Lean, writing books, speaking, consulting... and a love of good whiskey. Like the Car Talk guys, they both went to MIT... but Lean isn't rocket science. Let's hope they can hold their liquor, because they're not holding back on sharing their opinions... it's time for Lean Whiskey... Lean talk with a fun spirit!

    Employee Engagement Beyond Buying Them Pizza (or Bourbon)

    Employee Engagement Beyond Buying Them Pizza (or Bourbon)

    Episode page: https://www.leanblog.org/whiskey32

    In Episode 32 of “Lean Whiskey,” Mark Graban and Jamie Flinchbaugh have a first… comparing two similar whiskeys from the same distiller. In this case, family-owned Willett and their Willett Pot Still Reserve bourbon and the Johnny Drum bourbon.

    We definitely both have our favorite of the two, but you'll have to listen to find out which. We also spend a little time exploring the history of this old brand, their departure, and their recent return to the spirits world. This all happens between NFL conference championship games where neither of our teams are playing. 

    We discuss The Great Resignation and all of the many facets… the underlying long-term trends, the short-term adjustments, the data, the causes, and the solutions. Breaking the problem down is important, as there is neither one cause nor one solution. We need to move beyond “jerk bosses” such as seen at Better.com, underappreciation as seemingly demonstrated at former-lean-role-model Thedacare, and bad cultures found in many places. 2022 may finally be the year to truly make employee engagement a real strategic imperative. 

    We finish talking about industrial-based movies and shows, such as the new NBC series “American Auto” or the movie “Gung Ho.” Please tell us your favorites… we'd love to hear from you! 

    Links From the Show
    Willett Pot Still Reserve 

    Johnny Drum Private Stock

    Insights by Jamie January 2022 newsletter 

    Thedacare's employee issues, how it started and how it finished

    Mark interviews the Lean dentist Dr. Sami Bahri in Lean Blog Podcast Episodes 29, 69, and 82

    Some articles may require signup or subscription…
    New York Times No More Working for Jerks

    The Economist How to Manage The Great Resignation

    “American Auto” TV Show

    Movie “Gung Ho“

    Movie “Mr. Mom“

    Movie “Tucker“

    • 1 hr 34 min
    End a Year, End a Bottle; Start a Year, Start a Bottle

    End a Year, End a Bottle; Start a Year, Start a Bottle

    Show notes: https://www.leanblog.org/whiskey31

    In Episode 31 of “Lean Whiskey,” Mark Graban and Jamie Flinchbaugh discuss the routines and practices of wrapping up a year, and kicking off a new year.

    In that spirit, we either finish a bottle of whiskey, or start a new one. We also invite three guests to share their thoughts.

    Past Lean Whiskey guests Jim Benson, Deondra Wardelle, and Chris Burnham join and share their thoughts on finishing up a year and starting a new one.

    Routines, habits, practices that help you transition the year and set up for success in the new year. Lean thinkers know the fallacy of just having good intentions, such as New Year's Resolutions, and tend to focus more on purpose, reflection, structure, and systems. We put that hypothesis to the test by asking three lean thinkers how they approach this time period, and didn't know in advance what they would share. 

    Jim Benson talked about their discussions within his company, which take place during huddles which allow the conversation to emerge. This is much different than the once-and-done offsite approach. They are exploring how to increase collaboration, as that is certainly the central theme of their work with clients.

    Deondra Wardelle celebrates, which she often models for all of us. She also shared how she develops a theme for each year, which drives her plans and actions. The theme for 2022 is “laser focus” which was very intriguing.

    Chris Burnham, who is Senior Lean Strategy Director, KaiNexus, shared his evolution of daily practices which includes reflection, prioritization, and planning. His methods include journals and digital tools and of course, having important conversations about the right topics with the right people. 

    Mark and Jamie also share a bit of their perspective on the challenge, including the fact that the turning of a calendar is relatively arbitrary when it comes to performance management and continuous improvement, and Mark notes how often he sees people zero-out their measurements to start the new year (please don't do this).

    Jamie observes that the open space often (but not always) created between your last and first meeting gives you more room to mentally breathe (inbox = zero helps too) which allows deep work, whether that is reflection or planning. 

    Links From the Show
    We record this episode just after Repeal Day 

    Mark's whiskey selection: a new bottle of Yamazaki 12 – Thanks, Ralphs!!

    Jamie's whiskey selection: finishing bottles of Larceny and Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon

    Jim Benson's rum selection: Kohana Rum 

    Jim Benson's guest appearance on Lean Whiskey Episode 25, and his Personal Kanban site

    Deondra Wardelle's whiskey selection: starting a bottle of Old Pogue

    Deondra Wardelle's guest appearance on Lean Whiskey Episode 23, and her own company and #rootcauseracism 

    Chris Burnham's whiskey selection: finishing a bottle of Blanton's 

    Chris Burnham's guest appearance on Lean Whiskey Episode 3, and his own podcast Lean Leadership including guest appearances by Mark on Episode 1 and Jamie most recently on Episode 62

    Mark's post about starting the year with blank charts

    Since both books came up, we might as well mention Jamie's People Solve Problems and Mark's Measures of Success.

    • 1 hr 36 min
    Celebrating 30 Episodes, Writing Books, and Great Whiskey

    Celebrating 30 Episodes, Writing Books, and Great Whiskey

    Show notes: https://www.leanblog.org/whiskey30

    In Episode 30 of “Lean Whiskey“, Mark Graban and Jamie Flinchbaugh find things to celebrate, starting with the fact that we have hit 30 episodes.

    In that time, we've had 14 guests or co-hosts, and tasted 56 different whiskeys (not counting the gin and coffee detours) covering 5 countries and 7 states. We've also had over 10,000 downloads which is a celebration of its own right, and while we do not record this show just to get lots of listeners, we are extremely grateful for all of you who have tuned in. 

    Having both just returned from our alma maters, Lehigh University (Jamie) and Northwestern (Mark), we share our whiskeys under the theme of the bottle you would pull off the shelf when you are in the mood to celebrate. Jamie had a 21 year old Glenfarclas and Mark finished off his bottle of the 6th release of the WhistlePig Boss Hog titled “The Samurai Scientist.” 

    We are also celebrating the pending (October 26th) release of Jamie's latest book, People Solve Problems: The Power of Every Person, Every Day, Every Problem. Instead of In the News, we cover On the Bookshelf, and talk about why we write a book, how to pick a title, how to publish, and more. Mark has written several books, including Lean Hospitals, Healthcare Kaizen, The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen, Practicing Lean (as editor and publisher — and Jamie was a contributor), and most recently Measures of Success. Jamie has published two books now, starting with The Hitchhiker's Guide to Lean and now People Solve Problems. 

    Links From the Show
    Jamie's whiskey, a 21 year old Glenfarclas

    Mark's whiskey, the WhistlePig Boss Hog Samurai Scientist

    Mark's various books

    Jamie's various books

    Book The Complete Whiskey Course

    Book resources such as editor and publisher Rob Worth, Bethany Brown of The Cadence Group, and coach Cathy Fyock  

    Impactful books included Out of the Crisis, Understanding Variation, and Man's Search for Meaning.

    • 1 hr 38 min
    Yellow Cards, Coffee Cocktails, and a Smashed Barrel

    Yellow Cards, Coffee Cocktails, and a Smashed Barrel

    Show notes: https://www.leanblog.org/whiskey29

    In Episode 29, it's been a little while since Mark and Jamie got together for Lean Whiskey. We catch up on what's new, which includes Mark's new certification with distinction with the WSET Level 2 Spirits certification, and Jamie's new side-hustle as a soccer referee.

    We return to making cocktails, this time building on our coffee theme from the pour-over edition of Episode 27. We both make coffee cocktails. Jamie's is a whiskey espresso martini, equal parts bourbon, Kahlua, and freshly pulled espresso, shaken and served in a martini glass. Mark worked his way towards his own concoction, based on the Revolver cocktail, using bourbon and coffee liqueur, but he used a couple Texas-based brands and named it the Texas Revolver. We both follow our cocktails with some Glenn's Creek Cafe Ole and discuss Mark's lost barrel of bourbon. 

    We did "In the News" with a twist, building on our coffee theme we used something close to the Lean Coffee format and covered many news stories for 5 minutes each. These stories covered Starbucks as a talent pool, CEO pay and diversity, wage inflation, what work really needs to be in-person, people leaving the restaurant industry, and using lean to help get jabs in arms. There was no theme here, just two guys sitting around talking about the news from a lean thinker's perspective. Scroll down for links galore.

    After covering a lot of ground, Mark and Jamie look forward to the fall, including football. We hope you enjoy this episode. Please send Mark or Jamie questions, suggestions, or comments for our future discussions. Until next time, cheers! 

    Links From the Show
    Mark's WSET Level 2 Spirits certification 

    Jamie's retirement from coaching announcement and kickoff of a referee side-hustle 

    Lean Coffee episode of Lean Whiskey, Episode #27

    Jamie's new ECM Casa V espresso machine 

    Jamie's Town Branch bourbon used for the espresso martini

    Jamie's Buzzopolis espresso blend from Whole Latte Love

    The base Revolver recipe that Mark started with 

    Mark's "Texas Revolver" included 2 oz Garrison Brothers Hye Rye Bourbon, 0.5 oz Caffe del Fuego Reserve, 3 dashes orange bitters, 0.25 oz Dry Curacao, and 3 dashes coffee bitters

    We both finished with David Meier's Cafe Ole

    Mark's My Favorite Mistake episode with David Meier

    The Lean Coffee method we somewhat followed 

    In the News
    News item #1: More U.S. companies tie CEO pay to diversity metrics

    News item #2: Wage Growth Among U.S. Job Switchers Increased 5.8 Percent Since June 2020 as Businesses Struggle to Attract Workers

    News item #3: Starbucks Is the New Talent Factory Powering Corporate America

    News item #4: When Do We Actually Need to Meet in Person?

    News item #5: How Lean Thinking and Practice Helped Put Shots in Arms, Part 1: Building the Process and Part 2: Wind-down and Reflection

    News item #6: Restaurants Will Never Be the Same. They Shouldn't Be.

    Our college football schedules for tailgating at Lehigh and Northwestern


    • 1 hr 33 min
    Mistakes Make us Better (and Sometimes Make Whiskey Necessary?)

    Mistakes Make us Better (and Sometimes Make Whiskey Necessary?)

    Show notes: https://www.leanblog.org/whiskey28

    In Episode 28, Mark and Jamie begin by having our spouses pour mystery whiskeys for us. We don’t know what they are when we start drinking them. Mark’s wife at least joins him occasionally in a dram, but Jamie’s wife is truly pouring without experience, but he’s safe since it is from his own shelf. Mark and Jamie give their best guess, so listen and see if they get it right (or at least partially correct). 

    Jamie and Mark then build on Mark’s highly successful, and prolific, podcast My Favorite Mistake. We talk about the podcast, its neat origin story, and then we dive into a couple of our own favorite mistakes, although without the systematic breakdown he includes in his podcast. We explore the whole point of examining our favorite mistakes.  Along the way we cover old label designs and baseball and sushi. 


    Mark celebrated his 10 year anniversary as part of the KaiNexus team

    Mark’s mystery pour, Old Pulteney Single Malt Scotch Duncansby Head Lighthouse and his 2nd pour from Teeling

    Jamie’s mystery pour from 10 year old Whistle Pig rye and his second pour, a 10-year-old Jura scotch

    Mark’s My Favorite Mistake podcast

    Episodes that were lean-related, including Karyn Ross, Billy Taylor, and Karen Martin

    Whiskey-related episode about Garrison Brothers

    The favorite mistake story behind Angostura bitters’ label

    Redemption Whiskey and Tyler’s Mistake  

    Chicago Cubs baserunning mistake that wasn’t

    Food: uni and poutine, just not together

    • 1 hr 35 min
    Lean Coffee: Pour Over Edition With Inventory / Supply Chain Talk

    Lean Coffee: Pour Over Edition With Inventory / Supply Chain Talk


    In Episode 27, Mark and Jamie switch things up a bit with a morning recording of the show. While we could have just started our whiskey early, instead we decided to switch to a beverage that shares much of the same culture, craft, and appreciation as whiskey, and that is coffee.

    Although a bit of throwback in terms of usages, the trend towards pour over coffee embraces the culture of single origin coffee, much like the shift from whiskey blends towards more single casks. The pour over method is meant to extract more of the “good stuff” and less of the “bad stuff” from freshly ground coffee beans.

    So Mark and I poured our coffee and got into our topics of the day. You can see our coffee selections and equipment setups in the links below.

    We didn't want to lose the whiskey theme, so we used an article exploring whether 10 million barrels of whiskey resting, or aging, in Kentucky is a good thing or a bad thing.

    This became a launchpad to talk about whether just-in-time is dead (as the Wall Street Journal likes to claim) or just misunderstood. We explore MIT's The Beer Game, system dynamics, supply chain design, decision making, and the glut of face masks and hand sanitizer. We could have likely talked about this topic for a very long time, and had we been into a glass of whiskey, perhaps we would have. 

    In addition to a little detour into Mark's many hats, including the reason he wears two different hats in one episode, we close on a personal note of how we both like to start our day: with coffee, reading news, and a view. 

    Jamie's coffee, Death Wish, and Mark's coffee, Yellow Caturra

    Jamie's KitchenAid grinder, Chemex pour over, and kettle

    Mark's different KitchenAid grinder, Bodum pour over, and electric kettle

    10 Million bourbon barrels resting – too much or not enough? 

    The Wall Street Journey's misinformed piece on JIT, Jeff Liker on JIT, Dr. Jonathan Byrnes on supply chain shockwaves, and Dr. Byrnes as a guest Mark's LeanBlog podcast

    MIT's The Beer Game, system dynamics and accumulators and delays, and supply and demand

    Mark's hat and Jamie's morning view 

    • 1 hr 25 min

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