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Mike Orzen

Mike Orzen

LEI Faculty; President,, Mike Orzen & Associates

With a consulting and coaching career spanning more than 20 years, Mike Orzen has gathered a unique blend of lean, IT, healthcare, and operations experience that he uses to coach organizations pursuing enterprise excellence. His personable approach and people-first philosophy has inspired leaders and empowered workforces to successfully apply conscious awareness, lean management, and enterprise excellence practices in many complex work environments.

He is the co-author of Lean IT: Enabling and Sustaining Your Lean Transformation winner of a Shingo Research Award, and The Lean IT Field Guide. He holds degrees from Stanford University, the University of Oregon, and is certified in management accounting, production and inventory control, project management, Agile, and Lean IT. Mike teaches with LEI, the Shingo Institute, and The Ohio State University Fisher School of Business. 

Articles by Mike Orzen
How to Wipe Out IT’s “Technical Debt” with PDCA
Besides bonds, bank loans, and other types of corporate debt, your company also holds "technical debt," the burden of future IT rework caused by superficially firefighting problems instead of eliminating root causes, according to Mike Orzen, co-author of Lean IT. He explains how to get out of hock using plan-do-check-act problem-solving. More »
Boost the Power of PDCA By Tackling the Challenge of Self-Awareness
While PDCA is the engine of lean discovery, argues Mike Orzen, building self-awareness into this scientific method truly unlocks the power of lean. More »
The Mythical Value Stream Manager
If you want to make a serious impact in your improvements, consider shifting your focus outward to a value-stream level perspective and find someone who is willing to take on the role of value stream leader, suggest Mike Orzen. More »
Show Respect, Psychological Safety, and Social Neuroscience
Mike Orzen and David Verble examine the meaning and lean relevance of showing respect, creating psychological safety, and the links between these two. More »
4 Actions that Solved My Lean Management Identity Crisis
Mike Orzen had lean management down cold – or so he thought. After all, he makes a living teaching it to managers and executives. But when he personally used a lean tool such as an A3 report, he’d catch himself distractedly going through the steps then jumping ahead to a preconceived countermeasure. Watch his candid account of what he did to refocus his mind when applying lean principles. More »
Lean Transformation? Not Buying It
Companies often describe their transformation efforts in terms of an end-state: focusing on targeted results. They see transformation as a noun--a specific target or condition they wish to attain at a point in time. This paradigm prevents them from viewing transformation as a verb - a way of being they need to live every day. More »
Sensing the Gemba
The next time you show up at the gemba to do a “go and see,” take a personal assessment of your level of focus, presence and awareness. Choose any one of your senses to focus within first, so you can be 100 percent present to deeply sense what is going on with the people and work processes of the value stream. More »
Mindfulness and Leading with Respect
Mindfulness is both more essential today than ever, and a foundation for organizational lean excellence. Here John Shook and Mike Orzen explore this theme. “The more lean thinking you do, the more mindfulness you’ll experience, and the more mindfulness you create, the more presence you’ll create…and the more lean thinking you’ll do.  ” More »
Doing Versus Being – How Mindfulness Supports Better Lean Thinking, Part 2
Most companies don’t get the desired results from lean transformations, according to Mike Orzen, lean practitioner and LEI faculty member. Their people get stuck in stages 1, 2, or 3 of awareness, failing to reach level 4, "being.  " Learn how to go from "doing" lean to the more creative, less stressful state of "being" in the second of Mike's two posts on mindfulness. More »
Doing Versus Being – How Mindfulness Supports Better Lean Thinking
Most companies don’t get the expected results from their lean transformations, according to Mike Orzen, lean practitioner and LEI faculty member. The reason is that people get stuck in stages 1, 2 or 3 of awareness, failing to reach level 4, being. Learn how to move from "doing" lean to the more creative and less stressful state of "being.  " More »
7 Things Coaches Need to Get Over
"Over the years, I have noticed some common misperceptions about coaching effective problem solving skills and developing lean thinking," writes Mike Orzen. Read more to learn seven of them to improve your coaching practice. More »
How Do You Know If You’ve Created a Meaningful Challenge?
"Have you ever issued what you thought was an inspiring challenge for your team, only to discover they were underwhelmed and far from motivated?" asks Mike Orzen. If so, you may have missed one of the core practices of leading with respect - creating a meaningful challenge. Read more. More »
Accountability: Not What You Think it is...
"When managers and associates hear the term [accountability], they often flinch!" writes Mike Orzen. "This is a major problem for any organization that is serious about creating and sustaining a lean transformation.  " Read more to hear Mike's tips for tackling the stigma around this key aspect of leadership. More »
Leading with Respect is Not a Soft Skill: An interview with Mike Orzen
By definition, a hard skill is a skill that can be defined, measured, and taught. Does that sound like it describes leadership? Probably not, but Mike Orzen explains why it's time to stop thinking of leadership, specifically leadership employing the lead with respect model, as a soft skill. More »
Bad Data: The Elephant in the Room
"The goal of IT is to enable people to perform their jobs well by providing access to complete and accurate information so they can work as effectively and efficiently as possible," writes Mike Orzen. "We leverage technology to position people to do great work with the least amount of required effort.  " More »
Intentional Respect
"Most organizations fail to intentionally balance the technical tools side with the social side of Lean," writes Mike Orzen. "People say, 'We respect our people. In fact, it's one of our core company values!' I don’t deny that.  .. But there is a big difference in believing in something and acting in a way that aligns with that belief.  " More »
Too Busy to Improve
"The number of people I meet who tell me, 'I don’t have time to make improvements to my work,' amazes me," writes Mike Orzen. But staying under water, always behind on work, doesn’t work either. Learn more about how to think differently about overwhelm and get ahead of the game. More »
Lean IT Defined
Lean IT is defined by Mike Orzen, a Lean Enterprise Institute faculty member. Orzen teaches the Lean IT full-day workshop: http://www.  lean.  org/Workshops/WorkshopDescription.  cfm?WorkshopId=52. The session also addresses how to apply lean startup thinking and behavior to every activity. More »
What Is Information Waste?
Excess information -- in our inboxes, hard drives, shared drives, intranet sites, data warehouses, etc.  , -- is waste. This unnecessary "inventory" causes congestion, delays, inefficiency, errors, and rework, note Steve Bell and Mike Orzen in Lean IT. In this excerpt from their book, the authors offer examples of info waste and advice on identifying and eliminating it. More »
The Lean IT Challenge
LEI faculty member Mike Orzen shares somes slides from the Lean IT workshop showing the roles IT can play in a successful lean transformation. After viewing the slides, learn more about workshop content and benefits; see when it is scheduled. More »
Lean IT in the Cloud
In this excerpt from their book Lean IT, the authors examine what affect lean concepts could have on cloud computing. More »
Books by Mike Orzen
Lean IT Lean IT
This book shares practical tips, examples, and case studies to help you establish a culture of continuous improvement to deliver IT operational excellence and business value to your organization. More »
Workshops Taught by Mike Orzen
Lead with Respect: Practicing Respect for People to Enable Engagement, Teamwork & Accountability Building a great organization requires effective leadership. It turns out that leadership skills can be learned. A key element that is often misunderstood is what it means to lead with respect. This learning session explores why leading with respect is essential in a successful transformation, what respect looks like in practice, and how it impacts your people to drive lasting change for the better. More »