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Vistage Speaker: Mark Edmondson | Lean Leadership: Operational Excellence for Any Business

Mark is fascinated with how to get more done with less. From bank tellers to Bradley Fighting vehicles, Mark has applied the power of Lean to achieve and sustain a culture of operational excellence using a practical, hands-on approach. He’s been fortunate to have some amazing experiences:

  • He was recruited out of college to be IBM’s first Industrial Engineer focused on knowledge workers- 90% of their employees.

  • He co-led IBM's first implementations of Just In Time manufacturing. This later evolved into their Continuous Flow Manufacturing Practice.

  • Selected as a board member of Stanford's Alliance for Innovative Manufacturing and their Product Realization Network.

  • Selected as a board member of MIT’s Lean Advancement Initiative, a consortium of academia, government and industry.

  • Selected as Raytheon’s first Senior Director of Enterprise Lean Strategy to lead the design and deployment the company’s Lean Management System.

  • He earned his MS and BS in Management Science & Engineering from Stanford, and his BA in Management Engineering from Claremont McKenna College.

During this tenure, Mark has helped over 80 companies create a culture of operational excellence through low cost yet transformative changes. Mark now serves through his own practice, Lean Affiliates.


Lean is the most powerful management system known. Done correctly, Lean gets results quickly for any business in any industry. Yet it’s rarely taught in business schools, and few business leaders understand its counter-intuitive management principles. Secondly, many leaders erroneously believe Lean is good only for manufacturing and distribution, not for service businesses. During this talk, Mark provides an overview of the concepts and practices of Lean Leadership to help you understand how it can benefit your employees, your customers, and both your top and bottom line. The powerful concepts of Lean Leadership are shared in a way that’s actionable and relevant to all business leaders. In this thought-provoking yet pragmatic talk, Mark brings the power of Lean Leadership to life by sharing examples of the top 10 operational mistakes encountered during his decades long career working with over 80 companies, how to avoid them, and what to do instead.

Value to Member

You will leave with an understanding of:

  • Simple yet powerful tools your team can use tomorrow to create a sense of urgency for improving operational performance

  • Common management practices to avoid that often increase costs and reduce performance

  • Daily leadership practices that enable a culture of excellence

  • How Lean Leadership can quickly improve valuation

  • What operational excellence looks like and how it applies to any organization

  • The false lure of cost cutting as a strategy, and what to do instead

  • How to prepare your organization for operational excellence

Here’s what Vistage members are saying about Mark’s talk:

  • Mark's presentation made me re-think Lean. A lot more application than I expected. I can see the application to knowledge industries like mine.

  • Very well done and well thought out. This has sparked great self-reflection about me as a leader.

  • Mark absolutely has challenged the way I think about Lean.

  • This convinced me Lean, and specifically Mark's approach, can really help us get better.

  • Very impactful and relevant to my organization and our challenges. We will definitely implement this approach to "operational excellence".

  • I took away Lean is very applicable across the business world. I learned that how it is approached, sponsored and rolled out is critical.

  • Mark's presentation opened my world to what Lean done well looks like. I thought this presentation was excellent.

  • This opened my eyes about how to encourage ideas from the entire organization.



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