Chain of Learning: 16 | Leveraging Analytical Systems Thinking to Drive Improvement [with Mark Graban]

For more info and to register for Katie’s Japan Study – Click here:

Are you focusing on the right problems in your organization? More importantly, are you creating the conditions and processes to solve them effectively?

In this episode, Mark Graban and I explore the importance of developing the skills of an Analytical Systems Thinker—one of the eight core competencies in my Change KATALYST™ model—to catalyze truly meaningful change.

You’ll gain a better understanding of how to make informed decisions and drive improvement by applying the right kind of analytics instead of reacting to your metrics’ ups and downs. Mark also shares ways to think more systemically about processes across your organization.

We explore why fostering an experimental culture and responding kindly to mistakes is crucial for driving organizational innovation and improvement.  

If you’re looking to advance as a continuous improvement change leader who leads change and creates real improvement, this is an episode you’ll want to tune into now. 


  • The difference between leading change and leading actual improvement 
  • How monitoring metrics and experimenting move the needle in a statistically meaningful way 
  • How to react less and lead more effectively by mastering the art of interpreting data to discern statistical signals and genuine performance shifts
  • What it takes to create psychological safety and encourage continuous organizational improvement
  • The importance of how leaders respond to mistakes to create a culture of learning, problem-solving, and innovation
  • The importance of modeling, encouraging, and rewarding candor to create a culture where mistakes and learning are embraced 

You’ll also hear why Mark is thrilled to join Katie’s Japan Study Trip this November. This is a high-value opportunity to observe lean principles in action and understand the heart and soul behind creating a culture of continuous improvement. Submit your application today to join Mark, Toyota leader Isao Yoshino, and other global change leaders on Katie’s November program. Spaces are limited!



  • [00:00] Driving change vs. leading actual improvement
  • [03:11] Defining characteristics of effective Analytical Systems Thinkers 
  • [05:29] The process of value stream mapping and system dynamics
  • [07:26] The Measure of Success & advice for leaders looking to use data to inform better decision-making
  • [14:47] The risk of wasting time & resources if you remain in a reactive state
  • [20:14] The importance of mistakes for a culture of learning, problem-solving, and innovation
  • [32:43]  Key takeaways from Mark’s and Katie’s experiences in Japan and the value of going on a Japan Study Trip
  • [41:36] Mark’s best piece of advice for other continuous improvement change leaders

For more info and to register for Katie’s Japan Study – Click here: