The Edges of Lean — Ep 45 Continuous improvement and Radical Innovation with Heather Johnson

Innovation is the key driver of continued organizational success. In this episode, Dr. Heather Johnson joins me to discuss radical innovation and its connection to lean innovation. Dr. Johnson is an expert on innovation, and her insights will help all organizations looking to improve their innovation process.



Dr. Heather Johnson is a scientist, an engineer, and a radical innovation scholar-practitioner with a doctoral degree from the University of Maryland Global Campus. She also has a master’s in quality management with a focus in engineering & technology from Eastern Michigan University. Dr. Heather Johnson is a certified quality auditor (CQA), quality management systems expert with over 30 years of experience, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, and certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with ISO expertise. She has extensive work experience living and working internationally in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America. 





 Key Topics in this podcast:

  • Heather’s career background
  • Defining Radical Innovation and Lean Innovation 
  • The importance of knowledge retention, and what to do when your knowledge has left your organization
  • How companies need to innovate
  • How Heather helps other leaders innovate
  • The innovation process that makes the team work faster and efficiently
  • The importance of having a great leader 



  • Radical innovation is a term used to describe a game-changing idea or product that drastically improves upon existing technology or solutions. Radical innovations are typically characterized by their ability to create new markets or significantly disrupt existing ones. 
  • Lean innovation is about innovating with limited finance, resources, and assets. Lean innovation is not just a money thing; it’s about using less people and fewer assets, whether they are tangible or intangible assets. Lean innovation also includes using less time to bring an innovation to customers.
  • Knowledge is a valuable asset for any individual and organization. It allows us to make better decisions, solve problems more effectively, and create new opportunities. Knowledge retention is the process of keeping this valuable asset up-to-date and readily available.
  • No organization or person has all the knowledge needed for radical innovation  Partnering across internal and external organizational boundaries is essential.
  • A leader with a growth mindset understands that intelligence and ability are not fixed traits. They recognize that everyone has the potential to grow and develop their skills. This enables them to create an environment where employees feel supported and motivated to learn and develop. As a result, employees are more engaged and productive, and the organization can achieve its goals.


Memorable Quotes From  Heather Johnson


‘’Don’t get hung up on figuring out everything and knowing where you need to be. Go along for the ride. Go be adventurous, go explore, explore things outside of the box. You may have studied one thing in college, challenge yourself to look at something else that you never thought of going into. And it will broaden your horizon and it will change the game for you.”