This is the back story to the advertisements that appeared on my web site and Mark Graban’s LeanBlog starting in 2011 and ending in 2013.

I started running web ads for two reasons:

  • To generate interest in my books.
  • To communicate important information about Lean that people were missing.

So, in addition to improving book sales, I wanted to educate people (that’s what us professors do) to help them improve their understanding and practice of Lean leadership and Lean management. Books, of course, are a long form way of conveying information to people. Advertisements are a concise way of conveying information to people. I saw both as complimentary to my mission to educate and train people in Lean. The web ads offered creative challenges to me, the ad creator, and Lean thinking challenges for you, the advertising consumer.

At the outset, the question was: “What ad to run? What should it look like? How long should it run?” Most companies in Lean world make one ad and run it for a year or two (or more) to amortize the costs of producing the ad over the time which the ad runs. That is a non-Lean way of thinking (a surprising thing for Lean people to do). I decided to apply Lean thinking to advertising, which led me to do weekly ads. But, that only works if you can create a lot of new ads. That was no problem for me. While I did all the ads, I had occasional help from my illustrator daughter, Julia, and my musician son, Michael.

Of the 200 ads that ran live, I created at least another 200 ads that never ran – including some truly distasteful ones (aren’t you curious?). Running weekly ads created a nice flow of information that is far more interesting for viewers – and for Mark Graban. He never knew what ad was coming next because I ftp’d them directly to his web site. I thank Mark for his trust in me. Of all the ads that ran, Mark contacted me only twice about ads that were a bit weird. Starting in 2012, I began to run two ads per week, sometimes I ran five ads in a week, and other times two or three ads in a day for a special event such as April Fool’s.

Some ads are funny, some are unusual, some are quirky, but most are serious and convey important messages. Other ads parody Lean or satirize non-Lean things, while some poke fun at well-known Lean people – myself included. Hopefully, all are thought-provoking. One way or another, most of the ads were trying to communicate an important problem, thought, countermeasure, or concept.

You can view the entire run of ads in this video montage, accompanied by Michael’s music. The ads get progressively more interesting and edgy over time. I hope you enjoy it. The thumbnail image below is a self-portrait made by Julia in the Looney Tunes cartoon characters theme, to which I added the clever words.

Focusing on the educational aspects of these advertisements, what were the themes and key messages that I was trying to get across? Which ads successfully convey important information? Have any ads helped you improve you understanding ad practice of Lean leadership and Lean management? Which ones? Which are your favorite ads? Watch the video and reply to this blog post.

Now, focusing on the sales aspects of these advertisements, please go buy my books. Thank you.

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