Is Reflection a Lost Art? | Robert Martichenko


A close friend recently asked me if I thought writing is a lost art.

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“Mostly,” she said, “because all I see these days are people writing on social media, in short bursts, with multiple typos, poor grammar, and no rigor to the thoughtfulness of the message.”

Having still not answered her question, I thought for a little bit, mostly about why I personally like to write.

“No,” I answered.  “I don’t believe writing is a lost art.  I believe the leadership principle of reflection is a lost art.”

“Interesting”, was my friend’s reply. “What do you mean by that?”

“Well,” I said, “if I think back on the business books I have written, and the recent novel that I published, the true precipice of my writing was to practice the lean leadership principle of reflection. In order to write thoughtfully, you need to put yourself in a quiet place, you need to unplug, you need to assemble your disconnected thoughts on paper, then analyze and synthesize these thoughts in order to package them in such a way that a stranger can understand the lessons and concepts that you are trying to communicate. And often when I’m writing, I reread what I’ve written, and I realize that my thoughts are not even clear in my own mind. This forces me to work at it again – with sleeves rolled up – in order to truly understand what I’ve learned as a leader relative to the concepts I am writing about. This is not always easy. However, to quote Snoopy from Charlie Brown, ‘I am a great admirer of my own writing’, so this allows me to soldier on.


For me, writing creates an effective environment for true reflection.

What is your process?


Michel Baudin‘s comments: Robert Martichenko came to my attention back in 2005, as co-author of the second book on Lean Logistics. Mine was first, by a few weeks, and it’s been a friendly rivalry. As of this morning, on Amazon, mine has 10 reviews and ranks 4.8 out of 5 stars, while his has 6 reviews and ranks 4.7. But his book is cheaper and his sales rank is higher. A few years after both books came out, a seminar organizer for Robert liked the subtitle of my book, “the nuts and bolts of delivering materials and goods,” so much that he used it in a promotional flyer, for which Robert duly apologized.

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Video on Lean at ACT Trailers

This morning, I received the following email from a manufacturer of trailers in Indiana, with a link to a Youtube video they produced for their dealers. It is a good case of organizing production around the demand structure. At the end of the video, they acknowledge Bill Waddell for his help. Here is the full message:

From: “Lucas Landis” <>
To: “Michel Baudin” <>
Subject: RE: Context of your video
Date: Wed, 26 Sep 2012 08:08:09 -0700

We are a 13 year old company that manufactures specialty trailers in
Nappanee, IN. As with a lot of manufacturing plants during the end of
the last decade, our company went through a terrible austerity period –
employees were laid off, the CEO was replaced, and a myriad of other
radical decisions were made as a result of the downward economy. Out of
the ashes of that, the founding CEO of the company had been doing a lot
of research on LEAN manufacturing. Because we were more or less
starting over, Steve Brenneman (CEO) decided to implement the LEAN
philosophy to maintain a more sustainable company that could avoid
future pitfalls and offer a more superior product. We are now into our
3rd year of our LEAN Journey and this video documents our Value Stream
process. We created this video to help our Dealers understand our
business philosophy and system. Following a previous Kaizen event, we
are in the process of taking LEAN to the front end of our business,
which means getting our distributors in-line with our process. The
video should explain the rest.

Hope that helps.

Lucas Landis
ATC TrailersMarketing
Phone: 574-773-8341
Fax: 574-773-7769