Building Lean Awareness Worldwide, and a Geography Lesson

By Jon Miller Updated on May 21st, 2017

Mark Graban shared some visitor statistics from his blog this week, asking his readers to guess which country ranked #2 in readers, after the USA. Curious about this blog, I fired up the Google and found some interesting results. We started tracking visitor activity late in 2008. Based on just over a year of data, the top 10 visiting countries are as follows:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. India
  4. Canada
  5. Germany
  6. Australia
  7. France
  8. Malaysia
  9. Mexico
  10. Netherlands

Click on the image below to see a large image of the graph and the top 25 visitor countries.

There are approximately 200 countries on earth, depending on who you ask. What impressed me is the visitors to this blog have come from 188 countries in the world. The light spots on the map above are the countries and territories that we haven’t yet reached. Here is the list of the “missing 14” countries:

The Americas

French Guiana is an overseas department of France, located on the northern coast of South America, bordering Suriname to west and Brazil to the east. With a population of 221,500 people, the capital city is Cayenne. Yes, the pepper is named after it. Exports include fish, gold and timber.

Perhaps one of our French readers on holiday would be kind enough to visit this blog from French Guiana to help Google color this spot on the map green.


Greenland is the giant jagged white spot on the map to the north and east of the USA and Canada. It is the world’s largest island, and 81% covered with ice. Population 57,600. Capital city: Nuuk. Chief exports: fish and shrimp.

If one of our dear Danish readers visits a relative or makes a holiday in Greenland, please take a moment to log on to the Gemba blog so we can tick this one off of the “missing 14” list.

Serbia is located due east of Italy. This landlocked country has a population of over 7.3 million people. Capital city: Belgrade. Exports: manufactured goods, food and live animals.

This island of non-readership among the Balkans was a surprise. Really, nobody searching for lean in Serbia?


Gabon lies on the central western coast of Africa. With a population of 1.5 million people, and the capital in Libreville, this country trades crude oil 70%, timber, manganese, uranium to the United States, China, Japan among others. Perhaps these trading partners can help bring lean awareness to this country through these primary industries.

Mauritania is located on the northern part of the western coast of Africa. With a population of 3.1 million people, its capital city is Nouakchott. The chief exports include iron ore, fish and fish products, gold, copper, and petroleum. Half of the country still depends on livestock and agriculture for livelihood.

Mali is located due east of Mauritania, in the inland portion or northwest Africa. Population: 12.6 million. Capital city: Bamako. Exports: cotton, gold, and livestock. Mali is one of the 25 poorest countries in the world with 80% of the population engaged in fishing or farming and 65% of its land desert. I doubt that much is wasted.

Western Sahara is a self-governing territory bordering Morocco on the northwest coast of Africa. This 100,000 square kilometer of desert bordering the Atlantic Ocean is populated by just over 400,000 people. The people in this country subsist by fishing, pastoral nomadism, and mining phosphates for export. Western Sahara does not have a capital city. Talk about lean government…

Central African Republic is located in the heart of Africa and borders Chad, Sudan, Cameroon and the two Congo republics. Population: 4.5 million. Capital city: Bangui. Exports are dominated by diamonds, and include timber, cotton, coffee, and tobacco. The chief livelihood of the people comes from subsistence agriculture and forestry.

Ethiopia is located along the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in eastern Africa. It has a population of 85 million. Capital city: Addis Ababa. Exports: coffee, qat, gold, leather products, live animals, and oilseeds.

Eritrea neighbors Ethiopia to the north. Population: 56 million. Capital city: Asmara. Exports: livestock, sorghum, textiles, food, small manufactures.
The development of these two countries has suffered in the past decades from war and famine. More basic stabilization efforts are needed before lean awareness can take root.

Central Asia

Turkmenistan is located on the eastern edge of the Caspian Sea. With a population 4.8 million of and its capital in Ashgabat, it exports gas, crude oil, petrochemicals, textiles, and cotton fiber. This desert country is blessed with energy resources but lacks adequate channels to get them to market. Perhaps a bit of lean thinking can help them out with these logistics issues.

If we filled Wisconsin with mountains and valleys and then dropped it in between China and Afganistan we would have a geographic approximation of Tajikistan. Of the 7.3 million population, nearly half of the working population find work outside of their country due to lack of employment opportunities. The capital city is Dushanbe. Exports include aluminum, electricity, cotton, fruits, vegetable oil, and textiles.

Far East

Bhutan is tucked in the Himalayas between China to the north and India to the south. It’s nearly 700,000 people are rule by a king and have their capital city in Thimphu. More than half of the population of this small, mountainous country make their livelihood through subsistence farming, animal husbandry and forestry. Exports include electricity, cardamom, gypsum, timber, handicrafts, cement, fruit, precious stones, and spices.

North Korea is located on the northern half of the Korean peninsula, due west of Japan, bordering China by land to the north and east. Population: 22.6 million. Capital city: Pyongyang. Exports: minerals, metallurgical products, manufactured goods, weapons, textiles, agricultural products, and fish.

Why am I not surprised that this most centrally directed of planned economies is not exploring lean, the pull system or engaging the creative thinking of its people?

Why the geography lesson?

We should consider ourselves fortunate. Without meaning any disrespect to the countries on this “missing 14” list, the readers of this blog are by most measures far more fortunate than the people who live in these countries. I encourage you to take a moment to follow the links to learn more about these countries, the struggles their peoples have faced in recent years and continue to face even today. Let’s reflect on the blessings we receive as well as our challenges, say a silent prayer of gratitude and resolve to do good.

  1. David Moles

    January 20, 2010 - 1:37 am

    The European Space Agency launch site is in French Guiana. Hard to believe they’ve got no use for lean down there.
    I didn’t see a lot of manufacturing in Ethiopia, unless you count one beer bottling plant run by expatriate tattooed Germans, but there is some. I wonder if the VC funding that project would also be interested in making sure their new enterprises start out on the right footing?

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