Karen Martin

Karen Martin and her team provide problem-solving capability development, Lean transformation, and business performance improvement support to industry, government, and the not-for-profit sector. Karen’s broad understanding of operations design and business management stems from her experience building the operational infrastructure for several rapid-growth operations that each grew into nine-figure companies that went public.

Her expertise also includes a keen understanding of customer value—which she honed while serving in sales and marketing roles—and extensive experience with legal and regulatory issues. She has worked with organizations in nearly every industry—bioscience, construction, distribution, education, energy and utilities, financial services, government, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, military, publishing, and technology—and has a particularly rich background in healthcare.

Karen’s quality and process orientation evolved from her early career as a scientist (B.S. Microbiology, Pennsylvania State University) and was formally developed while serving as the Director of Quality for an organization that managed healthcare for 22 million Americans, and the Director of the Institute for Quality and Productivity at San Diego State University, where she oversaw the university’s sell-out Lean Enterprise and Quality Business Practices programs. Her passion for organizational learning and workforce development led her to a graduate program in adult learning (M.A. Education, California State University, Bakersfield).

Karen is known for her keen diagnostic skills and rapid-results approach to meeting client needs. A skilled change agent, Karen builds energy within work teams by helping them focus an organization’s key performance goals—faster delivery of higher quality products and services at lower cost—while simultaneously building organization-wide problem-solving capabilities and boosting employee engagement. Clients give Karen and her team high marks for teaching them to fish for themselves so that they become self-sustaining as quickly as possible.

An in-demand global keynote speaker, Karen inspires her audiences with high-energy talks that contain practical takeaways. She’s also the author of two Shingo Award-winning books: The Outstanding Organization and Value Stream Mapping (co-authored with Mike Osterling), and co-author of two tactical improvement books: The Kaizen Event Planner and Metrics-Based Process Mapping. Her latest solo book project, Clarity First, was a finalist for 800-CEO-READ’s Business Book of the Year (2018).

In 2020, Karen launched TKMG Academy, Inc., an online learning platform, to extend the work she and her team do to leaders and improvement professionals across the globe.