Wednesday, October 22, 2008

2008 AME Conference Experience

What a great experience to learn from so many lean leaders and practitioners. After two days of attending sessions and networking with others on the lean journey, I have to say I have learned a lot.

I really liked the opportunity to talk with others on the lean journey and share our stories. It is amazing to hear all the great lean stories and there are so many of them out there. It renews my energy levels and fills me with hope for our manufacturing future in America.

Honestly, not all the sessions were flat out homeruns but I learned something in every session none the less. I just wish I could have attended more sessions and didn’t have to choose between so many good stories.

Here is a quick list of lean points that I am taking back to Batesville Casket.

From Dan Jones, Chairman of the Lean Enterprise Academy, UK: We need to accelerate our lean journey and close the performance gap. It is not a choice anymore, it is mandatory for survival. Ask the right questions rather than issue instructions and telling the staff what to do.

From Ken Goodson, Executive VP Operations, Herman Miller: Capture the gains and reinvest. As you free up resources, move them out and give them other tasks.

From David Mann, author of Creating a Lean Culture: For daily accountability-ask why and follow root cause. For visual controls-focus on process and capture the misses. For Leader Standard Work-We should maintain the visuals, convert the misses to improvements then sustain the improvements.

From John Shook, author of new lean book Managing to Learn: When you tell someone what to do, you take ownership and responsibility away. Create a process and provide an environment for improvement. A3 makes it easier to persuade others and understand your thinking. The A3 process leads to effective countermeasures and problem solving.

I did get a few moments to talk with John one-on-one between sessions earlier this morning. We specifically talked about Batesville’s lean journey and lean beyond the shopfloor. I did get a copy of his new book, Managing to Learn and I hope to pass on my review soon. Thanks John!

Other points:

* Hire best fit with emphasis on attitude and trainability
* Lean without education and training is not sustainable.
* To change your culture, you have to work within your current culture to do so.
* Lots of examples of employee led training and developing topic champions within your company.

My session this morning went very well and there were some outstanding questions throughout from an engaged audience. I hope to improve my delivery on a few points in the future but I felt that I got our lean message across. Thanks to all those who attended!

Tomorrow is the last day for me as I head back home. I plan to listen to Steven Spear, author of the new book Chasing the Rabbit (I got a copy of this one too), in the morning and hit a couple of other sessions. I’ll pass on any lessons in my next post.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Thanks for sharing some big takeaways with us. Just a comment on the culture aspect... After doing lean for some time it has become quite clear to me how important influencing skills can be - with frontline staff, management, all employees, actually - especially when it comes to changing culture. Not that lean facilitators need to be like Professor Harold Hill in "The Music Man," but knowing how to tap into people's needs, having the tools to help solve their problems, being patient with them while implementing, takes a LOT of emotional intelligence/interpersonal skills. These are certainly critical competencies when looking for lean leaders/staff.
Thanks again for all you share in your blog!