Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Notes from a Lean conference

#GBMP1 I'm currently attending the 9th Annual Northeast Shingo Prize Conference presented by GBMP, a non-profit that is engaged in Lean educational programs.  Entitled, "True North: Set the Course, Make Waves," the conference began with a short introduction by GBMP's president, Bruce Hamilton.  Regular readers will recognize Bruce as the star of Toast Kaizen, a wonderful video illustrating Lean principles in the "production" of toast in a kitchen.  He began with the concept of "True North," which he defined as "the way things should be," but importantly the way things should be for both customers and those providing service to customer.

The keynote speaker was Gary Peterson, EVP for supply chain and production at The O.C. Tanner Company.  "We've made a ton of mistakes" with our Lean journey, he began:

Most of the mistakes we've made centered on our people.  We implemented tools and imposed them on our people.  They worked, but people hated it. We hired "a cop" to enforce use of the tools.  "That should have made it obvious that we were doing something wrong!"

The fundamental principle has to be respect for people, he noted.  He suggested that there are four things that are critical for getting people involved:

(1) Setting a clear vision:  Establishing an understanding of True North (an aspirational vision of what might be achieved--but paradoxically might be unlikely ever to be achieved), provide free flowing information, engage in true transparency.  "By the way," he noted, "Things somehow move from aspirational to the way things are!"

(2) Providing a powerful reason for engagement.  Don't use, "If we don't do this we may go out of business."  Focus on the purpose of the organization, the intrinsic reasons that make daily work meaningful and create a sense of pride.  (By the way, check out his company's blog to get a sense of this.)

(3) Engaging in a thoughtful and good improvement methodology.  Develop people for contribution, particularly helping people evolve into leadership roles that are supportive of the philosophy.  "We want eveyone to become leaders." Minimize rules that control: Avoid systems that get in the way. "Don't act like you are cutting them loose and then have them drag a chain behind themselves." Hire well: Ensure that they believe in the elements of a living culture--safety, continuous improvement, trust, respect for others, we are all in this together, Arbinger principles (avoiding self-deception.)

(4) Inspiring a desire to continue to do it and stay engaged.  Make it fun to learn and safe to venture into unknown territory.  Above all, "Show me you value my efforts."  Help people believe: "There is no secret ingredient."


Gary said...

Thanks, Paul! What a great summary of my talk!

It was a pleasure meeting you and listening to your presentation. My years of coaching soccer gave me an immediate connection to you.

Keep up the great work!


Paul Levy said...

Thanks, Gary. Best wishes for continued success.