Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Jerry Bussell explains Jacksonville Lean collaboration

#lean12 The opening speaker at the Lean Transformation Summit in Jacksonville was Jerry Bussell, a former Medtronic vice president, who launched the Jacksonville Lean Consortium in 2003.  The idea was that economic growth in the region could be enhanced by collaborating on Lean process improvement across firms.  It now comprises 45 organizations.

The consortium held a popular series of presentations aimed at getting more senior level executives involved in a company's "leap" to Lean.  It has also trained Lean facilitators for member companies through classroom study, coaching, and participation in member-run improvement events.

Here are some of my real-time notes from Jerry's talk:

Bussell's motto is: "To learn is to try over and over to apply the knowledge you acquire together effectively."

Early in his own Lean learning process, "When I first met with John Shook [at the Lean Enterprise Institute] and asked questions, he never answered them. He just posed more back."  He figured out that "Socratic learning is the approach. Socrates was trying to seek truth. We seek the same."

"Collaborative learning was the most transformational aspect of what happened at Medtronic.  At first at Medtronic, senior managers were at too quick to define solutions before the problems were broadly agreed upon.  Lack of trust in organizations -- of leader, and of each other -- is the major impediment. Lean helps overcome that.  Later, we would learn to would spend lots of time just trying to decide on the nature of the problem we were trying to solve."

On the Consortium, "Getting people together to learn from one another in Jacksonville has been the most rewarding thing.  People are excited by sharing with other companies. They bring that back to the home firm, along with new stuff they learned.  The Lean Journey is heavy lifting. It is very hard work. Sharing with other organizations s is renewing!"

On creating facilitators:  "If you can't teach this stuff, you really don't know what you are doing. As part of learning to be a Lean facilitator, we told people to track how much time you are talking. Minimize that!"

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