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Lean Summit Learnings

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2019 Lean Summit Takeaways

We were excited to once again be part of the Lean Enterprise Institute’s annual Lean Summit, held this March in Houston. As always, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet old friends, make new ones, and dive deep into the many aspects of how Lean impacts organizations and individuals. Here are a few takeaways from this year’s event.

1) Waste reduction demands a mindset change

Benjamin Franklin was wrong. A dollar saved is worth more than a dollar earned. A dollar saved impacts the bottom line of a company much more than another dollar in revenue, once you take all the costs out of the revenue dollar.

One of the areas we see this value most clearly is in waste reduction. Waste is everywhere, so even seemingly negligible improvements are worthwhile. But pursuing every opportunity to reduce waste demands a change in mindset.

Currently we might think: Do we really need to save this extra gallon of water?

To drive action, we need to change this to: Why should anyone waste this extra gallon of water?

2) Empower your frontline and transform problems into opportunities

Most of us like to think that we already see problems as opportunities. But problems are rarely perceived as opportunities until we build the capability to deal with them. Even if workers see a solution to a problem, it remains a problem until they have access to a way to report and address the situation. The real problem maybe even be exacerbated by workers’ inability to implement their solution.

Empowering frontline employees who feel frustrated by not having a good way to implement a solution can not only accelerate innovation and increase productivity, but also drive employee satisfaction.

3) Try the PDCA spiral

It’s time to take a new look at the PDCA Cycle. Rather than thinking of PDCA as a strict cycle, consider it as more of an upward spiral. As you learn and advance from each successive iteration, you continually move “upward” through the PDCA spiral.

Each new journey through the cycle is happening at a new level of sophistication.

The presenter explained this visually with the picture at the right. Think of yourself as starting at the bottom and climbing your way along the spiral to the top.

4) There’s room to innovate with leadership buy-in to Continuous Improvement initiatives

In talking about GE Appliance’s continuous improvement initiatives, Richard Calvaruso, the company’s Lean transformation leader, explained that they focus heavily on immersing their leadership in the day-to-day work of their frontline employees. The leadership team must perform the frontline job for at least one or two days before launching any new push for continuous improvement.

This is a great way to get the leadership team to buy into the concept of continuous improvement, and also to “feel” the work so that they can be more involved in helping to create solutions.

If there was one thing clear from the Lean Summit, it was that there’s always an opportunity to further drive improvements with a change in mindset. By remaining open to learning and exploring new solutions, companies will consistently find new ways to improve.

If you’re ready to try a new way to drive improvements, get a demo of Rever’s digitized Kaizen platform for companies today.

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