Take-home value from AME conference in Toronto

Mike Wroblewski, Batesville Casket Company; lean sensei, Batesville Casket Company
Tags: lean manufacturing

I recently attended the Association for Manufacturing Excellence’s conference in Toronto. 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 that 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 home runs, but I learned something in every session nonetheless. 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, United Kingdom: 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 vice president of 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 the root cause. For visual controls, focus on the process and capture the misses. For leader standard work, we should maintain the visuals, convert the misses to improvements and 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. An A3 process 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. We specifically talked about Batesville’s lean journey and lean beyond the shop floor. I did get a copy of his new book, and I hope to pass on my review soon.

Other points:

About the author:
Mike Wroblewski started his lean journey with instruction in quick die change from Shigeo Shingo. Mike is currently the lean sensei at Batesville Casket Company in Batesville, Ind. He also writes a blog called “Got Boondoggle?” featuring lean and Six Sigma topics. Check it out at http://gotboondoggle.blogspot.com/.