Lean manufacturing training - there's nothing like it

Paul V. Arnold

Over the past seven years, I have put on conferences and seminars around the country for industrial professionals. I have created events on subjects such as reliability excellence, maintenance best practices, operational excellence, the best practices of the Walt Disney Company … the list goes on. But without a doubt, my favorite types of events to hold are those focused on lean manufacturing training.


There is just something about a lean conference. To me, it’s more religious revival than it is occupational training or continuing education. There is a buzz, an energy, a caffeine rush that goes with lean manufacturing training. It’s not dry. It’s not dull. It’s not bland.


Perhaps it’s the enthusiasm that comes with change … and comes with lean. In the workplace, lean tackles the B.S. that people have put up with for years and felt ill-equipped to do anything about. It gets rid of the headaches and the in-fighting. It eliminates the helplessness. In these cases, change is good, and it’s something to get excited about. Lean is about emotions as much as it is about processes.


At lean manufacturing training, perhaps it’s also the case study speakers that tell their tales of program success. Have you ever heard Bill Kimbro, a lean director at Kennametal, speak? How about Mike Wroblewski, the lean sensei at Batesville Casket Company? How about Mike DaPrile, a long-time vice president at Toyota? If you did, you would remember it. These people, and many other lean gurus who I’ve had speak at my events, are so passionate and honest about lean and what it has done for their companies that you can’t help but pick up the enthusiasm. Lean is truly contagious. After hearing plant leaders tell their stories of lean success, you want to get back to the plant right away and implement some of the ideas and best practices that you’ve learned.


Call me odd, but I consider lean manufacturing training “edu-tainment” – it’s education and entertainment mixed together.

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