by Bob Zaruta, President/CEO, NWIRC

North Central Lean Together working group visits Viking Plastics.

Over the last several months, participants of NWIRC’s Lean Together™ have seen several milestones. The first Lean Together™ 1.0 working group from Erie/Crawford Counties graduated in December, the Mercer County group reached their mid-term, and a new working group from Elk/Clearfield Counties launched with a special field-trip to Viking Plastics in Corry. It’s been exciting to hear the positive feedback from the company participants who are implementing 2 Second Lean improvements. Dean Madasz, Chief Operating Officer at Thompson Fabricating, Inc. told us that not only has the program helped them make improvements to their production process, but it has also been a building block for the organization to build a culture focused on teamwork, ownership of mistakes and improved safety awareness. Bob Hill, President of Solar Atmospheres, said, “2 Second Lean has taken the critical identification of waste out of management’s hands and put it into everyone’s hands. The front-line staff now identify problems and waste; they own it and they fix it. The buy-in starts at the top.”

But it doesn’t stop there, we’re looking forward to even more collaborative learning among manufacturers in northwestern PA during 2018. We’re starting a new Lean Together™ 1.0 cohort for manufacturing companies to study and implement concepts from the book, 2 Second Lean, by Paul Akers. The program agenda provides a structured approach with practice and collaborative learning along the way. For companies who have already graduated from 1.0….Lean Together™ 2.0 will focus on growing people for advancing continuous improvement and 2 Second Lean initiatives. Each month, different subject matter experts will build upon your company’s efforts with topics like strengthening the culture of continuous improvement; generational diversity; leading without authority; critical thinking; getting training to stick; and key performance indicators…. to name just a few. For the April kick-off meeting, we’re excited to welcome industry expert, Stephen Ansuini, founder of Employee Development Center. Ansuini worked with Toyota Motor Manufacturing for over 20 years. His company provides lean manufacturing training to Fortune 500 companies and worked with Purdue University Polytechnic to establish a Lean Environment Simulator (LES). We’re also planning a panel discussion among manufacturers who have successfully implemented a company ‘academy’ or ‘university’, along with some guiding factors to help companies get their own internal business school started for their employees. Companies participating in Lean Together this year will also benefit from two on-site assistance sessions to help implement some of their ideas and find new ones. Per request, we’re also adding a Lean Together™ CEO Roundtable for company leaders to participate quarterly in confidential peer to peer discussions, share successes of their company culture to help others, gain insights, test ideas, and stay connected with other companies pursuing 2 Second Lean.

We’re passionate about keeping the momentum rolling and can’t wait to have more manufacturers in the region ‘lean together’!