Manufacturers Embrace Lean Leadership

By on October 11, 2011
Manufacturers Embrace Lean Leadership

Three years ago, in response to clearly expressed client needs, the Center for Business, Industry & Labor designed a Lean Leadership Certification Program. Exactly what were the performance improvement needs that clients described to us? They told us that far too many of their managers and supervisors didn’t have the skills and knowledge needed to be key contributors to the implementation of Lean work processes such as 5S, Value Stream Mapping, Visual Management, Pull Production, Six Sigma, and others. They were also acutely aware of the fact that the professional journals they read reported a general Lean failure rate of in excess of 75%. Finally, they knew that implementing Lean work processes was not optional; if they were to succeed in today’s hypercompetitive marketplace, implementing Lean was mandatory.

Given these marching orders from clients, the Lean Leadership Certification Program was designed. The program includes ten, two to six hour seminars, specifically targeted at ensuring that participating managers and supervisors significantly increase their ability to:

  • Communicate clearly and persuasively with their teams,
  • Spend more time on coaching, targeting employee behaviors that are congruent with Lean thinking and effectively reinforcing these behaviors so they become habits,
  • More effectively facilitate team meetings, using a variety of decision-making tools to achieve consensus,
  • Increase their ability to drive higher and higher levels of team work, as a result of better understanding team dynamics,
  • Manage time more effectively, spending more time on tasks that are central to meeting their team’s performance goals and less time on peripheral issues,
  • Drive the implementation of key Lean processes such as 5S, Value Stream Mapping, and Visual Management.

To date, the Lean Leadership Certification Program has been used by eleven St. Louis manufacturers. Responses from participants have been consistently very positive. Here’s just a sampling:

“This was a really excellent set of seminars on Lean Leadership.”

“What a great set of experiences! This training really fueled my enthusiasm and gave a tremendous boost to my passion for improvement.”

“The techniques we learned in the Lean Leadership program really work! I’ve used them and I see more people wanting to be real contributors to the success of the department and a whole lot less of ‘what’s in it for me’.”

About George Friesen

George Friesen serves as Business Practice Leader – Lean Manufacturing for the Workforce Solutions Group of St. Louis Community College. He has led the College’s Lean business practice area since 2000. Prior to joining the College, George worked for Maritz Performance Improvement Company. Over the past 35 years, he has served a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies, specializing during the past eleven years in Lean Manufacturing, focusing especially on the 5S System, Lean leadership and thinking processes, Value Stream Mapping, and Lean team building. George is a graduate of Washington University (AB), Webster University (MA), and United States Air Force Flight Training.

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