Making Lean Stick – Developing Lean Leaders

By on September 9, 2014
Developing Lean Leaders at Cardinal Health

Seven years ago, we designed a Lean Leadership Certification Program in response to clients who told us loud and clear that the primary roadblock to the successful implementation of Lean work processes was supervisors and managers whose ability to communicate “Lean” effectively to line workers was too limited.

Since its launch in 2007, hundreds of St. Louis region managers and supervisors have earned Lean Leadership Certificates through their active participation in the ten seminars around which the program is structured. We’re continually receiving e-mails from participants who tell us that what they learned and practiced in the program’s ten seminars had a tangible, immediate, and very positive impact on their ability to communicate with line workers. Here are some typical comments from participants:

“The techniques we learned in the Lean Leadership Certification 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.’”

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

As Lean manufacturing has spread worldwide through a wide variety of industries, three issues have become abundantly clear. They are:

  1. When a Lean transformation is successful it can drive remarkable gains in productivity, product quality, and profitability.
  2. Lean transformations often fail.
  3. Lean fails, not because of weaknesses in the tools of Lean such as 5S, Value Stream Mapping, Kanban, etc., but because Lean thinking has not taken hold in the organization.

Managers and supervisors need to be the key drivers of Lean thinking processes and they need to be well prepared to meet this job responsibility. If they aren’t prepared, Lean fails; if they are, Lean succeeds. It really is that simple and the correlation is that direct.

Our Lean Leadership Certification Program can provide your managers and supervisors with the knowledge and motivation needed to serve as champions of your Lean transformation. As one participant described what the program did for him:

“This training was just great. I’d recommend it for all managers and supervisors. I really enjoyed the discussions and also learned a lot that I can apply right now on the job.”

Cardinal Health Lean Leadership

Cardinal Health is a Fortune 22 company that improves the cost-effectiveness of healthcare. For Cardinal Health, the use of Lean thinking and work processes is understood to be a vital component of their ability to provide outstanding services for their clients. As the business behind healthcare, Cardinal Health helps pharmacies, hospitals and ambulatory care sites focus on patient care while reducing costs, improving efficiency and quality, and increasing profitability. Cardinal Health employs more than 30,000 people worldwide. When Cardinal Health’s St. Louis facility decided to sharpen the ability of its managers and supervisors to support their Lean transformation, they turned to St. Louis Community College’s Lean Leadership Program. On September 4th, this group of Cardinal Health managers and supervisors received the Lean Leadership Certificates they had earned through participation in this program.

Call me anytime at 314-303-0612. I’d like to introduce you and your company to this powerful set of career changing experiences that will make your investment in Lean really pay off. I look forward to talking with you.

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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