How Beautiful This Is to See And Hear

By on May 11, 2016
Learning to See

One of the most popular of St. Louis Community College’s Lean products has been our “Learning to See” series of six discussion/planning sessions targeted at giving participants the ability to use that very powerful tool of Lean, Value-Stream Mapping, to make waste in work processes “visible.”

From its inception six years ago, we faced three primary challenges with this seminar series.

First, we wanted to make sure the series was interesting. To state the obvious, if participants in a seminar don’t find the material and discussions engaging because they’re interesting, nothing happens and the experience is a waste of time and money.

Second, we wanted to do everything we could to structure a series that would drive some immediate payback to the client as the training was progressing. We saw this as important for two reasons, those being:

  1. Clients pay for results and the sooner they can see tangible results the sooner they will view their investment in the training as a wise one.
  2. Nothing speaks with greater clarity and power to participants in training than seeing the direct, tangible impact what they’re learning has on their operations.

Third, we wanted this series to drive some basic changes in the way in which participants understood Lean manufacturing and, specifically, the way in which Lean impacts the change process.
Within the last year, we’ve seen proof that our Learning to See series meets these challenges.

Here are just two examples of what we’ve seen.

During the fifth session of one of the series, a team reported on their analysis of the process flow of one of their products. They reported to the group on the current state value stream map they had developed followed by a report on a future state map showing process improvements that were needed. The result of their analysis: A projected savings of $400,000/year after implementing modifications in the flow of this product that were obvious after the waste was made visible, as well as being simple to implement.

Following their completion of the Learning to See series, two participants said the following on seminar evaluation forms:

“Over the years I have seen frustration from people who expect Lean to happen overnight. I learned a lot about how to keep people focused and keep the morale up by convincing them that this is a process, not a single event.”

“I have changed my focus from “employee” to “the process and work environment.”

How beautiful this is to see and hear because these shifts in focus are at the very heart of what it is that makes Lean sustainable, ensuring that the client’s investment in these services drives a very significant ROI. Call me anytime at 314-303-0612 and let’s arrange a time to meet and discuss how this series can be used to support your Lean transformation.

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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