Tag Archives: kaizen

Tools or Culture?

With our annual Northeast LEAN Conference just a few days away, I want to relate a personal story about the theme of this year’s conference,

The Integration of Tools & Culture:

The first two books I ever read about Lean were Zero Inventories by Robert Hall and Japanese Manufacturing Techniques by Richard Schonberger.  In 1985, these definitive academic works were among just a few sources of information about what was then referred to as Just-In-Time, or JIT for short.   As I was just starting to manage a factory at that time with inventory turns of less than one (really), these JIT “how to” books seemed like the solution to my problems.    I owe Hall and Schonberger a debt of gratitude for their early reports about technical aspects of Toyota’s incredible improvement system.  But, for me, the single most important shred of information from these academic texts was a footnote in Hall’s book that referred to a then unknown industrialist by the name of Shigeo Shingo.  Hall cited Shingo’s book, A Study of the Toyota Production System: From an Industrial Engineering Viewpoint.  This book presented the technical aspects of Lean in a context of revolutionary concepts and principles.  The original 1982 version was a crude translation from the Japanese, but reading it created a sense of excitement about a wholly new way of thinking about work.   To be sure, Shingo’s explanation of tools echoed reports from Hall and Schonberger, but as one of the key inventors of TPS, Shingo shared a deep understanding that was grounded in unique personal experience and wisdom of a creator.  While he is most often remembered for introducing technical concepts like quick changeover and mistake-proofing, Shingo’s greatest contribution to my learning was in providing an integrated image of TPS, a system that was both technical and social science – tools and culture.  One could not exist without the other.  Beyond that, he conveyed his personal struggles to overcome what he referred as “conceptual blind spots” of his clients, Toyota among them.  He gave us the Law as well as the Gospel:  Lean is an immense opportunity but equally a daunting challenge to rise above status quo thinking.  “Keep an open mind,” he reminded us.  According to Mr. Shingo, management’s #1 job was “volition,” i.e., a passionate commitment to creating an environment that favored improvement. These were lessons that supported my organization and me as we learned new tools and unlearned old concepts at the same time.

Today I’m often asked, “What do we work on first, tools or culture?”   I answer, in context of the Toyota Production System, neither has substance without the other.  They are two sides of the same coin. We need to learn them together.   Our 2017 Northeast Lean Conference is dedicated to reinforcing that message.   Lean tools are essential as means for improvement; Lean culture is essential to enable us to see beyond the status quo. If you haven’t already registered, here’s a link with more information:

http://www.northeastleanconference.org/about-ne-lean-2017.html

Hope we see you next week in Worcester, MA for a couple of energizing, informing and inspiring days.

O.L.D.

Back To The Future

backtofuture
Here is an article I wrote ten years ago, recently resurrected from the lost letter file.  I can’t remember why I wrote it or for whom. Originally entitled, “What is Kaizen?” the article still resonates with me as I hope it will with you.

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What is Kaizen?

Over the years my study of TPS has been guided by book learning, tacit learning and more good luck than bad.   One stroke of good luck occurred in February 1987 when I picked up a copy of Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success by Masaaki Imai.  At that time, most literature about TPS was focusing on its technical aspects so this book, which focused on harnessing ideas and creativity, was different.   Also around that time, early TPS efforts at my company were foundering.  We had “lowered the water level of inventory to expose the rocks” and to our dismay were discovering more rocks than we’d bargained for.  We needed more problem solvers and Mr. Imai’s book quickly became a blueprint for individual and small group improvements that bailed us out of troubled waters.  It was truly good luck that led me to Imai’s definition of kaizen which I’ll paraphrase as “many small improvements that come from the common sense and experience of the people who do the work.”

Thus, many small improvements chipped away at and eventually dislodged the rocks that threatened to sink our TPS efforts.   As a manager, my tacit learning from this experience was that shop floor employees were brilliant and creative – some more than others, but all of them smart, proud of their work and extremely willing to be problem-solvers.  Of course there are a lot of books that tell managers that, but that’s academic.  To really understand it we have to practice it!  While Mr. Imai explicitly described the nature of kaizen with many tangible examples, he was quick to point out that understanding kaizen requires practice:  learning by doing.  Toyota refers to this as “tacit learning” as opposed to academic or book learning.  Anyone who has learned to ride a bike can understand what tacit learning is.  It’s visceral and emotional as well as intellectual.  It’s not academic.  And I had a serious need for more problem-solvers. So there’s another stroke of luck:  Our self-inflicted crisis (hitting the rocks) created a need – and opportunity — to take a chance.   While I like to think myself egalitarian, if there had not been a crisis, the opportunity to expand the problem-solving role beyond a few support personnel and supervisors might not have occurred.

Never-ending improvement – that’s kaizen. This is what I learned by “riding the bike.”  But the common translation of “continuous improvement” doesn’t do it justice because it doesn’t connote the changes that also occur within the persons who have created the improvement. The act of being creative to solve a problem or make an improvement has not only educated us but also inspired us to go further. Now tacit learning kicks in again: Concerns by supervision that work will not get done are replaced by more time to do work. Unfounded fears that “employees will mess up” give way to positive anticipation.   More ideas from more employees offered more freely and more frequently generates an organizational confidence to do more than what was previously thought possible. Every day is a day for more improvement.  My tacit learning?  That kaizen is for “Everybody, Everyday” (GBMP’s slogan.)  The momentum and pace of improvement is governed by the breadth and depth of learning and participation of every single person in the organization.  True, there are some employees with more ideas than others, but the act of each and every employee offering his or her creativity changes the organization.

All of this learning proceeded from a definition of kaizen offered by Masaaki Imai.  Unfortunately not everyone subscribes to his definition.  The notion of “small changes” it seems was a turn-off to managers looking for faster progress, managers who subscribed to the “big brain” theory:  breakthrough and innovation emanating from the creativity of just a few smart people.  The idea that many small ideas from the shop floor were going to make any difference at all was (and still is) summarily dismissed.  This is indeed unfortunate because even though its success has been documented countless times over the last three decades, only tacit learning can teach managers the real power of kaizen.

To parody an old proverb:

“You can lead the manager to the shop floor,” as they say, “but you can’t make him see.”

And sometimes you can’t even lead him to the shop floor!  The word “small” is really a misnomer, perhaps a bad translation from Japanese, because while the cost of the small changes may be small, the effect may be huge!  I have witnessed many small changes that were worth ten dollars and many that were worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.  As one former skeptic reported to me recently, “I can only assume that the dramatic improvements in quality are attributable to the small changes we made, and these summed up to a gain I would not have imagined.”   Tacit learning.  Another manager in the same conversation stated “We’ve made more significant headway in the last six weeks than in the previous six years!  Tacit learning for her:  “Many small changes for the better” add up to improvement much faster than we think.

Still many managers remain immune to this evidence.  The big brain theorists have morphed kaizen into events.  Not something done by “Everybody, Everyday”, but some thing done apart from the work, largely organized and directed by people other than those who do the work.  I first witnessed this practice in 1989 as a visitor in another New England manufacturer at a week long “kaizen event” billed as “5 days and one night”.  I was invited as a participant even though I did not work at the company and knew nothing about its factory. Coming from a situation where improvements were mostly grassroots generated and implemented, I found the whole situation stunning.   Employees from the work center where I was participating were tangentially involved at best.  Most stood sullenly on the sidelines.  One employee confided to me that they would change everything back after we left.  He referred to the process as the BOHICA method, an acronym that I will not expand (but you can guess.)  In this situation employees had become objects rather agents of change, a situation all too comfortable for many managers.  For these employees “kaizen” meant “messes created by managers that produced fabricated gains.”   Implicit in their understanding of kaizen was that management had no regard for employee initiative or creativity, that all of the ideas were coming from the big brains.

Subsequent to that experience I’ve heard the term kaizen used as a euphemism for job cutting and outsourcing, and as a task force method to “get workers to work harder.”  Several years ago I had to even sign a contract before I started to work with a company stating that I would never use the word kaizen in the presence of employees, lest they become enraged; so distasteful was their previous experience.  Less damaging, but still confusing, is a growing tendency to break kaizen into “minor” and major”, a token gesture most often to allow a certain number of non-mandated improvements and differentiate them from the “real” events.  Others shoehorn every capital investment into the kaizen court.  Some might be kaizen, some innovation; but even a warehouse expansion has qualified with one company as a “major kaizen.”  (I thought that was waste of storage.)   Companies who can afford it are establishing mezzanine departments to foster kaizen, but too often only those in the new department are focused on improvement.  Management and supervision distance themselves, and the whole process becomes an extracurricular activity.   In these environments no real change is occurring to the organization.  It’s status quo, business as usual.

A respected friend in the TPS business remarked to me recently that maybe the term “kaizen” is itself becoming a point of confusion, that maybe it has been carved up too many times and now, like “continuous improvement”, is devoid of meaning or emotive power; this, the word that Mr. Imai explained thirty years ago is the “Key to Japan’s Competitive Success.”  Sadly, my friend may be right; maybe we need a new name.  We’re good at renaming Toyota words after all.  If such a move could enlighten us and direct our thinking to Mr. Imai’s definition, I’d support it.  But for me, it’s still, and will always be, kaizen:  many small (but organization transforming) improvements that come from the common sense and experience of the people who do the work.  “Everybody, Everyday”.

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Thanks to all of my readers for subscribing, reading and occasionally commenting on my blog. The very best wishes to you all for 2017.

O. L. D.

Caramel Corn Kaizen

caramelHoliday shopping last week at one of my favorite food places, Johnson’s Popcorn, I came upon a scene reminiscent of our Lean training video Toast Kaizen. After I placed my order for eighteen one-gallon buckets of caramel corn for friends and family, the Johnson’s  kitchen shifted gears from mail order sales to my take-out order.   I couldn’t resist capturing the teamwork on camera.  Here it is, or at least one minute of it: The process that produces the world’s best caramel corn.

No doubt, this process like any other can be improved, but I wasn’t watching it for that reason.  What struck me was that seeing the “process as a whole” is quite different than seeing the “whole process.”

For example, if we walk a typical functionally organized floor we see the process as a sequence of work, material and information flow – the “value stream” –  but we lose the spontaneity of relationships as we view each component separately at a different point in time.    Division of labor along functional lines really does create a division in understanding between those functions.  Functional organization may develop focused skills and capabilities, but it also blinds workers to system efficiency opportunities.

Thinking back to my own factory, for example, welders welded, machinists machined, assemblers assembled, inspectors inspected and packers packed.

In the words of a skilled welder who worked in my factory, “Hey Bruce.  You know I’ve been working here for almost twenty years, but I’ve never actually seen where my parts go once they’re completed.”

While each function attempted internal improvements, none had a line of sight up or down stream to inform them about the whole.  Value Stream Mapping at least created a means to share process understanding, but only on a batch basis, delaying problem solving and improvement.  Subtle moment-to-moment opportunities were invisible to workers isolated by function.

On the Johnson’s line, however, sharing was instantaneous as every employee could see the process as a whole.   Perhaps we would refer to the caramel corn line as continuous flow or a pull system or some other Lean tool referring to the flow of material, but more important was the breadth of information available instantly to everyone in the process.  Imagine how much more effective our problem solving could be if every function had continuous visibility to every other function in the process.   I think we call this teamwork.

While the rest of the Ocean City New Jersey boardwalk hibernates for the winter, Johnson’s ramps up to ship its delicious products around the world.   My stash of eighteen buckets of caramel corn is boxed and awaiting holiday deliveries.   Best wishes to you and your team for whichever holiday you celebrate.

O.L.D.

lfxBTW: If you are looking for the perfect Lean gift, I highly recommend a subscription to Leanflix: On-demand streaming of GBMP’s entire library of award-winning Lean training videos plus additional educational and inspirational content for Lean Practitioners including podcasts of more than two years of my monthly “Tea Time with The Toast Dude” webinars, 6 years of Northeast Lean Conference keynote presentations and much more, with three ways to buy/subscribe.  I highly recommend viewing them with a bucket of Johnson’s world-famous Caramel Corn : )

Lean Wizards

wizardOctober was Lean conference month for me: First our own Northeast Lean Conference in Worcester (pronounced “Wustah”), then the international AME conference in Dallas and finally, the mid-Atlantic Lean Conference in Timonium, Maryland.   These annual assemblages of Lean wizards are themed to inspire, inform and reinvigorate true believers and newbie wannabees;  maybe not wizards, but at least committed to continuous improvement at some level.  I’m always flattered when someone sees me at conference and wants a selfie with the “toast guy.”   But really, if we were wizards, there would be a lot more Lean magic out there in the workplace.   After forty-five years in the workforce, almost thirty of them spent personally pursuing TPS understanding, I worry sometimes that the major product of TPS so far has been more wizards, not more excellent organizations.   When I began my Lean odyssey, for example, there were precious few persons or functions in any organization dedicated to continuous improvement: no kaizen program offices, no value stream managers, no lean accountants, no lean trainers, no belts, and no lean consultants.  Today there is an entire industry dedicated to training, developing and placing these folks.

What struck me at October’s Lean conferences was how nomadic this community of wizards has become.   Rarely do I find a consultant, internal or external, who has remained with the same organization for more than a couple years.   Some have moved on for higher pay, but most it seems it seems are refugees from organizations whose commitment to improvement has waned.  Gallows humor regarding shifting sands beneath Lean foundations abounded in private networking discussions, and more than a few business cards changed hands.  While building a Lean culture has emerged as singularly important to Lean transformation, it seems that the wizards do not find enough stability within their organizations to stay in one place long enough to help to create that culture.

Many years ago I was asked to present at a Lean conference at University of Dayton.  They requested specifically that I speak on “Survival of the Change Agent.”  When I suggested that I felt uncomfortable with the topic, they pleaded, “But we can’t find another change agent who has survived.”  No doubt, that was an exaggeration, but even in 1992,  Lean transformers  were careful not to push the Lean envelope too far.   So perhaps nothing has changed in twenty-five years. Last week I received a request for help from a talented and insightful Lean change agent whom I will have known now through four different companies.  She continues to grow and develop her skills while the organizations from which she has moved on have plateaued in their Lean journeys.   Maybe there are just more wizards in flux today.   At the recent AME Dallas conference, a Lean colleague and vice president of opex for a large corporation mentioned to me  “I have never seen so many resumes from continuous improvement persons in transition.”

To my readers:  Do you also see this phenomenon?   What are the implications? I’m not sure what to think about this, but it’s a little spooky.   Happy Halloween.  : )

O.L.D. 

PS A reminder that the onsite discounted registration price for our 13th (another spooky coincidence?) annual Northeast Lean Conference was extended to November 8th. Don’t miss out on saving 30% per seat, simply by registering online in the next week.  Only $665 per person (normally $950).

Summer Memory

I was lucky that the first boss I ever had (at age 13) had much to teach at a point when I had much to learn.  Chris M. was a brilliant but illiterate Italian immigrant and fisherman who had built a landmark restaurant and marina on the bay in Ocean City, New Jersey.  That was my first lesson: You don’t have to be book smart to be smart.

theyardI was a kid looking for my first summer job and using my brother’s social security card and name because I wasn’t yet legal to work.   I walked into the seafood market next to the dining room and asked a man behind the counter if they needed any summer help. “Go see that guy,” he said pointing to Chris, who was standing on the dock talking to a couple of older gentlemen who were peeling shrimp.  Chris, a fit, swarthy sixty-something smiled at my offer to work for him, and asked, “How old are you?”   I lied and I think he knew it, but he didn’t press.  “Can you paint?” he asked.    I lied again, and within an hour I was standing on the roof of the fish market with a brush, a roller and a five-gallon can of oil-base silver paint.  I’d watched my father paint before and at least knew what the implements were, but the actual skill was missing.   By the end of my first day of employment, I was covered with paint, but had moved along the experience curve sufficiently to coat most of the roof as well.  Chris inspected my work and smiled again.  The job was roughly done, but it was done.  “You finished,” he said, “not bad.”   So far I had no job offer, but apparently my commitment to finish the job was more important than my work experience.  That was my second lesson: Attitude first.   “Come again tomorrow morning at 7:00” Chris said.

I arrived early the next day and found Chris standing on the dock next to a ladder that had been tied in several places to a fifty-foot telephone pole.   “Today we’ll paint the mast,” he said, and waited for my reaction.  I think I may have lost my breath for a moment as I gazed upwards, but Chris reassured me, “Don’t worry, I’ll help.” Chris then proceeded to critique my painting from the previous day and offered some tips on ladder safety, loading the brush and applying the paint.  “I’ll paint the top,” Chris offered and then ascended without apparent effort to the top of the ladder where he stood on the yard (see photo) to paint the top of the pole.  Holding paint can and mast with one hand and painting with the other, someone five times my age struck a figure like a Flying Wallenda.   I was in awe.   And while there were drop cloths on the deck, nary a speck of paint fell from above.  This was my third lesson: Age is not an excuse for inactivity.

After painting to just below the yard, Chris descended and handed me the paint and brush.  “You can hook the can on the ladder,” he said “and hold on tight.  Don’t reach too far. We’ll move the ladder to hit the farther spots.”    Cautiously, I climbed the ladder, clenching paint and brush in one hand, until I reached the point just below the yard.  I have never been as scared as I was at that moment.   My trembling hand caused paint to fall at first in every direction.   In a calm voice, Chris encouraged me, “You’re doing fine, just take it slow.” With each rung that I descended, my capability and confidence increased.  Chris continued to watch until he was comfortable that I had the knack.   By the time I reached the deck I had a sense of accomplishment.   The drop cloths were speckled with paint, but job or no job, I’d done something I would have previously considered impossible.  For some reason, I felt like I owed it to Chris, a man whom I’d just met, to finish the painting.

Looking back on the experience now I realize how rare an experience that was to have had the attention of the most senior person.  This was my final lesson: Chris’s success derived from his penchant to develop others around him.  Chris appeared as I was finishing.  “You can begin tomorrow in our fish market. I pay $1.25 an hour.”   Best job I ever had.

Do you have a Chris in your past?     Please share a story.

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O.L.D.

PS Which reminds me. GBMP’s 12th annual gathering of more than 500 Lean practitioners – The Northeast Lean Conference – is just two weeks away. If you haven’t considered attending it yet, I sincerely hope you will take a look at the website – the agenda, the session abstracts and more – and consider attending and bringing an employee or two – to show your interest in their personal and professional development. You’ll be glad you did!

Lean By Doing

Early along, as a student of the Toyota Production System (TPS), now referred to as “Lean,” I struggled with some of the concepts and systems.  For example, Shigeo Shingo’s claim that a four-hour machine setup could be reduced to less than ten minutes made me a skeptic.

“Perhaps,” I thought, “when Mr. Shingo talked about SMED, single minute exchange of dies, he was referring only to machinery in which the changeover involved die changes.  CNC Lathes were different, I rationalized; no chance for single minute changeover there.”

I kept these doubts to myself although I believe the machine operators had similar doubts. We’d made modest setup improvements, but nothing like Shingo was suggesting.  Anything beyond low-hanging fruit took us too far out of our comfort zone.

In 1996 however, when a consultant from TSSC, a division of Toyota, began working with us, it quickly became apparent to me through her questioning that our doubts arose from ‘conceptual blind spots’ developed through old setup practices.  These were preventing us from seeing a multitude of improvement opportunities.  With some priming from our consultant, we found waste in areas where, as Mr. Shingo would say, “it was thought not to exist.”   Under the guidance of our TSSC consultant, our well-ingrained existing frameworks for analyzing problems were gradually un-learned as part of our Lean learning.

leanbydoingimageOur consultant, who had no special technical expertise with CNC equipment, nevertheless brought a conceptual framework to the table that turned our skepticism into science.  She used a method I refer to as “directed discovery” constantly challenging us with questions about our beliefs and expectations.  For example, we were asked, “Why are four bolts needed for the tool holders?  After we got over the because-we’ve-always-done-it-that-way answers, one of the operators had a brainstorm: “Can we replace two of the bolts with guide pins?” he asked.  We experimented with the idea and, notwithstanding the concerns of the CNC lathe manufacturer, the guide pin idea worked!

Over a four-month period, focusing on sixty-six parts that ran on one CNC lathe, setups were reduced first from an hour to thirty minutes, then twenty and finally to eight minutes for any changeover between any two parts.  At that point the operators began measuring the setups in seconds.

The impact this had on our operation was truly revolutionary.  An abstract understanding that we had gained from reading Shingo’s book was now replaced by a tacit learning that could only have come through guided discovery and continual practice: Learning by doing or, in this case, “Lean By Doing.”

There are two morals to this story:

  1. Book study or classroom activities alone cannot create deep learning and may, in fact cause persons to privately harbor doubts. Only with constant hands-on practice can we remove the conceptual blind spots that obscure the full benefit of Lean tools.
  2. The perspective gained through the mentoring from our consultant was necessary to help us see beyond our conceptual blind spots.  Experienced eyes can guide inexperienced.

GBMP has chosen the “Lean-by-doing” theme for its 12th annual Northeast Lean Conference and in doing so we have invited some the most hands-on practitioners and experts to share their tacit learning with every participant.  Over half of our sessions will be hands-on learning.  The event gets under way in 26 days and registration is still open at www.northeastLEANconference.org.    Hope to see you there.

O.L.D.

 

Peripheral Discoveries

The following post is inspired by The Teachings of Don Juan, an anthropological novel from the 1960’s written by Carlos Castaneda chronicling his travels with Don Juan, a Yaqui shaman.   To crudely paraphrase, according to Don Juan, the road to knowledge is blocked first by fear of learning new ideas, an experience most of us have had to one degree or another on our Lean journeys.  For those who forge ahead in the face of this “natural enemy” of knowledge, we are rewarded with “clarity,” a confidence we gradually acquire as we seek to learn.  Clarity, however, becomes the second enemy of knowledge, because its focus blinds us to new learning beyond a confined framework.  Shingo called it complacency.  I call it “too happy too soon.”  The point is when we are too confident with our understanding of continuous improvement, new learning stops.   With that preface, here is a story:

peripherySometimes we go to the floor with a specific intention, but along the way discover an opportunity well beyond the margins of our conscious attention.   As an example, I was once tasked with improving the productivity of a high-speed manual packaging line about thirty feet in length, one where products were delivered by conveyor to a team of employees who frantically picked, packed and heat-sealed individual products in plastic sleeves.  Picture Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory; that was the pace and tenor of this line.  I was working with a team of six persons from production, each focused on a particular function within the line, while I stood back attempting to see the whole.  There were a hundred observable reasons why this line did not hit packing targets, but that focus is not the subject of this blog post; only the backdrop.

As I concentrated on the packing line, an area chosen by the company’s owner for improvement, an interference blip appeared just at the edge of my peripheral vision.  Someone was observing from distance.  A middle-aged employee standing in the finished goods warehouse was watching intently.  Call him Jim; he was the warehouse manager.  I briefly glanced in Jim’s direction and smiled.  He smiled back and then during a break approached me.   “I don’t know why you’re focusing on this line,” Jim said alluding to the packing line in front of me.  “They’re producing far more than we sell.  I can hardly find a place to put the products.”

“Where should we be watching?”, I asked Jim.  “Come watch us pick and pack orders for Wal-Mart,” Jim replied.  “We can’t hit their deliveries and are in danger of losing that business.  If that happens, you won’t have to spend time on that packing line.  It will be shut down!”  At the end of the day, Jim and I reconvened in the warehouse for a quick review of the pick and pack process.   His team was working overtime to complete an order that, if not shipped on-time in-full, might be refused altogether.   As we walked the process, once again my peripheral vision picked up some blips.  Other warehouse employees watching and listening just out of my line of sight were now keyed into our observation.  They too had ideas about improvement to the shipping process.  Ultimately, we re-focused our attention away from a packaging process that surely could be improved but was less critical to one that had only been on the periphery but nevertheless was extremely important.

Today I am frequently asked by organizations that I visit, “Where do you look for improvement when you visit a site?”   My answer is, I try not to focus right away in order to receive any signal, direct or deflected.  I don’t want to ‘point the camera’ based only on my past experience.   Or as Shingo put it “The best place to look for improvement is in an area where it is thought not to exist.”

Do you let your current knowledge obscure opportunities for new learning?  Are your decisions ruled exclusively by “clarity” or are you following the ways of Don Juan?   Let me hear from you.

O.L.D. 

PS It’s hard to believe but there are only 48 days until The 2016 Northeast L.E.A.N. Conference! Our 12th annual event features five tracks and includes presentations by Lean thought leaders, peer-to-peer discussions of critical best practices, experiential learning through hands-on exercises and exceptional bench-marking opportunities, all designed to help you take your Lean initiative to the next level.The practical learning format caters to all learning styles & levels of experience. From the front lines to the corner offices,  there is something for everyone.  Please join us on October 4-5, 2016 at the DCU Center in Worcester MA to learn how to help your organization act its way into Lean thinking. Read more about the event, view the agenda, read the abstracts and register here.