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Upcoming Events:
  • June 15 - Kanban for Everyone in Ann Arbor
  • June 20 - Lean Coffee Chat in Houghton
  • June 22 - DTMB Energy Center Tour in Dimondale
  • August 8-10 - Annual Conference in Traverse City
If you have any ideas for events in 2018 or would like to be on the planning team, please respond to this email!
LEAN: Learn, Educate And Network

It'll be here before we know it! Make sure to mark your calendars and register for the Michigan Lean Consortium’s 8th Annual Conference to be held in Traverse City on August 8-9, 2018.

As a current director of the MLC state board and co-chair of this year‘s annual conference, I’m excited to give you a sneak peek into the two-day event. As a statewide organization, this is our signature gathering where individuals from across Michigan and all areas of industry come together to learn and network. We listened closely to your feedback from last year’s event and have made some positive adjustments to the 2018 conference. Our most significant improvement is a new registration site that will make the process of selecting breakout sessions and staying up-to-date on all aspects of the conference just a click away.

One of this year’s keynote speakers is Karyn Ross, co-author of Toyota Way to Service Excellence: Lean Transformation in Service Organizations. She will share how to gain value, get results and grow your business. Whether you are an executive, manager, consultant or frontline worker who deals with customers every day, you'll learn how to take advantage of all lean has to offer.

Being a leader in a lean organization requires a special skill set. To address this issue, we have developed and will be offering again this year a leadership track series that encompasses a nine-month learning opportunity. The cohort is limited to 12 participants and starts with pre-work and assessments. At the conference, there is a designated breakout session track for this series delivered by lean industry leaders. Cohort participants are also paired with a lean industry mentor for six months. It is an outstanding series for new and current lean leaders.

Spending time networking, learning from others and having fun is a key focus of the conference. This year, we will have an evening kick-off welcome session on Tuesday, August 7, at Traverse City’s Right Brain Brewery, which just started its own lean journey last fall. There will be no special registration for this event as we encourage all conference attendees to come and enjoy.

Those are just a few of the many exciting things planned for this year’s event. Stay tuned as we will be sending out updates on the incredible speakers and networking opportunities we have planned.  Also, for all those who attended last year, “Yes, there will be bacon!”

This event would not be possible without the commitment of the Annual Conference committee who passionately meet year-round to ensure the conference will meet your lean learning needs. I do have one ask of each of you and that is to please consider a tax-deductible donation to support the efforts of the statewide premier lean organization. Sponsorship options are on the website when you start the registration process. 

Please feel free to contact me,, with any questions or feedback. See you in August!
Are you wanting to hone your leadership skills? Register now for The Leadership Track at the annual conference. Take an inward-looking journey to understand your leadership characteristics and how to tweak your behavior to be even more effective as a lean leader. Click here for more information!
Register Now!
Please keep in mind if you are a member, you need to register via the link in an email that was sent to you. If you did not receive this email, please email Lauren at! Thank you.

If you are a member of the NMLLC, register as a non-member and use the code "NMLLC" to receive the membership price. 
Join our new Facebook Group to network, connect, grow and learn!

We also have a new Linkedin page! Click here to connect to get job opportunities, lean articles, and new announcements! 
From our Members: 
Open Spaces while planning for tomorrow

(A version of this article first appeared in December 2017, NMC Training Services Newsletter)

As we approach mid-year many organizations are conducting reviews of their annual planning taking time to reflect on what has worked well and what hasn’t and leading to what lessons have been learned. A time to fix what’s not working and adjust our trajectory with the optimism of more opportunities than we have time. In today’s challenging workforce environment we often hear clichés like; “do more with less”, work harder, give 110%, and so on only to find we can’t change the number of hours in the day nor can we operate people or equipment for sustained periods at 100% capacity, let alone the proverbial 110%.  There must be open space.

Side story: Early in my career I was an inventory manager at a large bottling facility. When I arrived at this role they were busting at the seams and had product stored everywhere in the name of “hitting the production numbers”. The company rented offsite warehouses for product that was slow moving or out of date and wouldn’t fit in our production warehouse. Every year at inventory time they wrote off whatever expired product that accounting would allow given much of it was still considered an “asset.” The corporate solution, following the typical approach to solving a chronic problem with technology, was to purchase a computerized inventory management system that would eliminate loosing semi-trailer loads of product (no really this happened). There was no Lean thinking back in those days, but the biggest lesson I took away from that failed experience was, as the expert had suggested, “you have to have open space or it won’t work”. In other words, you can’t just keep adding to the pile.

Open space is critical whether you are referring to inventory, equipment capacity or the time and energy of people. Many Lean thinkers are familiar with the eight wastes of inefficiency known collectively as Muda. The two lesser known but equally important are Mura (unevenness) and Muri (overburdening). Muri is the waste that identifies overstressing a system, process, or person either by running at 110% or at 100% for extended periods. It is one of the core principles behind things like planned downtime and preventive maintenance, as true for people and their thinking as it is for equipment; again open space.

Having facilitated dozens of strategic planning sessions for a variety of organizations I can say one of the most difficult challenges is finding that “Open Space.” Give an organization a target of three to four key goals and they will argue for six to eight. Identify eight people that need to be part of a project and they will give you four. Twice the work, half the resources, we all try it. Like batch procession verses one-piece-flow we think adding more to the pile will be more efficient while in practicality putting less in the system and getting it to flow almost always results in higher productivity.    So take time to reflect on creating space for your employees, processes, equipment, and your facilities. Take time this summer with your family and with the family in your organization. In both you can use the proven tools of Lean and Hoshin Planning & Deployment to create open space in your day, not by working harder or more but by working less. Less waste, less clutter, less chaos.

Richard Wolin
Director of Training
Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center
Northwestern Michigan College
1701 East Front Street
Traverse City, MI 49686
231-995-2003, Office
Copyright © 2018 Michigan Lean Consortium, All rights reserved.

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