Happy Holiday Letter from Chair
Dear MLC Members,
The year 2016 is about to draw to a close and as your Chair of the MLC Board, please let me give you an update on our progress. I’ll do this by asking and answering three basic questions for you.
- What are we trying to accomplish?
In early 2016, the previous Board of Directors decided to revisit one of the fundamental practices of continual improvement and Lean by demonstrating our respect for people and working towards stability in our finances and operations of the Michigan Lean Consortium. The present board continues to develop our organization to improve how we fulfill our vision and mission “Develop and support lean systems thinkers to transform Michigan’s organizations and economy.”
To that end, we decided to engage more directly with MLC members at our events, to solicit engagement, feedback and to develop future volunteers and leaders. We also decided to move our board meeting minutes to the website for virtual access, openness and transparency to members. We also started to document policies and determined we needed to revise our by-laws, so we walk the talk of Lean and Continual Improvement.
- How will we know that a change is an improvement?
Learning and improvement in organizations can only be achieved when we engage fully with our team and our customers. The MLC Board considers members as both team members in the management of the organization, and as customers. Your membership and participation revenues deliver more than money, but also your feedback and a growing relationship with you. Our aim has been to demonstrate our values in actions to engage you as members and customers who are expert in the job you want the MLC to do for you as you develop and grow in your career.
We think that increased revenues are an outcome of more individual and organizational members, as well as more corporate sponsorship of the MLC. We think that these are the outcome of more clearly demonstrating the value of our MLC events to you as individuals and organizations alike. To understand that cause, we’ve begun tracking renewals and participation at events as early indicators of improvement in value and growth.
- What changes can we make that will result in improvement?
Aside from developing more open dialogue in person and on the web, we have acted to define our values as an organization and to define what you value in the MLC events. At the Annual Conference in August, we shared a copy of our Hoshin plan for 2021 and the MLC Team solicited your feedback on our values, your values, the plan and on the conference. Let me commend the event team for rapid response to address your ideas for improvement, including a simple thing so vital to productive meetings, bigger coffee cups!
We’ve also done more subtle, but still important things this year to build stability. We changed our language from Events “Committee” to “ Events Teams”, we have updated by-laws that inform our policies and practices, which we’ve pulled together into one place, and we have begun to develop standard work for all things that we do with volunteers.
In 2016, we’ve begun to map our MLC system and create value stream maps of our critical processes. We have developed a scorecard and dashboard to track our improvements and progress in the Hoshin plan and we’ve shared it with you on the MLC website. We also disbanded the projects team due to inactivity and created and field-tested two customer sites with RAPID Improvement events that will be exclusive to sponsoring organizations.
For our 2017, let me tip you off at coming attractions, we have begun development of three new programs, first a leadership development program, second a web app to speed your access to MLC benefits. Programs, tools and templates, and third a development to recognize people that have made progress as practitioners of improvement using the principles of Lean in teams. Look for more news in the coming months, more importantly, let a Board member know if you would like to help!
We recently lost a valued board member, Phat Tran and gained a new valued board member in Jeff Bankowski. We will continue to engage with you in systems thinking to reframe how we help you in your organizations and in your personal journey. Our initial results indicate a growing financial stability; we now have enough revenue to meet obligations without resorting to using Board member credit cards.
We have also had a recent increase of requests for the MLC to provide coaching, consulting and training help to other organizations and new interest in MLC organizational membership and sponsorships. We take these as good signs and remind you all that one of the great benefits and values of MLC events is that opportunity to network with potential customers, suppliers or team members for continual improvement and Lean expertise. Let me take this opportunity to remind you that the MLC is not here to provide free consulting to members or sponsors, nor are we here to take business away from practitioners, or endorse any particular expert or consultant. Our job is to make a safe place for you to learn and network with others to develop your knowledge with those other MLC members.
The highest order role we fulfill is in our MLC mission as we design learning and improvements with you. We hope to engage you to think and act differently, and share your perspectives with us as we do the same. We aim at a shared and common purpose of responsibility to improve the MLC system and welcome your help and feedback to out aim, vision and mission.