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Upcoming Events:

Lean Story at Hayes Manufacturing on September 22 in Fife Lake (Almost full!)
Lean Application on September 22 in East Lansing
Amway VMS Learning Event on October 5 in Ada
Healthcare Kata on October 27 in Muskegon
Bronze Prep Exam on November 3 in East Lansing
End of Year Event in December - Stay Tuned

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Michigan Lean Consortium Pulse (A Note From Your Chair)
Dear <<First Name>>, 

One of our student members told me that our website requires him to put on reading glasses, which was a really funny way to express how outdated the MLC website is. The picture probably gets close to how he was looking at us. Needless to say, it is “time to upgrade”. So members and friends what should it look like? Let us know by posting a website link here that really speaks to you.

The board is planning a face to face meeting in October. The Events team is planning one this fall, as well. We have created a student-only group on our Facebook page. We are learning from the stock market a way to measure our membership retention rate (we will share our learning in the future). Two amazing networking/learning events are scheduled on 9/22, sign up here: We are assessing the MLC’s current organizational structure’s capability of supporting our desired growth and are seeking outside input. 

-Rob Pease
Chairman, Michigan Lean Consortium
An interview with MLC Co-Founder Debra Levantrosser: 
  1. How did the Founders initially connect?
As with any start-up, after you have the initial idea, the next step is to reach out to those you know. So in 2008 after I had the idea to start a group of passionate lean leaders in Michigan, I reached out to people in my network who I knew were believers in lean.  I also wanted to make sure we had a cross section of industries. The original founding group represented:

  • Amway
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM)
  • DTE Energy
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • The Lean Learning Center
  • Michigan Shingo Award (Right Place Inc.)
  • Northwestern Michigan College
  • The Pawley Lean Institute at Oakland University
Once we convened and discussed the idea, it was clear we all supported the idea of starting a consortium whose purpose was to spread lean principles around the state.

How well known was lean at the time? What kept you going?

Lean was well known at the time (2008) and we had to overcome the negative stereotypes of lean just as we do now.  It was just starting to become popular in health care and other fields. What kept us going was our common goal. We were all excited about the possibilities and had many discussions about what Michigan would look like if every single organization implemented the philosophy. Those were fun talks! Once we started having events, the attendance and feedback from members is what kept us going - - when we saw smiles and hear thought-provoking questions we knew we were on to something.

How was it funded?

Similar to many start-ups, I funded the MLC out of my own pocket for the first couple of years until we were regularly receiving membership dues.  The day we got a MLC credit card was a happy day! :-)
Submit your questions about the early days of MLC to or ask in the Facebook Group
Junk Drawer: A Lean Application

Most of us have the infamous “junk drawer” somewhere in our homes. We frequently search through these places to find something, spending a lot of time doing so. Days or weeks later we repeat this ritual of searching even for the same items.

How much time do you expend doing this five minutes, ten minutes, maybe longer? Let’s say you spend five minutes a day searching through this drawer. Over a year you would have wasted over one whole day just searching for something. What would you do with an extra day? Would you change this if you could?

Lean is a continuous process and culture of identifying waste, removing waste, improving quality and reducing costs. Lean is not a quick fix, all about tools or a program of the month.

How can Lean help my junk drawer? Lean skills will help you identify waste. I mentioned above time spent looking for something is waste. You have identified waste, now what?

Lean skills and tools will help you drive out the waste. In the case of our junk drawer a tool that could help you would be 6s:
  1. Sort
  2. Straighten/ set in order
  3. Sweep & shine
  4. Standardize
  5. Sustain
  6. Safety
The important item in the list above is sustain. We have all cleaned our junk drawers before only to have them return to their unorganized state days, weeks or months later. We must put processes (standard work) in place to maintain what we have changed.

Lean can be applied to anything. Once you understand how to identify waste you will notice things that previously just worked around or ignored.
By:  Robert P. Sturza

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While in Traverse City Michigan, at the Michigan Lean Consortium's 7th Annual Conference - 'Achieving True North: LEAD-ENGAGE-ACCELERATE-NOW; Debra Levantrosser host of MBN's The Leaning Edge speaks with Raymond Muscat, Industry Director for the Tauber Institute for Global Operations at the University of Michigan.

They discuss how lean practices are being used to create cultural change in an organization.

Check out some of our other past guests here and listen to past episodes!

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