April 2014

MLC Announces Mike Rother as Keynote Speaker at 2014 Conference

Mike Rother is the author of Toyota Kata, a book that explains the Improvement Kata... a teachable, repeatable routine that makes scientific working a daily habit. Toyota Kata illustrates a means for developing, activating and mobilizing human potential toward adaptation, innovation and continuous improvement in the face of unpredictable business conditions. His previous book, Learning to See, is known around the world as the standard explanation and user guide for Value Stream Mapping.

Mike is an engineer, researcher, teacher, author and speaker on the subjects of management, leadership, improvement, adaptiveness and change. He has been a research associate with the University of Michigan, the Industrial Technology Institute, the Fraunhofer Institute and the Technical University Dortmund.

Mike’s findings and methods are universal and applicable across the landscape of human endeavor; simple yet remarkable in their effectiveness. He shows us exactly how to make better use of our brainpower and has effectively operationalized the Learning Organization concept, thus making a leap from theory to daily practice.

We are very grateful to have him as a speaker for our 4th Annual MLC Conference! You can visit his website for more information here:

"But... I Don't Know Enough About Lean..." by Eric Walters
 “I don’t know enough about lean”.  When I was asked to write this section for the newsletter, that was my initial response.  After all, although I have practiced process and quality improvement for my entire career to date, I have only self-identified as a lean practitioner for a few years.  After all, there are many MLC members far more qualified than I am to write about lean – look only to the past months’ newsletters for Dave Kippen’s use of an infographic to communicate some key ideas about being an involved leader, Rich Wolin’s concise description of Leader Standard Work, and Mike Taubitz's excellent column on the Error of Standardization, for examples.  My inclination is to be careful, not to commit words to paper and share them without carefully fact-checking.  Do I really have time to be sure I’m right, before I write it and just basically looking silly and uninformed?

And then I decided, I think that’s exactly it, that’s why I love the lean approach.  To me, it’s not about knowing, but instead, about learning.  Isn't that what we aspire to do, help groups of individuals learn about their processes?  Help engage workers to identify and maximize value and to see a process through the perspective of what matters to a customer?  Or as Mike Rother stated in the February 2014 issue of Quality Progress, “Lean is the permanent struggle to flow value to one customer.”  So what if I don’t know enough about lean – do any of us?

And that’s the beauty of it.  For me, it’s not a destination, it’s a journey.  Every day I have the opportunity to work in lean, I have the ability to learn, and to help others learn.  Every time I look through the resources available on the MLC website, I have an opportunity to discover a new approach, which may in some small or large way, help transform my organization.  Every time I attend an MLC event, I not only have an opportunity to learn valuable information, I can also meet and get to know like-minded individuals.
So I don’t know enough about lean to write a column.  But I know enough about lean to know that I want to learn more, and I know enough about lean to know that I will never know enough.  But it will be a fun ride.

The Leaning Edge
The Leaning Edge Radio Show, led by MLC Co-Founder Debra Levantrosser, airs every Friday and Saturday on the Michigan Business Network. Recent guests include John Boulahanis, P.E., Principal at JAMA Consulting and Kurt Knoth, VP of Performance Improvement at Spectrum Health.

Tune in on Fridays at 11 am, 5 pm, 11 pm and Saturdays/Sundays at 5 am, 8 am, 1 pm, 6 pm, 11 pm. You can also listen to and download past episodes on the website. If you are interested in being a guest on the show email Debra at

Please note that hits on the radio show determine whether or not it stays on the air. Thank you for your support. Please listen and email the station with your positive feedback if you love the show!


Student Chapters Update
On March 19, Jim Manley, managing director of the Demmer Center and chair of the Michigan Lean Consortium, and Demmer lean apprentices Victoria Lacasse, Katelyn Dunaski, and Matthew Scanlon (BA Supply Chain Management ’14) traveled to a meeting of top State of Michigan leadership, including Lt. Gov. Brian Calley (BA Business Administration ’98). As part of the Good Government Initiative, the Demmer team ran W. Edwards Deming’s red bead experiment to demonstrate the importance of lean principles for the leaders present.

Comic Corner

Welcome New Members/Renewals!

Mike Bauer 
Managing Director at TheCarPage

Jenna Beckman  
Process Excellence Coordinator at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s

Adam Beuker  
Director, Knowledge Center Global Procurement at Kellogg Company

Jason Schulist
VP of CI at Appvion

David Womack
Consulting Manager at Plante Moran


Upcoming Events

The History of Deming, Quality and Synergies to Lean – With The Red Bead Experiment - April 4, 2014 in Sterling Heights

Toyota Kata Training - May 2, 2014 in Flint

Annual Conference - August 7-8, 2014 in Traverse City

If you have an idea for an event or would like to host an event, please email our Event Commitee co-leads at & Thank you!

Click to Register Now
Michigan Lean Consortium 2014 Annual Conference!

---People: The Heart of Lean--
August 7-8, 2014
Traverse City, Michigan

If you attended the Michigan Lean Consortium Annual Conference in the past, you know this is a great opportunity to network with colleagues, share experiences with other lean leaders and learn new approaches to drive the Lean journey at your organization. Click here to see photos from past year conferences.

We are heading to the Brys Estate for a winery networking event on Wednesday, August 6 at 6 pm. There will be an additional small fee to attend. Stay tuned for more information. You can visit their website for more information on the location:

If you have not attended in previous years, we hope to see you at the 2014 conference. It promises to be even better than ever! Plan now to join us at The Hagerty Center in Traverse City and watch our website and newsletters for updates. Registration will be open soon.

Click here to apply to be a workshop speaker!
Volunteer Spotlight

Shannen Palmer has worked to improve operations and streamline processes utilizing continuous improvement methodologies for the past eight years.  She pursued a degree in Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan, and joined DTE Energy after graduation, where she had interned while completing her degree.  For her first two years at DTE Energy, Shannen was assigned a special project and responsibility to initiate all operations for a non-profit organization focused on creating a clean environment for Downtown Detroit.  She played a critical role in developing and implementing the key processes that led to the successful launch of the organization on June 6, 2006.  For the next two years Shannen focused on improving the overall operations effectiveness to maximize the impact per dollar on the community.  At the same time she coordinated efforts with other entities to ensure a clean environment for several major events, such as the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, Detroit River days, and the NAIAS.  She then transitioned back to DTE Energy and worked for five years as a Continuous Improvement lead in Distribution Operations and Engineering, where she led continuous improvement initiatives in many cross-functional teams.  During this time she received her Black Belt certification from DTE Energy.  Shannen subsequently transitioned into a role as a Senior Strategist and is now a Field Supervisor in Distribution Operations, where she utilizes continuous improvement methodologies to improve daily operations and reduce costs.    

Shannen joined the MLC as volunteer through DTE Energy.  As a volunteer she’s had the opportunity to work with the State of Michigan Office of Good Government on two projects, and participate in one of their shared learning sessions, which she describes as a very rewarding and inspiring experience. She’s enjoyed working with the State of Michigan employees whose dedication to continuous improvement is truly a worthy cause that impacts so many of us Michigan residents.  


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