May 2015

Lean in Action: The Intertwining of IT and Lean

Throughout my career I’ve heard many people say, in effect, “we just need to automate the process” or “all we need is a better computer system and our problem will be solved.”  System initiatives, more often than not, fail to live up to the expected efficiency gains for a multitude of reasons. The main reasons for this are that the true root causes of the organization’s culture and processes are not addressed and revamped along with the IT system(s).  Instead, the IT systems just automate poor processes and the organization ends up with automated waste.  Organizations remain silo’ed, handoffs and inspections are not removed and additional non-value added tracking reports are created without benefit to the true customers. 

So how do you avoid this pitfall while executing Lean transformations?  One way, is to include the IT organization as an integral part of the Lean journey.  Engage, educate and have a true partnership with IT just like you do with your other business partners.  Involve key IT people in appropriate Value Stream Mapping and Root Cause Analysis sessions.  The better IT understands the current and future state and the true pain points, the chances that the 
automated solution(s) will add value and deliver efficiencies will increase. This approach not only helps avoid needless automation but also helps the IT organization by speeding up the overall software development process through decreased rework and design iterations.  Bringing IT along on your lean journey will increase the odds of you automating the right things instead of creating automated waste. 

Mark Krebs is a lean practitioner who has straddled the boundaries between the business and IT organizations for over 20 years. 

Reminder: Apply to be an MLC Board Member!

As announced in the March and April 2015 MLC Newsletters, the election cycle for three new MLC Board members begins with this letter.  As a matter of background information, MLC Bylaws were modified in 2013 to expand the Board from five to nine members and lock into an election cycle where three new Board members would be elected each year.  This process facilitates a more orderly transition and provides more human resources to share the workload. This is a working Board and positions are not compensated. 

Board members must be willing and able to participate in four face-to-face meetings each year (in various Michigan locations), in addition to regular conference calls.  It is expected that nominees will have demonstrated past commitment and participation in MLC events, projects, training, etc.
You may self-nominate or nominate someone whom you feel would add value as a Board member.
The election process is administered by an Election Committee consisting of the current Vice-Chair and Secretary with oversight by the entire Board.
Current Board members are:
  • Jim Manley
  • Dennis Sergent
  • Jessica Jannaman
  • Dave Kippen
  • Debra Levantrosser
  • Mike Taubitz
  • Eric Walters
  • Betsy Williams
  • Rich Wolin
Jim Manley, Debra
Levantrosser and Mike Taubitz will be leaving the Board this August.  Dennis Sergent, current Vice Chair, will take Jim’s place as Chair.  The new Board will decide who will fill the positions of Treasurer, Secretary and Membership Liaison.  Other members assume positions of Committee Chairs and/or Ad Hoc Members.
Gerry Clarke (Clarke) will remain President of the Michigan Lean Consortium.  Lauren Stewart will continue to provide administrative support for the organization as the MLC Coordinator.

If you are interested in running for the Board or nominating someone, we ask that you complete the attached form (click here to download) and return it to Mike Taubitz at no later than COB on Friday, May 8th. 
Newly elected Board members will be announced at the Annual Conference in August.  

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Upcoming Events

May 4: 4th Annual Healthcare Symposium in Detroit - Spots still left!

May 15: TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) workshop in Kalamazoo 

June 12: Improvement Kata Fast Start in West Olive (FULL)

August 12-14: 2015 Annual Conference in Traverse City - Registration coming soon!

If you're not a member, don't forget most events are cheaper if you join and pay as a member! Share this with your colleagues who might be interesting in the MLC!

If you have an idea for an event or would like to host an event, please email our Event Committee Leader Dave Kippen at Thank you!

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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. 

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!



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