June 2014

Embrace Lean Culture with Safety

By: Jessica Jannaman, MLC Membership Liaison and Chrysler Corporate Safety Specialist

Since I am a "safety person," I initially thought of the opportunity to write about a topic specific to lean safety application but then took a step back and thought about the similarities between lean and safety.  Ironically, lean and safety share one common factor reliant upon the success of their survival within a system – culture.
In the life of a safety professional, you attempt to impact people by conveying the message that safety should be a culture integrated into their lives, actions and habits. Creating this buy-in is the foundation for a establishing and maintaining a strong safety culture.  You interact with people day-to-day and educate as well as influence the need to include safety and convince others that safety is a necessity for a system’s success. After reflecting on lean and its reliance on culture, I came to the realization that the relationship between safety and lean are not so different. To truly embrace lean, a culture must be developed. There must be buy-in from all impacted by the system and should be something that is second nature as a way of thinking and operating –but how do we influence culture?
If you were assess safety culture as Dr. Steve Simon, Ph.D. and President of Culture Change Consultants, you would evaluate the culture  based upon 6 underlying factors; 1) symbols, 2) leadership, 3) values, 4) heroes, 5) rituals, and 6) norms. All of these factors play into the contribution of a strong safety culture and rely upon one another. But this is an article about lean, not safety, so how do we assess the success of lean embracement, or culture, within a system? Comparing the culture piece of lean to that of safety within a system, are not so farfetched. Mike Rother, author of Toyota Kata, discusses that the results of an organization are reliant upon its people and their thinking as well as their behavior – essentially, the success of an organization is reliant upon its culture. Rother also conveys that processes and practices help drive the results of an organization. Lean, being guided by a set of practices, processes and tools, ultimately integrates and is reliant upon the people driving and managing these practices, processes and tools. But is this not so different from the foundation to that of which a safety culture is driven?  
At the end of the day… kaizen… or even safety talk, results are impacted by people. And whether you are a quality manager, improvement specialist or safety engineer, the driving force behind the tools and processes you utilize must be through the culture you have worked to assist in establishing. Just like safety, lean cannot be a “checklist” or added task. Lean must be embraced. Lean must be a culture.
Lt. Governor Brian Calley to Speak at Annual Conference

“In Michigan, we recognize that our most valuable resource is our people. The public and private sectors are working together in unprecedented ways to reinvent our government. Our vision is to establish the State of Michigan as a highly functioning organization that provides world-class service and enables prosperity for Michigan's citizens and businesses. We believe that working with the Michigan Lean Consortium to provide mentors for transformational change projects within the agencies, and coaches for Lean training to our valued state employees will help accelerate our forward progress. The partnership with the MLC assists us in developing our employees and building capacity to lead service and process optimization efforts statewide. This collaborative effort offers opportunities for continuous improvement and real results – leading to better, faster, smarter and cheaper service delivery.” - Lt. Gov. Brian Calley

His biography: 

On New Year's Day 2011, Brian Calley was sworn in as America's youngest lieutenant governor. In partnership with Governor Snyder, he pledged to chart a new course to Michigan’s future.

From the beginning, Brian viewed the role of lieutenant governor to be much more than a dusty old ceremonial position. He is working to transform a broken political culture into one that produces real solutions to Michigan's greatest challenges. As lieutenant governor, Brian guided a historic tax overhaul through the Legislature, breaking the pervasive gridlock that for too long blocked needed reforms.

Throughout Michigan and across America, Lieutenant Governor Calley has been recognized as a bold leader for a new generation. His willingness to stand up for real people, from small business owners to families dealing with autism, has made Michigan stronger.

Before he accepted the responsibility of building a stronger state, Brian was building a stronger local community. He spent a decade in the private sector working as a community banker. In that role, he helped hundreds of entrepreneurs in dozens of industries grow or maintain Michigan-based jobs and operations.

As an Ionia County commissioner, Calley advocated for transparency and accountability. Voters sent Brian to the Capitol in 2007 as their state representative where he quickly developed a reputation as a leader who is unafraid of reaching across the aisle. During his tenure, Brian became a resource for Republicans and Democrats alike on tax issues and served as the ranking Republican on the House Tax Policy Committee.
Brian has been named one of the "Ten Outstanding Young Americans" by the United States Junior Chamber and one of Crain's Detroit Business's "40 under 40." Other honors include the Small Business Association of Michigan's "Legislator of the Year" and Portland's "Outstanding Citizen of the Year."

Born in 1977, Lieutenant Governor Calley is a lifelong Michigander. He graduated from Ionia High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State and an MBA from Grand Valley. He and his wife Julie have been married since 1996 and live in Portland with their three young children.

Lean in Action 

Michigan Technological University ( is a leading public research university located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Established in 1885, the university offers more than 120 degree programs in arts, humanities, and social sciences; business and economics; computing; engineering; forestry and environmental science; natural and physical sciences; and technology. Michigan Tech students benefit from an education that emphasizes research, cross-disciplinary study, and team learning.

At Michigan Tech, continuous improvement is being integrated into the everyday operations of the university. A central Office of Continuous Improvement supports departments and individuals in their efforts and functions as a knowledge bank for people seeking more information. This office connects people who want to do a continuous improvement event with a trained facilitator; the university’s 24 facilitators are all volunteers.  

Training, workshops, and coaching help to develop a continuous improvement culture. The Lean facilitators and Lean Implementation Leaders attend monthly continuing education to keep their skills fresh. All new supervisors are required to receive basic training in Lean principles. In addition, periodic workshops on topics like 5S and Process Mapping make Lean immediately useful and accessible to university employees.

Michigan Tech’s Continuous Improvement program also increases campus and community awareness, exposure, and engagement. Initiatives in this area include an active website (, a blog, a recurring article in the university newsletter, a Twitter account ( and a Lean Library. A Lean Model Office tour showcases Lean practices in an office environment. Watch for the virtual tour, on our website soon! Michigan Tech also organizes a quarterly meeting for a local lean group made up of 26 area businesses who use Lean practices.


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Upcoming Events

Lean 102 - June 11, 2014 in West Olive

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

Lean 103 - September 24, 2014 in West Olive

3rd Annual Healthcare Symposium - October 10, 2014 in Muskegon

Event at Amway - November 21, 2014 in Ada

End of Year Event - December 5, 2014 in Troy

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 IS NOW OPEN! CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!

Stay tuned for information on our PRE-CONFERENCE Kata Workshop on August 6 in Traverse City lead by leaders in the Kata philosophy! Plan now to attend!

Volunteer Spotlight

Farah Ahmed
Planning & Strategy Analyst, Distribution Operations
DTE Energy 

Farah Ahmed works in the Distribution Operations for DTE Electric as a Planning and Strategy Analyst. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering at the Wayne State University and joined DTE Energy after graduation. Farah had interned at the company for two years managing the Connected Model data verification, DTE Cares and Storm Callback project.  

Since joining DTE Energy as a full-time employee, she was part of the initial core team for a new group Data Quality Management with a focus on Continuous Improvement.  While pursuing her Black Belt Certification, Farah transitioned into a new role last year where she leads and facilitate the process and development of the annual strategy presentation, organizational scorecards and business unit plans.   

Farah joined MLC as a volunteer through DTE Energy. She had the opportunity to serve on the planning committee as a Marketing and Sponsorship lead for the 2013 and 2014 MLC Annual Conference. 

Call for Speakers! Save the Date for October 10 Healthcare Symposium!

We Need You!

Michigan Lean Consortium Third Annual Healthcare Symposium on October 10, 2014 in Spring Lake, Michigan.

This year’s theme: Lean Strategies in Transforming Patient Care

The planning committee is now seeking presentations for this year’s Healthcare Symposium.  If you have experiences to share or expertise to help attendees put into practice the behaviors necessary to support lean thinking and culture in regards to healthcare, we invite you to submit a synopsis for  a “hands-on” workshop, “lessons learned” case study or “skill application” presentation that you would like to share with other lean learners and practitioners. 

We are very excited about this year’s Healthcare Symposium and thank you for your willingness to share your experience with others. 
To submit your program synopsis, please fill out the form (click here) and submit it with your biography to Vera Szram-Senyk at

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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