Lean Networking

If you want to learn about lean, your choices include hiring a consultant, attending seminars and conferences, visiting Internet forums or chat rooms, and reading books (yes, we publish a few).

            But there’s another alternative, not widely available: joining a local lean networking group.

            These are few and far between. One, described at the recent AME conference, is the Jacksonville Lean Consortium, the three-year-old brainchild of Jerry Bussell, a VP of operations for Medtronic. 

            Medtronic, which has offices in Jacksonville, has been involved in lean for some time. Bussell (who is a big booster of his home city) says the consortium grew out of an idea he had: “What if we took the whole city of Jacksonville lean?”

            The consortium’s mission is to improve the performance of businesses and organizations in the Jacksonville area, known as the First Coast.

            It started out as a group of 16 companies in the area. Last year, another group of 16 was created.

            Each group meets once a month at one of its member companies. They tour the facilities, and members offer a critique. They then go around the room asking “How are you doing?” to discuss best practices and share knowledge and experience.

            Actually, it’s more involved than that. The group has objectives and strategies for individual members, which range from implementing standard measurements in every value stream to implementing a minimum of three kaizens per week.

            And the consortium’s goals go beyond just spreading lean knowledge. They want to promote economic development in the First Coast region by positioning it as a center of excellence and a good place to do business.

            When Bussell and Lad Daniels, president of the First Coast Manufacturers Association, created the consortium, they modeled it after a similar organization in Vancouver. “We stole shamelessly,” Bussell says.

            And I know of at least one other example of this type of organization: the Northwest High Performance Enterprise Consortium, based in Portland.

            These types of groups can be extremely valuable, both in helping more businesses become lean and in creating pockets of business excellence.

            I suspect this type of group doesn’t work well if it becomes too large. Therefore, you need many of them around the country (and the world) to have a large-scale impact.

            Do you know of others? Is your company involved in one? Let’s do some online networking – share what you know with the rest of us.



Ralph Bernstein said...

11/22/2006 3:25:50 PM
Re: Lean Networking
By: dcbliss

In Iowa, we have a netwokring group that is sponsored by the Iowa Quality Center, which is a group associated with the community colleges of Iowa. There are several groups which meet monthy to discuss topics such as Lean, Six Sigma, ISO-900, and Baldridge.

Ralph Bernstein said...

12/6/2006 7:57:18 PM
Re: Lean Networking
By: geopowell

I'm looking for a Front Range, Colorado or Healthcare network.