Attending the annual AME Lean Conference was energizing and inspiring. The conference delegates are a different crowd. They are practitioners of the lean enterprise. This is apparent if you spend any time with these folks.
You know you’re at a lean conference when delegates:
- Complain that the buffet layout is not lean and discuss ways to improve the flow
- Admonish a colleague who is eating lunch quickly that he should switch from batch processing of their food to one-piece flow
- Brainstorm ways to turn dinner dishes cleanup at home into one-piece flow without alienating their families
- Buy a book to give to their dentist to make his/her office more lean (and by the way, the book is Follow the Leader by Sami Bahri)
- Discuss how to break it to their internist that the medical practice needs a major lean transformation so that it focuses on the patient, not the doctor
- Go on plant tours and give the plant a list of continuous improvement suggestions
- Discuss how a lean manufacturing sector will rescue the economy
- Brainstorm ways to make their suppliers lean
- Eat lots of conference food that is certain to make everyone fat, not lean — and joke about how un-lean the food is
- Discuss plans to make a shadow board (usually done for tools) for their kitchen utensils when they get home
The above bullets are representative of some of the conversations and activity taking place among the attendees, and I’m sure there is much that I missed. Lean is about elimination of waste and improving the flow of the business and making more money while respecting and empowering people. People become passionate about lean and its power and potential to transform and improve businesses and, in some cases, their homes.
The combined brainpower, energy, and lean thinking of the AME International Lean Conference was incredible. And they are correct that a robust manufacturing sector is not only an engine for growing the economy, but a clear path to help the U.S. can maintain and improve its standard of living in the future. As one presenter said: Do the math. Service jobs that pay less than half of what manufacturing jobs pay can’t improve our spending power or standard of living.
Meanwhile, I’m wondering how the newly energized attendees will re-integrate into their family lives and not alienate them with lean transformation projects at home.