Eighty continuous improvement professionals and practitioners came together at Tobyhanna Army Depot's Second Annual Lean Learning Workshop to share ideas and insights ranging from industries as diverse as deep water drilling to ornamental plant growing and health care. "The similarities are greater than the differences when it comes to continuous process improvement and this workshop certainly brought that point home," said Kathleen Sharp, senior performance innovation consultant with Geisinger Health Systems. Faced with travel restrictions and always cost conscious, TYAD decided to host its own Continuous Process Improvement/Lean workshop as a unique educational opportunity for the depot and the region. Several, national lean experts graciously volunteered to brief at the gathering, sharing their expertise in order to enhance the competitiveness of all attendees. "You'd normally have to pay hundreds of dollars to hear experts of this caliber; here it only cost attendees the price of lunch," said Brad Jones, director of PII at TYAD.
Kevin Duggan, founder of the Institute for Operational Excellence and a featured guest on the Fox Business Network and CNN, was the keynote speaker. Duggan challenged the audience to "up their games" by designing processes and empowering employees to make the flow of work both visual and "self-correcting." Michael McCarthy, author of "Sustain Your Gains," introduced applied behaviorism into the mix by stressing the reinforcing role of supervisors in helping employees' improved processes become deeply ingrained habits. "Every first line supervisor needs to be a first line coach for process improvements to truly become rooted in the culture."
Statistical tools for quality control were de-mystified by The University of Scranton's Rose Sebastianelli, Ph.D., a professor of operations and information management. Dr. Sebastianelli explained how the use of the seven basic quality tools could assist Lean practitioners to identify what problems exist in a process, and also to validate the success of any improvement efforts. Included in the presentation was a live simulation to show that anyone could perform these statistical analyses with the help of a software package called Minitab.
Dr. Andrew Bishop, managing director of Greenleaf Plants, demonstrated how visual cues in the workplace allow his employees to determine the optimal sequence for performing their duties without supervisory intervention required. Two TYAD supervisors, Kelvin Spencer and Michael McKeefery, fired up the audience with "hoo-ahs," quizzes and motivational tools illustrating how Army leadership principles make for good lean leadership as well. "I loved the energy they brought to the group; it was a powerful message for all supervisors," said John Borosky, a TYAD radar overhaul supervisor.
The Workshop concluded with a tour of TYAD's Refinishing Center where visitors saw laser stripping technology and other productivity improvements made by rank and file Tobyhanna employees like Paint Branch Leader Marc Ostroski. "We all want to grow the business, so we all put our best ideas out there. I learned a lot today and will use it to make our business more competitive when I get back to work," said Jennifer Condrad, industrial engineering technician at Tobyhanna.