Monday, May 16, 2011

Watch your dog run away - for three days!

In the last two weeks I have been on the road sharing my passion for lean safety. My trip began in Saskatchewan, a Canadian province located north of the Dakotas and Wyoming. Saskatchewan is a place where you can watch your dog run away - for three days! The treeless prairie landscape is so flat they must measure elevation changes in inches rather than feet. Winters are harsh with incessant winds and bone chilling temperatures that build character in the people who live there. The population number for the whole province, which includes many immigrants from faraway lands, is around one million. Agriculture in the South and mining farther North are why they come and stay. I found everyone I interacted with to be genuinely friendly, hard working and creative. They seemed to be a product of their harsh environment.

I facilitated two workshops - one in Regina and the second in Saskatoon. The attendees were from a variety of industries but a majority of them were connected to the mining or oil industries. The first morning began with the smell of smoke in the hallway of the hotel conference center. This was unusual because smoking is not allowed inside of buildings in this province. The source, it turned out, was a peace pipe ceremony that was occurring in an adjacent room to begin a First Nation (Native North American) meeting. I am not sure what they were smoking but I was flashing back to 1969! The workshop included nine breakout team exercises to ensure that real learning occurred. Survey feedback from the attendees validated that attending the Lean Safety workshop was a value added activity.

Thanks to Lynn Marr of the CME (Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters) organization for both invited me to conduct the workshops and for all of her organizing, planning and coordination efforts to ensure all went smoothly.

Then after two days at home I flew to San Diego where I had a unique opportunity to influence a corporate leadership team. The global team represented a company headquartered in Oregon. They were meeting in San Diego to benchmark a medical device manufacturing company which has won numerous awards for their continuous improvement efforts and results. The visiting team, with a corporate safety improvement initiative already underway, invited me to conduct a short Lean Safety workshop for them at the host company site. The following day we traveled by bus to Tijuana, Mexico to visit the medical device company's primary manufacturing site. During a plant tour the visiting leadership team was charged with the task of identifying and recording lean safety opportunities. The list of opportunities to improve both safety and cycle times was given to the host company as a way to thank them for being such gracious hosts. It was a wonderful experience for me for I was able to visit two world class manufacturing sites, interact with some wonderful and talented people and share my passion for getting lean by focusing on the safety of those who do the work.

Future activities include a Safety Kaizen Blitz at Dentsply, located in DesPlaines, IL, on May 11, 12,and 13. On June 14th I will facilitate a Lean Safety Workshop at Whiting Corporation in Monee, IL. Both events are sponsored by AME so detailed information is available at Plans are being made for a Lean Safety workshop in Toronto later in June. Then in early July I will present a 2-day workshop in Shanghai, China. That will be a fun and challenging event which supports my reasoning for starting a consulting business - to have fun and remain challenged as I learn and grow. Stay safe.