CI Conference Day Two: The Quest for Continuous Improvement
While there is nothing magic about continuous improvement – it is, after all, based on process – the result of these activities can seem magical. Day two of the 2022 Continuous Improvement Conference, presented by PRINTING United Alliance, started with an engaging tale of personal growth and inspiration, powered by lean principles. The day's events addressed motivation, results, and valuable exchange between attendees to personalize their experience.
Practice for Perfection
“Lean is theatre,” notes Stewart MacDonald, magician and corporate speaker, MacDonald Magic Productions Inc. (Adrian, Michigan), “and continuous improvement is rehearsal.” In his presentation, “The Magic of Lean and CI,” he drew from his experience working for Whirlpool to provide a new view of continuous improvement. MacDonald started his act in 1986, but it was not until after he left a dead-end job and applied lean and continuous improvement concepts to his preferred profession – performing magic – that he was able to excel in that space. He learned from Korean magicians, who shared their magic acts with each other. He translated lean tools into theatre. He stopped being a “lone wolf” and outsourced his act to friends and colleagues. Sharing, MacDonald says, led to improvement. Improvement led to him qualifying for the World Championship of Magic.
Specific Sessions for Specific Results
In her breakout presentation, “Conducting Kaizen Events for Rapid Improvement,” Bridget Freidel, Senior CI/Lean Business Process Analyst at Thomson Reuters' Core Publishing Solutions (Eagan, Minnesota), shared how Kaizen events have delivered strong results for the book manufacturer, including waste elimination, improved quality, and cost reduction.
Freidel recommends companies new to Kaizen seek to build experience by addressing “low-hanging fruit,” and then move forward from there, looking into bottlenecks and urgent problems. Her presentation recommended strategies for Kaizen team selection and event planning, and provided brief case studies describing how Kaizen allowed the operation to investigate and address a handful of challenges. Stressing that not all solutions require a significant capital investment, she notes, “We don’t want to have a really costly solution if we can avoid it.”
Another breakout session, “No Room for Error: Our Lean and Bottom-Up Strategy,” Jeff Ellington, CEO at Runbeck Election Services (Phoenix, Arizona), addressed the need for imperative quality. As the title of his presentation implies, every vote and every ballot must be handled correctly. In 2020, 35 million ballots printed. The company, which supports print and mail, voter registration, mail processing equipment, and election support software, currently supports 70 million registered voters. Ellington shared that his mindset evolved when he stopped seeing it as less of a printing company and more “a manufacturing company with a lot of technology.” Today, ensuring quality requires a mix of plant and cyber security, working through print and mail partners, color-coded jerseys for temporary employees, and maintaining tolerances of “fractions of a millimeter.” About CI, Ellington says it is, “truly contagious, but If you’re going to start down this path, do a baseline measurement.”
Offering Questions, Sharing Knowledge
This day of the conference also included two sessions designed to take advantage of the collective power of the group and – in true continuous improvement spirit – build their knowledge together.
In the first session, titled “CI Café,” attendees were presented with three CI-focused scenarios that they, broken into groups, would work to solve. The exercise touched on evaluative processes, planning and execution, and verifying efficacy. About the interactive sessions, second-time attendee Victoria Gunnin, of RR Donnelley, says, “I thought all three scenarios were super relevant to what people are dealing with.”
Leading an afternoon discussion, Bill Pope, VP, technical services, for PRINTING United Alliance, invited attendees to dig into the many “a-ha moments” of the previous two days, and to share their key takeaways and realizations with the broader group. This session also included the presentation of a special award, given by conference sponsor IPW, to Jim Workman, who oversaw the conference for more than 25 years.
The day ended with the conference’s grand reception, which brought attendees, presenters, and sponsors together for an evening of networking, food, and beverages. In some cases, old friends had a chance to catch up. In others, new connections among those who arrived two days earlier as strangers, were strengthened.