skip to Main Content

A Lean Island Getaway: Lean Frontiers Brings Accounting and Human Resources Together - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Lean Frontiers hosted Leadership Week 3.0 in Jekyll Island, Georgia on September 20th and 21st, fusing two events and two factions for two days. It was a Lean Accounting and Management Summit and a Human Resources and People Development Summit woven into one big informational phenomenon.

Transactions and widget-making have long taken center stage, so it’s great to see supporting functions get some “Lean Love.” This flamingo-strewn destination teemed with like-minded people working to keep jobs “onshore,” support the “The People Value Stream,” create Lean accounting strategies and loads more. Lean Frontiers has done a great job of building a platform and making it a joy to network with a stunning backdrop. What follows is a smattering of reports, photos and take-aways from the conference — just a quick glimpse of a lovely experience!

A Sampling

A Lean Island Getaway: Lean Frontiers Brings Accounting and Human Resources Together - GoLeanSixSigma.com

A Lean ladies powwow! Karyn Ross, co-author of The Toyota Way to Service Excellence, Karen Martin, author of Clarity First and Elisabeth Swan (me!) co-author of The Problem-Solver’s ToolKit found each other early Thursday morning.

I got to hobnob with some powerhouses and was lucky enough to spend time with some of my favorites. Karen Martin was electric as she shared some wisdom from her new book, Clarity First. She talked a lot about what it takes to build clarity — a must-read for leaders. She encountered a slightly ambiguous road sign on her way to clarity.

A Lean Island Getaway: Lean Frontiers Brings Accounting and Human Resources Together - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Karen Martin delivers the keynote and provides a great example of why we need Clarity First!

Lean Coffee and New Friends

A Lean Island Getaway: Lean Frontiers Brings Accounting and Human Resources Together - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Jim Benson, author of Personal Kanban, is surrounded by Heather Pierzchala and Mohamed Sayeh of Hartford Healthcare during the Lean Coffee breakout.

Heather was kind enough to facilitate our Lean Coffee breakout. We had a robust table discussion about what gets in the way of organizations adopting Lean thinking. We barely made it off our first topic but our table had a gang of great women working through common cultural barriers. Cheryl Kasprzyk of Moog Industrial Group, Jordan Nichols of Wellflex, Julie Bradley of Provident Bank and Susan Boettcher of Tidi Products generously contributed their real-life experiences. And then we had more Lean Coffee!

Time for Schmoozing!

A Lean Island Getaway: Lean Frontiers Brings Accounting and Human Resources Together - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Clockwise From top left, Harry Moser gets pumped to discuss the “OnShoring” movement, Karyn Ross prepares to hand out some buttons of love and kindness, Karyn and Michael Sinocchi of Productivity Press get pumped for Karyn’s upcoming book, and Amanda Day-Ott of Lean Frontiers, Keynoter Mike Wroblewski and Jim Benson enjoy a short break in the action.

Joe Murli Tackles Standard Work

A Lean Island Getaway: Lean Frontiers Brings Accounting and Human Resources Together - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Joe Murli of the Murli Group during his “Managing Standard Work” breakout.

Joe Murli breathed some common sense into the concept of Standard Work. Often characterized as handcuffs, it’s just, “the current best way we have agreed on that we’ll change 10 times in the next ten months.” He also reflected on the cultural implications of confusing “accountability” with “blame.”

Accountability is crucial but blame works in opposition to process improvement. He referenced the term “moonshining” which refers to a “mock-up of tools” to experiment with. I’m guessing in the HR and accounting worlds moonshining might refer to trying out draft electronic or paper forms — or just plain hooch production. Good to visit with Joe!

A Rigged Game of Nails!

A Lean Island Getaway: Lean Frontiers Brings Accounting and Human Resources Together - GoLeanSixSigma.com

A meet-up with Darril Wilburn of Honsha after his “Kihon Yoken” breakout.

Co-author of Toyota by Toyota, Darril Wilburn started his session off by handing a pair intertwined nails to each table. One of us was tasked with separating them with no instructions and no help from our table mates. We all suspected he was pleased with our frustration since it segued nicely into his teach piece on how coaching is dependent upon standard work.

His first question is, “Is there a standard? If we have no standard, how can we coach?” Favorite line, “You don’t want to hear leaders say, ‘How’s that Lean thing going.’” I still say the nails were rigged!

Award for Excellence in Lean Accounting

A Lean Island Getaway: Lean Frontiers Brings Accounting and Human Resources Together - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Thought-leader Jean Cunningham with conference hosts Jim Huntzinger and Dwayne Butcher of Lean Frontiers after handing out this year’s Excellence in Accounting Awards.

Participants enjoyed a nice moment of appreciation where Assistant Professor Laurie Burney of Baylor University and her student Katie Kennedy were honored with this year’s Award for Excellence in Accounting sponsored by the Lean Enterprise Institute. The award was created by Lean Frontiers and presented by consultant and author Jean Cunningham.

Manufacturing Jobs are Coming Back

A Lean Island Getaway: Lean Frontiers Brings Accounting and Human Resources Together - GoLeanSixSigma.com

“The 8 Wastes of Offshoring” slide from Keynote Speaker Harry Moser’s “Reshoring Initiative.”

Uplifting keynote from Industry Week Manufacturing Hall-of-Famer Harry Moser on the escalation of “re-shored” jobs. More jobs are coming back each year due to eCommerce’s need for rapid replenishment, the rise in Chinese salaries, a desire for “American-Made” labels and host of other trends.

He pointed out that the decision to outsource is often short-sighted and wrong-headed. Quoting Deming, we should, “End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost.” Resources offered by the Reshoring Initiative include the Free Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Software. The software is part of a set of tools to help businesses quantify the less obvious wastes before making labor decisions. Great news about an encouraging trend.

Zombie Attack on the Coffee Service

A Lean Island Getaway: Lean Frontiers Brings Accounting and Human Resources Together - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Mike “Row-Bless-Ski” before leading a Gemba (Process) Walk during his breakout session.

Co-author of Creating a Kaizen Culture, Mike Wroblewski works to combat what he calls “Zombie Leadership.” Leaders miss out by focusing on Visual Management Boards instead of actually walking the process to understand the work. He invited participants to come “walk” the conference coffee service while the (forewarned) housekeeping staff joined us.

We asked about their experience with the set up and experimented with the “user” interaction — it looked like housekeeping had incorporated some of their own changes by the next morning. Productive coffee break!

The Great Debate

A Lean Island Getaway: Lean Frontiers Brings Accounting and Human Resources Together - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Shaun Percoco of Tanner Construction and Karyn Ross confer about the results of her breakout, Learning Hasn’t Occurred Until Behavior Has Changed.

Karyn divided the room into two debate teams; Team 1 defended the position, “Change Mindset to Change Behavior” and Team 2 proposed that people must, “Change Behavior to Change Mindset.” We suspect she hand-picked the winners ahead of time — the deck was stacked!

She followed the debate with a little practice — nice interaction to get at the tenet that “people learn by doing.” Also a timely reminder that learners “borrow courage” from their coach while they learn. We all gain confidence by doing. Another great “active” breakout to shake up participant thinking.

Machu Picchu? No “PechaKucha”

A Lean Island Getaway: Lean Frontiers Brings Accounting and Human Resources Together - GoLeanSixSigma.com

Cheryl Jekiel hosts a networking presentation event.

Cheryl Jekiel, author of Lean Human Resources, asked a few conference participants to present their process improvement journeys in a “20 x20” format — 20 images for 20 seconds each — called “PechaKucha.”

  • Mohamed Sayeh of Hartford Healthcare asked employees what behaviors they see. They go to the source to find out if leadership is modeling a healthy culture.
  • Patrick From Ingersoll Rand announced, “The war for talent is over and guess who won? Talent!”
  • Cambridge Engineering embraced Paul Akers’ 2-Second Lean and added their own powerful belief that they “love their employees unconditionally” — they are thriving.
  • Kerry Youngblood of Washington was able to dramatically reduce Hospital onboarding.

Cheryl wrapped the session by reflecting on “The Feel of Lean” which includes uncovering the genius in people. A fast, enlightening tour of what’s happening inside — it would be great to hear more on-the-ground experiences like these in the future.

Reflections

Conversing with thought-leaders, listening to a mix of case studies and sharing disparate concepts made for a rich experience. When leaving a conference like this I go through a jumble of reflections; “I’m so glad I met him/her/them!” “I have way to many things I want to follow up on,” “I truly did not know that,” “I truly believe that!” “I need to read that book,” “When I am I going read all these books?” “I can’t wait to collaborate with her/him/them” and finally, “I hope I make my return flight!”

Thanks again to Lean Frontiers for their role in expanding and enlightening the continuous improvement community. They are a great group with a positive, inclusive outlook and I look forward to more, great sessions!

Elisabeth Swan

Elisabeth is a Managing Partner at GoLeanSixSigma.com, the co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit and co-host of the Just-in-Time Cafe. For over 25 years, she's helped leading organizations like Amazon, Charles Schwab and Starwood Hotels & Resorts build problem-solving muscles with Lean Six Sigma to achieve their goals.