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They’re delivering a one-two punch to defects. They’re ridding the earth of process waste. They’re on the front lines delivering customer service perfection. They’re in leadership striving to make a difference in the world. They’re kicking process improvement butt! The Wonder Women of Quality are here!

This month in the Wonder Women of Quality pantheon we are honored to highlight Hollie Jensen!

Hollie Jensen is the Lean Practice Strategy Manager for Washington State Government. As part of her role, Hollie developed and leads the Lean Fellowship program and as the Director of Continuous Improvement, she coaches state leaders to improve on the governor’s statewide priority goal areas. She joined state government in the spring of 2013 as an Enterprise Lean Consultant after a 17-year tenure with Starbucks. At Starbucks she began in the field managing stores and continued to the corporate headquarters with roles in Human Resources, Global Strategy and Operations as a Lean Practice Strategy Manager. 

Jensen is on faculty with the Lean Enterprise Institute and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington. Hollie has been the focus in articles, Lean blogs and podcasts as well as quoted in a number of books sharing her experience. In her spare time, she enjoys the Washington State sunshine with her friends and family or she’s on the road exploring. Her energy and passion are demonstrated in her work by growing and deepening the understanding of others.

Here are Hollie’s answers to a few of our questions:

What is your Quality Mission?

It is my mission to get better every day—that is personal and professional. At home, I look for big and small ways to improve and therefore deliver better quality as a friend, mother, wife, daughter, sister, etc. At work, I look for ways to make systems better, make processes better, make products and services better. Ultimately, I work hard each day to ensure that those whom I am responsible for are better. That is my quality mission—quality as getting better and better—never being satisfied.

What is your Quality Superpower?

This is a hard one for me, even though I know I have strengths, talking about them is tough. I think my biggest strengths are asking thoughtful and challenging questions, simplifying complex issues, and having a deep curiosity.

What do you see as Quality Kryptonite?

A love of the status quo or what’s normal and predictable, not wanting to change, fear, limited courageous leadership, disconnection from the customer—ugh.

What are some of your Quality Victories?

At Starbucks — there were two different lab experiences where we demonstrated the system of work developed using Lean. We changed the minds of very high-powered executives and moved the contract with a major ‘magical’ licensee that had been at a standstill for years. These were powerful teaching moments that we used throughout the organization forever.

At Washington State — the experience of teaching A3 thinking and seeing the powerful impact. In a recent example, where we were coaching with a professor from a state university, my one question changed the whole approach of the problem solving and deepened the impact while making the work far more meaningful and focused on the real problem (vs symptoms).

Do you have any Words of Wisdom?

I often say, “I am the bracelets in the land of the Khaki’s.” When attending Lean events, I can easily feel alone and on an island. Where are all of the women in this field? Over the years, it has gotten better, but if the women in the Quality/Continuous Improvement world today don’t see themselves as a critical part of this work or find themselves consistently fighting against old standards and want to give up—we won’t have the next generation of great WOMEN improvers. 

My advice is to find a mentor/coach to partner with, build relationships with men and women in the community, and look for ways to be at the table—even if it means inviting yourself. There are so many sectors of industry—service, government, healthcare—that need Continuous Improvement thinkers. It will take all of us to truly meet those needs.

Thanks again to Hollie Jensen for her quality thoughts!

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