Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Day 1 - The people come

Wow, what a first day!  You got a sense of things as you walk into the exhibit hall at breakfast and see more than the usual number of folks.  This is my 3rd L&6S conference and this, by far, was the most heavily attended.

Ari Weinzweig talked about his journey in creating something in a field that he found, surprisingly, that he loves--food.  His keynote on the 12 Natural Laws of Building a Great Business was energizing for the group and set a good tone for the start of the conference.  In short, Ari stated that respecting people and allowing them to change the workplace to fit their needs was a big part of the success of the Zingerman empire. He mentioned a number of books as part of his talk (as well as his own, which sold out at the ASQ bookstore).  One book that struck me was John Case's Open Book Management.  I am a big believer in this concept.  Another book on Open Book Management that reads like a case study is Jack Stack's The Great Game of Business.

Fellow ASQ Influential Voice blogger Mark Graban had an excellent presentation on Healthcare Kaizen: Daily Continuous Improvement. I liked his premise that a lot of opportunities for change happens at the personal level and if we can win hearts and minds on the small changes, the bigger changes will be more readily accepted.  He had lots of examples to prove his point.

On the more technical side, Bev Daniels' presentation on  Practical Experimental Design made a strong case for doing a little pre-work to ensure your experiment answers the right question.  I agree with Bev that we don't often consider the type of study, enumerative vs. analytic (Deming's definition) as one potential pitfall. She reinforced a point that I tried to make with students that trusting the p-value is never enough.  Understanding graphical analysis and what it means can be more of an answer to your problems.

It was also great to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones.  For example, Mark Nestle, who helped co-write the initial Green Belt and Black Belt curriculum for the Navy's Lean Six Sigma College back in 2001, is here.  He is a retired Navy Captain who now works as Global Director of Safety, Quality and Productivity for Praxair Electronics.  We sat at the end of the day talking about the demise of technical skill training and the wrong belief that economic power is derived from a college diploma.

Or Janet Legere, an industrial engineer and former Black Belt student of mine from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, talking about the challenges of keeping alive a Lean Six Sigma project when everyone else wants to kill it.

Or even new friend Whitney Bloom from the Charlotte School of Law talking about changing mindsets, especially in an era where academic institutions are placing more and more of a financial burden on new employees into the job market.

All in all, a great first day!
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