Local Lean Groups?


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On his blog, Mike W. writes about a local lean group that meets in the Indianapolis area. In Phoenix, where I just moved from, there is a group called the ‘Valley Lean Council' (Phoenix being the ‘Valley of the Sun”).

The Phoenix group is informa and meets quarterly. It includes lean people from companies such as Honeywell, Medtronic, Boeing, General Dynamics, and even a hospital. The group does a tour and knowledge exchange at one company's site each time and compares notes. It's a very effective and worthwhile group, with very little overhead.

What if your local area had a similar group? Just think of what you could learn by seeing other factories and letting outsiders see yours, in the name of lean learning and improvement.

I agree with Mike that we should start groups like this in our areas. There is definitely demand, as I often see people posting on the lean email lists “Can I visit a lean factory in my city?” People in the early stages of lean need to see “good examples” of companies that are more lean. Companies that have been doing lean for a while often need an outsider's perspective to see waste that they have become blind to over time.

There are existing organizations that discuss lean (such as SME or APICS), but it is not their sole focus. Maybe we could create a national network of these local lean organizations? Food for thought.

Amazing coincidence, I was sent an article today about this type of group that was formed in Ireland.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. […] Can hospitals do more to share best practices and good ideas? Of course. There’s such an opportunity for the manufacturing world to do the same thing, especially in non-competing cases. Does your town have an organization of local manufacturers who help each other out? Or, are you hung up on the idea that only people inside your sub-industry and market can help you? You’d be surprised how much a shoe manufacturer might be able to help a company that makes tubing. Having fresh eyes and new perspectives can help. Maybe you can try an exchange with a neighbor in your industrial park? Walk each others’ processes and see what questions come up. I’ve written before about a local Lean group I was a part of when I lived in Phoenix. […]


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