Podcast #311 – Jess Orr, #Lean Leadership Lessons from Toyota and Beyond

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My guest for Episode 311 is Jess Orr, a continuous improvement practitioner at WestRock, a large paper and packaging company, where she helps plants foster a culture of continuous improvement and employee engagement.

Her experience includes working directly for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky. She is particularly passionate about sharing best practices across industries, which motivated her to found Yokoten Learning.

In today's episode, we talk about her path from Six Sigma Black Belt to a Lean-thinking engineer at Toyota. How did she progress from solving problems herself to developing others? We'll talk about a blog post that she wrote for this blog earlier this year, Lean and ROI, leadership and culture, and much more. What is it like working outside of Toyota again? I hope you enjoy the discussion.

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For a link to this episode, refer people to www.leanblog.org/311.

For earlier episodes of my podcast, visit the main Podcast page, which includes information on how to subscribe via RSS, through Android appsor via Apple Podcasts.  You can also subscribe and listen via Stitcher.

Topics and notes for this episode:

  • Please introduce yourself… how did you first get exposed to continuous improvement
    • Six Sigma (Black Belt) and then Lean
  • What did you do at Toyota?
    • Stamping die designer, quality engineer
  • What are some of the lessons you learned at Toyota?
    • “Aura of respect for the team member”
  • Are there things that people “implementing Lean” seem to not understand about Toyota and TPS?
  • What is it like working outside of Toyota now?
    • Her blog post about leaving Toyota: “Why I Needed To Leave Toyota
    • Differences in culture and leadership expectations
    • A shift from coming up with solutions to investing in others
    • How do we build a culture?
  • Let's talk about a blog post that you wrote for LeanBlog in May… can you tell that story?
  • What advice do you have for others on their Lean journey?
  • What would you say to a hospital executive who has decided that Lean equals projects and training and that they are only going to focus on “high ROI” initiatives?
  • Is Lean a “journey” or a “safari?”
  • Webinars that Jess did for KaiNexus:

Thanks for listening!


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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.

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