The following is an out take from a pending ebook compiled by the Manufacturers Alliance. This portion was written by Melissa Sawin, General Manager, Mid-Continent Engineering.

A Collaborative Approach to Create Your Own Lean Vision

At one company I worked for we used a collaborative approach with a structured method to create our custom vision, facilitated by the lean consultants we employed.

Six months into our lean journey we gathered our management team from shop floor team leaders through manufacturing executives in a one day “kaizen”-type event.  Everyone was given a stack of Post-it notes and asked to envision what the company would look like as a world-class manufacturing operation.

We were instructed to write phrases, one per Post-it note, that would describe such an operation.  We compiled all of the notes into similar themes on a white board and then voted to identify our top 10 descriptors of a world-class operation.  This was the result.


For each descriptor, we created a scale of 1 to 5, beginner to advanced.  Then we gave a copy of the scale to everyone and sent them out to walk the Gemba and rate our company on each category.  After gathering everyone’s input, we debated and discussed until we reached consensus about our current state (actual) vs. target as seen below.


This exercise gave us a very specific road map of where to focus our continuous improvement efforts.  We focused both kaizen events and leadership audits and activities on the categories needing the most improvement.

Now that you’ve set and communicated your vision for your company’s continuous improvement journey, it’s time to start implementing the lean management system (LMS) and strategically creating the culture you need to succeed.

…this is a small portion of what Melissa has written for the forthcoming ebook.

Please tell us below what you think about this topic, this article, this new blog.

Question for our readers: Who do you know who has “the heart of a teacher” – like Melissa?

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