In this edition of 5 Questions we meet Sean Skinner, a lean practitioner.
1. Who are you? What organization are you with? What are your current Lean-Oriented activities?
My name is Sean Skinner and I am the Lean and Quality Manager at Menasha Packaging, Neenah Printing Complex. Some of our Lean activities are Quality Systems Management with A3, an Employee Suggestion System, Lean Strategy Deployment, and Daily Visual Management, to name a few.
2. How, when and why did you get introduced to lean and what fueled and fuels the passion?
I was introduced to Lean about 6 years ago when I was working in health care and was very skeptical about the nature of Lean and why the consultants we retained were always talking about Toyota. After the second day of my first kaizen event, I observed a nurse with a new set of eyes. I was disturbed in watching her struggle with trying to administer a med to a patient and how many hoops she had to jump through to get to her value added task. This in turn permanently flipped the passionate switch for me to continually learn about Lean. This fire continues to burn in me to eliminate waste, create value for our customers, and to involve everyone around me during this journey.
3. What is the most powerful aspect of lean?
Transforming your workplace culture is the most powerful aspect of Lean. The Lean tools are terrific when applied appropriately but Tiger Woods doesn't win because of the clubs in his bag. He wins because of the burning passion to improve every day. If you fail to light the fire in the employees around you, lean will not take root. All leaders must be diligent and vigilant in order to make it happen. Once this does happen, it will continue to improve your bottom line.
4. What is the most misunderstood or unrecognized aspect of lean?
The need to eliminate waste to root cause. If your workforce is fully informed and educated on what the 8 wastes are, it is the first step to freeing up the necessary capacity to grow your business. Leaders must be disciplined to quantify the waste that is eliminated in order to plan for the future with the right amount of employees, which will now be much more satisfied with owning waste free processes!
5. What in your opinion is the biggest opportunity for lean in today's world? How can that be accomplished?
If you haven't adopted Lean yet, do it now. Running a business any other way simple won't sustain itself for very long. If you are doing Lean, keep it simple, stick with your vision and strategy, and be disciplined with the follow-up work. Transform Lean from "this is something we do" to, "this is who we are, this is our identity."