My Journey into Lean and OpEx: From Construction to Manufacturing and Beyond

Every individual has a unique origin story when it comes to their journey into the world of Lean or Operational Excellence (OpEx). For me, it all began during my time in the construction industry, where I first got exposed to the principles of Lean. You might wonder why construction? Well, let me take you through my story.

After completing my education, I found myself working in the construction field. It was during this time that I first encountered Lean methodologies. The construction industry, with its complex projects and tight schedules, provided an ideal environment for implementing Lean principles. I witnessed firsthand how Lean thinking could streamline processes, eliminate waste, and improve overall efficiency.

However, as much as I appreciated the impact of Lean in construction, I felt a strong desire to explore other industries and broaden my horizons. This led me to transition into a sales role, which initially took me out of my comfort zone. Little did I know that this shift would eventually bring me closer to my true passion – manufacturing.

Joining a manufacturing company as a Lean Leader was a turning point in my career. It was here, at GE, that I received extensive education and training on Lean methodologies. GE’s commitment to Lean thinking and continuous improvement was evident throughout the organization. They provided comprehensive resources, workshops, and mentorship programs to equip employees with the necessary knowledge and skills to drive Lean initiatives.

During my time at GE, I had the opportunity to attend an event called “The Lean Mindset,” which was hosted by GE, including GE Healthcare. This event emphasized the importance of cultivating a Lean mindset within individuals and organizations. The Lean mindset involves embracing a customer-centric approach, focusing on creating value, and continuously seeking improvement.

One aspect of the Lean mindset that resonated with me was the concept of treating each coachee as a customer. As a Lean Leader, my role was not only to guide and mentor others but also to understand their unique needs and tailor my approach accordingly. This approach fostered a collaborative and supportive environment, enabling individuals to unleash their potential and contribute to the overall success of Lean initiatives.

Another valuable lesson I learned was the significance of creating pull for projects. By better defining problem statements and understanding the needs of stakeholders, we could align our efforts and resources effectively. This approach ensured that projects were driven by real demand, resulting in meaningful and sustainable improvements.

To enhance my expertise in Lean and OpEx, I pursued certification as a coach. This certification process provided me with a deeper understanding of coaching techniques, effective communication, and the ability to empower others. As a leader, it is crucial to take care of oneself to better support and guide others. By practicing self-care, maintaining a growth mindset, and continuously learning, I could effectively serve as a catalyst for change and development.

When it comes to experimenting with new ideas and approaches, there is no fixed timeframe. The duration of an experiment depends on the nature of the project and the desired outcomes. However, it is essential to give experiments sufficient time to gather meaningful data and evaluate their effectiveness. If adjustments are needed, they should be made based on evidence and a thorough understanding of the underlying factors.

In conclusion, my journey into Lean and OpEx has been shaped by diverse experiences in construction, sales, and manufacturing. Each step along the way has contributed to my growth and understanding of Lean principles. Through continuous learning, embracing the Lean mindset, and empowering others, I strive to make a positive impact and drive sustainable improvements in organizations.