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2018 Continuous Improvement Conference Recap – IWCO Direct

Eric Welle, Mike O’Leary, Nancy Garrison, Scott Dunham, Clint Lipke, and Bob Rosser at the 2018 Continuous Improvement Conference

2018 Continuous Improvement Conference: Culture is Key

Patrick Sondreal

The Continuous Improvement (CI) Conference provides a range of opportunities for any company. On one hand, you’re there to find out how you can make things better for your team and your clients; on the other, you may be made acutely aware of how far you still have to go.

At IWCO Direct, we actively look for chances to try new ways of thinking and doing our work while maintaining or updating proven processes as part of our wide-ranging Continuous Improvement initiative. We had a team of six employees from a range of departments jump into the 2018 Continuous Improvement Conference with both feet to drive our continuous improvement efforts forward. Here’s what they learned.

How Experiences, Beliefs, Actions, and Results All Depend on Culture

One of the team’s strongest impressions from the CI Conference was how important workplace culture is to creating change. One of the conference’s session tracks, Leadership & Culture, addressed this aspect of CI specifically, with a number of presentations focusing on change at a cultural level. In them, culture was described simply as the way we think and act to get things done in order to achieve results.

It was thenbroken down in a discussion of how experiences create beliefs, how beliefs create actions, and how actions create results. As IWCO Direct Continuous Improvement Manager Scott Dunham put it, “Companies typically focus on just the actions that achieve results—but we must really understand the beliefs and experiences that are driving those actions.” As leaders, we must change our employees’ experiences so that their beliefs will change.

Hand-in-hand with this understanding of culture as a catalyst for change, the IWCO Direct team left the conference with the clear message that Lean and other CI initiatives have to look beyond the production side to really make a difference in a company. A tour of Ace Metal Crafts Company, a fabricator known for its Lean integrations, was a great reminder that we need to look outside the scope of the marketing industry to see what practices and techniques are transferable to our business.

Our Favorite 2018 Continuous Improvement Conference Presentations

Among the dozens of professionals offering their expertise at the 2018 CI Conference, a few presentations stood out to the IWCO Direct team. Brian Adam of Olympus Group gave one of our favorites—a “Top 10 List of Employee Engagement Ideas” for companies looking to improve their CI initiatives.

As the title implies, it focused on how engaged employees are the key to establishing the culture required to improve processes. Adam’s presentation provided a blueprint for engaging employees every step of the way—from a detailed onboarding process to one-on-one meetings with management, educational seminars, and goal-setting.

Other presentations focused on changing the mindset when it comes to CI. The Magic Maze, for example, was an exercise that highlighted the flaw in the current norm of discouraging failure while remaining silent on success. Many companies treat failure as an avoidable negative, but in reality, the entire concept of Continuous Improvement relies on viewing failure as a way to get better.

Like the best of the 2018 Continuous Improvement Conference, these presentations were an enlightening look at how to engage employees—and how engaged employees produce better results at any company.

How We Can Use Culture to Drive Continuous Improvement in Direct Mail

We’re eager to put what we learned at the Continuous Improvement Conference to use in a way that allows us to provide the same custom quality campaigns that our clients have come to expect. Director of Postal Affairs Bob Rosser said it best: “The dramatic evidence of how important the right culture is to an organization’s results was eye-opening.”

Across all the presentations, the central theme remained the same: culture is key. We’re excited to integrate what we’ve learned into our current CI best practices at IWCO Direct.

link https://www.iwco.com/blog/2018/04/17/2018-continuous-improvement-conference-recap/
Patrick Sondreal


Patrick Sondreal

Chief Production Officer. Graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison with an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Commissioned officer of the U.S. Navy who brings a commitment to teamwork and continuous improvement to IWCO Direct every day. Wisconsin Badger fan who loves being part of his kids’ activities.

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