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Insights from the 2019 PIA Continuous Improvement Conference

Meg Hanaman

For the past five years, we’ve been eager attendees of the Continuous Improvement Conference, and this year was no exception. The insights and information we’ve brought back from these gatherings have helped us sharpen our own quality focus and build a strong Lean Manufacturing program that includes:

  • Leader Standard Work (LSW), which helps build strong, quality-focused routines within our leadership team;
  • +QDIP, a visual management tool that involves department employees in identifying and implementing improvement ideas related to the processes they support every day; and
  • Critical to Quality (CTQ), a quality improvement initiative that helps us drive key quality standards throughout the company.

As in past years, our “away team” for this year’s conference in Dallas consisted of representatives from both Production and Continuous Improvement (CI) departments including Operations Manager Brian Martins and Lean Champions Jennie Zautner and Eric Welle. This enables the two teams to work together to seek out ways to apply new concepts in IWCO Direct’s day-to-day operations in support of continuing education and our commitment to CI.

CI Thought Leadership at the 2019 PIA Continuous Improvement Conference

The PIA CI Conference is always stacked with great keynotes and sessions. Two of the sessions that were most exciting and informative for our team this year included:

  • Leading Change – Managing Teams to Build a Lean Organization by Josh Ramsbottom of Business Development Bank of Canada: The dialog in this workshop focused on how small wins can add up to big results. One key concept was, “What you permit, you promote,” which is to say that when you let things slide, you are saying that type of behavior is okay. This demonstrates how important it is to ensure concepts like Standard Work are well communicated, and conscientiously followed by all involved with a process in order to achieve high quality results. This is especially challenging with a multigenerational workforce, where the messaging needs to be targeted to each generation’s communication style.
  • Culture Eats Strategy by Pete Lovelace of Booster Spirit Wear: This seminar focused on the fact that strategy isn’t enough. In order to achieve company goals, we need to ensure we have a clear vision of where we want to go. We then need to “Define, Force, and Teach” a culture that takes us to those goals.

Tying Concepts Together with Concrete CI Initiatives

The three most important concepts that were trending at this year’s conference that we plan to reinforce in our own CI efforts in the coming year were:

  1. Culture: Continue building a culture within IWCO Direct that embraces CI to make our improvement efforts even more effective.
  2. Communication: Enhance our messaging to ensure everyone is along for the ride, and no one is left behind.
  3. Respect: Continuous Improvement is about developing our people, so we need to engage employees in finding ways to work safer, smarter, and more effectively.

The Continuous Improvement Conference reinforced for us that in order for IWCO Direct to always be improving, we need to be sure we are building a culture that engages our employees in that process. In today’s market, it’s not enough to just drive metrics, you have to invest and develop your people in order to truly promote and sustain change.

Want to know more about how we find, test, and incorporate newer and better practices? Get in touch here. We’d be happy to talk shop.

link https://www.iwco.com/blog/2019/04/24/pia-continuous-improvement-conference-2019/
Meg Hanaman


Meg Hanaman

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