Like Dominique, my time in the Office of Continuous Improvement comes to a close as I graduate and embark on my next Journey in Indiana. My time here in the office has been one of profound growth – both for me as an individual and a professional. These last three years have opened my eyes to the importance of change and networking. The greatest part about this job is the people that I may never have met otherwise.
Nearly two years ago I put out a simple question on LinkedIn, and since then I’ve referenced this experiment numerous times. This question I asked of Lean practitioner’s everywhere was “What is Lean to you in a single word?” The outpouring of responses was overwhelming. In 5 hours I had 150,000 views and over 400 comments from practitioners all over the globe.
Not only did the response volume shock me, so did the responses themselves. These 400+ people chose their single word as it applied to their own experience, their own journey with Lean. This experiment taught me the importance of gaining buy-in from others, of ensuring all voices have been heard, and the importance of having an open mind to hear what others have to say.
I made a word cloud from the responses – I encourage you to not only glance it, but try to dissect it yourself. Try to imagine the world that these voices have come from; what could have possibly lead up to that single word? Challenge yourself to see why YES, these words do apply.
Early in my time with the Office my boss, Ruth Archer, challenged me to develop an elevator pitch for Lean and Continuous Improvement. She said it would help me share with others what Lean and CI was in a nutshell. Honestly, I’ve tried to accomplish this task, but as I continued to learn more about CI, the task of creating an elevator pitch became more daunting. Now that I’m in this phase of transition, I’ve decided to contribute my word to the word cloud – my elevator pitch for what Lean is to me, and what it’s becoming.
What is my single word?
My word is gateway.
Lean is a gateway into opportunities that you will likely never get elsewhere.
It is the gateway to introductions of people you may never meet anywhere else in the world.
It’s a gateway into ‘why’
- Why do we do it this way?
- Why did I feel or respond to that thing that way?
- Why can’t we do this thing instead?
It’s a gateway into ‘how’
- How did we get here?
- How do we move forward?
- How should this be instead?
Lean is a gateway into ‘where’
- Where are we now?
- Where do we want to go next?
- Where do we want to end up?
Lastly, Lean to me is a gateway into tomorrow. Lean supports us with what we need for success by allowing us to improve today so we can be a little better, a little more perfect, a little more ready to take on tomorrow.
When I took this job back in the spring of 2016, it was just a job. I was a broke college student who wanted to work on campus. As I began training my confusion was through the roof – I couldn’t believe this whole world of Lean could exist without me ever knowing it. As I completed training and began taking on projects, I began to learn more about myself. I learned that seeing waste and implementing countermeasures was second nature to me. I learned that I love to help people and restore things so that they can be the best that they can be. Lean and this job has provided me with the autonomy that I needed to be able to find myself and prove to myself the potential that I have as an individual. Lean will come with me wherever I go, its become so much more than just a job.
I’m thankful everyday for the experiences I’ve had with the Office of Continuous Improvement and its employees; I can’t wait to share these experiences with the rest of the world.
To all of the Michigan Tech faculty and staff that I’ve had the privilege to work with and get to know, thank you for a great three years!
Thank you to all of the volunteer facilitators on campus, you may not always know or feel it, but the selfless amount of energy, time and knowledge that you give up and offer to those you may not even know amazes me daily, and has made me strive to be better myself for the benefit of others. Thank you.