LMJ Annual Conference

Birmingham, UK – May 21-22, 2013

Many lean implementations end up failing because of their excessive focus on tools. We should realise once and for all that lean is no magic solution to our problems. There is no silver bullet that will automatically turn things around in our organisations. It’s by constantly developing our people and focusing on fostering a culture of continuous improvement that we can hope to, one day, achieve lasting results.

This was the message of the 4th annual LMJ Conference. And what a great success the event was!

With excellent and enthusiastic feedback from attendees (see some of the comments we received in the next page), the LMJ Conference proved to be one of the most appreciated events in the UK’s lean calendar.

For the first time, the event covered the public sector extensively. Nancy Bartlett of The Bartlett Alliance flew in from Texas to deliver a presentation on the transformation that the city of Irving went through in response to the economic crisis: by working hard to change the culture in the municipality, Irving saved over £45 million in five years and thousands of employee hours. London Underground and Department of Work and Pensions also presented, together with a number of other public sector organisations.

Manufacturing gave, naturally, a very important contribution to the conference, with speakers from Volvo, Chrysler and Toyota representing one of the highlights of Day One. Mauro Pino, Head of World Class Manufacturing at Chrysler Group, took the audience through the principles guiding the organisation’s way to do business.
When Italian car manufacturer Fiat came into the picture in 2009, Chrysler adopted the WCM principles in all its North American plants. World Class Manufacturing is a unique blend of t echnical and managerial “pillars” that make up the s tructure of a business that has risen from its ashes in the pas t four years.

Torbjorn Netland and Ebly Sanchez shared with delegates the story of Volvo, which manufactures trucks all over the world using the Volvo Production System, a platform that provides consistency in operations from North Carolina to Brazil and Sweden.

These are extremely successful improvement models, and it is no coincidence that the culture at Chrysler and Volvo is entirely based on people empowerment – the 10 technical pillars on which WCM is based, for example, are complemented by 10 managerial pillars that are intended to take into account the people side of things (and a big part of Chrysler’s success is due to the development of employees at the WCM Academy in Michigan).

Toyota Material Handling’s Tony Wallis provided a fantastic close to the first day of the conference with an insightful and engaging explanation of the culture at what is commonly seen as the most successful manufacturer in the world.

It wasn’t just large companies that presented at the LMJ Conference, however. SCGM, the Serbia-based small engineering company featured every month in the Lean Diary, shared its story too: it launched its lean programme a year and a half ago (Lean Management Journal has followed it from the very beginning) and it is already reaping the benefits. SCGM’s presentation showed how size of an organisation doesn’t matter if continuous improvement really becomes ingrained in its culture.

Till next year…