Last month, we completed our 19th Annual Northeast L.E.A.N. Conference. The keynote speakers were inspiring and informative, as were the many practitioner breakouts, Lean Lounge poster presentations, exhibitors, and recognitions --Silver Toaster and Lean Pioneer. Among the 460 attendees gathered for two days in Worcester, Massachusetts, the spirit of Kaizen was palpable. Kaizen – continuous improvement – is often described as the methods to reduce waste and create value for the customer; things like standardized work or quick changeover -- which it certainly is. But more than that, it is also the motivation to practice those methods every day. That spirit, though maybe unmeasurable, is the catalyst – the elixir that changes people and changes organizations. Kicking off day one, I could feel it in the air.
Struck by the diversity of the attendees before me, I opened the conference with these questions:
“ How many of you here today have been at this improvement process for 20 or more years?” Half of the hands in the hall went up.
My follow-up question was: “And how many of you are relative newbies to continuous improvement?” The other half of the hall raised their hands.
This unscientific sampling was especially heartening to me. There are more than a few old lean dudes and dudettes who are aging out of the system. The baton needs to be passed to continue the race. Hurrah for the mix of experience and youth! This diverse gathering from top management to the frontline, across many disciplines and industries is our Lean community, which I humbly submit is what our Northeast L.E.A.N. (Lead, Enable And Nurture) Conference is all about. The conference exists to build and bolster the community. With apologies to Abraham Maslow, I’ve substituted “Kaizen” for “Self-actualization” in his Hierarchy of needs, to make the point that Kaizen is enabled by Safety, Belonging, and Esteem. Leading change for the better is not easy. Conference is a place to recharge the hierarchy. Conference is community.
Before I introduced the first keynoter for the day, I asked the audience one more question. “How many are attending this conference for the first time?” Half of the hands in the hall went up. That response has motivated me to make an offer to my blog readers:
Until November 30 only, the price for to our 20th Annual Conference will be $850, that's nearly half-off the regular conference price. We’re already working very hard to make our 20th the best ever: LEVERAGING LEAN TO THRIVE IN UNCERTAIN TIMES! We’d love to have you there. Register today using this link.