2018 Colorado Lean Summit in Review


Thank you to everyone in attendance at this year’s annual Colorado Lean Summit.  The 150-person event was graciously hosted by Denver Health Lean Academy at the Rita Bass Trauma & Education Center. This year’s theme was “From Tools to Transformation: The Journey to Performance Excellence” and included speakers from a diverse variety of local and national organizations employing Lean Strategies.

Opening Keynote

The exciting day began with breakfast and an open networking session before kick-off with the opening keynote address “Deploying the Lean Framework at Denver Health” by Beth Fingado, Director of Strategic Support Services, and Tim Harlin, Chief Operating and Acceleration Officer. Fingado and Harlin discussed the DH Lean evolution from the early passion and drive of Dr. Gabow through today, where the organization is developing leaders as teachers through coaching, workshops, book clubs and discussion groups. With pride, the inspiring presenters illustrated how  Denver Health is the Lean organization we all are trying to create, demonstrating that top leadership support and focus is instrumental to Lean transformation.

Breakout Sessions

The morning breakout sessions included a wide variety of Lean Practitioners across many local industries: transportation, manufacturing, health care, consulting, government operations, and more. Each breakout session also included an opportunity to participate in a Gemba Walk at Denver Health and Hospital Authority, located right across the street from the Rita Bass Center. Denver Health is Colorado’s primary safety-net institution and and has implemented Lean thinking for two decades.

Morning Breakout Speakers and Subjects

Session 1:

  • James Davis, founder of the Human Blueprint, “Lead with Radical Curiosity–Know Your Impact. Define Your Blueprint.” According to Davis, leading with authentic curiosity is the key to building authentic relationships, influencing stakeholders, and creating sustainable change. With a focus on radical “self” curiosity, this breakout session helped participants get clear about who they are as leaders and gain confidence and success in leading and influencing across their organizations.
  • Lauren Croucher, RevGen Partners, “Using Change Management and Lean to Drive Change in Social Sector Organizations.” In this session, participants learned about improvement efforts within various nonprofit and government agencies and how change management frameworks were used to transform organizational culture. Croucher showed real examples of improvement efforts driven by front-line and mid-level managers, using tools created to help staff structure their work, and practicing change management frameworks.
  • Steve Kane, Director of Customer Success at Gemba Academy, “Overcoming Resistance: Leading People to Want to Improve.” This presentation recognized the common struggle with continuous improvement in dealing with resistance to change. People genuinely want to do a good job; at the same time, resistance can be perceived as an attitude or performance problem. In this session Kane explored how resistance to continuous improvement can be a response to basic emotional needs not being met and aligned Lean leadership methods to help people move past resistance to intrinsically motivated contribution.
  • Agustin Leone & Sharif Abdelhamid, Denver Health, “Making Lean Relatable: Applying Lean Tools & Concepts to Commonplace Situations.” In this workshop, several examples were shared in which Lean coaches connected real-life situations to Lean tools/concepts. This approach has helped new Lean thinkers to overcome the disconnect that they might feel as they venture into the world of improvement work, instead making improvement work fun and leading to greater performance excellence.
  • Scotty Martin, Innovation Consultant and Strategist at reVision, Inc., “Laying the Foundation for Transformation: Strategic Planning, Alignment, & Strategy Deployment.” During this panel discussion, the audience heard from team level and executive level leaders in organizations that range from municipal, county, and federal sectors of government. Whether their organizations deliver IT services or electrical power to our region, there are some key lessons they shared to help build a solid base on which we can transform our workplace culture, emphasizing that even with really great tools, a high-performing team requires a cultural foundation that emanates from their strategic plan.

Session 2:

  • Eric Kulikowski, founder of Dare to Be Amazing, “How I Helped Transform an Organization by First Transforming Myself.” Eric explained to his audience that it is impossible to have engaged employees without actually engaging your employees. People want to help and want to be a part of something significant; we have all seen the power of highly engaged employees, and it often gives us goosebumps. The leader sets the tone and must invite engagement, so that others can be allowed to get some goosebumps of their own!
  • Brian Pool & Greg Bollomo, Government Performance Solutions, “Four Truths of Change.” The speakers illustrated and expanded on the four truths of change as Creating a compelling vision so people understand why the change is both important and beneficial, Mobilizing commitment and get people to play a role in making improvements, Equipping people with the desired knowledge and skills to address resistance, and Reinforcing metrics, evaluations & recognition to avoid sliding into the past.
  • Taryn Davis, Continuous Improvement Manager at HOPE Foods, “Hearts, Minds, and Hands: Engaging Teams to Drive Results.” Participants recognized how the potential for success is all around us–brilliant ideas, creative problem solving, cost savings, motivation, ownership. Even when we implement excellent tools, we often still don’t see the results we know are possible. Davis explained that the tools are only half the battle – and how teams must be brought along with leaders into the intersection of potential and reality.
  • Jamie V. Parker, Process + Results Leadership Coaching, “The Art of Asking Good Coaching Questions.” This interactive session demonstrated that Lean practitioners and leaders cannot do all of the problem-raising and -solving themselves. Participants learned and practiced the art of asking coaching questions that develop the problem-socking capabilities of a team.
  • Bob Tipton, CEO and Principal Change Architect of Team Tipton, PBC, “The Surprising Power in ‘What’s Right, not Who’s Right’ – Harnessing the Untapped Fuel to Drive Transformation.” This insightful presentation shared a profound secret to handling the endless debates that create unproductive and toxic conflict through a need to be right. Tipton illustrated that by humanizing “the other,” listening first, truly walking a mile in someone else’s shoes, and leveraging the power in “What’s Right” instead of dealing with the toxicity of “Who’s Right,” the world around us will transform.
Afternoon Breakout Speakers and Subjects
  • Austin Steckler & Christi Palmore, Denver Water, “Coaching for Improvement.” Participants learned coaching skills that dove into the essential elements of transforming leaders into coaches. This session provided an opportunity to practice coaching employees through problem solving and to use an A3 coaching guide.
  • Lee Lisemby, Osteogenics Biomedical, “Lean Engagement for the Younger Workforce.” In the face of multi-generational workplaces full of generational differences, Lisemby discussed the steps Osteogenics took to get 46 millennials engaged and driving lean improvements in the organization, while improving job satisfaction. Participants learned how to motivate and engage younger team members to implement Lean in their daily activities, and how to use that engagement and motivation to improve processes that reduce costs and increase morale.
  • Fareeha Amber Ansari, Precision Process Partners, “Understand and Adapt to the 4 Major Behavior Types for a Transformational Workplace.” This session led participants to understand major behavior types and how they impact the way we interact with others. Next, Ansari taught actionable tips on how to adapt behavior by identifying personalities and thereby creating a transformational workplace.
  • Grace Wilcox, Pinnacol Assurance, “Seeing the World Through Your Customer’s Eyes: Using Customer Journey Mapping.”  To illustrate how understanding the experience of customers as they interact with a business is critical to ensuring improvement and innovation efforts are focused in the right areas to maximize business impact, Wilcox presented on Pinnacol Assurance’s utilization of customer journey mapping to help define organizational strategy.
  • Eric Kulikowski, founder of the Human Blueprint, “Making the Needle Move: Select Metrics That Drive World Class Behaviors and Results.” This session recognized that key performance indicators–while important to quantify company performance–do not always engage the head, heart and hands of every employee in an organization. Kulikowski highlighted that effective metrics not only measure performance, but also inspire and reward desired behavior in employees, emphasizing the critical elements and “must know” concepts for developing and leading effective KPI’s where employee engagement and behavior management are the key focuses.

Power Hour Poster Event

In between the morning and afternoon breakout sessions, lunch was served, followed by a Power Hour networking and poster sessions. Grace Wilcox, Lean Expert at Pinnacol Assurance, described this event as “one of the most exciting parts of the conference….Here our members were able to learn about some of the successes their colleagues have had on their Lean journeys and how some of the tools have been applied. One of the most inspiring stories was from Turner Construction about how they are using Lean in construction to keep projects well within scope and budget.”

Closing Keynote

To close the event on a high note, the final speaker was Mike Wroblewski, Lean Sensei and author of the Shingo Award-winning book Creating a Kaizen Culture: Achieve Breakthrough Results and Sustain the Gains. Mike has spent three decades working in industrial engineering, continuous improvement, and Kaizen. Mike’s extraordinary speech was titled “Leading a Lean Transformation; Fear the Gemba Walking Dead”, where he left the audience feeling energized and inspired. He expertly mixed humor with serious lessons about how to enhance lean transformation by owning up to mistakes, being patient and coaching others—and, of course, avoiding becoming the executive “walking dead” by repeatedly engaging with the learning purpose behind Gemba and thinking critically about adding value.

Thank You to Our Sponsors!

This event would not have been possible without our exceptional sponsorship partners. Thank you for your support!

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