Colorado Lean Network: A Look Back . . . And Advancing Forward

A Note from the Executive Director


We started 2020 with a goal of creating consistency. We had multiple events on the calendar and began to build out processes for planning workshops, coordinating space and tech details. 

And then that came to a screeching halt. Along with the rest of the world, we cancelled events and had to go back to the drawing board.

Through the adversity of 2020, I’m proud of how each of our Board members responded, and how you, our members, adjusted with us.

Here’s what we accomplished in 2020:

7th Annual Colorado Lean Summit: We transitioned to a virtual format and held our first Summit with International speakers and attendees. We delivered a 5-day program with 24 different sessions. While transitioning seemed like a simple endeavor, there were many operational details that the team worked through. In addition to our Board members, our CLN member volunteers played a critical role in making the event a success. Thank you to Chandra DeSimone, Katie Benik, Cynthia Case, and Grace Wilcox.

Member Learning Experiences: We set a new record for the most number of events in a year, offering two In-Person Workshops plus 5 Virtual Learning Events (Webinars, Workshops, and Panel Discussions). All of these programs were free to members:  

  • Beyond the 5 Whys: Values-Based Decision Making for Process Improvement
  • The M&M Quality Workshop Using Measurement System Analysis
  • Embracing Change During Uncertain Times
  • Case Study: Process Improvement Metrics & Dashboards
  • Transition from Doing Problem Solving to Coaching Problem Solving
  • Panel Discussion: COVID’s Impact on Process Improvement 
  • Attention Management of Time Blocking: Which One Works for You.  

Scholarship Fundraising Campaign: For the first time, we gave back to our community financially. As part of our commitment to racial equity, we conducted a Tomorrow’s Leaders fundraising campaign for the Community College of Aurora’s Unity Scholarship. The generous giving of CLN members and Summit attendees was matched by $500 from the CLN plus $250 each from Mark Graban and Jamie Flinchbaugh. In total, we raised more than $2,000 for this fund to support Black leaders of tomorrow. A big thanks to CLN Member William Littlejohn for suggesting the scholarship as a way for us to take action.

Community Outreach:  We continue to be  excited about the community outreach ideas being explored by our Co-Directors of Community Outreach Meagan Brown and Ashley Brand. However, many of those ideas were placed on the back burner this year as in-person activities were limited. This year focused on relationship building, for example: as a Board, we did a team community service event at Project C.U.R.E., an organization that has been delivering life-saving medical equipment and supplies to hospitals and clinics throughout the under-resourced world since 1987. We also shared with members opportunities to get involved in other community organizations directly.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: The dangerous and painful reality of systemic racism and inequality led to the horrific deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Tyler, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others. We recognize that the events of 2020 were just a continuation of racial injustice and violence that has existed long before. We also recognize that as individuals and as an organization, we cannot stand idly by or allow for the status quo to go unchallenged. In 2020, we clarified our formal stand against racial injustice and made a commitment to integrate anti-racism into our work supporting Lean practitioners so that we collectively improve Colorado communities. This commitment contributed to our decision to support the Tomorrow’s Leaders campaign, to share Deondra Wardelle’s #RootCauseRacism efforts, and to begin the process of seeking greater diversity in speakers and facilitators of our learning events.


With the help of CLN member Laura Sigrist (thank you!), our Board of Directors conducted a series of Strategic Planning exercises to outline our three-year strategic priorities and then map the associated goals for 2021.

Our Three-Year Strategic Priorities are:

  • Host a diverse, equitable, and inclusive premier Lean event each year for CLN members and prospective members  
  • Inspire, engage, and develop CLN members at all proficiency levels through learning & sharing experiences on Lean tools and philosophies 
  • Apply Lean thinking to CLN operations so that we are financially and operationally sound for current and next 2-year BOD term 

Our Board is excited to tackle our 2021 goals within each priority and have already begun engaging in process mapping, Rapid Improvement Events, and outreach to potential facilitators.

Don’t Sit on the Sidelines. Get Involved!

Serve on the CLN Board of Directors: Would you like to join the efforts to deliver on our strategic priorities? To create more value for members? To boost your connections within the Colorado Lean Community? We are actively seeking to fill a few vacant Board positions. We are committed to celebrating and fostering diversity and inclusion on the Board of Directors.We value Respect for People and support all types of diversity including, but not limited to ethnicity, race, gender, LGBTQ, age, and abilities.  Learn more and apply here.

Facilitate a Learning Experience: We are currently seeking facilitators for our 2021 learning experience calendar. Want to facilitate a workshop? How about a panel discussion? Or a Book Club series? Or perhaps invite a handful of CLN members to observe one of your upcoming Virtual Improvement Events? Fill out the Lend a Hand form – and if you don’t see what you want – just add the details into the comments! Complete the Lend A Hand Form here

Plan the 2021 Summit: Our 2021 Summit Planning Process kicks off next month! We need your help in building out the program, selecting speakers & topics, writing and designing communications and marketing materials, handling the back-end technology and logistics, helping us find sponsors . . . and general support to ensure a successful Summit! Volunteers on the Summit Planning Committee receive complimentary admission to the Summit. On the Lend a Hand form, select from the dropdown Join the Summit Planning Committee.

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