By Laurel Johanson.
It’s fitting that the 2018 Canadian Lean Conference ended with a showstopping Broadway musical number.
By the time keynote speaker Paul Huschilt was doing high-kicks across the stage at the RBC Convention Centre’s ballroom to demonstrate the benefits of humour in the workplace, the enthusiastic conference crowd seemed ready to join him. For the end of a week-long conference, there was a surprising amount of energy still in the air.
Such was the spirit of the 2018 edition of Canada’s largest lean event, hosted by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters Manitoba (CME) every three years. The conference took place June 4-7 this year in Winnipeg, with over 1,000 delegates attending from all across Canada.
The scope of the conference had never been bigger, with 15 workshops, 18 plant tours, 36 practitioner presentations, and seven keynote addresses included in this year’s programming. Right from the start, the atmosphere was teeming with energy and enthusiasm from delegates, educators, tour guides, and speakers alike.
Take Billy Taylor as a prime example.
Taylor, director of commercial and off-highway manufacturing for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, kicked off the conference’s keynote addresses with an impassioned presentation about engaging your workforce through instilling in them the desire to “win” together. One of Taylor’s key messages was not just the value of people but the idea that “people want to be valued.”
Or look at Mike Rother, lean educator and bestselling author of Toyota Kata and Learning to See. In addition to being a conference keynote speaker, Rother hosted two ‘Kata in the Classroom’ workshops in which dozens of delegates spent more than an hour figuring out new and timely ways to strategize putting together a children’s puzzle. The exercise yielded real transformations in group problem-solving dynamics, with many shared laughs along the way.
People learning together was an important theme of this year’s lean conference. Whether touring the halls of New Flyer Industries or playing the biggest group game of ‘Simon Says’ possibly ever during Paul Huschilt’s keynote presentation, the energy and sense of camaraderie were palpable in every piece of programming.
And not just in the programming, for that matter. In between sessions, delegates had the opportunity to network and interact with booths from local exhibitors like Tripwire Media Group and St. John Ambulance. The conversations never stopped, even during break times. In the spirit of lean, a real culture of learning was created and cultivated.
Speaking of lean, perhaps Paul Akers summed up the lean spirit best at the end of his keynote presentation ‘Lean is Simple’.
“It’s about people,” said Akers, president of Fastcap and author of 2 Second Lean. “It’s as simple as every person, every thing, every day.”
And Akers was right. People do make all the difference, in lean and in life, and truly it was the people that made the 2018 Lean Conference an unforgettable experience.
Honouring a Lean legend
The “Father of Lean” and pioneer of the lean consortia movement in the 1990s was presented with a special Lifetime Award from Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) Manitoba at this year’s Canadian Lean Conference.
Dave Hogg took to the stage at Winnipeg’s RBC Convention Centre on June 5 to accept his award amid a standing ovation from the crowd and seemed visibly overwhelmed with
“This is totally unexpected,” said Hogg onstage. “I’ve been inspired by so many people.”
In his speech Hogg reflected on some of the lessons he learned at his first job, working under a former commander of the Royal Canadian Navy at Westinghouse Electric Canada Inc. more than 50 years ago. Hogg was a technical assistant at the time.
“My first boss said to me, ‘Lad, you cannot change the past, but with everything you improve, you open doors to the future,’” said Hogg.
With Industry 4.0 and the further development of artificial intelligence looming in our own futures, Hogg said that promoting the principles of people working and developing ideas together should be a priority for the future of lean practices.
“None is as smart as all of us,” said Hogg. “That’s kind of the spirit of consortium.”
CME Manitoba’s Vice President Ron Koslowsky said in his opening remarks that he was “honoured” to be the one to present Hogg with
“You’ve been a forward-thinker and you’ve been key to the adoption of lean around the country,” said Koslowsky. “In addition, you’re a friend and a really good individual. You have earned the title ‘Father of Lean’, as far as I’m concerned.”
Prior to the award presentation, a touching video montage compiled of tributes from friends and colleagues of Hogg’s played for the crowd at the conference. Many people shared different stories of Hogg’s impact on their lives and their companies’ operations, but all of the stories ended with the same message:
“Thank you, Dave.”