Yesterday the newest episode of WLEI the official podcast of the Lean Enterprise Institute came out, featuring a lively panel hosted by Jim Womack with the Lean Farmer Ben Hartman, his sensei Steve Brenneman, and their fellow lean student Joel Daly. These three friends from Indiana have helped one another learn lean, and they share a set of values, based on Mennonite principles, that have provided a predisposition to learn and teach lean. The podcast (click below) was recorded live at the recent LEI summit.
“I wanted to bring people together with an obligation to share,” Womack noted in his introduction. “I felt that anybody who comes here (to this summit) to learn something has an obligation to share.” His panel was comprised of three passionate lean practitioners: Ben Hartman, author of The Lean Farm; Steve Brenneman, CEO of Aluminum Trailer Company (ATC); and Joel Daly of Veada Industries, a maker of seating and marine products.
While Ben has earned a great deal of attention for his lean farm, the focus of this chat is on the way that they have shared their lean education with one another. Brenneman was the first of the three to turn to lean; after a successful door practice of his failed, he concluded that while he had a great culture with great people, the lack of attention to the process of work lead him to lean. “I realized we had to make a change.” He was introduced to lean, committed himself and ATC to it, and dove in. It was only a matter of time before he converted his friend Ben Hartman to apply it to Clay Bottom Farm.
Part of the willingness to experiment with lean overlapped with shared beliefs of Brenneman, Hartman, and Daly. As Mennonites, says Steve, they were all committed to questioning the status quo, to doing more with less, and to modestly using their talents to benefit others. Lean represented a set of ideas that neatly overlaid upon these beliefs.
And so getting Ben on board was both a matter of principle, not to mention one of practicality. When asked, “Why did you start your lean teaching with Ben?” he had a simple answer: “Because he was the only guy who would listen.” That laugh was topped only by Womack’s response: “You don’t know the trouble I’ve seen. This is a very low conversion rate.”
This podcast should enjoy a high conversion rate, by vividly sharing the stories of three lean converts whose work should inspire others seeking encouragement in their own lean work.