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Karen Gaudet

Karen Gaudet

Director of Learning, Lean Enterprise Institute

Karen has over 20 years’ experience leading, training, and coaching high-performance teams of staff and executives in rapid-growth environments. Most recently, as regional director of licensed operations at Starbucks Coffee Company, she built a consistent track record of growing the number of retail stores along with the continuous improvement capabilities of people.

As director of learning at LEI, Karen’s responsibilities include:

  • Supporting Co-Learning Partners, a small group of select companies with a passion for collaborative learning and a willingness to share results with the global lean community.
  • Managing and continue to strengthen LEI’s education curriculum.
  • Delivering training at customer sites and public venues.
  • Managing relationships with 40-plus faculty members, lean management practitioners who have years of hands-on experience implementing what they teach.

At Starbucks, Karen made recommendations on the creation of an operating system model line, then led the first application in a working store and provided feedback necessary for a broad, global implementation. She also led a team of coaches responsible for teaching problem solving and mentoring skills to regional executives, directors, and district managers responsible for implementing the lean operating system. Karen led the growth of Starbucks’ New England market, adding 20 new stores annually for five years while hitting profit and return-on-investment goals.

Previously, she held management and executive posts in operations, marketing, and training at large restaurant chains, a retail consulting company, and a technology startup preparing for an initial public offering.

Articles by Karen Gaudet
Advice from the Gemba: Standardizing Work for Leaders with Varied Tasks
How, many people ask LEI, can you possibly standardize a leader's work when even they can't predict what their work will look like on a given day? The answer: by adopting the right approach. Three LEI faculty members weigh in. More »
Advice from the Gemba: How Do People Accidentally Make Change Unsustainable?
The only thing tougher than change is SUSTAINING change, we often hear. But does sustaining change need to be SO hard? Is it naturally and universally borderline impossible? Or is it possible that we, as humans, accidentally make sustainability harder than it has to be? Four LEI faculty members weigh in with their thoughts. More »
Advice from the Gemba: TPS Mythbusting
Despite its fundamental role in a lean transformation, the Toyota Production System is not an easy thing for many to grasp. In this special installment of Advice from the Gemba, three of LEI's accomplished faculty discuss the most common misconceptions they hear about TPS from their workshop participants. More »
Lean Expansion: Spreading Lean from One Store to a Region at Starbucks
Scaling up is a challenge often talked about in lean circles. How can we best leverage our individual or small-scale wins to spread lean throughout the organization? LEI faculty and Director of Learning Karen Gaudet tackled this problem head-on during her tenure working at Starbucks. Here's her story of what she experienced and learned as she spread lean throughout her region of responsibility. More »
Workshops Taught by Karen Gaudet
The Fundamentals of Work in a Lean Operating System (at the 2018 Transformation Summit) This immersive learning simulation is designed to demonstrate the interdependence of lean concepts in support of creating a lean operating system.  Attendees will run a production simulation model and will experience the limitations of a batch production environment. They will then participate in transforming the work to a single-piece-flow process. They will participate in doing a production run to learn the benefits of single piece flow.  The lean transformation does not end with the development of the single piece flow process. Participants will learn about the management system that is needed to sustain the operating system and enable the lean More »
Understanding Lean Transformation Come explore the components of the Lean Transformation Model, see examples of what others are doing and reflect upon some potential gaps to close within your own organization. More »