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Want better employees? Be a better employer.

What does it mean to be a better employer? Are you doing everything you can to develop your team? (how do you know?) Do you need new tactics?

Regardless of your position within your organization, everyone holds the responsibility to build a better company. This is what we will be exploring, sharing, and learning when the lean community gathers in Nashville, March 26 & 27.

Many years ago, LEI Chairman, John Shook left his home in Tennessee to become the first American Manager in Japan. Now, after decades of learning, John brings us all back to his home state to share what he’s learned, as well as other company stories that will inspire, educate, and change how you approach your work, your team’s work, and you company’s culture.


  • Every session is required to give you something you can apply immediately when you return to work 
  • Unbeatable networking opportunities in a casual friendly setting
  • Motivation to improve/charge your battery
  • The opportunity to create new knowledge for the entire lean community

We intentionally design our summit to have an intimate feel and allow for more unique networking opportunities. We want you to have a personalized experience, and make every effort to accomplish this.




Plenary & Breakout Sessions | Learning Sessions | Networking Opportunities | Fees | Workshops


Lean Thinking About Jobs and Work

In the age of mass production and modern management (think Henry Ford plus Alfred Sloan at GM) we had a clear, stable view of the roles of employers and employees and the meaning of jobs and work.  But in the post-modern world of the past 30 years, employers have tried to shed their responsibilities and employees have transitioned, in many cases, from secure jobs to zero-obligation gigs. The result is widespread anxiety and dissatisfaction in the workforce and stagnant productivity.

The lean view is different: The job of employers is to create good, sustainable jobs by steadily building capability in every employee to do better work over long tenures. And the job of every employee is to improve their work while doing the work. How can we in the Lean Community move the world from its post-modern cul-du-sac to a dynamic world of lean employers with lean employees? We’ll be seeking answers in this opening presentation and throughout the 2018 Lean Summit.

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Plenary & Breakout Sessions

American Family Insurance

American FamilyAs American Family celebrates its 90th birthday this year, it is undergoing a cultural transformation to bring its traditional customer focus to a whole new level through: empathy, experimentation, empowering people closest to customers and processes, and using evidence-based decision making to create a culture of innovation.

With 8,000 people and operations spread across the country, American Family has had many successful local process improvement efforts that never scaled into a coordinated companywide effort. In this plenary, Matt Cornwell will share how the company is changing that through Lean, Lean Startup, and Agile/Menlo development and a communications strategy so people at all levels know that culture change will be done with them, not to them.

You’ll learn how the communications strategy:

  • Uses new innovative approaches to support culture change to all levels of the company.  
  • Adapts existing communications tools and approaches.
  • Supports building new capabilities in people to sustain the culture change.
  • Shares how the change will benefit all stakeholders -- customers, employees, agents, and the communities where American Family operates.
Matt Cornwell
Matt Cornwell
Michele Wingate
Michele Wingate

Be a Better Employer - Live at WLEI

Tracey and Ernie Richardson, authors of The Toyota Engagement Equation and LEI Faculty members, will be sharing a special session focusing on creating:

  • Mutual trust and respect
  • Space to think
  • Capability development
Ernie Richardson
Ernie Richardson
Tracey Richardson

Lean Leadership Transition: An Obstacle…or an Opportunity?

Too often, a change in executive leadership can bring a lean transformation to a grinding halt. But that has not been the case at Lynn Community Health Center (LCHC).

LCHC is located 10 miles from downtown Boston, in the economically, culturally, and socially diverse city of Lynn. It is a small but mighty healthcare center serving more than 40,000 patients representing 113 countries and 72 languages – of which over 90 percent live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line.

To conquer the challenges of serving this vibrant community, LEI has worked with LCHC for two years to create a model primary-care clinic powered by lean. In doing this, LCHC hopes to better serve its customers (and employees!) by tackling wait times and achieving increasingly higher levels of productivity.

Learn how LCHC is building successors by turning a recent leadership transition into a catalyst for improvement. You’ll hear from the two CEOs that exchanged the baton, and find out how they ensured that lean efforts would continue. What did the outgoing CEO do to ensure the continuation of lean thinking? What made the incoming CEO realize that lean thinking truly was the way for everyone?

Lori Abrams Berry Kiame Mahaniah, MD

Strengthening Our Employees with Lean

Whether moving billions of dollars around the world or transporting precious diamonds and jewelry, Brinks 60,000 employees deal with complex work and unique logistical challenges as they serve customers in more than 100 countries. Lean thinking and practices help them keep commerce safe, moving, and protected.

In just the past three years, Brinks has trained thousands of employees, implemented more than 3,000 improvements guided by A3s, and conducted hundreds of kaizen events in North America, South America, and Europe.

In this session, Mike Beech, executive vice president, will share how Brinks is building lean capabilities into its operations and work culture through:

  • Leadership: Learn what roles senior leaders play every day in the continuing lean transformation.
  • Education: Hear how the company teaches functional managers at all levels why and how to apply Lean principles.
  • Repetition: Learn how Brinks reinforces behaviors and models standard practices to build desired habits.
  • Recognition: Discover how Brinks rewards people and celebrates their contributions to develop happier people.
Mike Beech
Mike Beech

TechnipFMC Schilling Robotics

FMC Shilling RoboticsJoin Tyler Schilling, president of TechnipFMC Schilling Robotics, and Andy Houk, vice president of product development, as they reveal how purposeful guidance of company culture happens through leadership behaviors. They’ll explain what behaviors moved the company forward -- and what ones set it back.

You’ll also hear how focusing on lean product and process development provided a framework for leadership behaviors that supercharged cultural guidance at Schilling, which makes the robotic vehicles and manipulators needed to search for oil and gas in extremely harsh environments like the deep ocean. This challenging environment accidentally created a culture of experimentation and pushing limits.

Today, the company believes that you can get a good company culture by accident, but a great company culture takes purpose. And it cannot be dictated.  Just as lean practitioners can identify waste then guide the workforce to systematically reduce it, Schilling and Houk believe leaders should be able to do the same for behaviors in the organization. Join them to learn what leadership behaviors you can use to create a place where people love to come to work every day.

Andy Houk
Andy Houk
Tyler Schilling
Tyler Schilling

The Lean Journey of MAS

MASFrom its founding in 1986 by three Sri Lanka, brothers, Mahesh, Ajay, and Sharad Amalean, apparel maker MAS grew rapidly to its current size of 90,000 associates, in 16 countries, working in 53 world-class facilities, making lingerie, activewear, sportswear, and swimwear for global brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Nike, lululemon, and Calvin Klein. What the young company lacked in technical skills and knowledge -- almost non-existent in Sri Lanka in 1986 – it made up for with passion, tenacity, and a clear understanding that it would not compromise the welfare of employees.

After years of rapid, profitable growth, Mahesh Amalean felt MAS needed to do even better to stay ahead of increasing local and international competition. Exposed to lean concepts during a trip to Japan, he adopted them to the apparel industry.

In this session, you’ll hear how MAS:

  • Became a better employer with better employees because of lean thinking and practice.
  • Differentiates itself through new thinking in people, product, and processes.
  • Builds on its founding values to develop a unique people-oriented culture of mutual respect -- that gives it a competitive advantage by attracting the best talent from around the world.
  • Invests in educating associates at all levels and conducted systematic training -- not only on systems and processes -- but also on developing people.
  • Deals with challenges of a continuing lean journey in a highly competitive global industry obsessed with low-cost operations.


Mahesh Amalean
Mahesh Amalean

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Learning Sessions

Open All Close All
5 Strategies to Increase Engagement: The Underestimated Result of Lean Cultures That’s Worth More Than You Think

The interest in strengthening employee engagement is sometimes considered a separate topic from lean transformations. 

While organizations are aware of the need to engage people in their lean efforts, they often are unaware of the dynamics of engagement by itself. More importantly, optimizing engagement takes more than simply involving employees in improvement activities.

In addition, leadership teams need to identify and address common situations that may actually disengage team members.

Interestingly, if you were to do a side by side comparison of lean activities and engagement efforts, you’d see considerable overlapping endeavors. 

So how do we know that optimizing engagement matters?

This session will review a variety of extensive research on engagement that not only describes the financial benefits, but precisely how it converts to a stronger more successful workforce. 

Strategically increasing engagement provides a whole new dimension to optimizing lean transformations.

In this session, you will learn to:

  • Understand the basics of engagement and the implications of how it differs from satisfaction and motivation.
  • Identify improvement related activities that are disengaging and damaging your workforce
  • Build a business case for engagement, that is aligned with your lean transformations, based upon available research.
  • Apply five strategies to strengthen the level of your team member’s engagement and reduce activities that are likely damaging it.
  • Measure engagement (and how not to) to assess the effectiveness of your efforts to engage your workforce.
Achieving Excellence in Customer Satisfaction... A Hotel Story
Building the Culture for Lean to Succeed
Cross-Functional Process Mapping: Outcomes and Engagement
Lean and Agile Product Development Using Scrum
Lean in the Digital Transformation Forum
Meaningful Problem Solving: Solving Problems Customers Care About
The Operating System – A New Culture in 3 Easy Steps
Improving the Fire Department through Lean, Not “Firefighting”
The Lean Farm: Better Food, Productivity, and Profits -- with Less Work!
How to Engage Employees Through Creativity
Conscious Coaching: Developing Great Problem Solvers using Mindfulness Practices

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Networking Opportunities

Sunday, March 25th: Welcome Reception at the Wildhorse Saloon!

We always try to do something special for our networking reception, and this year we are in our Chairman, John Shook’s home town so you know we have to go big.

The Wildhorse Saloon, has been featured featured on countless TV shows and is on virtually all the "must see" locations in Nashville, and we’ve got your ticket in. Enjoy an evening of networking, live music, dancing, games, food, and drinks. We want to give you the honkey-tonk welcome you deserve.

The party starts at 6:00 PM on Sunday, March 25th!

More Networking Opportunities

The summit is designed to be the best networking venue in the Lean Community by providing formal and informal ways for you to connect with counterparts facing the same challenges as you:

  • Monday, March 26th: Networking Happy Hour (continue conversations and compare notes after the first day)
  • Networking Breaks (30 minutes to allow time for a phone call, cup of coffee, and conversation)
  • Lunch Roundtables (attendee-led discussions on topics you've told us are important to you)

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Maximize your learning opportunities, add a workshop!

You’ve traveled to Nashville to learn and meet new people sharing similar struggles. Creating a better company means improving your capabilities and skills. LEI’s workshops are in-depth programs that will help move you beyond individual "tools" and isolated improvement projects to build leadership capabilities and develop management skills needed to create the complete lean enterprise and a culture of problem solving. There is a 25% discount on workshops for attendees.

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