MLC Blog

Welcome to the MLC Blog! A blog fueled by the Lean and Continuous Improvement Community!

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  • Wednesday, September 14, 2022 3:14 PM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)
    Hello Michigan Lean Consortium Practitioners,

    I hope this note finds everyone winding down their summer with great memories of the past few months.

    The MLC also has enjoyed delivering value to you! Our Annual Conference had an amazing turnout and felt more like a reunion than a conference. I am so thankful to those volunteers who helped pull the AC together and you, the membership, for attending!

    Traditionally during the annual conference we thank the former board members and introduce the new board members to the membership. This year we thanked and said goodbye to Vanita De Jesus, Josh Foster, and Kevin Olds. We introduced Jayne Overbeck and Alen Ganic. Pam Burgess was also reelected to the board for another three year term. Most recently, Debra Levantrosser, founder of the MLC, rejoined the board to support the membership office. Also during the annual conference the State of the Business was presented to the membership. Each director shared their portion of the Strategic A3 and their vision for the future. 

    At the end of September the board will hold the Q3 strategy meeting where we will be evaluating our 2022 work and begin designing 2023!

    I hope everyone is excited to see the offerings the MLC will provide in the New Year!

    Your feedback is always appreciated!

    For the Love of Lean,
    Holly Plaga,
    Michigan Lean Consortium Chair

  • Wednesday, September 14, 2022 3:11 PM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Our Coffee Chat Subject Matter Expert of the Month was Megan Atkinson, CSM, CSPO, CAL. Megan presented on Visual Collaboration Tools for Remote Work and Learning. It was an interactive and informative presentation! Megan serves at the intersection of business and technology strategy as a Business Transformation Analyst at Dart Container.

    She has spent over a decade dedicated to digital transformation through her work in experience design, product management, enterprise architecture, and process reengineering. Thank you again Megan!

    September’s Coffee Chat subject is Problem Solving A3s presented by Brian Braman, Senior Manager, Operational Excellence at Orchid Orthopedic Solutions on September 16th.

    Please let us know if you would like to present a topic!

  • Wednesday, September 14, 2022 3:10 PM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Each year at the Annual Conference, the MLC recognizes one or more individuals for their contributions to the organization. This recognition is called the Distinguished Service Award and it is awarded to a Dave Kippen and Debra Levantrosser.

    Dave Kippen has been so integral to the success of MLC from his early days as a board member to his most recent contributions as Events Team Lead and Annual Conference Team Lead. Dave has been one of the largest supporters of MLC in its entire history. In fact, this is Dave’s second time being honored with this award. His first was in 2013. As Events Team Lead, Dave was the person responsible for coordinating and executing the full events calendar. During the shutdown periods of COVID, this was especially trying, and Dave always approached these situations with the MLC’s best interest as his priority. The MLC Board thanks Dave for his tireless efforts of volunteerism and are grateful for volunteers like Dave.

    Debra Levantrosser was this year’s second awardee. Debra is the face of the MLC Annual Conference. For the entire history of the event, Debra has offered up her time and talents to be the Master of Ceremonies. She is a consummate professional, who always knows just the right activity to run or words to say during the event. She makes the Annual Conference fun and entertaining year after year and does it with grace. Debra was also a founding member of MLC and played a key role in laying the foundation of this important organization.

    Please consider volunteering in any capacity where you feel you have talents that would help the MLC. This organization relies on volunteerism to continue to provide great resources and content to those around the state who are on their Lean journey.

  • Friday, July 08, 2022 11:17 AM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Alen Ganic, a former board member, is looking to expand our Government Community of Practice and support the board as needed. Alen will be formally onboarded in August at the Annual Conference and will be included in the MLC State of the Business on Thursday. We are very excited to have such a great team joining us as we move forward. Please Welcome Him To The Team!!

     title=Alen Ganic

    Alen Ganic is a dynamic and passionate leader and management professional with a track record of steering efficiency and continuous improvement by deploying Lean Six Sigma methodology and tools and leveraging team capabilities. He is recognized for the ability to transform businesses through training, coaching, and mentoring.

    Twenty-plus years ago, Alen fell in love with the Lean philosophy. Since then, he has helped manufacturing plants with Lean transformation, coaching, and mentoring. Alen has also helped streamline and transform some departments and operations in the public sector.

    In 2019 Alen received the Michigan Lean Consortium Distinguished Service Award for superb customer service and going above and beyond in time commitment and service to Michigan and the MLC community.

    In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and reading. Also, he loves spending time outdoors, like kayaking, hiking, and biking. Alen speaks fluently three languages; English, Bosnian, and German.

  • Thursday, July 07, 2022 10:57 AM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    You may know Jayne Overbeck from being a part of the Events Team this year! She is new to the board and will bring fresh ideas along with strong project management experience to our team. Please Welcome Her To The Team!!

     title=Jayne Overbeck
    Senior Strategy Manager, Dart Container

    Jayne Overbeck is a Senior Strategy Manager at Dart Container where she manages high-level program initiatives and helps to foster strong cross-functional collaboration. She is responsible for continuously improving the Strategy Department’s processes and methodologies to drive value and support better business outcomes. In addition, she leads kaizen events, teaches courses on Lean principles, and mentors team members.

    Jayne started practicing Lean over 25 years ago. She attended the General Motors Quality Institute where she had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Deming. Her Lean journey received inspiration after observing the red bead experiment. Prior to joining Dart, Jayne gained project management, Lean and consulting experience working in multiple industries including manufacturing, healthcare, financial services, and technology. She has led continuous improvement projects in the US, Europe, and Asia.

    Jayne has a bachelor's degree in Scientific and Technical Communications from Michigan Technological University. Jayne is an avid reader, she loves spending time her fur-baby Casey, and (of course) her wonderful husband Jim.

  • Friday, October 15, 2021 9:52 AM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Be sure to engage your graphics, marketing or other arts department early on in your Lean endeavors. There is a lot to do in Visual management, and their help will be invaluable.

    In early Lean activities, 5S and area organization is key. As things progress, standard work is implemented, requiring visual representations to go with the narrative. Flow lanes, takt time, and a long list of others make your graphics team key to presenting the visuals in a timely and personalized manner.

    If you don’t have a marketing or graphics department, there are several online tools that can provide examples of visually engaging representation of data, like Venngage or you can use online programs like Canva for visual management.

  • Thursday, September 30, 2021 9:54 AM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)
    Joe Pesz
    Lean Coach/Consultant, JMPesz Design

    I came to Lean in 2005, as a result of some problems my company was having with safety issues specifically related to gaps in our training. Learning and implementing 5S, Standard work and Value Streams mapping were my introduction, and those core tenets helped me transition over the last 16 years, from a Construction industry background into Manufacturing and Distribution, Supply Chain and most recently Healthcare. 

    Currently working as a Lean Coach/Consultant for my company JMPesz Design. Part time musician. Married with two kids, and five granddaughters. 

  • Wednesday, August 11, 2021 4:32 PM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Lean Tribe! 

    The Events Team took a big step forward this week and had a "re-introduciton" session for our Events Team volunteers. During Covid we pivoted to 100% virtual and did not need a lot of event support. There is just not as much work to do when an event is all online. Our eyes are on the future and the future holds IN PERSON EVENTS! (assuming Delta does not crash the party...). 

    Our re-introduction session reviewed the event planning process at a high level and what the different roles and responsibilities are for the different levels of volunteers. Long story short, our pool of volunteers are split into 3 main categories:

    • "Single day" event planners
    • "Multi day" event planners (conferences!!)
    • "Day Of" volunteers

    We need a pool of each type to be able to execute all ranges and types of events for our membership. As always, if you are interested in being a volunteer, let me know!

    Our events Master Schedule has a couple in-person events and in-person Coffee Chats on the list for the rest of 2021 (with a couple virtual events sprinkled in). Be on the lookout for updates and get yourself on the registration list!

    Be safe,


  • Thursday, July 01, 2021 7:38 PM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Did you know that you have an MLC membership card? 

    If you need to access this card follow these steps:

    1. Log into your account
    2. Click on your name in the upper left hand corner

    A page will be displayed that has your membership card and all the details about your MLC membership.

    You will be able to update your information too.

    Thank you for being a member!

    Check Out the Membership Site!

  • Thursday, July 01, 2021 7:34 PM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    The 9th annual MLC Healthcare Symposium was a success.

    We had 100% attendance!

    Here is some of the feedback we received:

    ❝I overall highly enjoyed the symposium. Hearing from Dr. Zarbo was fantastic, and the breakout session I attended with the Spectrum group was great to hear what they did, and how they did it❞

    ❝Dr Zarbo was fantastic❞

    ❝Dr. Sozener and Dr. Bassin were engaging and funny. I enjoyed learning about their Lean journey to a more productive and successful ER❞

    Thank you to everyone that volunteered their time to help facilitate this event!

    Congratulations for the winners of the 2021 Best in Healthcare Continuous Improvement Award! 

    We at MLC know there were so many Michiganders whose hard work and dedication led to putting Michigan on the frontline of the vaccine roll-out, and we recognized some of them for their contributions at our Virtual MLC Healthcare Symposium.

    Read about the Winners!

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