MLC Blog

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

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  • Friday, June 16, 2023 9:36 AM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Cummins Sales and Service is a leading provider of diesel-engine service for on-highway trucks, emergency vehicles, school buses, and more.

    • Participants took a tour the facility
    • Conducted a waste-walk
    • Saw the many 5S Improvements and use of Visual Management tools throughout the facility

    The MLC was excited to participate in an amazing gemba walk at the Cummins Sales and Service station this month!

    Thank you so much for the opportunity to learn!

  • Wednesday, June 07, 2023 9:30 AM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Summer in Michigan is the best!

    The 2023 Annual Conference is our major event of the year! Held in breathtaking Traverse City, MI this August, the offerings this year reflect feedback from attendees and membership throughout the year from all of our events.  I am very excited to see everyone and learn what has been happening in your lean worlds!

    Register Today!

    During the conference the MLC Board of Directors holds its annual public meeting to share the journey over the past year and where we are headed. Our directors are volunteers who work very hard, year round to create direction and support the MLC. Although, election nominations have come to a close we are always looking for interested humans to join the team. If you are interested, please contact me directly!

    Have a safe month and I hope to see you in August.

    For the love of Lean,


  • Friday, May 12, 2023 11:10 AM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    As new life emerges around us, it’s a great time to reflect, set new goals, create plans, and take action!

    In late April we said, “thank you” and “farewell” to our four University of Michigan students, who have graduated and moved on to begin their careers. Fiona, Grant, Markus and Keaton were of great assistance evolving our strategy mindset and deep diving to bolster areas of our organization!

    We also completed our Q2 strategy meeting. After a year with this team and six months developing and executing a Purpose Map we had moved the improvement needle and have had many great lessons learned.

    I am excited to move forward continuing to develop long-term strategy and develop actions, short term to achieve our new future state. We would not have been able to do this without the assistance of our four University of Michigan students!

    We have migrated to MSOffice platform! You, as membership, should see enhanced communication and ease of connecting virtually for events. We as a board, have greatly improved our communication, have better organized historical documents, and are now working off the same platform. A huge “thank you” to Melissa Sherman for spearheading the procurement and transition of this project!

    Keep in mind May is the Michigan Lean Consortium Board of Directors Election Month. During the month of May we solicit for interested members who are willing to join our team, by nomination. Those nominations are then vetted and then sent to the membership for a vote. Please watch for multiple announcements through May for nominations and in June for the opportunity for vote in new board members.

    Annual Conference registration is also open!

    The AC team is just part of the overall events team and I wanted to give a big shoutout to everyone supporting all the events! Our events have been outstanding, and the Annual Conference will be no different! As a staple, your feedback helps us directionally pinpoint what 2024 will look like. Please be sure to provide candid feedback whenever you are able.

    Lastly, I want to thank all the volunteers who have been supporting the MLC. You are the fiber that makes this organization great!

    Be safe and have a great month!

    For the love of Lean, Holly

  • Friday, May 12, 2023 11:06 AM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Jeff Varani was our April Coffee Chat Subject Matter Expert.

    We were delighted to have Jeff Varani as our April Coffee Chat Subject Matter Expert. Jeff provided an insightful presentation on Root Cause Analysis (RCA) that gave us an overview of the tools and examples of how to apply them. He also shared the real-world outcomes and resolution of challenges. Jeff's expertise and experience in the field of RCA was invaluable and we are grateful for his contribution to our Coffee Chat.

    Jeff Varani is the Service Growth Director for New Power Products at Cummins Sales & Service North America (CSSNA), a division of Cummins, Inc.

    Before assuming this current role, Jeff was the General Manager for mid and northern Michigan service operations of CSSNA. Responsibilities included directing the day-to-day operations of shop and field service operations for engine and power generation markets, product sales, customer experience, health & safety, and creating the right environment for the team. His experience leading cross functional teams, and operating knowledge of other market locations helped turn around a key underperforming market.

    Thank you, Jeff, for sharing your knowledge with the Michigan Lean Consortium!

  • Tuesday, April 11, 2023 12:41 PM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Happy Spring!

    David Mann wrote in his book, Creating a Lean Culture, “20% of the effort in a successful lean transformation is using the tools, while 80% is changing the way leaders think and their management practices.”

    The MLC was able to showcase both the physical and the mental aspects of Lean in the month of March! We featured an extremely impactful Lean Leadership Summit and a Gemba Walk at Sartorius and Zingermans Mail Order. Thank you, MLC Events team for organizing such great events. Also, a note that the 2023 Annual Conference registration is now open!

    The board continues to meet monthly with directors running their respected areas of focus on a daily basis. We focus on the PDCA strategy at our quarterly face to face. What is thrilling to see is the strategy is beginning to work! We know this by registrations for events, feedback from events and an increase in membership. We had a huge spike in new members this month. Welcome, all who have joined the MLC! Please continue to provide your candid feedback to the board members.

    The election process for the board of directors begins in May. If you are interested in running for a board seat, please keep an eye out for the announcement coming soon.

    The MLC is great because of its members. Thank you to everyone who supports the MLC every day is their way.

    Be safe and have a great month!

    For the Love of Lean,

    Holly Plaga
    MLC Board Chair

  • Tuesday, April 11, 2023 12:35 PM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Emir Avdic was our March Coffee Chat Subject Matter Expert.

    March's MLC Lean Coffee Chat equipped participants with the language and knowledge needed to increase leadership buy-in for their Lean efforts and practices.

    View: How to Deal with Non-Committed Leadership in our presentation library!

    For the past two decades, Emir has focused on the development, management and execution of strategic business development programs across global markets. This includes management and coordination of globally based employees and resources to develop international expansion strategies, validate sales opportunities, identify, and vet strategic partners, guide clients through acquisitions/greenfield operations in international markets and execute international expansion strategies on behalf of our clients. He has worn many hats in many different industries in the past years.

    In the previous years Emir has worked with small to medium sized companies but also multi-billion-dollar organizations looking to expand into Europe or the United States either through entity setup, acquisitions or greenfield operations as well as managing the businesses on behalf of his clients.

    Thank you, Emir, for your time and expertise!

  • Tuesday, April 11, 2023 12:32 PM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Sakeena Rashid was our February Coffee Chat Subject Matter Expert.

    The month of February allowed us to expand our horizon and look at how to best present a Lean Résumé. Our Subject Matter Expert of the Month, Sakeena Rashid provided a thought-provoking presentation title, From Résumé to Recruited: How to get your foot in the door and move up the corporate ladder. The engaged audience had questions and Sakeena had the answers! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with the MLC.

    If you missed the presentation, the recording is on our website for members.

    Sakeena is a professional writer with over 20 years of experience writing content, blog posts, and articles for both online and print publications. Sakeena is a former Certified Advanced Résumé writer (CARW) and Certified Employment Interview Consultant (CEIC). She lives in Grand Rapids and spends her time working as a freelance writer and is pursuing a degree in software engineering.

    Thank you, Sakeena, for sharing your knowledge with the Michigan Lean Consortium!

  • Tuesday, April 11, 2023 12:28 PM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Student Spotlight

    Fiona Boyle is a senior at the University of Michigan studying Industrial and Operations Engineering with a minor in Entrepreneurship from Shaker Heights, Ohio. After graduation, Fiona will be working for United Airlines in Chicago, Illinois. Outside of school she enjoys cooking, traveling, and hiking.

    Thank you to our University of Michigan Students for joining the team!

  • Wednesday, February 08, 2023 1:15 PM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    I hope everyone’s new year is off to a great start! During the month of January, the MLC Board sat down and conducted the first quarterly meeting of the year at Orchid Orthopedic Solutions. The team at Orchid were gracious hosts and provided a wonderful tour of the Lansing campus. During the quarterly meeting the team reviewed their strategic plan and key performance actions to meet the strategic goals for 2023. Some goals were internal and other external, supporting all membership.

    Key Performance Actions include:

    1. Position the organization to be technologically proficient/efficient
    2. Present ourselves professionally to all stakeholders (internal & external)
    3. Understand individual skills sets and strengths of all volunteers, including Board of Directors
    4. Increase awareness of the benefits and value of the MLC

    The board measures the effectiveness of our over actions with registration threshold metrics. Supporting these threshold metrics are other input metrics. To date we are on track with our actions and continue to trek forward preparing for our second quarter.

    Also, this month, we welcomed four seniors from the University of Michigan to our team. Fiona, Grant, Markus, and Keaton have chosen the MLC as part of their Senior Project. They are learning about strategy development and implementation; they are working with various offices to support our initiatives and will be attending our upcoming events. Keep your eye out for their biographies and attendance at MLC Events. We are so thankful to have them on the team!

    Speaking of events, we have been extensively working to hold a Lean Leadership Summit in Q1. I am happy to announce March 24th we will have our first Lean Leadership Summit in East Lansing. Managers, if you are looking to develop your people, the Lean Leadership Summit will be an excellent addition to your employee’s performance objectives for 2023. An announcement will be out shortly with registration slated for mid-February.

    Lastly, I want to thank all the volunteers who have been supporting the MLC. It is amazing the camaraderie and collaboration we have had revitalizing this organization.

    Be safe and have a great month!

    For the Love of Lean,
    Holly Plaga, MLC Board Chair

  • Wednesday, February 08, 2023 1:13 PM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Cheryl Underwood was our January Coffee Chat Subject Matter Expert. Cheryl presentation was titled, Save, Grow and Preserve Your Assets. She covered topics from picking a financial advisor, to understanding what a fiduciary advisor means, to reviewing credentials. 

    Cheryl also covered frequently asked questions and provided answers in between responding to participants inquiries. The survey results for this event were all fives (the highest possible score)!

    Cheryl L. Underwood is an Executive Director – Investments at Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. (“Oppenheimer”). Cheryl has helped clients achieve their financial goals and aspirations for more than 20 years with her experience in retirement/pension plans and investments. She provides financial and investment advice helping clients to invest, grow, and preserve assets based on their individual needs and objectives. Her office is centrally based in East Lansing, Michigan.

    Thank you, Cheryl, for sharing your knowledge with the Michigan Lean Consortium!

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