MLC Blog

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

  • Monday, December 05, 2022 10:45 AM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Our Coffee Chat Subject Matter Expert of the Month was Kevin Olds.

    Kevin Olds provided an excellent presentation on Gemba Walks for November’s Coffee Chat. He discussed ways to ensure you and your company are optimizing your Gemba walks. He gave the group the important reminder of the Gemba basics: go see, ask questions, and show respect. Kevin works at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC) in Traverse City as a Senior Business Advisor. He is enthusiastic about sharing is knowledge of continuous improvement with others and is a certified Lean Champion instructor.

    He has facilitated numerous Lean and Six Sigma projects for his Northern Michigan clients. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Grand Traverse Area Manufacturing Council and hosts benchmarking events with the Lean Learning Consortium.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge with the Coffee Chat participants!

  • Tuesday, November 01, 2022 10:42 AM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Hello Michigan Lean Consortium Practitioners,

    Happy November! As we approach the holiday season we are continuing to reflect and plan for 2023. As mentioned in the last months newsletter, the board of directors has begun the strategic planning cycle and continues to follow the PLAN, DO, CHECK, ADJUST process to ensure we are headed in a beneficial direction for our organization. Our strategy will be shared in December on the internal website for all to review. Developing a strategy is a long process and the team is committed to following the process.

    Our offerings continue to produce great learning and feedback from you. In October, I especially enjoyed the Negotiation Coffee Chat from Debra Levantrosser!

    Next month is the Grand Rapids Summit. Thank you to those who have signed up to attend. I am honored to have the opportunity to present, How A Novice Can Facilitate Effective Strategic Planning. The strategic planning topic was brought forth by you, the membership, as a Lean tool you were looking to learn more about and take back to your organization.

    Thank you and keep the recommendations coming! I am very excited to share and look forward to seeing your smiling face on November 18th!

    Your feedback is always appreciated and thank you for your patronage and love for the MLC!

    For the Love of Lean,

    Holly Plaga,

    Michigan Lean Consortium Chair

  • Tuesday, November 01, 2022 10:41 AM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Our Coffee Chat Subject Matter Expert of the Month was Debra Levantrosser.

    Debra Levantrosser provided a riveting presentation on Negotiation Tips and Tricks. Debra provided tips from negotiating salary and benefits to reducing speeding tickets!

    She told the members to think about “What’s Most Important to You?” before entering discussions. Feedback on the event has been tremendously positive. Thank you, Debra for proving a brilliant presentation filled with superb content. Debra has over 30 years of executive level international leadership and management experience in many industries. She is currently a full-time faculty member at the University of Michigan (U of M) in the College of Engineering, Industrial and Operations Engineering department where she teaches Lean manufacturing, leadership for engineers, senior design, and coordinates career readiness workshops. Please join us for the next Coffee Chat on November 11th. Kevin Olds will be providing insights on how to boost Gemba Walks results.

  • Tuesday, November 01, 2022 10:34 AM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    You improved your process and created new standard work now what? How do you help solidify the new culture? “Kamishibai”

    by Bob Sturza, MLC Board Member

    Kamishibai is a tool used as a visual control for performing audits within a process:

    • Uncomplicated tool for visual management.
    • Can be used on shop floors or office settings.
    • Natural extension of gemba walks.
    • Focus is on process management and control.
    • A simple, visual check card system used to review critical items within any work area.

    • Auditors carry out 1 to 3 audits daily.
    • Each process will have an audit card detailing the check to be made.
    • Audit cards are held in a box below the control board.
    • One side of the card is green stating the audit passed.
    • The other is red for failed audits and has countermeasures listed.
    • The card remains red until the countermeasure is applied and the cause is corrected.


    1. Can you use this?
    2. What processes would benefit from this kind of audit?
  • Monday, October 03, 2022 10:32 AM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Hello Michigan Lean Consortium Practitioners,

    I hope this note finds everyone loving our beautiful colors and weather this fall.

    To start off I want to welcome our new corporate members from Tube Fab/Roman Engineering located in Afton, Michigan to the team! Also, Last month I am excited to share we were able to fill the last seat on the MLC Board of Directors by appointing Melissa Sherman of Consumers Energy to the board. Many of you may know Melissa through her extensive work with the Annual Conference. Her Lean systems and virtual tools knowledge will benefit the MLC as we move into 2023.

    Welcome Melissa!

    Thank you again to everyone who showed interest in running for a board seat! The last day of September the board held its Quarterly Strategy meeting where, with the help of two cycles of 90-day Strategic A3’s, we began to develop What the MLC is, Why we are here and Where we want to go. This session was super exciting as we now have our legs under us and can move forward with more stability and confidence. I will share more next month once we solidify our plan.

    Lastly, through your feedback we are closing out 2022 with several events. We continue with Coffee Chats and Book Club which have been strong and well attended. I also wanted to remind everyone of the Grand Rapids Summit quickly approaching in Mid-November on the campus of Grand Valley State University and hope everyone registers and plans to attend.

    Your feedback is always appreciated and thank you for your patronage and love for the MLC!

    For the Love of Lean,

    Holly Plaga,

    Michigan Lean Consortium Chair

  • Monday, October 03, 2022 10:30 AM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Networking is just one of the benefits of the MLC membership. The MLC Book Club and the Annual Conference created opportunities to meet and build new friendships. Jayne Overbeck recently took a vacation to the Upper Peninsula and had the pleasure of spending time with Ruth Archer in Houghton, Michigan, and their alma mater Michigan Tech University (also Ruth’s workplace).

    Please share your stories and pictures!

  • Monday, October 03, 2022 10:26 AM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    Our Coffee Chat Subject Matter Expert of the Month was Brian Braman.

    He presented on Problem Solving A3s. He discussed how he got people involved, what format they used (they get to choose!), and how to inspire and coach. There were numerous questions and wonderful insights in this interactive Coffee Chat.

    Thank you again Brian! Brian’s background:

    • BSE in Industrial and Operations Engineering – University of Michigan
    • MBA – Western Michigan University
    • 30 Years of experience in automotive industry
    • Transformation of steering column plant featured in the book “Becoming Lean”
    • 1 Year lean manufacturing internship at Akebono in Elizabethtown, KY
    • Led consolidation of three plants to two with complete process transformation at Nexteer
    • 10 Years of new program launch experience while supporting global operations (China, Mexico, Poland)

    The next Coffee Chat is on October 21 st at 8:30 a.m. Please join us.

  • Monday, October 03, 2022 10:25 AM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    The 2022 Annual Conference held this August in Traverse City was memorable for a number of reasons, not least of which the end of Day 2 Ideation sessions.

    Attendees broke into groups, and for about an hour at various stations- Communities of Practice (CoPs), Membership, and  Events, we heard from our members, and non-members  who attended. We asked how the MLC, and our various functions were serving, and not serving , our members.  We listened, and took notes. 

    And from those notes and conversations we are fashioning the improvements members are needing from the MLC.

    Communities of Practice will see a major update, designed to expand access to more members, create more diverse networks and discussions, and unlock the resources that are the members of the Michigan Lean Consortium. 

    Please bear with us as we work out the details. We plan to have it ready by year’s end, ushering in a new era of interaction for MLC members.

  • 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!

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