MLC Blog

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

  • 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!

  • Thursday, July 01, 2021 7:29 PM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

     You guys! We are beginning to plan in-person events for the fall of 2021!

    This is such a big step toward getting the MLC “back to normal”. Over the years we have hung our hat on the amazing networking and relationship building opportunities that we have been able to offer in addition to Training and Education. As you well know, that has been a struggle when the world went fully virtual. Buckle up, we believe that is going to really change very quickly!

    With that said, our ask for Event Team volunteers will be ramping back up. I have really struggled over the last 18 months trying to figure out how to use the volunteers who have already committed to helping the MLC Events Team. If you have felt left out, I apologize! Virtual events did not tend to need a lot of help. As we transition back to in-person, that will change. To our current resource team (and you know who you are!), expect to hear from me soon! If you are thinking of becoming a MLC Events volunteer, there are a couple of service categories we look at: Event Planner – This is someone who is willing to take an idea and run with it! We do have Event Planning Standard Work, so you would have some structure to follow. We give you the seed of an idea and you take it from there. Event Volunteer – This is for folks who are not interested in the extra work of planning, but love being on-site (brick and mortar or virtual) to do event kick-off, break out room lead, etc. Coffee Chat Planning Lead – This person would organize the Coffee events and work with Coffee Chat volunteers to execute them. These are all fantastic roles and are so fulfilling. You will meet the best people and be a part of changing lives.

    If you are interested, please reach out to me and I will have a 1:1 discussion with you to see what you are passionate about and where we can use your talent! I cant wait for that first event where I get to see everyone’s smiley face IN PERSON!


    Dave Kippen

    MLC Events Team Coordinator

    Volunteer for the MLC!

  • Tuesday, June 29, 2021 2:05 PM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    We miss you!

    This past year has certainly been a long road for all of us and we are deeply grateful to our MLC membership community who stuck with us as we navigated virtual events. We also know that building a Lean network and learning through interaction are highly valued benefits of an MLC membership. Therefore, this summer, we are bringing back regularly scheduled coffee chats and we will look forward to holding these coffee chats in person as often as possible.

    We will kick off the summer with a Lean Coffee Chat on July 16 at 9:00 a.m. in Ann Arbor (location to be determined), hosted by MLC Board Member, Lauren Wisniewski.

    The MLC is committed to expanding our Lean networks throughout regional communities and we invite you to volunteer to host a Lean Coffee Chat in your area as well!

    Please reach out to if you are interested in hosting a coffee chat.

    We look forward to seeing you in person and having meaningful conversations that will inspire and brighten your day!

    *Our priorities will be the safety and comfortability of our members as we seek out coffee chat locations. Per current guidelines, masks will not be required, but we encourage all who have underlying medical issues, those not yet vaccinated, and those who feel uncomfortable for any reason to continue to wear them.

     Lauren Wisniewski

    MLC Board Member

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