MLC Blog

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

  • 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

  • Friday, May 28, 2021 10:19 PM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    One of the questions I get asked frequently by my clients…how can I reduce the cost of training? I have a few recommendations!

    1. Leverage learning offered by organizations where you are a member. You are already paying a membership, so use the resources provided and often the organization has received a significantly discounted rate. MLC has great learning offerings with some exciting options coming up in the near future! Take a look at some upcoming workshops to see if they meet your needs!
    2. Take a look at LinkedIn Learning. For $59.99/month, you gain access to a TON of learning offerings. I did a quick search on ‘lean’ which returned 791 results! If you are just starting your lean journey, 325 are beginner level! Intermediate had 259 results and Advanced had 37! If you pay for the year in advance, you get a 20% discount :)  
    3. Create a book group. Books are an inexpensive way to build knowledge and discussing in a group helps make the concepts come to life and how they might quickly be applied at your company!  A few quick suggestions: Creating a Lean Culture by David Mann, The Flow System: The Evolution of Agile and Lean Thinking in an Age of Complexity by Nigel Thurlow, 2 Second Lean by Paul Akers.
    4. Look at local college / university offerings. The MLC has partnerships with many Michigan academic institutions, in fact there is even a Community of Practice! Check with their local offerings or even get in touch with a MLC member of an academic institution to brainstorm ways they can support your organization's learning needs. Perhaps an intern that is a whiz at Lean in the classroom that could come in and help you make some quick wins?!

    Training doesn’t have to be expensive. Get clear on what skills/capabilities you need, then get creative on how to build that capability. Need a little bit of extra help to get you started? I am always willing to spend 15 minutes discussing with MLC Members! You can schedule time with me on my OnceHub and select “Your Problem / 1 Solution.”  

    Becky Andree

    MLC Board Member

    CEO of Vertical Leadership Consulting

  • Tuesday, April 27, 2021 10:47 AM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    The MLC has updated their mission statement to better fit their new board, member suggestions, and the changing times.

    "Engage, connect, and develop people and processes in continuous improvement and Lean initiatives to positively impact Michigan."

    Learn more about the  MLC at our About Us page.

  • Thursday, April 08, 2021 11:42 AM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    The Events Committee is working on standardizing our offerings to help our membership know what to expect all throughout the year! Thanks to all who filled out the survey, that helped us shape our path forward. Here are a few things you can expect to see take shape very soon:

    • A repeatable “large event” cadence. We understand how important it is to be able to count on some of our favorite events happening at certain times of the year. The Annual Conference, the Healthcare Symposium, and the Grand Rapids Summit are the 3 major events that we plan on standardizing and offering at the same time each year.
    • A repeatable monthly events cadence. Our initial target will be one Gemba event, one Learning event and one Coffee Chat per month. This will help us curate content to fit those different events rather than relying on “whatever comes in” as ideas. Very proactive and thoughtful.
    • A focus on different levels of knowledge. We heard loud and clear that we have not made much of an effort to have events related to folks who are new or just beginning their Lean journey. We plan on fixing this! We plan on equally distributing events in 3 categories: Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced levels of Lean. It will not be perfect, but a focus will be made to achieve a better balance.

    These changes are very exciting and I hope all our membership will see value in these changes. Bringing knowledge and networking to Lean practitioners in Michigan is what we want to achieve through MLC events. I hope you join one or all of the upcoming amazing opportunities that we will offer!

    Dave Kippen

    MLC Events Team Coordinator

    To learn more about MLC's events, visit the Events and Learning page!

  • Wednesday, April 07, 2021 6:30 PM | Andi Barajas (Administrator)

    What I find so powerful and so valuable about Lean are the core concepts: seek to continuously improve and focus on respecting others throughout your improvement actions. These concepts are not business related strategies that apply in certain settings. They are human values that can be applied in any setting, work or otherwise.

    My own path of coaching Lean within the nonprofit sector has allowed me to explore new territories while seeing just how universal Lean principles truly are. The majority of those with whom I have been in contact in the nonprofit sector are completely new to Lean or have only a vague understanding of what it means and how it applies. The continuously incredible part to me is how inherently aligned Lean thinking and nonprofit sector work can be. Nonprofits have empathy ingrained in their missions and a focus on serving others is what often brings nonprofit professionals to work everyday. Nonprofit professionals also often wear many hats, being the grant writer as well as the volunteer coordinator and on the marketing team, for example.  So, being able to cut down on waste and streamline operations is critical to help nonprofits thrive. The core concepts of Lean often live in the heart of a nonprofit organization. It is just a matter of introducing the tools and formal methods through language and strategies that fit for the nonprofit environment.

    I am fortunate to have learned Lean backwards. I saw the outcome of an incredible personal Lean transformation and used that inspiration to work my way backwards through books, practice, and finally, formal training. That backwards method showed me the powerful difference the Lean can make on a person’s everyday activities, relationships at work and with loved ones, impactful leadership, enjoyment and success at work, as well as the ability to solve any problem. There is an expansive array of Lean tools and resources to help reach a continuous Lean practice. The important point of these tools, however, reaches back to the core concepts. The tools are the how of the concepts, but what matters most is that those concepts are ingrained. In my work with nonprofit organizations, I am constantly thinking about and adjusting the Lean language around the tools in order to help those who I serve understand the core concepts.

    Whether you are new to Lean or a well-seasoned expert, there is always more to discover, more to share, more learning to be inspired by. Sometimes even stopping to reflect upon what you have already learned may bring the greatest insight. Or perhaps shifting your mindset to be open to another new idea may make all the difference. Whatever it is, I hope you feel the welcoming and wonder of Lean as I do.

    Lauren Wisniewski

    MLC Board Member

    President of Rise Consulting, Co.

    Start or advance in your Lean journey with one of our training events!

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software