The Lean Learning Center was founded in 2001 to address the gaps and barriers that are holding back companies from successful and sustainable lean transformation. In addition to the advanced curriculum, the Center has developed a learning environment designed specifically for adult learning utilizing techniques that include discovery simulations, case studies, personal planning, and reflection – ultimately engaging people at a deep and personal level. We bring our unique lean understanding in creative ways to executives, managers, supervisors, change agents and front-line employees. The Lean Learning Center is a Troy, Michigan-based organization that helps organizations transform themselves through lean tools and methods.

Learning Is an Ongoing Journey – Especially for Learning Professionals

Learning is an ongoing journey with a destination of constant improvement. In the workplace, Lean rules and principles are structured on the pursuit of learning that is shared, recorded and transmitted to every member of the organization. In an August 19, 2016 informal interview at the University of Stellenbosch Business School in South Africa, Adv. Kevin Malunga, Public Protector of South Africa, refers to his own learning journey as “a work in progress” and states that “he is still learning from what he does every day.”[1] In the interview, Adv. Malunga provides a number of important observations that he’s learned along the way: Integrity always wins no matter what comes in your way or is thrown at you. Progress is a process of trial and error. It is a situation of some you win and some you lose, but you keep on walking. Teamwork is important and comes from the ability to motivate and galvanise people into a team. Learn from mistakes and the mistakes of others. Embrace diversity. Differences can be a source of strength (and weakness) whether it is racial, cultural or religious. South Africa is still struggling with this, but should realise that we can learn a [...]

By | 2018-02-06T14:30:32+00:00 February 6th, 2018|Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on Learning Is an Ongoing Journey – Especially for Learning Professionals

Learning Professionals Must Be Learners

Learning is a Lifetime Pursuit for All Professionals Any professional who considers learning a lifetime pursuit will never be left behind in today’s highly competitive marketplace. This certainly holds true for learning professionals. In today’s Information Age, no one can afford to retire their brains and ingenuity if they want to stay current with their profession. The fact is, whatever you learned last year or even a few weeks ago, is already outdated. If you are employed by a forward-looking company or organization that practices Kaizen or constant improvement, refresher courses and advanced seminars are regular events requiring mandatory attendance. For Lean organizations, the learning process is an ongoing journey or adventure of discovery whose destination is constant improvement. Along the road are oases or refresher stops—seminars and workshops where shared learning takes place, or where management and staff take time to reflect on what they’ve learned. In an excellent article that appeared in the November 8, 2016 issue of Chief Learning Officer, titled “Learning Professionals Must Be Learners,” author Elliott Masie writes, “Imagine eating in a restaurant where the chef never tastes the food. Risky, right? We want our cooks to adjust, tweak and improve the cooking experience by [...]

By | 2018-02-06T14:25:01+00:00 February 6th, 2018|Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on Learning Professionals Must Be Learners

Learning Objectives Part 2: Do your learning objectives match your company’s goals?

Effective learning objectives for any endeavor start with a clear understanding of your goals. Whether your organization is launching a new product, restructuring an existing operational system or making other improvements, before taking that first step you need to know where you’re going, how you plan to get there and what your destination will look like. In last month’s article about learning objectives, we pointed out that Lean Learning ’s Transformational Road Map is one of the best tools for answering those questions and mapping your journey. Following Lean Principle Number 1, first you will directly observe your work as activities, connections, and flows. Let’s say you own a company that manufactures security systems and you are considering an upgrade to one of your product lines. At the outset, you will want to study the upgraded blueprint prototypes and create a computer simulation of a live demonstration. Have a clear picture in your mind of every step involved from the time a customer purchases the system until it is completely installed and they press the operating button. How does this upgraded product line differ from the current one? What adjustments will need to be made to accommodate modified engineering? Your [...]

By | 2018-01-11T14:50:55+00:00 January 11th, 2018|Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on Learning Objectives Part 2: Do your learning objectives match your company’s goals?

Learning Implementation Best Practices – Bridging the Gap

“Learning Implementation best practices are rooted in common sense, yet they are surprisingly not common practice,” writes Ed Emde, president of Wilson Learning Corp, in a recent article that appeared in[1] Emde believes the reason for this is the wrong focus. Rather than recording what happens in the classroom, learning leaders should pay attention to workplace practices. Answers to the questions, “Does it work?” and “Is it successful?” are the best barometers for any type of learning implementation. This advice will sound familiar to lean learning experts. Pragmatism or results-oriented criteria are at the heart of lean strategies. The goal of any learning implementation program is to improve performance. Yet according to Emde, learning leaders often feel so pressured to install the program, they fail to observe and record its effectiveness. As a result, implementation falls short of expectations. Common excuses for failed implementation can be lack of proper support, insufficient budget, or lack of time. Emde cites Michael Woodard, GE Power Services’ global learning leader, as an example of a successful learning professional who is unconcerned about these issues. Instead, says Emde, Woodard focuses on delivering the same high-quality program content to every component of the company’s learning [...]

By | 2017-05-30T12:48:42+00:00 May 30th, 2017|Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on Learning Implementation Best Practices – Bridging the Gap

Learning Implementation – Six Best Practices (Part Two)

Learning leaders must be skilled in on-the-job implementation For learning leaders, transforming textbook learning to on-the-job implementation requires skill and know-how. In an excellent article that appeared in the November/December issue of, Ed Emde, president of Wilson Learning Corp identifies six universal best practices for ensuring effective learning implementation. In last week’s blog, we discussed the first three of these practices. Outlined below are the last three. Integrate skills and tools with work processes. Experience has shown that learning must be an organic experience. It cannot be considered an add-on to what is already practiced, but must be restructured at the outset, integrating only parts of the existing work process that are relevant. Emde cites tools and skills as “the scaffolding that supports employee learning and speeds time-to-proficiency on the job.”[1] This integration of both tools and skills must become a familiar or natural part of the culture. Some learning experts have made a practice of including tools and skills lingo in their daily communication with employees. They found that this makes it easier for recently hired employees to familiarize themselves with new terms. Lean learning takes learning implementation a step further by inculcating the workplace with meaningful concepts, [...]

By | 2017-05-30T12:46:37+00:00 May 30th, 2017|Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on Learning Implementation – Six Best Practices (Part Two)

Learning Implementation for leaders – Six Best Practices (Part One)

As a learning leader, learning implementation or bridging the gap between what happens in the classroom and on the job, requires a keen understanding of job requirements as well as a firm understanding of best practices. Ed Emde, president of Wilson Learning Corp, offers his 6 best practices in an article that appeared in the November/December 2016 issue of the newsletter.[1] The following are the first three of these practices: Link to Business Strategy. With clear linkage to business strategy, learning organizations can get support and active involvement from the organization’s other leaders. As an example of a successful liaison of learning with business strategy, Emde cites DuPont Pioneer’s sales force under the direction of Kent Carpenter, Pioneer’s sales training manager. Carpenter’s training team provides expert learning technologies, skills and tools to a sales force consisting of several small business owners. “Our training is always about meeting a business need,” states Carpenter. “Identifying the gap in existing knowledge, skills and abilities needed to drive performance provides the important link that delivers useful learning.”[2] Lean learning works on the same learning implementation principles. Identifying the gap is the first step in detecting any area in offices, factories and workplaces where improvement can increase efficiency, effectiveness and sales—thus enhancing the all-over lean [...]

By | 2017-05-02T12:53:11+00:00 May 2nd, 2017|Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on Learning Implementation for leaders – Six Best Practices (Part One)

Internal advisors may be the key to effective learning

Internal advisors, or fellow employees and staff members who are only a few paces ahead of the learner, may be the solution to effective learning for any type of organization. If your business or enterprise depends on scheduled seminars and trainings for instilling operational excellence, usually you will feature an expert to lead the sessions. Randy Emelo, chief strategist at River, a mentoring and social learning software company, writes that the Buffalo Grove, Illinois branch of US LBM [1] scheduled three-day Lean Six Sigma[2] training events four times a year at the University of Wisconsin.[3] These training events were so successful, reports Amy Brown, director of learning and development for US LBM, that participants asked for ways to stay connected with each other afterward. Brown notes that “every time people go through classes, they still need to reach out afterward to people who speak the same language. Learning leaders at US LBM realized there was an opportunity for them to continue employees’ development through the use of mentoring and social learning software to support peer learning groups.”[4] This resulted in internal advisors becoming experts through a layered process of event attendees sharing the new information with their peers. This type of social networking empowered the [...]

By | 2017-04-25T16:25:11+00:00 April 25th, 2017|Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on Internal advisors may be the key to effective learning

Learning from mistakes: A Lean look at the April 9 United Airlines fiasco

Although learning from mistakes can be a painful lesson for any organization, any competent CEO or management team knows that whenever anything goes wrong, taking corrective measures against repeat performances must be their first order of business. United Airlines passenger Dr. David Dao may have suffered multiple injuries on an April 9th overbooked flight when he was forcibly ousted from his seat to accommodate UA employees, but the airline was by far the biggest loser. This single incident cost United a billion-dollar stock fall, a badly bruised company image or brand that includes everything from major Internet and mainstream media humiliation to ticket refunds, further investigation… and worst of all, the torrent of angry outcries from every corner of the world: “Shame on you, UA!” In the Information Age, there’s no way to bury mistakes like these. Taking a page from lean and lean learning, how can UA repair the damage—and more important, prevent future repeat performances? In his recently published book, Powering the Lean Enterprise: Fundamentals of Lean for Super-Charging Your Company & Your Life, Bill Artzberger, Lean Learning Center’s managing partner with over 25 years of experience in real-world senior management, states: “The goal of lean is to identify and eliminate [...]

By | 2017-04-20T11:57:22+00:00 April 20th, 2017|Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on Learning from mistakes: A Lean look at the April 9 United Airlines fiasco

Cognitive Science and Performance Learning

Cognitive Science makes the important distinction between performing by rote and proactively using performance support tools such as lean learning’s PDCA checklists, flow diagrams, lean transformation roadmaps, and 5 why decision trees and lookup tables. “Too often, learning leaders make courses when the information doesn’t have to be in the head, it just needs to be on hand,” writes Clark Quinn in “The Cognitive Science behind Learning” article that appeared in the January/February 2017 issue of newsletter. Quinn is a leader in the field of Cognitive Sciences and head of Quinnovation, a company that applies technology and strategy to analysis of how people think, work and learn. According to Quinn, in order to develop learning skills, one has to be able to retrieve and apply information to the type of problems that learners face in performance situations. The hands-on approach, e.g., on the factory floor or in the laboratory, gives learners an opportunity to retrieve stored information coupled with appropriate knowledge and skills to create contexts that resemble the performance situation. In other words, says Julie Dirksen, principal of Usable Learning and author of Design for How People Learn (Voices that Matter): “Learning leaders need to know more, to do more.” To train in sales, states Quinn, [...]

By | 2017-04-18T12:00:03+00:00 April 18th, 2017|Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on Cognitive Science and Performance Learning

Tips to Assure Quality and Reliability when Bringing Prototype Fasteners to Production

As a manufacturer of products recognized for long-lasting quality, Huron Automatic Screw Company offers clients tips on how to approach finding the right manufacturer. In a general sense, there are three things that are most important when choosing a manufacturer: quality of product, turn-around time, and communicative accessibility. Quality and turn-around time are obvious things to consider, but having a clear and convenient line of communication is often overlooked, even though it’s just as important as the others. Building a strong relationship with your supplier opens the opportunity to specify precise requirements for prototypes. Bringing a prototype to production is a substantial part of a business plan, meaning that choosing the right manufacturer plays an imperative role in the process. Consider Local Manufacturers Many suppliers make the mistake of taking prototype production overseas after finding that overseas suppliers will offer a lower price. Though this is often true, it’s important to realize that you are likely sacrificing things like quality and ease of communication and collaboration. By partnering with a domestic manufacturer, you can feel more confident about the manufacturing quality and labor standards you’re provided. Also, communication errors become much less frequent. Developing such a close relationship gives the added [...]

By | 2017-04-11T15:15:14+00:00 April 11th, 2017|Lean Learning Center|Comments Off on Tips to Assure Quality and Reliability when Bringing Prototype Fasteners to Production
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