For several years now, E.A. Dion, Inc. has been involved with making our processes more efficient through LEAN Manufacturing techniques. These techniques center around eliminating wastes – specifically unnecessary motion, waiting, defects, unnecessary processes, excess inventory, overproduction and transportation. Learning how other companies have improved their processes is a big part of this “LEAN Journey.”
Just in October alone, several Dion employees attended Lean events in Providence and Cumberland, RI, as well as the AME Conference (Association of Manufacturing Excellence) in San Diego – bringing new ideas and enthusiasm back with them!
In Providence, eight employees attended the 14th Annual Northeast Lean Conference Oct. 10-11. Through the Northeast LEAN Consortium, four employees toured the Tiffany facility to see what technology has done to help them with their LEAN efforts. At the end of October, three “Dion-ites” went to San Diego and immersed themselves in all things LEAN!
What has changed over the years at the various LEAN conferences and workshops is a switch in focus from one of training LEAN techniques to one of changing mindset. What LEAN Leaders have learned, and truly leaders of all subject matter, is that it is more important to change the mindset of employees vs. just teaching them new techniques. Techniques can be easily learned, but only if the participants are willing.
As a manager, business owner, or even with your own attitude, changing mindset gets you 90% of the way to your goal. A truly motivated team can research and execute improvements of all types. Even improving on personal goals – be they selling to new markets, losing weight, or organizing your office – is 90% attitude. Once you are committed and in the right mindset, working toward that goal is finally achievable.
Keeping your mindset, and that of your employees, nimble and open to new ideas takes a concerted effort. It is easy to get into a safe routine. But reaching outside your comfort zone on a regular basis stretches your mindset and makes you open to new ideas and new solutions. Work with your team to stretch your collective attitudes. By addressing changing mindset instead of directly focusing on your problems, you will be amazed at how each person in your team contributes with new ideas and solutions – solving problems you may not have even known existed!
How do you do this? Have your employees attend industry workshops and conferences. Sometimes just seeing how other companies or people have made something work can inspire you. Encourage your team (and yourself!) to try something totally new. Never used a pottery wheel, been to a batting cage or picked fresh vegetables? Bring your team (or your spouse) out for an afternoon to do just that. It is a great bonding experience and will infuse new enthusiasm into the group. However you choose to go about changing mindset is unimportant. What is important is to put a focus on changing attitudes – not on solving a work problem. By keeping your employee’s mindset open and enthusiastic to new ideas, solutions to work problems will take care of themselves. And remember, unless it is regularly kept up, enthusiasm will die. So - as the shampoo directions go - use, rinse, REPEAT!
By Ann Condon, Communications Manager, E.A. Dion, Inc.