In 2004 Bremen Castings, Inc. (BCI) started its Continuous Improvement (CI) journey. Like most companies, we sought training and consultants to help educate the leadership team to see if this would be a program that BCI would want to dedicate resources towards. So after forming the initial team which consisted of top management, we went on our way to better improve our through-put time and improve our financial bottom line. After six months of team meetings and lean improvement initiatives, we were ready to educate our work force and start making changes. This approach went well. The plan was rolled out and improvements were made, but would it last without top management driving it every day? The short term answer was yes but it was not sustainable.
Going forward a few years later – We all noticed that we have gotten off the path and issues were rising so we made a push on our CI program again. This time with a mix of middle management as well as top level. BCI has never gotten back on the same path or regained that initial involvement that we had in the beginning. As the leader of the company and a promoter of CI, I knew where I wanted BCI to go but could never get past second base.
In early November of 2014, we visited our friends at FastCap http://www.fastcap.com on an YPO (Young Presidents Organization) Manufacturing Excellence event. This is a day I will never forget as I was made aware of critical and crucial mistakes that BCI and so many other companies make on their lean or CI journey.
Paul Akers (FastCap) explained in SIMPLE terms that people come first and all the fancy “takt” times, through-put times, equations, value-stream maps, future-stream maps, etc. will not sustain if we don’t invest and grow our people first! This doesn’t mean send them all to a class and move on but; create an environment with fully engaged, self-managed, self-disciplined talent that believe in the BCI culture, believe in serving the customer, believe in only giving value-added activity.
We have started this process with our BCI team and will continue to improve and include everyone on the CI journey. We have learned our lessons from the past and will not make these same mistakes.
Please leave everything better than you found it!
President of BCI