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The mission of the Lean Institute Africa is “Building the community of lean practitioners through action research and knowledge sharing, to help organisations serve their customers better”.

In pursuit of that mission I recently had the pleasure of facilitating the collaboration of two organisations to improve their respective lean management capabilities. These two organisations are at very different stages of their lean journeys, the one has recently started and the other has already had considerable success.

The latter organisation is Halfway Toyota. Supported by Terry O’Donoghue (the COO of the Halfway  Group) and Dave Brunt (the CEO of the Lean Enterprise Academy in the UK) the Toyota dealership is becoming known well beyond our shores as an excellent example of building the capability of its people to improve their work. Their story has been told in a number of places. Read more about it here or view a video about Halfway Toyota’s journey here.

The other organisation is The Goedgedacht Trust, a rural NGO focussing on transforming rural communities by giving the children the opportunity to be part of the Path out of Poverty program (POP). I have learnt much from my interaction with the people of Goedgedacht as they started out on their lean transformation journey.

The first lesson was that when it comes to implementing lean management, there is nothing that works as well as people helping themselves to learn what lean management is all about. If the amount of effort required by LIA to support an organisation to make progress on their lean journey relative to the progress they have made was a measure of LIA’s success, then Goedgedacht is by far LIA’s greatest success story. Mainly because I needed to make so little input because the people of Goedgedacht took it upon themselves to do what was needed to get out of the starting blocks.

Secondly, we know that decisive leadership is required, especially in the early stages of this journey. Peter Templeton, the Managing Director of Goedgedacht, and Lynn Stuart-Fox, the Lean Support Officer were leading from the front. However, I witnessed several other leaders there like Mikal Lambert Michael who manages the permaculture operation, Oom Arend Jordaan, the Maintenance Supervisor and the ladies who run the laundry for the accommodation and conference venue, to name a few. I’ve always been somewhat sceptical of the notion of “organisational readiness” for lean management, but maybe the development work that has been done at Goedgedacht over many years did prepare the people there to make the best of the opportunity when they got to hear about lean management.
Thirdly, we talk about lean management being a long-term journey. At the introduction to our visit Peter explained their mission to support the development of rural children and how they intend to get there. It is called Path out of Poverty. You will see in the diagram that it is a 25 year programme of support at each stage of a child’s life from before they are even born. This is the first time that I’ve come across a process with such a long throughput time. What’s more, every critical stage of a child’s life was covered in a way that is appropriate for the child and their rural circumstances.

Goedgedacht Path Out of Poverty

Finally, Goedgedacht has a monitoring and evaluation unit. They measure and analyse their work to understand the work and what needs improvement. The “Check” part of the PDCA cycle is built into the organisational fabric so as to complete the PDCA cycle. Even for something as difficult to measure as development.

I have little doubt that however their relationship develops, the people from Halfway Toyota and Goedgedacht will have a fruitful interaction because despite coming from very different environments, they have one thing in common: a deep commitment to learning how to improve their work to achieve their purpose.

If you or your organisation share this commitment to learning, LIA has two new programmes to support you.

For individuals the Lean Management Development Programme will be offered for the first time in 2017 in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The LMDP is a 6 month programme consisting of 12 contact days and coaching while you implement your learning through improving processes in your own place of work. The early bird special for this course ends on the 31st of January 2017, however for readers of the newsletter, if you register by the 10th of February and use the offer code JANNEWS, you can still benefit from the special until that date.

We are also very excited to be partnering with the Industrial Engineering department of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University on an event that presents four workshops on lean engineering in the context of lean management. If you are involved in discrete manufacturing, we would highly recommend attending this event, “Lean Management meets Lean Engineering”, which will run in Port Elizabeth from the 22nd to the 24th of May.

Anton GrütterWe look forward to seeing you on one of our workshops or programmes in 2017, and hope it is a productive year for you and your organisation!

Kind regards,

Anton Grütter


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