The event:

Lean Institute Africa held their 7th Summit, themed ‘Relentless Leadership’, from the 17th – 19th September 2014 at the Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa.

Our target number of delegates was to have 200 people attending and, at the eleventh hour – in the final two weeks – we had a sudden final rush of registrations, which took us beyond this target! The conference venue lies in the shadow of Table Mountain and is a beautiful, historical hotel, with magnificent gardens. The weather did not entirely cooperate, but that did not hamper the proceedings and the sun did come out to shine on the last day.

The first day consisted of interactive workshops from an array of consultancies including Thinking People, Organisational Development International (ODI), BMGI, CCI-Growthcon as well as an introduction to lean workshop led by the COO of South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative and a gemba walk through a Toyota retail operation.


Gemba walk at Halfway Toyota Ottery

The speaker sessions on the subsequent two days showcased Denise Bennett (City of Melbourne), Ian Glenday (Principal Consultant at Repetitive flexible Supply Ltd) and Michael Ballé (Associate researcher at Telecom ParisTech) as keynote speakers. We also had leaders from South Africa including Monwabisi Kalawe (CEO of South African Airways) who spoke of some of the challenges facing the South African Airways group; Dr Johan van Zyl (CEO and President of Toyota South Africa) who gave a simultaneously humorous and informative presentation on why the Toyota Production System is both easy and difficult in the South African context, and Laureen van Aswegen who spoke about the role of relentless leadership in the world-class company SABMiller.

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Denise Bennett delivering her presentation: Making things Visible, Making things Better

Michelle Van Staden, from one of South Africa’s largest banks – Nedbank, gave us insight into Nedbank’s business case for their transformation journey, as well as many leadership gems. Dr Stefan Metzker, CEO of Maennedorf/ Zürich Hospital in Switzerland shared his wealth of experience in lean leadership in a hospital environment. And a fascinating and unusual application of lean in the classroom was demonstrated by Benjamin Chibaira, who received a standing ovation after his inspiring presentation.

We also had some great added-value sessions, including meetings between Denise Bennett and local and provincial government members, and focus group sessions with Michael Ballé and Ian Glenday, initiated by one of our sponsors CCI-Growthcon. Delegates also found tremendous value in networking and sharing experiences with like-minded people over teas, coffees and lunches.

Feedback from Summit participants:

‘This is for me one of the few conferences I can actually walk away with some practical take-home ideas and often leave inspired to continue on my Lean journey.’ Dr Zameer Brey, COO South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative, University of Cape Town.

‘We…were really impressed by the level of excellence shown during the summit, as we think it was a world class event.’ Allan Hunt, Manufacturing Manager, Peninsula Beverages.

Lessons learnt:
Session chairs used colour-coded time cards to indicate to speakers that they had 10 minutes left to speak (yellow), 5 minutes (orange), and then that it was time to stop and open the floor up to questions (red). Feedback from speakers indicated that this was helpful; however we have noted requests for a half-way time marker, as well as looking into having a timer for the speaker to easily monitor their own time.

We had, as we have for all preceding Summits, an A5 booklet programme that had most of the programme information in it, and printed, for the first time, a basic programme insert to go into the name-tag lanyard sleeve. We observed that most delegates used this smaller version of the programme and consequently we may well do away with the clunky booklet version of the programme in future.

We had several workshops on offer on the first day, but we had several registered delegates who had not selected their workshops in advance. Consequently we had people joining workshops that had filled their capacity. This is neither fair to those who signed up in advance, nor to the workshop facilitator who may have prepared materials for distribution. In future, we will insist that workshops are selected beforehand, and that people are given tokens for specific workshops, so that we can plan and distribute delegates more effectively.

From a marketing perspective, we have learned that it is important to begin marketing the Summit earlier than you might think is necessary. This is to ensure companies allocate budget and time for the event.

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Norman Faull, Lean Institute Africa, Charles Mooke, Department of Justice and Denise Bennett, City of Melbourne

Lean Summit Africa 2016:
We look forward to the next Lean Summit Africa, planned for September 2016. We hope to implement these, and other, lessons learnt and see an even more successful event. Thank you to all the speakers, sponsors, workshop facilitators, delegates, staff and organisers for making Lean Summit Africa 2014 a success!