ONE QUESTION, FIVE ANSWERS – Change might be scary but, when things do work out, it also brings us incredible pride and sense of accomplishment. We asked five practitioners to tell us what the most satisfying moment in their lean journey was.
"What was the most satisfying moment in your lean journey?"
Osvaldo Spadano, Founder and CEO, Elastera
Elastera is more than a startup. It is a fascinating experiment that tries to answer the question, “What happens if we build a lean company from the very beginning?” (I share more on our experiment here.) This isn’t just about Lean Startup; in essence, it is about creating and delivering value to customers using lean thinking as an operating model, and as a management and leadership system (to the best of our abilities). When I started my own lean journey in early 2000, I was excited – lean profoundly resonated with me and I knew it could do a lot for the startup I was working at back then. Sadly, my excitement was followed by frustration, as the CEOs I worked with showed no interest in the methodology. The more I learned, the harder it got. Today things are different, and I have to say that the most satisfying moment for me is… right now, at Elastera, because my co-founder and I are free to experiment like never before. Lean is a wonderful journey, in which you never stop learning… that’s why the future is bright.
Helen Zak, Chief Development Office, Thedacare Center for Healthcare Value
Early in my career, I was a VP of Operations for a laboratory equipment manufacturer. Soon after I joined the company, I discovered that our biggest customer was not happy, to the point that that they were on the verge of moving to one of our competitors: it took us over 16 weeks for us to deliver products to them. Through the application of lean, we were able to get the product lead-time down from 16 weeks to 16 hours (we also cut inventory in half and increased employee satisfaction at the same time). The customer was so pleased that we became a showcase! They started to require that other suppliers come to see how we did our work and learn to do the same.
Terry O’Donoghue, Chief Operating Officer, Toyota Halfway
Questions that ask for the “most” of anything always give me difficulty. One thing is very clear though… many of the “most” satisfying moments revolve around seeing the development of people as they start their own journey. Much like the thrill I can remember when my daughter first mastered her balance on a bicycle and I was able to let the steadying hand go and see her take off on her own – knowing that she would travel far further and faster on her own than she ever could have with me running alongside – the most satisfying moments in a lean journey come when you see a team or team member make the breakthrough and just “get it”. That’s when they move to independence and self-sufficiency, and when you know they will be able to continue to learn on their own.
PL profiled Terry a few months ago - read his story here
Susana Jurado Apruzzese, Head of Innovation Portfolio at Product Innovation, Telefónica
When we started to apply lean startup ideas and methods to our innovation projects, we were not sure they were going to work in a large corporation like Telefónica (to read my interview with PL, click here). Our journey felt much like a rollercoaster ride, with ups and downs, moments of panic and many others of pure thrill. There are two particularly satisfying moments that really stuck to my mind. The first one was when, after two years of applying Lean Startup, I measured the impact of the methodology on our ability to innovate and I found that we were more than twice as fast as we were before. (Because we could test many more ideas within the same timeframe and budget, the likelihood of coming up with a successful one increased dramatically). The second satisfying moment was when people from other organizations within Telefónica, and from different countries, started to contact us to learn how to apply Lean Startup in their own organizations – that’s when I realized then we have the opportunity to change the whole company!
Jyrki Perttunen, Lean Projects Director, Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa
“Back in 2010, I had the privilege to lead the lean transformation of a 400-employee company called PaloDEx, of which I was the President – it has recently been acquired by Danaher Group. It was very fulfilling to see how our move to lean thinking improved efficiency, quality and job satisfaction and how it helped us to half our inventories at the same time. These days, I am working as the lean head coach of the largest hospital system in Finland with over 22,000 employees and I draw the greatest satisfaction from helping my clinical colleagues to understand and use lean to improve efficiency and quality of the care we provide.”
PL recently published a case study on the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, where Jyrki works