Today, we’ll meet-up with Dragan Bosnjak, who blogs at Encob Blog. Dragan is one of the first international bloggers I followed and conversed with on Lean. He is a great mind and shares a wealth of knowledge from personal experience. Dragan's posts are frequently highlighted in the monthly round-up.
The goal of Meet-up is provide you an opportunity to meet some other influential voices in the Lean community. I will ask these authors a series of questions:
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Dragan Bosnjak, 38 years old, I'm a mechanical engineer and I work as a lean consultant in my own company in North-East Italy. Actually I help some companies on their lean journey, giving advice and helping them on the thinking part of lean, which I think is the most difficult to absorb for who has worked for decades in traditional setting.
How and when did you learn Lean?
My first job was as a quality manager in a small company in Northern Italy. I needed to establish control over significant metrics in the company and to organize them to be useful for the decision making at upper levels. That's where I got to know about six sigma through Thomas Pyzdek's The Six Sigma Handbook. I read it and applied some of the things I found in it, but there was still something missing: we haven't improved our operations as much as I thought would be possible. We were gathering lots of data, but to no big avail for the delivery times or improvement of internal operations. That's where I continued my research and found Mike George's Lean Six Sigma, which introduced me to lean, even though through six sigma perspective. But I sensed that it was the way to go, because I've seen ideas in lean that could be applied right away in my operations and obtain immediate results, which would eventually touch the overall company performances. And that is what happened, we have improved our delivery times from 6 to 2 weeks in a couple of years.
Of course, I haven't stopped learning about lean. I read almost everything that has ever been written on the argument and talked about it with lot of people and sensei's, and continue to do so today, as I define myself a lifetime lean student... Reading books though, as you know it, is not nearly enough if you want to master lean: gemba is the place where you learn the most. Books can only help you with clearing your mind about some concepts, but gemba is the place where you test them and approve or reject them with the facts and data in hand...
How and why did you start blogging or writing about Lean?
I started my lean blog, Encob Blog (in italian language...), in 2008, with a goal of sharing my personal learnings with the others, who can maybe take profit from it. I decided to write daily blog posts in which I explain the thinking and the tools of lean. Since, after appx. 1.400 posts written, the blog has been seen by approximately 200.000 people and continues to grow every day. I never regretted starting it because it helped me know some marvelous folks out there that I would never be able to know without. It also helped me sharpen my thinking about lean, about business, about life in general, so it is a really great experience, even though it doesn't give me any financial profit (all the posts are freely available to everyone).
What does Lean mean to you?
Lean is a way of life. You can never say you're finished with improving, there is always something you can try to do differently, there is always some new experiment that is awaiting for you. And I don't say this only regarding work, but also in your private life. Lots of my posts go into my private life practices, that have allowed my family reach lots of small victories and satisfactions.
What is the biggest myth or misconception of Lean?
If you take lean as just a toolset to reduce costs, you're missing the essence of it. Unfortunately, a great lot of companies tries it exactly for that exact reason. They think that lean will resolve their problems without them needing to make any effort. They hire a consultant and think: "OK, now he is going to make us lean". And this type of thinking takes you only to the failure of lean, and they say: "lean doesn't work here" or "lean hasn't worked for us".
Lean is all about making the new culture in the company, a culture of development of people, development of leadership, scientific experimentation. Tools serve only as a "necessary evil" in order to grow your people and improve your processes.
What is your current Lean passion, project, or initiative?
Currently I'm working on two projects, one regarding lean sales and marketing, the other regarding application of complete pull system in another company. My way of working is that of explaining and showing principles to the people and then asking them to apply the learning, to learn on the job, to fail fast and learn from the failure. I love guiding people, I love seeing them "get it", I love seeing them grow. The most beautiful moments in teaching lean to others are when someone makes an improvement considered impossible just couple of months before. These are the moments worth living for...
You can follow me on twitter (@dbosnjak), or on Google+ or on Facebook by following the Encob Blog page. You can see my profile on LinkedIn.