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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Meet-up: Kaizen Notebook's Evan Durant

On the Meet-up today, it is my pleasure to introduce Evan Durant who authors Kaizen Notebook. I have been following Evan for several years. He has a great knack for applying Lean to the world around him. Evan is always challenging my thinking which is why I keep coming back to see what next.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Evan Durant, and I am currently a continuous improvement lead at a large technology company. I help to facilitate the use of lean thinking in operations as well as other areas in order to improve overall business results for the organization.

How and when did you learn Lean?
As a student of six sigma, I went through all of the lean training and learned about one-piece flow and such, but the light bulb didn’t really come on for me until around 2007 when the company I worked for was acquired by a very large organization with a well-established lean culture. It was then that I got to see some really interesting applications of lean in a variety of different environments, and I was instantly fascinated. I volunteering to be involved in lean transformation and took every opportunity I could find to learn about and experiment with lean principles.

How and why did you start blogging or writing about Lean?
During my early years with lean transformation I found that blogs were a rich source of information and advice. There are some phenomenal bloggers out there with a ton of experience who are willing to share their knowledge of lean and to help others on their journey. I wanted to be part of that community. Plus I really admired the discipline required to put your thoughts down in a coherent way and on a regular basis. I started blogging in 2009 and have been thrilled to be part of an international conversation on the advancement of lean thinking.

What does Lean mean to you?
For me lean (or whatever you want to call it) is really a rallying cry. It’s a directional beacon that people can understand and get behind. I’ve been part of other organizations where improvement efforts are scattershot, unfocused, and almost always locally optimized. As part of a lean organization, we may not all agree on the right way to get there, but there’s little doubt about the direction we’re going. Lean provides that direction.

What is the biggest myth or misconception of Lean?
I’m still amazed at the number of people I meet who think that lean has some ultimate conclusion. We’re going to “do lean” or “lean that out” and then move on to something else. We refer to the directional aspect of lean when we talk about True North. Well you never get to “North”. As an essentially unobtainable goal Lean provides the compass to guide your efforts, but if you think it’s a milestone or a benchmark to be achieved then you miss the real benefit.

What is your current Lean passion, project, or initiative?
Right now I’m most passionate about problem solving. We are starting to take an A3-like approach to solving problems that focuses on having a very clearly defined problem statement and then using PDCA over and over to drive to root cause. This is something that I think is sorely lacking in many organizations I’ve seen, and I’m very excited to see this rigorous and systematic approach starting to take hold. We’ve already seen some substantial and measureable business benefits from it.

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