Chuck Emery, Managing Partner
Aiming for process design improvement, a Midwest truck manufacturing company approached Lean Quest, LLC, a lean services provider, for help. Lean Quest assessed the client’s structure and operations before developing targeted education programs and coaching sessions. With Lean Quest’s aid, the manufacturer’s teams gained the required knowledge and skills to address their immediate problems and evolve a problem-solving capability that would sustain them in the future. The experience left a deep impact on the teams. Impressed, the client requested Lean Quest to repeat the success for their supply chain operations. In the next few months, the client came back with more requests for facilities design, procurement, cultural transformation, and IT recommendation. They continue to overhaul their business, one business division at a time. This isn’t an isolated example for Lean Quest, this scenario has been repeated with many clients.
How does Lean Quest manage to deliver world-class results to its clients? It is their underlying principles, knowledge, experience, and a unique client engagement strategy that makes the difference.
“I have never seen a lean transformation become a success when it is done ‘to’ the client. Success comes when the transformation is done ‘with’ the client,” says Chuck Emery, Managing Partner at Lean Quest. Rather than making clients a spectator in a lean transformation, Lean Quest strives to engage the leaders and employees of its clients, so they fully participate in the process. The goal is to transfer Lean Quest’s knowledge and capability to the client organization. To accomplish this, clients go through a patterned process of teaching, practicing, piloting and follow-up coaching to cement their learning. As this development progresses through the organization and its supply chain, Lean Quest introduces fresh ideas and perspectives that accelerate the gains.
I have never seen a lean transformation become a success when it is done ‘to’ the client. Success comes when the transformation is done ‘with’ the client
“Client engagements touch all aspects of supply chains from process design to cultural transformations and often include supporting topics like IT design and automation. Teaching on specific tools and topics is critical, but sustainability comes from us helping the client to establish a robust culture of problem solving. That is the key to sustainability. And, it allows us to move to other projects and other parts of the clients’ organization,” explains Emery.
Lean Quest takes an iterative approach to helping its clients. First, it uses assessment tools to gain a shared understanding of the current state. Working hand-in-hand with the client, opportunities are identified and plans are created. For each plan, the client determines the amount of support needed and what can be handled independently. Then the problems are solved systematically, and the process is repeated. As the client builds their capability, they do more of each plan independently. Lean Quest’s measure of success is not to repeat the same project at a client.
Perhaps the biggest win of working with Lean Quest is the depth of knowledge it poses on all elements of a supply chain. They learned the importance of a holistic approach. “Lean is a cultural way of thinking about running your business, not a one-time fix,” informs Emery. “This is what we have learned working with Toyota, the founders of lean.”
Many of the seasoned experts working at Lean Quest worked previously with Toyota when the auto giant brought Lean supply chains to North America. This provided direct experience as Toyota launched one of the first applications of the Toyota Production System (Lean) outside of Japan.
Using what they learned from Toyota and through 20 years of consulting, Lean Quest has developed simulation-based training and tools for productivity tracking and lean assessments, specifically targeting gaps in supply chain management. These industry solutions were developed based on first-hand experience and refined in close collaboration with the clients. With Lean Quest’s help, clients’ cultural transformations drive sustainable improvements in employee engagement and profits.