Friday, April 15, 2005
Facilities Management staff learns lean practices
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
Nearly 24 supervisors, managers and employees from all areas of OU’s Facilities Management staff took part in a two-day lean training workshop offered by the Pawley Institute to help find ways to be more effective in their work processes.
The lean training helps make businesses realize areas where they could be more effective in doing business, according to Kevin Yamada, executive director of the Pawley Institute.
The idea of lean is popular in the automotive industry. Japanese car companies like Toyota, Nissan and Honda have adopted the lean concepts and are able to make the product faster and often at a lower cost by eliminating waste.
Many other businesses and organizations are adopting the lean principles and philosophies and OU’s Facilities Management staff began its journey into the lean process with its first organized training session this month.
The training outlined the history and philosophy of lean management and the group visited Akzo Nobel, a local company that has been working on lean concepts, and witnessed the principles in action. During the second day of training, the group put some of the concepts to work with situational problem solving.
At first, Terry Stollsteimer, associate vice president of Facilities Management, said the group struggled to change the processes they were comfortable with, but as time went on, they made progress as a team and started to make practical applications.
“The employees knew the more heads that were thinking about it, the better off they were,” Stollsteimer said.
Nearly two-thirds of all cost-saving tips made through OU’s Employee Suggestion Program have involved increasing effectiveness of the Facilities Management staff. Stollsteimer was approached shortly after he started at OU in January to put his staff through lean training to address some of the ways Facilities Management could increase effectiveness.
“Having training like the lean management training allows us to become more effective in doing our jobs,” Stollsteimer said.
The lean process is a never-ending process of continuous improvement and transformation.
“Here at OU, we are just at the very beginning stage of that transformation,” Yamada said.
After the training, Stollsteimer saw the participants reevaluating the way processes flow to make things more effective in the work environment. He hopes to examine the suggestions and apply some lean thinking to processes at OU.
“We all have to commit to that process, and we all have to commit to doing our jobs according to that process,” Stollsteimer said.
U.S. companies can become as good at lean as the Japanese companies if the lean concepts are engrained in tomorrow’s leaders, according to Yamada.
“By having lean concepts in place at OU and the Pawley Institute to work with students, faculty and staff, OU students will pick up lean practices and take them with them into jobs and leadership roles,” Yamada said.
For more information on the lean management, visit the Pawley Institute Web site.