1st Edition

Fostering Innovation How to Develop Innovation as a Core Competency and Connect the Principles of Lean in Your Organization

By Bill Artzberger Copyright 2023
    212 Pages 27 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    212 Pages 27 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    212 Pages 27 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    While innovation can be defined in many ways, the author sees it as a process. It is not the sudden eureka moment in the middle of the night, nor is it a clear and linear path towards a final destination. Instead, it involves a strong sense of creativity and curiosity. An innovative mind has a natural inclination towards out-of-the-box thinking. It involves a willingness to try something new, without fear or judgment, to develop something no one else has ever articulated. While the mindset comes naturally, it requires fuel to keep it running. Innovators are voracious readers and researchers. They feed their mindset all of the fuel it needs to stay informed and relevant in their field.

    Many of the same things can be said for the Lean mindset. Lean management doesn’t happen overnight, and it is very rarely a clear and linear path to true Lean thinking. Some might consider Lean a subset of innovative thinking, while others see it in reverse. Regardless of the relationship’s directionality, one thing is certain: You cannot have one without the other.

    This book follows John Riley, the CEO of a medium-sized valve company just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who will stop at nothing to create an innovative work environment. Through the ups and downs of his journey, he learns a number of Lean and innovative skills, strategies, and mindsets to help him build the business he’s always envisioned for himself.

    Throughout the book, you see examples of both strong and poor innovative leadership skills demonstrated by each of the main characters. The key messages are ones that help leaders build and access a mindset insistent on continuous improvement. Leadership techniques and abilities that bolster creative thought and problem-solving are the most successful throughout this book.

    To be truly innovative, you can never stop driving the learning process. For this to happen, leaders need to recognize when there is a need for a change or improvement. This is the beauty of the marriage between Lean and innovation: They both require continuous learning and growth. The desire to improve is only one piece of this equation, however. The other is the willingness to act. Without both of these factors, true innovation will always be out of reach.


    About the Author


    Part I: What is Innovation and How Does it Work?

    Chapter 1: Defining Creativity and Innovation

    Chapter 2: Learning and Development

    Chapter 3: Group Contributions to Innovation

    Chapter 4: Using Lean Principles and Rules to Foster Innovation

    Part II: Leading Innovation

    Chapter 5: Leader Accountability and Development

    Chapter 6: Culture and Values

    Part III: Sustaining Innovation and Change

    Chapter 7: Change Management

    Chapter 8: Ideas and Talent

    Chapter 9: Servant Leadership & Innovation

    Chapter 10: Continuous Improvement Mindset

    Chapter 11: The Key Concepts of Fostering Innovation



    Bill Artzberger, PMP, LSSBB, is the managing partner at the Lean Learning Center. He specializes in Lean Manufacturing, Innovation, Lean Health Care, Leadership, and Project Management.

    He has over thirty-five years of experience in real-world senior management, including CIO, VP, President, and CEO. He has worked with thousands of individuals from the boardroom to the shop floor, in virtually all sectors of industry. Bill holds two patents and brings extensive project management, lean manufacturing, and information technology experience to The Lean Learning Center. He has been published dozens of times and is a co-author of the top-selling Lean book “Driving Operational Excellence” and author of “Powering the Lean Enterprise”. He is also an associate professor at Oakland University and a member of the OU Pawley Center advisory board.

    He has successfully implemented lean improvement projects in dozens of companies throughout the world. Bill is an expert in the usage of lean techniques such as value stream mapping, error proofing, quick changeover, kaizens, kanban systems, 5 S, and visual pull systems. He has taught hundreds of lean process classes and is an expert at driving large-scale operational change programs.

    Some of his recent projects include:

    -- Implementation of production work cells and lean systems for GE. MRP / ERP coupled lean production and inventory system implementations for multiple companies in a variety of industries. Plant re-design and implemented lean production and supply chain systems for airline assembly systems at Spirit Aerosystems and Boeing Aircraft.

    -- Plant re-design for GE.

    -- Designed and implemented material inventory programs and maintenance procedures for a major North American Airline. Lowered aircraft maintenance costs by over 30% and reduced aircraft turnaround time by over 50%. Greatly improved customer satisfaction and reduced excessive employee overtime.

    -- Engineered new manufacturing processes using Lean Manufacturing Methods at a North American food production plant. Produced higher-quality products in less time, improved manufacturing efficiency, reduced set up time and inventory, shortened lead times, and improved customer satisfaction.

    -- Used innovative forecasting and inventory models to align sales with production at an automotive supplier, allowing orders to be anticipated and filled six times faster.

    -- Managed and led successful, large-scale lean implementation projects at automotive and aerospace manufacturing plants reducing inventories, increasing production rates, improving quality, reducing set up times, and improve customer service.

    Other clients include: DaimlerChrysler, General Motors, DTE Energy, Ford Motor Company, Spirit Aero Systems, GE, American Airlines, BlueCross BlueShield, DMC, Agco, SuperValu, Hawthrone Metal Products, Kia, Audi, Hwashin, PCI, CFI, Harley Davidson, Longview Fibre, Benteler Automotive, and JD Powers

    Bill earned his MBA from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan with a major in management and a minor in marketing. He received a BA from Walsh College in Troy, Michigan with a major in Information Systems and a minor in finance. He also holds an AS from Oakland Community College in Farmington Hills, Michigan with a major in systems analysis. Bill is ITIL Certified, a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, and a PMI certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

    As a business executive, leader, coach and mentor, I am always looking for educational opportunities that help me, and the people that I work with, explore new opportunities that will expand the collective knowledge base; or more over create that inspirational feeling that helps you drive to new levels or reinforce existing best practices. Bill Artzberger has created that opportunity in his new book, Fostering Innovation. Bill masterfully and specifically takes the reader on a journey of failure and success in the lives of several fictional leaders and employees, all the while underscoring the basic tenets of innovation, Lean theory, and principles.

    The journey starts with John, a company CEO that has created a "crest" for his company that embodies the use of innovation to drive differentiation, creative thinking and ultimately growth for his company. Throughout the book, john is both challenged and supported to learn that fostering innovation and creating an environment that embraces the principles of LEAN requires more than putting words in a mission statement or on a plaque. Bill’s use of "real-life" story telling along with bold print that accentuates the key learning elements, allows both the experienced and novice leader grasp that concepts of creating a work environment that supports creativity, risk taking, and ultimately success.

    Fostering Innovation is a must read for any leader or manager that is focused on the use of LEAN to help drive innovation and transform the culture of their business. The development of the characters and the flow of their story allow the reader to quickly engage and self-reflect. Bill’s tactical use and examples of LEAN theory and process throughout the book, forces the reader to clearly see the impact of the principle and the consequence of making the right choice. The questions at the end of each chapter allow for a guided education and contemplation of the key learning points in the book. The glossary at the end of the book provides a solid compendium of terms and definitions for a leader at any level.

    -- Barton P. Buxton, EdD, President and CEO, McLaren Health Management Group


    Fostering Innovation is a practical approach in exploring Leadership as well as Group and Team Development. Bill has successfully connected the core principles of Lean principles to innovation. I found the book to be an effective tool that applies academic concepts to organizational situations. The case study approach makes the read enjoyable, reinforcing innovation as a core competency. Readers have the opportunity to examine communication, teamwork, leadership, diversity, creativity, reward/recognition, and culture. I highly recommend this book as means of self-examining oneself as well as organizations for sustaining innovation. Steve Jobs once said, "Innovation is the only way to win." As a retiree from AT&T and currently the Director of the Pawley Lean Institute at Oakland University also serving as adjunct faculty, I find this book relevant for personal growth and as a supplement to academic coursework in the fields of Lean, Leadership, and Group/Team Development.

    -- Dennis L. Wade, Director – Oakland University Pawley Lean Institute


    Like Goldratt’s classic, The Goal, Artzberger’s book refreshingly teaches and reads like a novel instead of a textbook. The ideas and concepts underlying Fostering Innovation, are presented as a real story of real people struggling to figure out their careers and path to success. Lean and Continuous Improvement and Leadership, all parts of Innovation, are not presented as chapters. Rather, they show up as solutions to the problems at hand. The result is a better read, and a better way to learn and retain.

    -- Randy Hinz, General Manager-Automotive Manufacturing