Significant sustained Lean success depends almost solely on leaders and the culture they foster. Unfortunately, many embark on their Lean initiative with a focus on tools observed during a benchmarking tour, disclosed during a short symposium presentation, or peddled by their chosen Lean partner. These leaders are thus ill-equipped to understand the critical behavior and attitude changes required of them and their staff to sustain tools-based improvements and, more importantly, to effectively promote and harvest their employees’ innovation to remove waste. Some area-specific and short-term gains can be realized via a top-down, tools-based approach, but broad, ongoing, and organic improvement that is embraced by all employees requires a unique environment—one carefully defined and nurtured by leaders.
Working Great! shares author Rick Brimeyer’s most important lessons learned while leading within an employer’s successful Lean transformation and later as a consultant guiding several other organizations through their own makeovers. Unlike travel brochures and websites created by a tour company or the local visitors’ bureau for the sole purpose of promoting a highly predictable vacation trip, Working Great! strives to provide an honest, clear, culture-first handbook of leadership skills and techniques (with some tools) required to effectively guide one’s organization through a Lean expedition.
Table of Contents
1 January—Preparing for an Expedition: Assessing the Resolve
2 February—Defining the Wilderness: Creating the Place for Lean to Succeed
3 March—Taming the Wilderness: Leadership Behaviors to Build the Culture
4 April—Living in the Wilderness: Rounding – An Intentional Habit for Culture Change
5 May—Choosing the Right People for the Expedition: Building a Strong Team
6 June—Building People for the Expedition: Developing Employees
7 July—The Critical Supply for the Expedition: Time Management and Prioritization
8 August—Fundamental Gear: Introducing Foundational Lean Tools
9 September—One Step Forward, Zero Steps Back: Standardizing and Sustaining Every Improvement
10 October—Building a Perpetual Improvement Machine: Daily Improvements, Mistake Proofing, and Problem Solving
11 November—The Importance of Stories: Case Studies of Success
12 December—A Glimpse at the Goal: Case Studies from a Lean Culture
Prior to founding his own company in 2009, Rick enjoyed a 25-year career at Sauer-Danfoss (now Danfoss Power Solutions), a worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and sale of engineered hydraulic and electronic systems and components, used primarily in mobile equipment. Rick’s career includes more than 22 years in leadership positions in engineering, operations and continuous improvement.
Rick’s accomplishments in engineering include leading the development of two new products in record time, which accounted for over $30M in sales in 2007. He has served as production manager for union and non-union factories in Iowa and Illinois, with responsibility for as many as 300 employees.
His real passion, however, involves continuous improvement. While at Sauer-Danfoss, he served as the Six Sigma Master Black Belt for the company’s North American plants and was the lead Lean practitioner for the North American Propel division. While in the latter position, he guided a $13MM value stream to world class metrics of 100 percent on-time delivery, 280 defects per million at the customers’ assembly lines (99.972 percent good), and 35+ inventory turns.
Throughout his career, Rick has been recognized as a people developer, hiring and growing leaders now located around the globe. He has created and delivered several training courses, and thoroughly enjoys helping adults learn and apply new knowledge. His blue-collar upbringing allows him to relate to hourly employees as well as senior leaders.
Rick serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for PowerFilm, Inc. and serves on the Board of Directors for Fairfield Line, Inc. He has coached the senior leaders of several companies ranging in size from $2MM to $60MM. He served as interim GM for a key client for most of 2008 and led the company to record results.
Rick is the author of 5S Leader’s Field Guide: Practical Advice for Establishing a Healthy 5S Culture Within Your Organization.
Janet (CPA) and Rick have been married for 35 years. They have three married children and seven grandchildren.
Rick enjoys reading and playing guitar as well as outdoor activities such as biking, hiking and fishing.