July 2015 is a milestone for me as I celebrate a very special 20th anniversary of the very first trip I made to study and learn about Kaizen and Lean in the USA.
At this time in my career I was working for Unipart DCM at their Jaguar Cars aftermarket operation in Baginton, Coventry in the UK. At that time we were fortunately under the guidance of visionary CEO John Neil, and were being mentored by Professor Dan Jones, as Dean of our open learning centres, the Unipart U (University).
Our business unit and others in our sister companies in manufacturing had been selected as a pilot area for applying the Kaizen methodology and principles and we were very fortunate to have Shinju Jutsu and TBM as our trainers and consultants as we developed our internal capability.
In June 1995 five of us went to North America for a week long Kaizen event at the Donnelly Corporation, Grand Rapids, followed by a “study tour” of a number of now legendary examples of Lean, most of which appeared in the first edition of “Lean Thinking”.
I must admit, 20 years seems like a lifetime away. It also seems like we were pioneers at that time, as business was looking good, so if it wasn’t broke….as the saying goes.
Back to John Neil at this time he spent at least one day a month, lecturing to all new staff about his visions and values.I think the courses was Putting Customers First and there was also Putting People First and how our culture had to be focused on continuous improvement. I also remember him saying that if we’re weren’t careful, all manufacturing would end up in China unless we did something about our Quality, Cost and Delivery.
He may have had a point!
So the journey begins, I am going to do my very up most to share what I learned at this time as a start of my memoirs…of a Kaizen Warrior.
If anybody else out there attended the Kaizen Breakthrough event at Donnelly Corp in July 1995 please get in touch!