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An Unconventional Path to Resilience

William O. Ingram, Director of Lean Product Development, Interface, Valley, AL, USA

Keywords: Lean, Six, Sigma, Sustainability, Social, Responsibility, Innovation

Industry: Manufacturing

Level: Intermediate

Abstract

During the last days of 2015, I took some time to reflect on my project work from the past year. That year I completed Lean Six Sigma work for six major projects. Only three were implemented. Why? I put in the work to understand the problem, find the root cause, and created simple effective solutions for each. So why weren’t they implemented? After carefully considering the process from the lens of sustainability, I had an epiphany. The Lean Six Sigma skill set I possessed was very effective at solving economic and environmental problems. However, I lacked any semblance of a method or knowledge for how to tackle social issues. As I tested this hypothesis against previous project work, I confirmed this theory and began seeking training to fill this cavernous void of understanding that had caused me to waste years of my life on ideas and projects that never progressed.

Over the past five years I have successfully learned how to understand and mitigate the social issues associated with change. The product development team, for which I am responsible, has chosen to join me in this journey. Understanding and applying social responsibility principles, in addition to Lean Six Sigma, enables individuals to act on their organization’s mission while living its values. Our team’s cultural awakening and the transformation that followed is nothing short of remarkable. Please join me as I share a case study of our journey in creating a highly engaged, socially responsible, Lean Six Sigma culture in Product Development at Interface and some practical experience on how you can do the same.


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