Earth Consultants

Applying Lean Six Sigma to the Environment

EC 043: Lean Six Sigma Successes at Goodwill of the Heartland

29 min read

In this podcast, I interviewed Jess Schamberger, who is the Vice President of Operations at Goodwill of the Heartland in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Goodwill has a contract manufacturing division that most people don’t know about.

She discusses some of the lean and Six Sigma improvements implemented in the donation receiving area, as well as the light manufacturing services they provide to local businesses like Whirlpool, Collins Aerospace, and Nordstrom Direct.

They facilitated 26 improvement events over the past 3 years, and 17 5S events in the retail backroom area. They were able to reduce floor space, better organize their work areas, reduce time to process donations, improve visual controls, and improve quality, improve customer satisfaction, and save thousands of dollars.

She explains her combined passion around manufacturing and helping develop job skills for those who need assistance.

She also gives tips for working with a nonprofit, what books she recommends, and how to partner with local companies for training and support.



Brion (B):  I’m here with Jess Schamberger; she works at Goodwill in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. What’s the official title of the piece you’re working with? It’s Goodwill of the Heartland?

Jess (J):  It is, Goodwill of the Heartland and then also Heartland Goodwill Enterprises, which is our separate corporation for federal contracts.

B:  Could you explain how that works because I think that’s a piece that a lot of people aren’t familiar with when they think of Goodwill is the industrial part of that work? that’s how we met, through Rockwell Collins, as you guys were doing some work with some of our bags and recycling in our processes, so I think that was really interesting. Can you talk a little bit about that and also the other activities you guys have going on.

J:  Sure. Most people are familiar with Goodwill and our retail operations because they’ve been around for a very long time; since 1902, so we’re an old human service organization. At the time, our founder, Edgar Helms, who was a minister stationed at a church in Boston and there were a lot of newcomers to the area who couldn’t speak the language and didn’t have a job. He didn’t believe in the charity model; he thought the best way to empower people was to provide them with a skill or teach them how to be independent, so he went around and collected donated goods from the wealthier residents of the Boston area and those goods were repaired and sold in our stores and that was the beginning of something great. Now there are over 160 different Goodwills and we all, for the most part, run successful retail operations that are the financial engine for what we do.

We reinvest all that revenue back into our mission to help people overcome barriers to independence and we do that largely through employment and training programs, helping more than 700 people here in Southeast Iowa last year to find a job. One of those training programs that we offer is something that we do in partnership with area manufacturers like Whirlpool Corporation, Collins Aerospace, and Nordstrom Direct. We bring kitting packaging assembly projects into Goodwill, they pay us for our services, and then we create paid training and employment opportunities for the people we serve. In fact, in 2018, we had 331 individuals train in contract services and they completed 83 projects for 13 area businesses.

B:  Wow, cool. With Rockwell Collins, now Collins Aerospace, what was the type of work that you were doing exactly?

J:  Collins uses a lot of packaging material to transfer electronics between their manufacturing operations in the state of Iowa, so bags, boxes, foam, totes. We recycle, inspect, handling probably about 57 tons of packaging material a year for Collins Aerospace so that they can keep their packaging materials out of the landfill and can reuse that product. When they do that and they partner with Goodwill to recycle, they create opportunities for over 100 people to work in our training programs on an annual basis.

B:  I thought that was a really cool program, that you could see the reuse going on in the facility for bags and even especially the electronic specialty bags that are probably pretty expensive to buy new all the time, and to have someone go in taking off labels and you can see the history of that bag, label on top of label, trying to get the maximum life out of it. I thought that was pretty cool.

J:  Yeah, it really is neat. They’ve been recognized twice by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the program and they’ve implemented it in other parts of the country, too, with different nonprofit organizations, which is awesome.

B:  Wow, cool. How did you get into Goodwill then, and what was some of your prior work and what led you into that?

J:  I worked really hard to put myself through college, so I didn’t become a full-time student until my mid-20s. Prior to going to school, I worked in all kinds of environments. I worked for Starbucks Coffee Company for a number of years and then I also worked for some community health organizations enrolling children in the state children’s health insurance program, and women in the breast and cervical cancer early detection program. When I went to school, I studied sociology and public relations, and really wanted to be an agent for social change because I’m a passionate person and I want to see people given every opportunity to be self-sufficient and independent.

When I learned about Goodwill, that seemed to be a great alignment between my values and my professional or life’s work. I started with the organization over 16 years ago as a job placement specialist, and then I moved into the commercial contract operation we just discussed and that’s always been a passion of mine and an interest of mine. I love manufacturing. I love the way things are made, and so this has been the perfect fit. To lead the contracts operation is right up my alley because I get to do what I’m passionate about in helping people overcome barriers and then also get to work with an industry sector that I’m fascinated in, and that’s the manufacturing sector.

B:  Great. How did you get into the process improvement piece of that? Was that part of some schooling? Was that something self-taught, self-learned?

J:  It was a little bit of both. I learned a lot from our contract partners. Whirlpool Corporation involved us in some pre-production improvement events and activities. They put us through – when I say “us,” I’m speaking about myself and then our production manager – they put us through their Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt training and I loved it and I learned so much from that process.

Then we had a great friend of Goodwill, through Goodwill International. He was a consultant that came in, helped us implement ISO over about a year and a half period of time, and then taught us about 5S and workplace organization and continuous improvement and we just embraced it and started leading our own improvement events, started to develop quality objectives for continuous improvement and built a system that’s since been implemented throughout the Goodwill organization. Then when I wanted to get a little bit more formal training, I went through the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training through the Iowa Quality Center and the instructor for that training used to work for Collins Aerospace and Procter & Gamble, another one of our customers. So in that way, I just continued to learn and develop skills that helped to improve our organization.

B:  Great. I think I’ve seen you present at the Iowa Lean Consortium, a couple of years back, on some of the work you’ve done.

J:  That’s the best way, I think, to learn.

B:  Yeah.

J:  It is. Just sharing ideas with others and talking about “here’s what we’ve done and here’s what’s worked and here’s what hasn’t,” so just having the networking opportunities with others who are improvers, that’s a great way to learn.

B:  What are some of the things you guys have been doing? I know there was some work with some 5S work, some process mapping, maybe value stream mapping work. Can you talk through some of the projects you guys have been working on over the last few years?

J:  Sure. We’ve facilitated 26 improvement events over the last three years within Goodwill’s organization, including 17 5S events in our retail store backroom. We worked really hard, we wanted to process donated goods, so that would be clothing items and household items, we wanted to process those as efficiently as we could from the point that they were received so that we could get those items out to our store and generate more sales and that additional revenue could then be reinvested into our mission.

We worked really hard to study the layout in each store backroom and then we built cross-functional teams to improve the way we process clothing and household items. We talked about some of the problems that we had with team member focus, so we would have team members that were responsible for everything and could be pulled out of production and up to the cash register, so we created production worker positions to just stay focused on processing donated goods. With every improvement event, we would just add to the list of best practices that would help to improve our retail operations. We dramatically changed the back room layout and really promoted some efficient donation processing. In general terms, donated goods material movement was reduced by about 28% in our soft or clothing lines, and about 41% in your household item lines, which you can imagine how heavy household items can be, so it’s great to move that material less between when it’s donated and when you get on your floor.

We used a lot of visual management techniques to alert store managers when priced merchandise needs to be stocked. Sometimes, we would have goods that would hang out in our store backroom that were priced and quality and ready to go out on the floor, so we created this parking lot where we put tape down on the floor. It was in the back room, right before you go out to have it merchandised on the floor. When carts would fill up that space, it was a visual trigger to our leadership team to get someone on replenishment and move that material out to the floor.

After that whole process, which probably took us about a year and a half, almost two years, to get through every store backroom, we did see some great results because we were storing less material in our warehouse, we were getting through those donated goods more quickly. So the results? we ended up reducing our transportation costs by about $89,000, and we reduced our supply expenditure, so pallets and giant boxes that we store material in, by about $65,000, and then we reduced our warehouse square footage and saved about $7600 a month in warehouse space leasing, so we saw great results.

B:  Some of the items would go out somewhere else for storage temporarily?

J:  Yes, correct. We were able to reduce the amount of square footage we had to lease in order to house those donated goods. We saw some great results and we continue to have 5S events in our store backrooms, led by our retail vice president, in order to sustain workplace organization and stay focused on continuous improvement. It’s really exciting to see that implemented and embraced in the retail side of our organization too.

On the value stream mapping, we used that process for a couple of events, but one was to improve the completion of our hiring documentation. We hire a lot of people. We’ve got over 600 team members at present and there are a lot of documents that we expect new team members to complete. We were having a problem in that probably only 34%, I think was the number, of those new hire documents were completed accurately and on time. There was a lot of rework being managed by the human resources team, so we used value stream mapping to figure out where we were going wrong and eliminated some paperwork, consolidated some of the new hire paperwork under the HR team. Those are the experts on how to fill out these forms, so we had new hire sessions where we brought all of our team members through and it was managed by HR.

Obviously, that promoted great, accurate paperwork and we reduced the new hire paperwork for non-supervisors by about 71%. The percentage of complete and accurate documentation went from 34% to 100%, and we had an annual cost savings calculated at about $30,000 a year because what we were doing is having hiring managers process new hires one at a time and then we switched to a system of having an HR team member facilitate a new hire orientation session for maybe 10 new hires at a time, much more efficient. Then we’ve continued to improve that. That event was well over three or four years ago and so we’ve continued to improve that and now have implemented an HR information system called UltiPro where we’re automating or making electronic a lot of that new hire paperwork. Some of those documents auto-populate from the point that a person fills out a job application, so that’s the next wave of improvement there.

B:  Looking back at the warehouse piece, what do you think were some of the bigger reasons that you were able to see success? Was it the way in which you handled the donations or just setting up some structure there or was it a philosophy about how to handle the donations as they come in or the process there? Because I think that’s a very common opportunity in a lot of nonprofits is receiving and processing donations, so can you talk a little bit about how it was being done before and then what other things were done besides just the visuals and the staging area?

J:  Yeah. I can tell you why I think we were successful in making the changes that we made and a big part of that is buy-in and inclusion and providing some Lean training. So rather than having leadership sit in an office to make decisions about how we were going to change our processes to get the results we wanted, we went through something that was much more inclusive by building those cross-functional teams.

When we ran an event, I would say there was at least 3 to 4 hours of training on Lean and waste elimination so that people could start to take a look at the way they do their work a little differently and they could share their ideas about how to improve it. Those are your process owners, so rather than a top-down approach to improvement, you bring in the team members who are actually responsible for executing and doing the work. You build this energy around finding a better way to do things by harnessing the intellectual capital of a group instead of pushing top-down, “Here’s our policy, here’s our procedure, here’s how we’re going to do it.” All of the excitement around improvement and finding a better way was just planted within our team members as we started to do these events and I think that’s what helped us to be successful, because we worked together to do it.

B:  Have you had some of the employees really get excited and interested in the process improvement piece of this or have any of them got to the point where they’re facilitating activities or running projects?

J:  Yes. As a part of our work, it’s not good when you’ve got 600 team members who just have one person, with another full-time job to do, being the only Lean champion, so we ended up having an approach to training – how do you lead a 5S event, what are the tools that you use to gather data about the current state, how do you facilitate the improvement process, and then when you’re done managing an improvement event, how do you measure the results of that activity? we put six people through that training. Some have moved on to other positions, but some have stayed.

I mentioned Jason, he’s our vice president of retail operations, he’s been a champion for Lean and has facilitated some improvement events with our retail side of the house. And we have others, like Tom Cavanaugh, our production manager, that has facilitated some improvement events as well, and then we added to our team. The gentleman we hired to be our retail support operations specialist, and that’s the person at Goodwill that manages warehousing and distribution, he has a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma and he was involved in helping us facilitate some of these improvement events and then has also done the same, provided Lean training, facilitated some events at our warehouse. Developing other Lean champions that are excited about eliminating waste has been the key to our continued success, I think.

I don’t want to make it all sound rosy because there’s always a little bit of pain involved in continuous improvement. There’s the human response to change that’s not always fun and sometimes people are very invested or entrenched in the way things are and they feel a little threatened by doing things differently or don’t always buy-in to what the group decides to implement. But I think if you’re a trained facilitator, you can usually navigate those situations pretty well and get people to overcome their response to change or their resistance to it if you stay focused on the improvement.

B:  And what do you think some of the a-ha moments or changes in thinking that you think have been the biggest for your team or the organization itself in terms of is it more about getting better data? Is it about small-batch work and one piece flow, moving in that direction? Is it about managing the inventory better? Is there anything that stands out that was either difficult for people to get their heads around a little bit or that they really gravitated towards and they really liked about some of the techniques or tools?

J:  I would say one piece flow and then just everyone seemed to understand waste elimination. Why do we need to touch things six times? Why do we need to set up our workstations so that the things we need to do our job are so far away? Oh yeah, we end up having a lot of extra inventory when our inventory isn’t well organized and we keep reordering the supplies that we already have in stock because we can’t find them. So I think that people, once they had that Lean training and they started learning more about waste elimination, it’s like putting glasses on. All of a sudden, the details of your work become crystal-clear and you realize I can even make my job easier by changing the setup of the workstation or clearly labeling things or letting go of the need to have all of this product in storage because I realize, if we move it more quickly to the floor, we’re going to reach our sales goals and we’re going to hit all of the metrics required to get budget and bonuses. I think once people buy into the fact they can see waste and they get excited to eliminate it and it works and they start to see those results, then I think that’s when the magic happens.

B:  So it’s just teaching them to look and see the waste, that’s probably been the major thing?

J:  That’s been the biggest and just workplace organization, realizing that if we organize the work area really well and it’s not cluttered, we can manage the business more effectively.

B:  In a nonprofit world, where you’re getting in donations and you don’t get to – and this maybe this is more the retail side because you’ve got, also, the manufacturing side where you’re ordering in supplies that you need, but some of the stuff you’re getting in to process may look different or maybe unique in some ways – but how do you deal with -maybe this is more on the retail. Let’s say that the donations are coming in and you start to run out of space in the retail area. How does that work? Is it just that you find other outlets for the material or does that mean you put things on sale?

J:  In our world, the Goodwill world, when you run out of space in the store backroom to store donations, that’s why we have our off-site warehouse. There are some stores that are heavily donated and other stores that don’t have the same volume of donations and so, sometimes, we’ll redistribute. So those stores that are heavily donated, they send their excess material back for redistribution to those stores that don’t have excess material, so that’s how we handle it because there definitely are communities that are just… There is a long line at that donation door and others, either because of population or the location of the store, just don’t see that kind of donor traffic. So that’s how we handle that.

B:  And then how about on the manufacturing side, do you feel like you have control over the stuff that’s coming in? thinking about the bags, you get a variety of bags. You don’t necessarily know how much are coming in from the customers or whatever else you’re processing for them, so it creates a different challenge than maybe the manufacturers themselves, like some of your customers, where they’re very closely deciding what they bring in and they’re ordering exactly what they need. Do you guys have the situation where it’s a little bit more you get what you get and you’ve got to figure out how to handle it or is it pretty steady?

J:  We’ve become experts at just-in-time. We have. To answer your question, we work really closely with our customers and are very used to meeting lead times less than 24 hours for the orders that we have. Most of the inventory, you have to keep in mind, at least in our operation, is customer owned and so communicating with our customers to make sure we have enough supply to meet their ordering demands or that we have enough returnable totes in-house to be able to package material, it’s just a part of our every day and we have to log into forecasting systems.

Whirlpool is our largest customer and so, every morning, our production manager has to log in and see what the forecast is for the call it a 10 day release – what are we going to need in the next 10 days – and then 52-week release 0 what are we going to need in the year ahead. We have the ability to see, in that particular case, what we think our customer needs, but the material planner and our production manager are in touch every day, so we have to be ready to respond. I think, right now, it’s been manageable to not have an inventory management system because we don’t own a lot of the supplies, but as our business becomes more complex, that’s probably a system that we’re going to need just to be effective.

B:  Do the reusable totes work as a trigger in the system? is it set up that way or it’s just nice that you can transport things back and forth more easily and save on packaging, or does it actually work into the system as some kind of kanban of some sort?

J:  There’s only one type of returnable tote that works as a kanban and sometimes it’s effective and sometimes it’s not. Whirlpool has another supplier that does part sequencing for them, and so we’ve got a tote in our system that moves between our operations and the supplier that does part sequencing and when we send an empty tote, it triggers the need for them to send us more supply. All other totes that are returnable are really just for packaging. Whirlpool does not use it to trigger anything and we’re often having to ask for more of those totes because they end up getting stuck on trucks or buried in a warehouse somewhere, so that happens.

B:  I think that’s something I noticed that was a bonus for having those types of systems where maybe the original intent was just to save on packaging and make it easier and you’ve got something custom that fits the boxes or the items that are being shipped, but that it can turn into, and it looks like, in one case, you already have that, is some trigger system that helps manage the demand and give some feedback on how things are going, so it’s like this bonus application or using it as part of the system, so that’s cool.

J:  That would be super cool if those totes would be a part of some kind of goal system so that we would know, when we got 20 totes for part number XYZ, that that means the customer needs 20 more totes of part XYZ, but unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet. I’m sure Whirlpool would love to implement something like that, but for now, they’re just for the purpose of reducing packaging expenses.

B:  And that’s great too.

J:  Yeah, it is.

B:  You’ve been there 16 years now and you talked a little bit about the passion or around the manufacturing side of it and helping people and the mission work that you guys are doing there. Is that what keeps you motivated and then what are some of the reasons why you’ve been there that long and continue to, it seems like, make new strides and grow the organization? What are the personal things you’re getting out of that?

J:  I get a lot of personal reward out of seeing people make progress in their lives and it seems that we’re always reinventing ourselves to be a part of the workforce development solution in our neck of the woods here in Iowa. One thing that really light my fire that we’re doing right now is we’ve got a light manufacturing training program that we manage in partnership with the local community college. In Iowa, right now, and I know that there are other parts of the country experiencing the same trend, there’s just very low unemployment and there’s also a lack of trained available workforce. The sector that’s been hit by it pretty hard is manufacturing, which manufacturers also have, in some cases, very long-term staff that might also be nearing that retirement age and that next generation of workforce might be less aware about career pathways in manufacturing, so they have a need for skilled workforce and that’s what we’re trying to create a pipeline for.

We’ve got a program where we’ll work with just about anybody and we’ll teach them about career pathways in manufacturing. We provide paid, on-the-job training so that they can build their occupational skills in packaging, assembly, quality inspections, recycling. And then Kirkwood Community College offers some classes that, when talking to manufacturers, provided some valuable training. They teach Foundations of Lean, which is a six-hour class; OSHA 10, which, of course, is a safety class; and Industrial Measurement. Our participants earn continuing education credits through the college at no cost, which is at least a $500 value to every participant we work with.

The other things that we do to help that person prepare for employment is we provide soft skills training. One thing we were really hearing in some employers is that, “You know what, I can teach someone how to do the job, but I can’t teach them how to show up every day on time. I can’t teach them how to necessarily solve problems, interpersonal problems or just problems that occur in the workplace.” So we offer 20 hours of soft skills training, again, so that people have the skills to be a successful contributor to any team. And then once someone works their way through the training program, we’re actively helping them find employment and/or secure internships at area businesses and, in some cases, referring them on to continuing education at Kirkwood. We’ve had some of our program graduates go back through their welding certificate or HVAC training programs and, again, that just improves someone’s employability. We had 65 people graduate from that program. Not every graduate has the goal of getting a job, but we had 26 people secure employment after they graduated, which was our goal. Now, we’re just trying to figure out how to expand that.

Those types of programs, really, that’s what excites me about working with Goodwill because I just see our services as needed, they’re relevant. I see the impact that a job has on a person’s sense of worth and their ability to provide for their family and the importance of social inclusion and I feel like I’m a part of an organization that’s all over that.

We’re always doing new things, too. Our success, I think, in commercial contracting with large manufacturers is what allowed us to get into federal business. We’re going to be packaging soybean oil for the USDA’s international food aid program. We’ll launch that business, hopefully, by April of 2020. We’ll be taking soybean oil and putting it into four-liter cans that are then placed in cases, palletized, and shipped to the Port of Chicago and Houston, where it will then be distributed to over 70 countries and 80 million people who are food insecure all over the world. That long-term contract will diversify our agency’s revenue streams worth about $18 million a year and will create 40 jobs and about half of those positions filled by people with disabilities. That’s exciting. That’s why I continue to work at Goodwill. We’re always reinventing ourselves and helping people reinvent themselves along the way.

B:  That sounds like almost a new industry that you’re getting into with the food processing, so that creates a lot of new challenges, I’m sure, and new processes that have to be established and controls in the process, so I can imagine that’s quite a bit of work.

J:  It is, but it’s exciting work and we think it’s the right type of project for us. Iowa is the top soybean producing state, and so to take a product that’s grown in Iowa and refined by companies that have deep roots in Iowa, like Cargill, ADM, AGP, and then to create jobs and fulfill our mission and train people for work in manufacturing because, ultimately, that operation will become another training operation, so it’s like the project fires on all cylinders. But it comes with risk and it’s a big undertaking, for sure. We will have to hire the right technical experts to run the business well, those with food science background, and we’ll have to implement new systems, like you said, Safe Quality Foods, I think Level 2 is what we’ll be pursuing, so lots to learn.

B:  Yeah, that is a really cool project. Let’s say you’re talking to somebody like myself who’s got some background on process improvement and they get excited about the idea of working with a nonprofit, maybe on a volunteer basis or maybe pursuing some opportunities that open up, maybe there’s an organization that’s looking to do some process improvement work and they want to hire in somebody like yourself who can bring that to the organization. What are some of the things you would tell them about? they’re coming maybe out of working in a current company, a for-profit business. What are some things that you would recommend to them or suggest to them before they get too far into this process, good or bad, in terms of working inside of a nonprofit or for a nonprofit or helping out one?

J:  I would say, and this would be specific to consultants or someone coming from the for-profit world that wants to try to help a nonprofit, the best thing that you can do, I think, is to make sure that you are building champions at that nonprofit organization who are going to buy into Lean and continue to improve the organization after you leave. If you go in there and try to do it for them, that’s not going to be an effort that’s sustainable. So go in and build it, sow those seeds, take time to help people understand the value of Lean and process improvement tools so that they can be champions, they can facilitate events, they can build and sustain that improvement culture. Consultants don’t do that; they’re the change agent. It’s really important to understand your role as a catalyst and if you want the effort to continue after you leave, then you’d better inspire a few people and help them understand the details while you’re there.

B:  So maybe perhaps like a training on the eight forms of waste or something like that or 5S is a good starting point perhaps and maybe some activities around that to get them going?

J:  Yeah. Start of the stuff that’s common sense and easy for people to understand. I’ve always, when talking about waste, I’ve used the simple example of whatever you’re frustrated with about your job, usually, that’s because there’s some waste involved. You’re either having to wait or you feel like you’re overprocessing. I think that if you can start with the basics and the stuff that’s easy for people to understand, you’re not going to lose them. If you jump right into using statistical process control, that might be a little overwhelming for some. In nonprofit agencies, there are a lot of us that are helpers; we want to make things better, but sometimes change can move at a little bit of a slower pace.

B:  I think people will be familiar with that even in the for-profit world. They move slow.

J:  My gosh, yeah. Big bureaucratic systems. Fortunately, that’s not what you’re getting into, usually, at most nonprofits. There’s some local control, smaller teams. I’m speaking in general terms. But you’ve got to get people excited, start with the basics, engage them.

B:  That’s great. Are there any other resources or things you would recommend or books or anything like that for how you’ve gone through your journey or things you recommend to others or things you use when you’re teaching or trying to catch people through improvements?

J:  I definitely think, and I’m not sure, in other states, if they have quality centers, but I would suggest maybe taking the same approach for people that have especially nonprofit agencies. You might have some board members that are working for organizations that embrace Lean and might have some introductory training already developed, and so sometimes you can work your way into those training sessions at low or no cost, so a great way to expose yourself to it, just like we did with Whirlpool. We just asked, “Can we participate in this Yellow Belt training?” “Sure,” because they view it as supplier development. I bet, if you work with a board member who might work for Procter & Gamble, there might be an opportunity for you to be included in some of their training.

B:  That’s a great idea.

J:  There are some simple texts out there. I’ve got the Lean Enterprise Memory Jogger; it’s a desktop guide to Lean. It’s well-written, it’s simple. It’s not quite pocket-sized, but it’s easy to read and easy to understand. There’s another book – and I’m not sure if I’m going to get this title right – but it’s maybe Lean for the Office, because sometimes using Lean in a manufacturing or a production setting where things are so visual, it’s a little easier to understand. Sometimes, people don’t know how to apply Lean to processes like purchase order management.

B:  Onboarding of employees.

J:  Yeah, right? And so sometimes, books like that can help you think about how to do we apply Lean not just to production and physical workspace or through 5S, but actually how we do business every day? the hidden processes, how do we make those visible and then how do we improve them? so that’s a good book for that.

B:  I think there’s so much opportunity on the office side. Lots of opportunity.

J:  It is and I think it’s because, and I don’t know what other word to use other than hidden. It’s not always visible. You can’t physically watch… We used a paper purchase order system for years and we’re just changing that now, but you don’t necessarily get to see the way someone has to walk up to the front office and they have to fill out a log and grab a PO, and then they go back to their desk and then they fill it out. Then they go to the copier and they scan it and then send it to their supervisor at another office, who then needs to print it and sign off on it and then scan it and return it to that team member, who then scans it and reprints it to finance. You’ve got to find a way to make that all visible, map it out so that you can see the waste and you can see the opportunities to make things better, but it takes a little effort. So those are some good books about that.

And the networking, there are Lean networking groups, I’m sure, in every community and it is so helpful. You can identify a mentor or a volunteer that way or just learn from others. You’d be surprised what you can apply. I think nonprofit agencies don’t need to be afraid to learn from a manufacturer because, really, what they’re doing can sometimes apply to your nonprofit practices. So don’t think that what works in one industry might not apply in another because I think it does and I think we can learn from each other and share current best practices or even failures and improve each other in the process.

B:  Yeah, absolutely. Is there anything else that you wanted to share or bring up about some of that work and other projects you’ve got going on?

J:  Brion, I can’t think of anything else. I’m just really grateful for the opportunity to talk with you today and I hope that there are some things that I’ve shared that are helpful to others who are listening or ultimately read your book.

B:  Thanks. This has been great. This is awesome work you’ve done and your entire team, I know that’s what you mean. There’s a lot for, I think, others to learn about too and see the journey you guys have gone through at an organization like Goodwill. Hopefully, they can read through and listen to this or read the chapter and get a lot of good insights or ideas on how to move forward and make their organizations more effective and improve their mission and help people. I think it’s awesome.

J:  Yeah, I do too. I’m glad you used the word journey because that’s it. It’s a journey. Be patient with it, it requires discipline, it requires continually working to get better, so don’t expect quick results or great results and no work because it is a journey and you just have to invest some time in it and it is so worthwhile. You’ll get great results on behalf of your organization and the people you serve if you embrace it.

B:  Awesome. That was great. If there’s nothing else, then thank you so much for your time and keep up the good work and we’ll wrap it up from here.

J:  All right. Thanks, Brion. I appreciate your reaching out to me.

B:  No problem. Thanks for your time, I appreciate it.

J:  All right. Good luck out West.

B:  Okay, will do. Stay warm.

J:  Yeah, we’re trying. Spring is going to come eventually I’m convinced.

B:  Yeah, it usually does every year. Sometimes it decides to wait a while.

J:  You take care.

B:  Okay, thanks. Bye-bye.

J:  Bye.

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