In this podcast, I talk with Kelly Singer. She works at Institut Lean France and she started a group called Lean Green Institute. I talk to her about her experiences starting out in the US. She started in Eastern Washington, moved over to Seattle, and spent some time in Los Angeles, then went over to Paris, France a couple years ago, where she set up the Lean Green Institute.
We discuss the differences between Europe and the US and their sustainability initiatives, and her experiences, and how she sees the connection between “Lean and Green” as such a pivotal way of helping organizations achieve their corporate social responsibility. We also talk some nonprofit work she had done in the past, along my experiences and some of the things I’ve been working on.
I think you’ll really enjoy this interview.
- Kelly Singer LinkedIn Profile
- Institut Lean France
- Lean Green Institute
- Lean Green Day – Steve Hope Toyota Presentation (English)
- Point B Consulting
- The Machine That Changed the World by Dan Jones and James Womack
- Lean Thinking by Dan Jones and James Womack
- Lean Strategy by Dan Jones and Michael Balle
- Dan Jones Profile
- Blog: Toyota Kentucky facility reflects parent company’s commitment to the environment
Brion (B): So welcome Kelly, thank you for joining me on the podcast and I just wanted to go through and learn more about your background and have you kind of explain how you got into this approach around lean and green. I guess the easiest way would be to start at the beginning and then kind of work your way up to currently where you are at with the Institute of France and kind
Brought in Lean on set first and then how you brought in the green part of it and then kind of where you are going with it Lean France and where you guys are moving forward especially with the recently Lean Day you had.
Kelly (K): Sure, my background is in consulting I was in operations management consultant, so that’s how I first came to know of, and loved lean. That was in Seattle. So I’m actually originally from the east side of the state from Yakima Valley, but then I went to, I lived in LA for a bit, then I eventually wanted to move back to the Pacific Northwest, so I moved to Seattle and lived there for about 10 years before my husband and I decided to pursue an opportunity in Europe. We’ve been here now for 2 and a half years. But through consulting I have, yes, I came to know about, became pretty passionate about lean because I felt like if it was used correctly and you know from the ground up and from the top down from all members and levels at the organization.
I’m just a true believer in the results this methodology could produce, and the beauty of it is really to just keeping the customer the center of everything you do. A lot of companies say that they do that, but and you’re a consultant, so I’m sure you know this too, that really at the end of the day, a lot of the times they’ll say, “yes, we love the customer, the customer is the center of our universe” but really profitability is the center of our universe, and they are willing to betray the customer a bit in order to become more profitable. So I’ve had the opportunity to work with Toyota here, Toyota Europe, and seeing how they truly put the customer above everything, above profitability, even sometimes above what might seem like common sense, and seeing how that has really helped them become what they are today, it’s pretty incredible. Anyway, I’m a big believer in Lean, and from the green side, growing up in and living in the Pacific Northwest, it’s kind of something we take for granted, and I didn’t realize that until we moved abroad and lived in other areas around the US.
Sorry my son just walked into the room.
B: That’s alright no problem
K: My second job when I get home. So I forgot what I was saying. Oh, so the green side, I was able to work with the Seattle Parks Foundation on a project to install green gyms, and the idea was to not only create public space more usable, so putting in outdoor athletic equipment, but also more safe. The more people in the park, the more safer it is. So we were really trying to target lower income neighborhoods to really help them to become more healthy, but also make their neighborhoods more safe, because it’s making the parks more usable. So that’s how I started to really become more involved, or I guess gained my social awareness from like a corporate social responsibility stand point. So you know it’s kind of a natural pairing to think about, you know, we should really be using (there are a lot of inefficiencies in government as you can imagine), so once you know about lean, you can’t forget it, it’s one of those things that, once you know it, you just can’t forget it. It’s natural to think about Lean solutions. If you know about Lean and you work in CSR to start to compare the two.
That’s really where I saw a missing opportunity for Lean is on the social front. When we moved to France it was just right before the Paris Climate Agreement happened. So there was just so much excitement and energy about climate and about the environment in Paris at the time when we moved here. I think I just kind of caught that bug, and was like “yes!” here’s the chance for Lean to really make an impact, you know, because it’s the idea of waste reduction can obviously be applied to environmental waste, and we can go into this further. It’s also kind of redefining who are customer is, and really viewing the planet as our customer. When we take the Lean approach and view the planet as a customer in that sense, it just completely changes our value streams and our strategy as a company. So once those two things clicked, I was just in. So yeah it’s been really wonderful to be…I think the Pacific Northwest is like this too, you know you’re just around people who, you don’t have to fight the emotional challenge with them, they already get it. They see that the environment is critical in order for their own sustainability as a company. They have to be thinking about, well in order for them to be successful, the planet also has the be healthy and successful and survive. It’s been great to just to work with companies who are willing to experiment, and kind of figure out what it means to be “lean and green”.
B: Are you finding that the companies in Europe are similar in thinking around the Pacific Northwest in terms of sustainability, or do you think they are more hit or miss in terms of what you’ve seen so far.
K: I think they are more advanced, but the reason why they’re more advanced is because there is a government mandate that the European Union has pretty strict mandates that each country has to produce, or put into law to meet in order to stay in the Union. Those require a certain amount of carbon emission reduction, water reduction, recycling. Each industry has different mandates they have to meet. That’s something that’s mostly driven by the private sector in the U.S., and just now you see states like Washington and California, they’re starting to regulate carbon emission more, fossil fueled cars, and there’s different taxes. Incentives are starting to change to benefit those companies who are thinking more environmentally, and I think that’s been in the works for a long time in Europe. So that’s been very interesting to see how these things, like the chicken or the egg, what really can cause social change and environmental change to happen quickly. I think it’s just been interesting to see the role that government has played in making that happen.
B: So speaking of government, go back to the Seattle Parks project you worked on. Tell me a little bit about the balance of the lean and sustainability piece of that. Did you come in with lean background already and bring that to the table, or was there already kind of a sustainability element to it or did you, were you able to bring some of that to there? I was just kind of curious what you came in with that project or was that, you brought your lean skills, and you noticed that the sustainability piece fit in nicely there.
K: Yes I already had the lean experience, but it was mostly from tech. You know tech and healthcare and some manufacturing operations, so I really hadn’t worked much on the social front, just in my personal life, volunteering and that sort of thing. Actually working with a company to improve again kind of like tweaking who the customer is, you know more on like a viewing the customer like society in general. I had never really thought about it that way. So I think that’s where I started to piece the two together, so I brought lean to the table, and then learned that this role was really about enhancing public space and improving the quality of life for everyone that lived in Seattle, regardless of their background.
B: Can you talk a little more about the other volunteer work you might’ve done? Have you been able to apply concepts of lean to that work yet, or later you kind of connected the dots on lean and nonprofit, or kind of an element around that?
K: Now I do it, I sit on many nonprofit boards in Paris. That’s kind of my expertise, and I think that’s a great way for other consultants or individuals who are really knowledgeable in lean or operations who want to get involved as to serve on a board, because I just think there’s so much viable experience that they can bring to a nonprofit. And in return they also get such great exposure to this CSR component that is very critical for our society to continue to thrive. I think this is just a great learning experience, but before I was involved with some leadership groups, and you learn the basics of how to run a meeting, and basic management stuff which is helpful for sure. At some point, it was all just kind of like checking the boxes to me.
You know it’s like when you work in a really large company. I’ve been reading several articles about this in Silicon Valley right now, where it’s just a mono culture of people who think the same, and they use the same terminology, and I kind of felt like these more like “businessy” clubs or leadership clubs were kind of felt like. There was a right way to run a meeting and there was a wrong way. There was a right way to write an agenda and a wrong way. And all of that is fine and good, especially if you want to work in government, especially in Europe they like their t’s crossed and I’s dotted, but I think from an innovation standpoint, we need to inspire people and teach people how to inspire others and how to get people to care, cause I think we are just so bombarded with data these days that we just become numb to these issues. I always say the saddest statistic about the environment is that we already know all the statistics, but we aren’t doing anything. We’re just like “yeah, yeah. We know. We’re doomed but oh well.” When we could really actually be making a change. I think, but I totally got off topic on that question.
B: No, no that was good I think getting involved on a board, and to your point, do you get the opportunity to actually go in and change the process or make them more efficient about their mission, or sit in and actually apply lean concepts or not, or is there a lot of other things going on there before you actually get into some of the details?
K: Yeah I think one thing nonprofits love about Lean is that, if you can teach them about visual management, it’s just such a great way to get a message and objective across the entire organization quickly, because often these organizations are so strapped for financial resources, but also for human capital resources.
You have people doing 2 or 3 jobs when they wish they can hire 2 or 3 more people. I really think the visual management piece of Lean is really interesting, that’s what I seemed to find is that they really latch on to that. Also the problem solving and thinking through the 5 whys and using A3, those type of tools they give a language for everyone to use, and a framework for people, to get to the bottom of the real problem that’s happening.
B: Great. Did you take schooling to get some of your background on Lean, or did you get that when you started consulting through the agency? Can you give me a little bit of background on just how you started learning some of these concepts?
K: Sure yeah. So the firm Point B offered like an official certification process in Lean so I went through that certification process. That was a great way just to learn like the basics. I feel like Lean is really something you know just reading about it in a book is a little bit, you’re still a little bit removed because you know there are always weird Japanese words, and if you’ve never seen manufacturing plants, and it’s just kind of hard to imagine what a Kanban system really looks like. Then if you haven’t seen it in it’s natural or original state, it’s hard to think how that can be applied to other industries. So that was one nice thing about consulting you do get to see a variety of different environments and industries and how Lean can apply and can adapt to the industry and to problems. But I also think there’s a lot of self learning you can do. One thing about living in Europe is that I’ve been able to get to know Dan Jones who is one of the authors of “The Machine That Changed the World” and I think that’s really.. I mean it’s a book that anyone who is somewhat interested in Lean should read even if it’s… if you’ve not read it and you have a job, you should read it cause it can just change your way of thinking, and I just…yeah, one of the best business books of the last century.
B: I think I read that a long time ago and I should go back and re-read that. So did Dan set up, did he set up the Institute for Lean France ?
K: He founded Lean Enterprise International (LEI), I think that’s what it stands for, in Boston. Then from there….
B: Enterprise Institute
K: Enterprise Institute, yeah thank you. There’s so many acronyms sometimes I get them mixed up. And then from there different leaders in countries, of individuals who were highly skilled in Lean could start their own country institute, and so when we moved to France I linked up with the Institut Lean France and Dan Jones is, he’s just really involved with many of the institutes because he is kind of like the godfather, you know.
B: I know he set up the UK one, for sure
K: Yes because he’s British . He’s very close with the founder of the French Institute. So they actually just wrote a book together and it’s really wonderful, called “The Lean Strategy” so that’s his most recent book. He hadn’t written a book in a very long time. So it’s another good one to read, a little more dense and I think this one is more written for the C suite? Verses “The Machine That Changed The World” is more to read for everybody, but it’s still you know very good. It’s kind of like Lean 2.0
B: Yeah I also see that …… co author of Lean Thinking which was a very influential book as well. Yeah, looks like he got his hands in a lot of activity going on in Europe around Lean. I figured he had something to do with the Institute there.
Who is the one that , you know who, the history on how that got set up with, you said the founder of that group with Dan co-wrote that, who is that?
K: The founder of the French Institute?
K: Yeah so Michael Balle? Founded the French Institute.
B: Gotcha , I assumed cause I have seen him in a lot of different, he’s the author of a lot of great books.
K: Yes , yeah exactly
B: Okay so they’ve both have written on Lean Strategy, okay cool. I will have to check that out now.
B: And then so are, it look like you are dedicated to kind of growing out the “lean and green” aspect of that is that true or what is your role I guess now with the institute?
K: Yeah, so my role with them now is exactly , I’ve together we have launched the Lean Green Institute which for the last year or so, we’ve just been trying to define what it means, and what it looks like to be “Lean and Green.” So I’ve had the opportunity to visit several companies around Europe who have a very passionate CEO who is very, you know, mindful of the environment and all that they do, and they are thinking along these lines as well. And through Lean they’ve been able to reduce their carbon emissions and water usage and increase their recycling rates. You know just really reduce their overall impact. It’s been pretty exciting to see that other people are connecting these dots, and being able to learn from them, and really it’s a collaborative effort because everyone brings something a little bit different to the table. These industries are all different , they’re anywhere from…I worked with an aluminum shelter. to construction company. to you know traditional manufacturing office consulting. You know. just really a wide variety of industries who are all trying to be more green in what they do. One thing I think we all become aware of is that just because you’re lean. doesn’t necessarily mean you are more greener than another company. I mean it might seem like you are at first. but there are plenty of other companies who are…you don’t have to be, Lean can be used for any purpose. It can be used by a terrible dictator to be more effective at being a terrible dictator, or it can be used by a super awesome NGO to be more effective at what they do. So it just really all depends on who’s pulling your value, and you know what value you’re trying to deliver to your customer.
I think that’s one of the things we’ve been trying to communicate is that, yes you are more efficient, yes you have a smaller footprint (like an actual physical office footprint because you are really good at 5s), or you’ve become so efficient in your process because you use less energy blah blah blah. But at the end of the day, you know you could be doing a lot more because your not tracing how you’re impacting the environment throughout your entire value stream. That takes everyone thinking about environmental improvement in their work, you know, to really make the biggest impact. You also have to consider what the environment values. Is it just your traditional eco-conscious customer? Their needs change all the time, and they might hear one thing on TV today that they should be recycling more, and tomorrow it’s about they should buy an electric car. The eco-customer, if they care about the environment, they are going to love anything you do for the environment. You should make sure your focus is in the right place.
B: Yeah, I think that getting companies to align what they’re doing with their initiatives as well you know, so they’re not polluting over here, and then they’re trying to throw up some solar panels to kind of (I guess) take away from what they’re doing, so maybe they should be focusing on the pollution that they’re creating, and probably there will be some financial benefits that they can do that. But that comes off much better for companies than if they’re kind of doing some green stuff that looks like it’s very disconnected with their purpose, or their mission, or what they really do impact directly.
K: Yeah , you are absolutely right. And I mean you see that with Toyota today, they don’t advertise. I don’t know if you are familiar with their, they have six environmental challenges that they set I think in the year 2015, that they hope to reach by the year 2050. You know, they don’t advertise these goals, they didn’t do like a big media campaign, you know it’s not in the brochure when you buy a new Toyota car that they’re doing good things for the planet. Just because they realized that it’s just the right thing to do. To be competitive in the future they need to think about what the greatest challenges will be in the future, and are the greatest challenges we face are environmental challenges are natural resources. And so they’re never on like top 10 lists of most environmentally conscious companies, even though they are extremely, extremely green and conscientious of their footprint. I mean they are already zero waste, they’ve been a zero waste company for a year now. They’ve changed their entire manufacturing system, they switch to the TNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) last year, or maybe the year before. With basically the idea that they can easily dismantle and recycle their cars, to turn them into new cars. I mean, no one else is thinking this way, you know, this is all theory in most other companies, or wishful thinking for you know in the future we hope to do that. Toyota is already doing it now you know, they’re trying to create a whole new society based on hydrogen. And so it’s something they, it’s just what they do, it’s their strategy, they aren’t using it to for a marketing campaign like you were saying or green washing it. They’re using it for their competitive advantage.
B: Yeah, I went to the Georgetown, Kentucky facility a few years back and you know, they touched on a little bit of their [environmental] program, but it got me interested enough to check to see what they were doing, and I looked at their website. Yeah, I was really impressed with all the [environmental] stuff they were doing, and it was not highly visible or publicized you know they have some stuff in their facilities, but yeah I was just kind of blown away when I started looking through their environmental report, and then some of the stuff that they have done in the facility nearby, kind of taking over the marsh land and trying to create a good environment for wildlife and stuff, and all the switching of their energy systems over. Yeah, it was definitely something they could highlight a lot more.
K: Yeah, it’s interesting why they don’t because you’re right, they could be. I mean, I’m sure it must be kind of irritating when they see these reports come out, and they are never on it, but you know they got “bigger fish to fry.”
B: I think that’s part of kind of how they are how they are viewed, they don’t care as much about that stuff, I think they’re really focused on bigger society issues, and I think that carries through in everything they’re doing. I think that’s why they’re pretty highly respected. I’m going to link up the video to the…I can’t remember the gentleman’s name who was giving the presentation at the Lean and Green Day.
K: Oh yeah great, Steve Hope. That would be great.
B: Yes, Steve. So yeah, I’ll link up what we’re talking about.
K: Okay perfect.
B: Can you touch on the Lean and Green Day, and how you came up with that, and a get little summary on how that went.
K: Yeah definitely, so like we were talking about, before you know how Lean is most effective when we can tell stories about it, and because then other people can see how it can apply to their work. And so we have been hearing great stories from CEO’s and startup founders and from like all these industries how they were using Lean and Green to enhance their environmental performance. So we thought, well we should why not have a conference. You know it’s really, it would be like my ultimate goal for every Lean Institute in each country to have a Lean Green Institute, kind of as a part of their Institute. Also thinking about these things, and having someone you know plan a Lean Green Day in each country, or even you know state wherever Lean is located. So it was mostly just an experiment at first, and just a time to kind of just bring our community together, and we were only hoping for 30 people to come, and we had over 100, so that really shows that you know, people are interested in this topic. It’s funny when the Executive Director of the Institut de France had to actually go out to several bakeries to buy more sandwiches for lunch, because we didn’t have enough lunch to feed everyone. So yeah, I think the improvement for next year will be to maybe charge a little bit more, so we can have a little bit more of a better lunch. But our strategy was to keep the price just to basically cover the expenses, because we really wanted to just make it open for practitioners at all levels who’s company might not…Some of these Lean events can be quite expensive you know, it’s like 500 euros a day. Since it’s with a fairly new idea you know, if an individual wanted to come in and his boss might not show up, that much money for something new and we wanted him to him or her to be able to pay for it themselves. So we kept the price really low to cover our expenses, and you know really wanted to see which ideas were the stickiest, and so we had a variety of speakers from different backgrounds. It was a great learning experience, we got lots of great feedback on how to improve last year. The number one piece of feedback that we heard was people wanted more concrete examples. I think you know, that was difficult. I’ve never planned a conference like this before, and so I didn’t pay enough attention to like doing the slides beforehand you know, the speakers just kind of told me their idea, what they were going to talk about. I was like okay, that sounds great, but next year we definitely need to dive in deeper to the slides, and really work with them to prepare a really detailed presentation, because you know, Lean people they’re a little different than normal ,or not normal than other people…
B: I think that’s fair, yeah.
K: Yeah, they really you know really like to get into the weeds, and they really want as much detail as possible. So I think it’s working with the presenters next year and saying you know, “Okay that’s great but you know more detail, we need more detail”
They want to see every step, you know, like if you can just lay out the value stream map, like the steps you took, that would be great. So providing concrete examples would be one for next year, and I’m trying to think of what the other one was, oh, we didn’t give them enough coffee breaks.
B: Yeah, usually there is in every single training I have done, there’s a complaint around snacks, or temperature in the room, or breaks, yeah so those are expected
B: So what is the plan going forward then, are you going to try to do one every year, or have more frequent ones, or what are some of the ideas you’re thinking about for Lean and Green Institute?
K: To grow the community this year, we have been doing monthly we call them a “Green Gemba Tour,” and so usually it’s a small group, like 10 people or less, and we find companies who are willing to give a public tour of their operations. Sometimes it’s really small, it’s just been a tour of a really small improvement, maybe an office you know, we see how they are reducing their paper consumption, or their commute you know, their employees commuting, or you know they’re working on different ways step by step, but it’s all from the frontline you know, it’s not from HR. If it’s a small company, they don’t have a you know a CSR team, so it’s real people thinking about improvement in their own day to day work. They’re willing to you know, if they’re willing to share it’s really helpful for other people to see what they can replicate, or just being inspired to make a change themselves. Sometimes it’s bigger companies, that we are able to tour like the National Post, we’re trying to get something set-up with them. It’s like the french equivalent to you know, like the United States Postal Service
B: Post Office
K: Yeah Post Office yeah exactly. And then sometimes we’ll view, we’ll go check out more social enterprises. So this month, we’re focusing on food waste, and so we will be going to the Paris Food Bank to view their operations. It should be interesting from a Lean point of view, because you know, they have to work on takt time to get the food off the trucks. A lot of it is, it has an expiration date, so they have to distribute it within a certain amount of time to, you know, certain areas around Paris, and they are also trying to be zero waste, so they’re setting up a composting program for the food that is expired, or just inedible because you know they just get all kinds of donations. For the food that is not edible, they’re trying to still save it, so it just doesn’t go to the landfill. So it should be really interesting, that’s at the end of the month. And then yeah, we’re trying to do the Lean Green Day once a year. So it should be in the fall this year, we’re not sure the exact, we’re working on the date. Hopefully it will be announced soon.
B: Yeah I think that will be great. I mean the US should have one for sure. I’d be down.
K: Yeah you should plan it. That’d would be great.
B: We should.
K: That would be awesome
B: Yeah that’s much needed. They probably even want to do regional ones just from the size, to hit up west coast, and east coast, and midwest, maybe the south or something. I can see that being pretty effective too.
K: Yeah that’s a good idea. We’ll talk more about that.
B: Yeah, yeah. How did you guys handle the language with the presentations? I saw some of them were in English, some were in French, is that right?
K: Yeah so there was the, we wanted it to be primarily in French, because you know just hearing the message in your native languages is much more powerful than your non-native tongue. So the only, I mean it was just such a great opportunity to have Steve Hope join us, so we made, he was the only non-French speaker at the conference. He spoke English, yeah and the others were all in French.
B: Gotcha okay
K: Yeah it gets a little tricky with language in Europe. You know, most people speak English, but I think to be most effective, you know you want the message to be from people who speak their language. So.
B: Absolutely, yup.
B: Just kind of looking at my notes here, what other questions I had. Is there anything else you wanted to cover? Talk about?
K: I’d love to hear more about like what you guys are doing. Cause it seems like you know you really have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on sustainability, and you know I just read, I try to catch up on the newspaper, but I’m not really familiar with what’s happening like on the ground in the Pacific Northwest. So I’d just love to hear what you’re up to.
B: Yeah personally, yeah I’ve really been trying to get my hands around all the different activities going on. So have you heard of the Lean and Sustainable consortium in the UK?
K: Uh, no.
B: Okay so
K: Oh yes I have, yes I have, they wrote a book I think
B: Keivan Zokaei he’s the author. Yeah, so I’ve just gone over there a couple of times in the last year or two. I think I’ve made 3 trips over there, so I really like their format. And so my office mate here in Portland, we are trying to set up something very similar on a smaller scale, probably in Portland, to get like-minded companies together, either around an industry, or at least they are all thinking around wanting to improve their Lean, and they already have a pretty good sustainability mindset. So we are doing smaller consortiums like that. We’re definitely kind of looking at that model and trying to show them, a lot of them might be, they already a green mindset like you said, cause they’re in the Pacific Northwest and that’s an important attribute, but Lean might be new to them, so applying it directly to issues that they’re having in terms of solid waste or energy reduction, but also realizing that improving their operations will indirectly, like you mentioned before, get them some waste reduction by accident, and so kind of a win-win there. Especially if they already have that mindset, then they can start to even enhance some of those improvements by saying, “We could also take out some waste here, and we don’t need that extra material and we could actually reuse that somewhere down the line.”
So some small group activity like that we’re trying to do, and then bigger plans, we have a group in town as well called Lean Portland and that’s a volunteer group. We’re working with the nonprofits here, and a lot of the work has been, so far, with material reuse organizations. One around construction material reuse or household goods reuse or electronics reuse. They already have a sustainability focus, trying to keep things out of the landfill and recycle and reuse materials, but you get some challenges with the fact that, basically, it’s a supply chain that you don’t control, and so you don’t have set vendors per se, and you’re not ordering supplies; they’re just showing up at your dock and you’ve got to figure out how to deal with that, so you have to be very flexible and agile around that. That’s been a really interesting challenge to work with them on is to try to figure out how they can be flexible and have systems that replenish the stock and change out what’s on their shop floors and what they’re selling based on expiration and usage, and less about maybe controlling what they’re ordering, so it’s kind of like reverse kanban system, I guess, is the way to think about it. That’s going well and kind of the same idea, if we can try to get these types of experts in each community to try to reach out to their local nonprofits and join the board or offer their services to these groups, I think it’s great for the organizations.
Personally, it’s been really valuable to meet other people like myself and rewarding to work with some of these organizations. That’s been a lot of my focus lately. We’ve been doing a lot with wasted food in the Portland area as well because that’s a huge… It hits all three aspects – it’s a big cost problem. We waste so much energy and resources to make them food, and we lose 40% of it throughout the whole lifecycle, and 20% of it after you buy it, you lose it, and then we have the homeless problem and people who don’t have enough food to eat. And so it’s just a total disconnect from a social community aspect. And we’re throwing it in the landfill, which is creating methane, which is causing all kinds of carbon problems.
I think wasted food is a major opportunity, so anything people can do with food banks or donation programs or composting programs or connecting up people in need with excess food from events and just being more Lean about how you conduct events and conferences. I have gone to a few this year, and I cringe a little bit on some of the practices that they’re doing that is creating food waste, so large batch delivery systems to people who aren’t there in attendance, and food is going to waste, and they could do it a little more simplistically with some Lean concepts, so big opportunities there.
K: That’s really awesome. Great. You have your own consulting firm, correct?
K: Okay, cool. And you’re focusing on sustainability, like Lean and Green?
B: Yeah. My big push is really around the environment, but I’m happy to work on anything sustainability-related where there’s, like I said, the nonprofit world, or just organizations that are trying to do the right thing. Not everyone is going to be perfect. There’s organizations that I’ve been focusing my intention towards and marketing to. It could be Benefit corporations, or there’s companies have gone through local sustainability certifications, so I know that they’ve at least put some effort into looking at their footprint, looking at their usage. And if I show them Lean and Six Sigma concepts, it can help you get there maybe more effectively or faster or actually solve some business problems while you’re at it, either directly or indirectly. I hope that message is getting out. We’ve been doing a lot of free workshops just to try to get the word out about that.
K: Yeah, that’s a good idea. Do you find that many of the companies with a sustainability mindset or focus, do they also do the ISO standards or try to reach those benchmarks? Have you helped any?
B: Like the 14000 one?
K: Yeah, exactly. I’m wondering if you’ve used Lean to help them achieve those ISO standards, the environmental ones.
B: I have not done much work with that. The company I worked for, Rockwell Collins, they had gone through ISO 14000, but I wasn’t really involved and it wasn’t really a lot of direct Lean activity to get there. I think it was just getting the paperwork aligned, and they had a lot of processes. They’ve done some Lean activity in the Environment, Safety, and Health (ES&H) group for years, and I had facilitated a couple of events there, so I was familiar with some of their activities. They had applied Lean in the past, and I’m sure that helped them with getting certified at some point later on, for sure. So I think, yeah, the ES&H groups, the facilities groups, those are the ones I would gravitate to within an organization. They’re [facilities] responsible for the energy bill, and they’re responsible for the solid waste disposal, and they’re responsible for the trash and the recycling system, so I’ve been looking for those contacts within organizations too.
K: I’ve been receiving a lot of questions from those groups, but specifically the ones trying to reach the standard. I have not personally been involved with a project to reach ISO 14000 or 14001, but I think it would be a nice complement with the “Lean and Green.”
B: Yeah, it’s like having the standard in place. You have something to go from, you have procedures that you’ve defined. Whether they’re right or not, at least they’re documented an,d then you start to work from there, and then you have some consistency. Now when we have problems, we can go back and say, “Did we follow the standard? Yes, we did. Now, how do we address the problem?” I think it’s a good foundation for a lot of organizations.
K: Definitely and they’ve already thought through… It provides a nice groundwork for Lean to come in and help improve what they’ve started.
B: They’ve got the metrics in there, the continuous improvement is built into that, tracking…I think it does set up nicely. It’s not a mandatory requirement, but I think it does. If they’ve gone to that level and gotten ISO 14001 certified, I think that would be a company that would be ripe for Lean and Green, for sure.
K: Yeah, I agree.
B: Great. Those are the questions I had for right now. I’m sure we’ll have some future discussions. I would like to make it out there at some point, so maybe your next Lean and Green Day, I can brush up on my French from high school, and pay attention to the slides, and I think I can probably get a lot of value out of it.
K: Yeah, you’ll be fine. That would be super. That would be really excellent. At some point, we want to come back to the Pacific Northwest. It is home and we miss it a bit. I miss a real donut. They just don’t have donuts here. In Seattle, there was… Are there Top Pot Donuts in Portland? I don’t know if they’re in Portland.
B: What’s it called?
K: Top Pot Doughnuts. I think it must be just a Seattle thing, but, oh my gosh, I haven’t had one in like five years, and I dream about it sometimes.
B: We have something called Voodoo Doughnut. That’s our popular one.
K: That’s with the cereal and stuff. It’s the little things, but I also miss the fresh air, and my family and there’s other things too. It would be great. It would be fun to see if there’s…we should definitely keep in touch and, hopefully, there’s a way that we can collaborate in the Pacific Northwest in the future as well.
B: Absolutely. That sounds great.
K: Cool. Thank you so much for this. I really enjoyed chatting with you and getting to know you and hearing about what you’re up to and I appreciate the chance to also talk about what I’m doing, so thank you very much.
B: Thanks for your time and staying up late for me.
K: No worries.
B: I’ll connect with you on email and we’ll get all the links and I’ll put those on the show notes for everybody so they can check out some of the articles, check out the website, some of the book references you made. Again, really appreciate your time and stay in touch.
K: All right, sounds good.