Earth Consultants

Applying Lean Six Sigma to the Environment

EC 035: How to Incorporate and Leverage Lean Six Sigma and Sustainability – Gemba Academy Interview

30 min read

In this podcast, I share an interview I had with Ron Pereira of Gemba Academy. We discussed Lean Six Sigma and Sustainability (of course!).

We define sustainability for the audience to get them on the same page. They we talked about going paperless at work, the volunteer work with Lean Portland, and how people are incorporated into sustainability. I also talk about easy ways to get started.

Thanks to Ron for giving me the opportunity to speak on his podcast. It was quite an honor!


Gemba Academy (GA) episode #237

In the interview, I also mentioned the other episodes they had published that you might find useful.


Brion (B):  In this podcast, I share an interview I had with Ron Pereira of Gemba Academy. We discussed Lean Six Sigma and sustainability. First, we defined what sustainability was for the audience to get them on the same page, then we talked about going paperless at work and some of the benefits that may be harder to see initially but can really make it a very cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative.

I also talked about the volunteer work with Lean Portland, of course, but also how the people side of sustainability is incorporated in and then also just some easy tips and ways to get started with integrating Lean Six Sigma with a sustainability program. That was really exciting.

The other thing is that we’re going to actually do a Lean Six Sigma in the Environment or Lean Six Sigma and Sustainability workshop at Texas Nameplate in January of next year (rescheduled as of Dec 2018), so look for that; I think we decided the 24th. It’ll be just south of Dallas, maybe a full day session, but we’ll do with some training, and we’ll do a gemba walk, and we’ll have Texas Nameplate talk about their work and what they’ve been doing to be more sustainable with their business. You can learn a little bit more about the Texas Nameplate company, let me look at the episode on the Gemba Academy, and I’ll link to it in the notes, Gemba Academy, 229, Dale and Dan Crownover, so you can learn about their business. But if you’re interested and you’re in the Texas area, stay tuned, reach out to me, and I’ll make sure you are aware when we actually launch it and start opening up for tickets.

Okay, talk to you later.

B:  Are they making decisions today that are going to put them in jeopardy down the line? It might look good on their financial statement this quarter or this year, but what about 5 years from now and 10 years from now, are they going to have to be paying more costs overall because of the short-term thinking?

Ron (R):  A few months ago, we heard how the good folks over at Texas Nameplate are focused on the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profits. Today, I’m excited to continue the sustainability conversation with Brion Hurley. As you’ll hear, Brion started his continuous improvement journey learning about Lean and Six Sigma. After a few years, he was introduced to the sustainability movement and hasn’t looked back.

On today’s show, we dive even deeper into the triple bottom line. I then really pepper Brion with questions about how an organization can go paperless and why doing so makes a lot of sense. Finally, we finish things up by exploring the work he’s doing with Lean Portland and how similar efforts can and should spread across the world. Show notes for this episode, which will include links to everything we discuss, can be found over at; just look for episode 237. You can also check out Gemba Academy’s Lean Learning System over at with a fully functional trial. Now, let’s get to show.

All right, Brion. Welcome to the show. How’s it going?

B:  Good. Thanks, Ron. Appreciate it.

R:  Yeah. I think we met up over LinkedIn or something like that, wasn’t it?

B:  We did. I think I met you at an AME conference, I don’t remember which one, Dallas or something, a couple of years ago.

R:  Yeah, that’s right. You came to our cocktail party if I remember.

B:  Yes, that’s right. There were so many people there; I wouldn’t be surprised if you couldn’t remember me.

R:  I actually do remember you. I’ve got your picture here, too, in front of me, so I do remember. Are you going to San Diego by any chance?

B:  I’m not this year. The schedule doesn’t work out, but I would like to get back there.

R:  Jump on a plane, come to the cocktail party Tuesday night, and then go home. That’s the best part.

B:  That’s a good idea.

R:  All right. Hey, thanks for coming on. Before we get into your background and all that kind of stuff, Brion, I know you know how the show flows. We like to begin with our guests sharing a quote. Do you have one?

B:  I do. There’s a couple of good ones, but I think the one I really like is the Fujio Cho quote around “go see, ask why, show respect.” To me, that’s really simple for people to remember, first of all, and then it really gets at the heart of the principles that makes Lean really powerful, that continues improvement approach, but really, the people side of it. That is about helping people feel comfortable talking about problems and focusing around helping them do their work better, so I really like that.

R:  It’s a simple statement but so hard. How often do we not go see, how often do we not ask why, and how often do we often not show respect for people?

B:  It’s just principles everybody can use all the time and we have to be reminded on those.

R:  That’s right. Good stuff. Brion, tell us a little bit about yourself. Tell us about your background, how you first got into continuous improvement, and what you’re up to these days.

B:  Okay. I went to school at the University of Iowa and I got into statistics just because I had to pick a major at some point, and I liked math and thought maybe there’s some applicability here. That took me down a path of Six Sigma, and that was new at the time, this was mid-90s, so it was just starting to come around. Then when I started working, I went to work at Rockwell Collins, which is a company based near Iowa City, it’s in Cedar Rapids, and they had a need to expand their quality improvement program and they needed somebody to do some statistical analysis, so I filled in for somebody who had just recently left. They were going through a Lean journey because they were a supplier to Boeing. As I was bringing in some of these Six Sigma concepts and tools, I was also learning about Lean and picking up that side of it. Over the time I was there, I was there 18 years, and I was always in some kind of an improvement role and just picking up and learning the different tools, so really gotten really good exposure to both sides of it.

R:  Yeah, good stuff. Today, obviously, we’re going to spend some time talking about sustainability, so how did you get interested and involved in this aspect of Lean?

B:  When I moved down to Florida for work, this is probably 10, 12 years ago, I met my wife and she had that mindset already around not wasting things and being frugal and being conscientious of how she makes decisions and what she buys. That really opened my eyes a lot, and then as I started learning about some of the environmental problems, what kept coming back to me was these are just like problem statements. There’s data there and I know what to do with data, and I have an approach and methodology that could work on these problems and these are really challenging issues. They apply to businesses; there’s energy costs and there’s landfill charges and there’s hazardous waste disposal and transportation that are actually impacting businesses. I really saw that really strong connection between Lean and Six Sigma and how they can improve these environmental problems.

I started doing tons of research, first getting myself familiar with some of these problems, and then also looking for examples and case studies where people have gone out and applied these tools to solve some of those problems. The EPA had actually put out some booklets about that time that were like Lean in the Environment and Lean and Energy and Lean and Chemicals, Lean and Water and they were really good guidebooks. They’re still available on the website for people, if they’re going after those types of issues in their work, to see how they can apply value stream mapping and kanban systems and control charts to their problems. That got me really excited, and I started to really push more effort inside the company to do these types of initiatives.

Eventually, I really wanted to do this all the time and so, last year, I left and I’ve been on my own for about a year and just trying to reach out to, really, industries that haven’t been exposed to a lot of these concepts, whether it’s nonprofits, B-Corporations, or just businesses that are really trying to do the right thing and have a good mission to what they’re doing. Every business is trying to make money, of course, but there’s a couple ways you can approach it, and some of them with really good focus around the people side of it. Those are the groups I want to be working with and helping them with these concepts, so that’s what made me decide I should probably try to do this on my own.

R:  Let’s jump right into it. We had Dale Crownover and we did a Gemba Academy Live at this company called Texas Nameplate a few months ago. I’m sure you know Dale and his sons.

B:  I haven’t met them yet, but that was a great podcast.

R:  We talked about some of this and, obviously, boy, they’re sure are passionate. In fact, Dale and I were trading some emails today, talking about going paperless and different things like that. The sustainability effort, movement, whatever you want to call it, is really, I believe, gaining traction, but it needs to get more traction, I’m sure you would agree, within the Lean community. But there seems to be even some just confusion around the word itself, sustainability. What does that word mean, sustainability?

B:  Yeah, there is some confusion there. I think most of us think about sustainability and we think about our Six Sigma projects and I have to show savings for 12 months or longer, or when I finish our Lean event, we need to have ongoing support and check-ins and engagements to make sure that things don’t slip back and revert back to where they were before.

That’s absolutely true and that’s a piece of that, but I think the bigger picture is around long-term thinking. One of the common quotes you might see is the Brundtland Report that came out in 1987, and they said [sustainability] “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

That implies that, obviously, there’s things that we’re trying to do as a society, but are we making it difficult for future generations to be able to do the same thing because we’re depleting some of those resources, or putting them in a situation where it’s harder in the future? That’s one way of thinking about it, and the same for a business. Are they making a decision today that are going to put in jeopardy down the line? It might look good on their financial statement this quarter or this year, but what about 5 years from now and 10 years from now, are they going to have more costs overall because of the short term thinking?

Those are what I think about and then try to make it really simple for people that think about the triple bottom line where it’s not just profits that we care about. It’s always important, of course, but we want to think about the people side of it and how do we measure that and look at the planet impact, so sometimes it’s called the three P’s. It’s just making sure, when we make decisions, it’s not just all of our focus on profits. We have to look at what impact this is going to have on our employees and the community we live in, and also, what kind of environmental impacts will this have and making a more holistic decision, not so much about what’s the ROI on that, on things we can measure financially.

R:  Yeah, people, planet, profits, triple bottom line. When I was meeting with Dale and his team and spent a whole day out there, I’ve been out there as well before the actual shoot, and even for folks who are just, “That sounds great, Brion, but we’ve got to make a profit or we’re not going to make payroll.” Fine, I think if you take sustainability just in the spirit of profit, look at Texas Nameplate. I can tell you, they’re saving many, many, many thousands of dollars, hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result of recycling water, reclaiming solvents, and going paperless, not spending (Lord knows) how much money on toner for their printers and whatnot. So even if you were just solely focused on the profit side of things, I think it would be foolish not to look into sustainability, but clearly, within the Lean movement, the people side of it is the most important part and without the people, none of it really happens.

B:  That’s the best part is when you make Lean improvements, you accidentally get these benefits. If you’re spending time triple wrapping up a part, that’s over processing and doing more packaging then you need to, or you’re transporting it so far that you have to package it. There’s time and labor and material costs going into packaging it up, and then it gets transported with fuel somewhere, and then someone has to unpackage all that work and start doing their task and all that is time, which directly impacts your dollars. I think there’s a lot of us that are making improvements and maybe not realizing that there is, if we did the full business case of what you saved, you’ll hit on some of these environmental impacts for sure.

R:  Yeah. I think if you talk to a traditional Lean thinker, people and profits, they’re pretty comfortable with that and they understand the importance, but when we get into the planet, obviously, that’s when some eyebrows might start raising. Not that they’re against making the planet better, I’m sure they’re okay and they think it’s a great idea, but it’s not something that we talk a lot about. Talk a little bit about the planet and how we can take that aspect of this triple bottom line and build that into the way that we’re running a Lean activity, a project, training event, anything like that.

B:  Okay. I think the first thing would be if we start with value to the customer. What you’re seeing is that there’s a trend that the customers are starting to value that more, and so they’re starting to ask those questions about where do the materials come from, and where was it produced, and is this a sustainable material or not. I think at the heart of it is the customers are moving in that direction and so, likely, your customers are doing the same, and you need to be listening and looking out for that and not caught off guard that, all of a sudden, you’re losing market share or a competitor comes in who can provide those things that you’re not providing. Today, you may not think it’s important, but there’s probably a growing trend going on in your customer base that is starting to look at that, so that would be fundamental that it’s just something your customer values and, obviously, that’s where we start with improvement, so I think that’s important to think about it.

There’s an acronym that I use that actually is called WASTE and it’s a way for people to think about some of the environmental impacts in their processes. W would be for water, and then A is air emissions, S would be solid waste or stuff that goes to the landfill or trash, T would be toxins, and then E would be energy. It’s an easy acronym for people in our field to remember because it’s something they’re already familiar with.

R:  I like it.

B:  I got this from a class I took in Purdue University. It was a green manufacturing specialist program and it was a way that they’re trying to integrate this into manufacturing practices. It was through SME that put a certification program together around that.

R:  Sometimes the phrase that Lean and Green was thrown around a few years ago, but sustainability seems to have become the more popular term these days. Why is that, do you think? Why is it not green, why is it sustainability?

B:  I think maybe people thought it was too narrowed around just the environment, and it really didn’t incorporate some of this community aspect, or you start looking at some of the social issues going on that you could look at companies and how they pay their employees and if they’re getting healthcare or welfare benefits because they’re not being paid enough, or that they’re slashing hours to stay under the minimum amount to not have to pay them benefits. Those are some things, I think, that are also really important, and people are asking questions of companies and saying, “What is your mission and do I want to work here? Is this a company that I think is doing the right thing, or are they trying to figure out ways around the rules, or the right way of doing things?” I think it just expanded to more just sustainability because there’s a lot of other things that people said are also important, and including those in there.

R:  I gotcha, makes sense. Something I want to talk to you about, and again, I was conversing with Dale over email today. Here, at Gemba Academy, I would say we’re trying to get better on the bottom triple bottom line, in particular with paper. We don’t use a lot of paper, but we still use paper. In fact, the other day, the AME conference is coming up and we’re building out this schedule for when I’m going to be doing some podcast interviews out there, and so I’m looking at the schedule on the show and when am I going to do these interviews and so you know what I did? I printed out the stupid schedule and then I realized here I am with this paper, looking at the schedule, and then back on my computer, paper, back on the computer. I’m like I have a huge monitor. I thought, “why didn’t I just open the schedule, move it to the right and then have my other thing to the left?” It would have been better anyhow because I wouldn’t have had to look down, but it was just, I’m not happy to say, but it was just natural for me to print it out. Talk a little bit about helping folks go paperless and I’m asking for myself here as well as anybody else listening.

B:  I think part of it is behavior change and we can look at that. That’s always something important we have to think about is how do we get people to do that new process that’s better, that we think it’s better, that we want them to test out or experiment with it? Do we have all the right incentives in place to do that? Is their manager asking them to do that? Are they supporting them? Are they giving them training? Are they explaining why the change is needed? Are they making it convenient to do the right thing? If your printer is right there and you don’t have to walk very far, it’s not very painful. If you have to walk across the room or down the hall, you have to think twice maybe about that.

Those are some little tricks you can do, but I wouldn’t beat yourself up either. Sometimes I print out paper too because it is the right thing for that application. For certain things, it gives me a better job. When I teach a class, I have a checklist of things I go through, and I want to have that on my paper because I don’t want… I’ve got my screen up and my PowerPoint slides, so it actually is valuable, in that sense, to print it out for me and I can make notes and say, “Next time, I forgot to do this. I’m going to edit that.” I wouldn’t get wrapped up in every little thing and saying I can’t print paper. Everything you do, just look at it and say “did I have to in that case?” So in your example, maybe I didn’t have to that time, but maybe for people you want to meet with at the conference, you do want to have that sheet ready and available and it’s hard to read on your phone, so I think that’s a good use of paper in that example.

R:  I think it’s probably like with anything, just saying you’re paperless… I saw some paper at Texas Nameplate. It wasn’t like there wasn’t a sheet of paper in the building, but I think the point is it’s very limited. There was no work orders flowing around the factory because it was all electronic and monitors next to the stations and whatnot.

B:  And there’s costs with paper that people can look at. I’ve seen some examples of trying to build a business case for reducing paper. Of course, you have the actual papers itself, but you also have the ink toner, and that has to get replaced and there’s cost to replacing that or having a service provide that. You also have floor space with the printers. If you have bigger printers, that takes up space. That’s one less cubicle or desk you can have if you have more of them.

R:  Filing cabinets.

B:  Filing cabinets, is a huge amount of space and saying look how much we’re printing and storing in a paper form that probably, risk-wise, we shouldn’t even have that in paper form; it should be scanned and available electronically. And then the walking distance to and from the printer and the time you spend reformatting files and saying, “Does this look right? No, I printed three extra pages because I didn’t look at the print preview. Now I’m going to go back to my desk and revise that.” The paper is almost the inexpensive part of it; it’s the time spent preparing the document for printing and then going and get the paper is really maybe a more valuable waste of time in a lot of cases.

R:  I’ve got Dale’s email up here in front of me right now. Electronically, I didn’t print it out. He says, I won’t read the whole thing, but he’s giving me some tips and he said, towards the bottom of it, he said that they’ve calculated that they save $75,000 per year being paperless. He said the big expense is not so much the paper; it’s the toner that’s expensive. Other big savings is reducing labor time, filing, receiving, etc. That’s a person’s salary right there, so that’s pretty incredible.

B:  In my former company, we had people that their job was to scan documents that came in hard copy. That’s almost an entire person was actually trying to make things a little easier to read and to access by putting it into a file system, but the question is why can’t these files come in electronically, and the suppliers were asking the same thing, “Why can’t we send these in? We’re printing it on our end to meet your format and it’s taking us time and that’s delaying the shipment.” It goes all the way through the value stream, so that one little thing, paper, that’s it. We’re talking about a lot of other things in terms of impacts, but one little thing, you can really start to see the impact all across the board.

R:  Right. We’ve spent some time on the planet, but let’s talk a little bit about people of sustainability, which most Lean folks would be like, “Yeah, I get it,” but what does it really mean within the sustainability context?

B:  I think the first is really that key thing that we all focus on is how do we engage people, get them into the right positions that they can excel, give them the cross-training to make them flexible and agile so that they have different skills and talents and are more valuable for the organization and they don’t get bored in their routine tasks.

But I also think, obviously, with Lean, we don’t ever want to lay off somebody or that will just destroy your program, but even when we look at people on financial statements, it looks like it’s all an expense. I think if companies can start to rethink how they look at that cost and think about it more almost like an asset, like someone who’s been around for 15 years, how do you quantify the value and the knowledge and the networks and the process expertise that they develop over the years? You can’t just summarize it down to what you’re paying them. I think if companies start to look at, how do we value that or summarize that in a different way, that a certain amount of years equates to more value to that person. So if you’re trying to make decisions about saving money and, for some reason, you’re going to go down the path of laying somebody off, that someone with more experience would be looked at differently, that look at how much impact they would have on the organization if they left versus here’s what the expense would be if their salary wasn’t paid for anymore.

I think just really looking at, if you’re really going down this correctly, and this is a learning organization, and you value developing people, how do you build a metric around that so you look at that correctly? Then you can really say part of it is, how do we show that we’re developing our people, and if you can come up with a financial way of doing that, I think that would be great. I don’t know if anyone’s done that yet. Otherwise, if it’s just a word and there’s no metrics to tie back to that, again, how do people show that they’re making an improvement? How do we show that you’re investing in people and giving training opportunities and getting them involved in projects and events if you’re not having a way to track that? I think that’s another thing for people to look at. And, of course, if your employees are happy, the idea is that your customers will be happy because they’re going to exude that excitement and passion around your company, and that will come through to the customers.

The other piece I really like to promote would be we have lots of good experts out there with this knowledge and experience that they’ve built up, and then we have, in your community and in your city, you’ve got organizations and nonprofits that don’t have that knowledge and there’s a big need there. I really hope to figure out a way to connecting Lean practitioners, Six Sigma Black Belts to nonprofit organizations in their town or city, in their community. Hopefully, the company can support that, and even give paid time to go do that work and that can be part of their sustainability program. Kind of like the TSSC program, that they go out and work with nonprofits, and that’s part of their mission. They get good branding from that. That’s great publicity for them, and it’s fun for people who are doing the work, it’s so rewarding for them, you can just see it in the videos that they put out. It’s just really inspiring. I’d really like to figure out how we can build this community of practitioners that can go out and work with local nonprofits, or teach the government agencies who are interested in learning about this stuff that they just haven’t been exposed to it as much as us who have been in industry for a long time.

R:  I remember that, I’m sure you’ve seen it, that video with Toyota folks helping the food pantry. The one was that they weren’t filling the boxes all the way, so they’re putting these big cardboard boxes in the truck, but they weren’t full. I was like come on, that’s so awesome, these Lean people. Just love Toyota.

B:  Yeah, that video gets so much positive feedback when I play that. I’ve probably played it like 50 times. That’s my favorite and it’s so good, and it’s so simple for people to understand.

R:  We’ll link to it in the show notes for people.

B:  Yeah, if you haven’t seen that, you have to go watch that.

R:  It’s so good. I want to talk about the work that you’ve been doing with Lean Portland, but before then, the last question I have on this triple bottom line is if someone wants to get started just improving, in particular, let’s just focus on the planet side of that equation. What would you say? Where would you tell them to start or consider starting?

B:  There’s a couple of ways to go at it. One would be, as you’re doing your improvement, let’s say you got an opportunity to work on a kaizen event or a value stream map or a process map or a Six Sigma project or something, I think thinking about that WASTE acronym, and looking at, should we be capturing this is part of our business case, or as part of the opportunities in that effort, I think would be a good place to start. Or going back and looking at past improvements you’ve made and saying, did we save some energy when we were able to not have to run the equipment overtime on the weekend anymore? Have we actually captured that time? Did we save paper? Did we reduce the water usage? Did we make smaller batches and so there’s less rework, so less stuff went into the landfill, or had to be disposed of through hazardous waste and that cost impact? I think there’s probably a lot of that opportunity that hasn’t been captured. You might look back and say, I actually have done some stuff and didn’t even realize it. But I think, also, just bringing that mindset to the table that says, yeah, we’re looking at yields, we’re looking at inventory, we’re looking at cycle times, lead times, what about energy and what about the landfill costs and things like that?

R:  Gosh, I remember this guy back when I worked in industry. He was in the maintenance department of this company and he went around and he basically sought out and fixed all these really small air leaks, just around all of their equipment, and there was tons and tons. Somehow or another, I can’t remember how they quantified it, but it was just an incredible impact, just all these small little air leaks all over the place that you can’t even hardly hear, but it’s happening and it’s just wasted energy.

B:  One of the techniques is to do an energy treasure hunt or a gemba walk. GE came up with this approach I think or they worked with Toyota on this, but basically, you go in at night or on the weekends and you walk around the facility and you start looking for opportunities. Those air leaks, it’s maybe the first time they’re hearing them, because the equipment is not running, the air-conditioning is not running. All of a sudden, you hear these hissing sounds and you pursue them and you’re like that’s a little leak. There’s even calculators that say if it’s this size of hole, and you have this size of compressor, you’re probably losing this much money, and the compressors actually cost a lot of money to maintain and run. So those are great things to notice, and notice the lights are on, and notice that these fans are running and no one is there and the equipment is just sitting there idle and no one has powered it down.

So it’s combining that approach of going to the gemba, but you’re doing it at an odd time. You’re not going when the work is being done, it’s when the work is not being done, because there’s some other opportunity there. That’s an easy tool to try as well, especially around energy.

R:  I love it. Talk about your work with Lean Portland. What’s that all about?

B:  A couple of years ago, a guy named Matt Horvat, he put together a networking group here in Portland; I’m in Portland, Oregon. He also wanted to do some pro bono work with nonprofits as a way to get people organized around that and give back, and take his knowledge and everything he’s learned over the years and share that, but also to meet other people in the community that have the same background and knowledge and compare notes.

Over the last two years or so, we’ve been really getting organized around this, and we’ve started to work with about five or six different nonprofits now. Depending on the schedule and what the nonprofits need and who’s available, we take the volunteers and try to match them up and then go meet with them and talk about Lean concepts and show them the Toyota video and talk about five principles, and value stream mapping, and just give them an education and walk them through and help them with some kind of activity to implement these ideas, and see if it can take off.

A lot of the stuff we end up doing is we’ve gotten in good with a lot of nonprofits that have donation processes. That’s really nice because it’s almost like a manufacturing process, except you’re just getting supplies that you didn’t know you wanted or needed. In manufacturing, you’re ordering supplies. In a nonprofit donation, supplies just show up and so you have to almost react to that in the process, and try to figure out how do I flow it through our facility in an efficient way so it’s available for someone to go buy very quickly? We’re doing some work with that, and plus also looking at volunteers and how do you onboard them and set up processes that you would start a volunteer in that’s well marked, organized, color-coded, simplified so they can get up and running very quickly and be useful and feel like they’re contributing without spending [too much staff time training them]… What we were hearing is they were spending hours with staff trying to explain the processes to them, and that’s eating up the staff’s time, and the volunteer doesn’t feel like they’re actually contributing, and they probably may not come back again because their experience wasn’t very good. That’s the common thing that we’re hearing, but it’s been great.

We’re getting a lot of momentum and we’re building up our volunteer group and it’s just been really rewarding to be with other people who are volunteering, and huge knowledge gained from hearing, “What do you guys do at your facility?” So we’re comparing notes with the other volunteers, and then we’re also learning how to apply those to a new industry that’s in desperate need of it, so it’s been really cool. That’s the kind of model or something like that is really what I would like to promote, to see if others are interested in setting up groups like that in their city. We can help them or talk them through the process we went through and share some best practices for them.

R:  So good. I want to keep picking your brain, maybe even off-air, here a little bit more about the sustainability because, again, I want to do our small part here at Gemba Academy. We’re not a huge company, but still, we’re a company and I think maybe it’s the time, maybe next year, where we could create some courses on this topic because I think it’s something that, again, the whole Lean movement, it’s not against, but I just don’t think we’re on board enough. You go to AMEs and all the rest of these places and there’s pockets of it happening.

B:  Good pockets, absolutely. There was some good presentations I saw related to that. You’ve had some good guests on. I’ve got 10 podcasts I went back through and these are all tied to either Lean in Government or Lean in the Environment or you have strong folks around people. I can send you all the [episode] numbers I pulled up that are relevant to that.

R:  That would be great.

B:  There were quite a few.

R:  Help me research my own podcasts. I guess what I’m saying is I just feel like there’s a lot of good stuff happening, but it’s just not organized enough. We’ve got to get everyone doing it. So it’s kind of like we always said stop doing your Lean program, everyone just thinking this way, everyone working this way. It’s not a program; it’s a way that we work. I think we’ve got to get there with sustainability to where it’s everyone thinks this way.

B:  And it’s set up perfectly for it, it’s there. It’s so ripe and I think it’s just really tweaking a little bit here and there. It’s pulling your environment, safety, and health people, and your facilities people early into your event and making them participate to say, “Here’s our problems. By the way, yeah, we could actually cut out permit costs if we move things around, and didn’t have to have a second equipment.” Those opportunities, they can help identify so that would be some easy things you could do is involve the ES&H (environment, safety, and health) team, into your discussion and facilities because they have a lot of the infrastructure overhead, energy bills and stuff like that.

R:  Exactly. I’m excited. I think it’s good, and I can’t think of anything better, really, than protect our planet because without our planet and people, well, there’s really not much left, is there?

B:  There’s no business, yeah.

R:  There’s no profits, I know that.

B:  That’s right.

R:  Good stuff. Brion, what’s the best way for folks to connect with you?

B:  LinkedIn works really well. I’m at B-R-I-O-N Hurley. I don’t think there’s any other.

R:  I was going to say, you’ve got to throw everybody off with that O, right?

B:  Yeah, mix it up a little bit. I guess it helps identify me from the rest.

R:  That’s it. Brion Hurley, LinkedIn.

B:  Down in Portland, Oregon. And we can put a link in there.

R:  Yeah, we’ll link to all your social media in the show notes, that would be; this is episode 237. Maybe, Brion, send me all the other environmental or sustainability focused podcasts that we’ve done and I’ll link those too. You researched my own show, how about that? That’s awesome. Thanks for coming on. It’s been great, and keep up the great work and maybe we’ll have you back on the show next year or so, just to hear more about the good work that you’re doing up there in Portland.

B:  Okay, sounds great. If someone wants to set up something in their city, please reach out and connect. I’d love to talk to them about it and connect them with our Lean Portland group. It only takes one or two people to get excited about it, and make a connection with a nonprofit. I think that’s a huge opportunity and the audience you’ve created, Ron, would be perfect for this, so I’m really excited for the opportunity to talk to you.

R:  Good stuff. Thanks, Brion. Take care.

B:  Okay, thanks.

R:  Thanks for listening to the Gemba Academy podcast. Now, we invite you to take a no-strings-attached, fully functional test drive of Gain immediate access to more than 1000 Lean and Six Sigma learning resources, all free of charge, at

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