Hello! My name is Patrick Downey, and I love lean thinking and application. My lean journey began in 2008 when our company first began piloting lean in several of our manufacturing facilities, one of which I was lucky enough to be working at during the kickoff. So relative to many others who have been on their journey for many years, I am still a newbie! When we were first taught about lean concepts and tools, I found everything completely logical and applicable to our problems and opportunities. In a manufacturing environment it was easy to walk out to the floor and see waste and find problems galore to solve. I ate up as much lean information as I could, reading books, blogs, visiting outside lean companies, watching webinars, and participating in teaching sessions from our consultants.
After a few years I transferred back to our staff location where the lean journey was just beginning. I tried to apply many of the tools and thinking to the work I was doing, but found it was much harder to see the waste, figure out what problems were the right ones to be working on, and I saw it was even harder for those who were just beginning to learn about lean and weren’t bought in yet. Over time, I’ve gotten more involved with understanding what the “machines” are within our staff processes and it has become easier to see the waste again.
I started this blog for several reasons, but one is in the hopes that if I write about how I view processes in business and in everyday life, and how I observe waste in those areas, that it will provide some benefit to those who were like me, starting out on their lean journey and hungry for more knowledge. I mean, the hypothesis for just about any blog is “I think I have something to say, and I think other people will find value in it”, right? Well, we’ll test that hypothesis!
I feel very fortunate to work for such a great company that is investing time, money and energy into their lean transformation, and even more fortunate that I happen to get a front-row seat to that transformation. Since I really like working for said company, I feel obligated to mention that “The views expressed within this blog and any other communications from Forever Kaizen are solely the views of the owner, Patrick Downey, and do not reflect the views of any company I work for currently nor any company I have worked for, or with, in the past.” You will not likely see specifics around company kaizen events or process and product innovations, I tend to keep the tone conversational and generic or high-level when discussing lean within our company.
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants (acknowledgements)
Earlier I called myself a newbie, and that is true. I haven’t done anything like invent the “Patrick Downey Lean Transformation Fieldbook”. Everything I have learned about lean has been thanks to the guidance of teachers along the way as we applied the thinking and tools. And as I look back even prior to lean, there are likely several teachers and experiences along the way that helped shape me into who I am today. I always consider myself an amalgam of all those experiences, taking the best of it all forward – the best known way to do things today. So my passion is based on those who have gone before me and been thoughtful enough to pass on the knowledge. In particular, I’d like to call out James, Kerry, Nick, Aimee, and Peter for being exemplary leaders and peers in our lean transformation, stating that “we will make this the best lean pilot ever” and then having the discipline and the passion to shoot for that ideal. Also to Rob and Lance for recognizing the need to push forward and begin the lean journey at the staff level, and not holding up progress for the sake of perfection or worrying about immediate ROI. And to Chris, for taking it upon himself to push me beyond my limits. My first lean teachers, in a group setting, were from Lean Pathways – Pascal Dennis and Al Norval. Their philosophy for building capability in others so that they may think for themselves and sustain the improvements is ingrained in me, and is what drives me to act and teach in the way that I do. I have to call out Suzette, Bryan, Chris, and Troy for allowing me to cut my teeth on building capability in them, and also for teaching me what you can do with passion, energy, direction and whitespace. And I’ll even go back to my high school calculus and geometry teacher, James Brandt, whose method of teaching how to do derivatives of kumquats probably helped lay the groundwork for my brain to figure out that standardizing the process through which “work” passes allows you to apply the process to nearly any situation no matter how complicated. And to my wife Kristy, who may roll her eyes when I tell her we need to standardize how many gallons of milk we buy to avoid wasteful “rework trips” to the grocery store during the week, but is still supportive of me and my passion for lean.