• Joe Rizzo. Director of the New England Lean

Differences Between Joining a Professional Organization and a Lean Consortium

One of the main differences is membership in an organization like SME or AME, is on an individual basis and membership in a Lean Consortium is for companies and organizations.

People join organizations like SME, to stay current with the technology in their chosen field, to network, to gain certification, and to further their careers.

People in the Quality function join ASQ. Industrial Engineers join AIIE. Chemical Engineers join AIChe, etc. Meetings are usually once a month, with networking time, dinner, and a presentation. The AME Northeast Region has adopted that model with their monthly “Dine and Learn” events.

A Lean Consortium is for Lean Leaders in companies or organizations that want to take their Continuous Improvement Programs to the next level.

There are usually 12 to 16 companies in the Lean Consortium.Member companies meet once per month or once every other month, at one of the member companies.

Continuous Improvement

The main objective of the Lean Consortium is for the members to share best practices and share resources.

A typical meeting would last four hours and would have an agenda as follows:

  • Lunch and networking

  • Company presentation focusing on their Lean activities, not so much on their business.

  • A Plant Tour highlighting their Lean activities with opportunities to talk with the operators.

  • Presentations by the operators on one or more of their kaizens.

  • Plus/Delta feedback session. The plus list would include those items which the attendees would take back to their plant to implement.

  • The Delta would be improving ideas for the host company, as a reward for hosting the meeting.

Another important benefit of belonging to a Lean Consortium is the value of a fresh set of eyes looking at your operation.

People, who know nothing about your operation, will often see things that don't make sense to them and ask the question, "Why do you do that?" A typical response is, "We have always done it that way." Or, they would ask, “Why do you do it that way?”

Sometimes we get so tied up fighting fires, solving problems and responding to customer changes, that we fail to see the obvious waste that is taking place in our own places of work. It is like not seeing the forest for the trees.

A Lean Consortium also is a way to entice companies to continue with their Continuous Improvement program, as the members will return to that company 6 to 12 months later and they will want to see some improvement.

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