• Joe Rizzo. Director of the New England Lean

“World Class”

Two friends of mine, formerly from the Maine MEP, John Dubois, President at Optimize, Inc. & Tandem Training Corp. and Dennis Grogan, President at Austin-Corp. and the California Lean Council, recently announced that they would be conducting a Podcast to discuss the topic of “What it means to be a World Class Lean Enterprise?” I responded to their announcement with a word of caution that they first need to define “World Class” as the term means different things to different people.

For instance, over 22.8% of the manufacturing companies in the United States have fifty or less employees. Another 12.8% have between 50-99 employees. Those companies deal mostly at the local levels, in the cities, states or regions where they are located. Some do have international business. However, are they really interested in being “World Class” or the best in the world?

What are the metrics that define “World Class”? Is there a governing body that declares companies as being “World Class” at the end of each year?

My last full time position was the World Class Manager for Saft Batteries in Jacksonville, FL. Saft is an international company based in France, with operations in eighteen countries and having fourteen manufacturing locations. Saft does have competitors. To Saft, being the best in the world at the manufacture, sales and distribution of industrial batteries, primarily nickel/cadmium and lithium ion batteries, really means something.

World Class was the name of their Continuous Improvement program. Each site had a World Class Manager. I recall making several major improvements at the brand new plant in Jacksonville, Fl. Not all were perceived as being “World Class”. In those instances, I had to make changes, but with no clear direction as to what “World Class” was.

Dennis and John have invited me to participate in their Podcast, which will air in January. I have accepted their invitation.

I would like to start a conversation within the New England Lean Consortium.

  • What does the term “World Class” mean to you?

  • Do you or your company care about being “World Class”?

  • Are you striving to become “World Class”?

I welcome any and all comments on this subject. Please respond via email to jrizzo43@bellsouth.net