Is Continuous Improvement Safe in your Company?

Presented By:

David Verble & Mike Orzen


Session Abstract:

To contribute to improved company performance, a culture of continuous improvement (CI) requires working conditions where people feel safe about sharing ideas, asking for help, disagreeing with one another, and exploring unproven ideas. Leaders pay a major role in fostering this environment and in creating a shared expectation that everyone’s role is to speak up, engage and actively participate in the learning and discovery processes of CI.


Many organizations assume they have created a CI culture by announcing that employees are empowered to solve problems and therefore expect their improvement efforts to yield significant results.  Yet CI efforts often fall short of delivering the expected benefits and sustaining the focus and energy of engagement efforts in the organization often proves to be a much more difficult task than anyone anticipated.  Every organization has long established and deep-rooted assumptions about what can be said and done and what cannot, and who can do what and who cannot.


Think of your organization:  who does most of the talking in team huddles, problem solving discussions and team meetings?  Do your leaders do more telling or asking?  Do your people actively engage in CI work without being asked to do so?  Do people freely speak up to point out problems and step up to acknowledge? When was the last time you heard a leader say, “I don’t know and I need your help.  What do you think?”

This workshop will explore the specific leadership behaviors needed to create a safe culture where CI can flourish.  The focus will be on helping you be more aware of what happens in your huddles, reviews and staff meeting and how these things affect engagement.  You will be introduced to skills and techniques you can use and teach others to increase participation, sharing and trust in your teams and work groups.  Using open discussions, demonstrations and break out exercises we will see what these behaviors look, sound and feel like, so you can practice them as soon as you are back at work!


About the Facilitators:

David Verble, has been a performance improvement consultant and coach since 2000. Prior to that, he worked for North American Toyota for fourteen years, first as an internal change agent and later as the Manager of Human Resource Development for North American Manufacturing.

He has been on the workshop faculty of the Lean Enterprise Institute for 14 years and has done presentations and workshops to support a number of the LEI affiliates in the Lean Global Network. David has worked with clients in manufacturing, healthcare, financial services and higher education in North America, Europe, the Middle-East, Asia and Australia.  His programs focus on process management and improvement, leadership development, coaching, building PDCA problem solving skills, strategy deployment and support of cultural change for lean.

David is a founding partner in the Lean Transformation Group (LTG).)  LTG uses value stream mappin

Mike Orzen’s passion for continual improvement and effective Enterprise Excellence methodologies help clients build a healthy organizational culture that prioritizes respectfully engaging people, improving business process capability through enabling people, and leveraging information technology to drive a culture of operational excellence.

Mike is coauthor of the award-winning book “Lean IT: Enabling and Sustaining Your Lean Enterprise.” The principles of the book extend far beyond Information Technology (IT) and apply to all aspects of business, particularly the support functions of any organization.

Mike Orzen holds degrees from Stanford University and the University of Oregon, as well as certifications in Management Accounting, Production and Inventory Control, Project Management, Six Sigma, ITIL, and Agile.

Mike is a 30-year practitioner of yoga and meditation and has completed over twenty long-distance running races. He is active in several local charities and community projects. Mike actively coaches and mentors several students ranging in age from 25 to 65.