More than 250 delegates from 60 organisations across Ireland learned just how critical it is for companies of all sizes to adopt lean practices to remain competitive in an increasingly global market at a major forum in Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) last week.
The 2nd annual lean forum, entitled “Lean Horizons: Pathways to Sustaining Operational Excellence” was run by the School of Business, in association with the Innovation & Lean Sigma (I&LS) Skillnet and the Irish Centre for Business Excellence (ICBE).
The School of Business’ Lean Forum examined what it takes to thrive using Lean strategies and management systems. It also considered the critical issue of employee engagement and how that enables Lean transformations and the sustaining of a culture of enterprise excellence.
Mr Darrin Taylor, event organiser and WIT’s Joint Programme Director of the Master of Business in Lean Practice, said “In response to international competitiveness, recent years have seen increased focus on Lean philosophy and practice by organisations of all sizes and across all sectors. In fact many organisations now consider the effective adoption of Lean Thinking as being critical to their strategic effectiveness, as well as their operational and overall enterprise excellence.
“The importance of Lean is further reflected in Irish Government policy and strategy, and the recent Forfás Making it in Ireland: Manufacturing 2020 report and the Forfás Future Skills Needs report both emphasise that Lean principles and sustainable manufacturing cannot be ignored by any firm in Ireland today”.
This year’s keynote speaker was Professor Peter Hines, Chairman and co-founder of S A Partners, co-founder of the Lean Enterprise Research Centre at Cardiff University, and renowned academic, author, thought-leader, and practitioner in Lean.
Dr Martina Goldring, Strategy & Business Development Manager at Genzyme – A Sanofi Company, outlined Genzyme’s Lean Strategy for the coming years, and Noel Hennessey, Continuous Improvement Director at Lake Region Medical, a Shingo Bronze Medallion company, stressed the critical role that true employee engagement plays in enabling and sustaining enterprise excellence.
Concluding the morning session was Professor Dr Richard Keegan, Director of Enterprise Ireland’s Competitiveness Department and Head of the Lean Business Offer, who detailed the role and importance of Lean from national and organisational competitiveness perspectives, and outlined how Enterprise Ireland’s Lean Business Offer can assist indigenous organisations on their Lean journeys.
Six parallel breakout sessions followed on key elements pertaining to lean, continuous improvement, and enterprise excellence delivered by representatives from S A Partners, Beaumont Hospital, DePuy Synthes, Johnson & Johnson, Genzyme – A Sanofi Company, and LeanUnlimited. These focused sessions provided attendees with applied and practical benefits that they could take back to their own organisations.
The forum concluded with a plenary session that explored "What’s on the Horizon” providing an interesting and interactive discussion involving the audience, Professor Peter Hines, Dr Martina Goldring, Noel Hennessey, and Shane Maher and Mick Cunliffe from DePuy Synthes, the latter a recent Shingo Gold Prize winner, along with Abbott Clonmel.
Posters describing research of current Master of Business in Lean Practice students were also displayed and received much attention from attendees. The posters were a reflection of the practical, applied nature of the Lean Practice programmes at WIT - an attribute that received much praise from both programme participants and industry practitioners alike.
There are 32 students with combined work experience of more than 600 years from the widest cross-section of industry studying on lean programmes at the Institute at present.
The School of Business is currently recruiting for the September intake and you can find more information on both the Postgraduate Diploma in Business in Lean Practice and the Master of Business in Lean Practice at www.wit.ie/Lean.