Back together, learning

UK lean summit 2023

INTERVIEW – In April, the Lean Enterprise Academy in the UK is hosting its first in-person summit since before the pandemic. We caught up with their CEO to hear about the event.

Interviewee: Dave Brunt, CEO, Lean Enterprise Academy

Planet Lean: What is the theme of this year’s summit?

Dave Brunt: We have structured the Summit around a set of key topics. While designing the event, we could see that there were four issues that came up frequently. We have turned these into the following question to ask:

  • How can lean thinking and practice help us navigate the key problems facing us today? This includes:
    • The productivity challenge and cost pressures.
    • Supply chain disruption.
    • The environmental crisis.
    • Lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic.

In addition, we wanted to highlight once more the importance of the Lean transformation Framework. We think questions to ask are much more relevant than tools to copy, however, and so we are also asking:

  • How do you use the Lean Transformation Framework (LTF) to transform your business?
  • How do the best companies develop their strategies, gain consensus, and turn them into action?
  • What is the lean approach to problem solving?
  • How do the best companies develop and build their lean management system?
  • How do the best companies develop and engage team members – developing a kaizen mindset?

PL: What kind of organizations will present at the event? 

DB: The content is organised as a series of plenary talks and interactive learning sessions. We have a fantastic range of speakers and companies ready to share their stories.

To provide context to the productivity challenge, we’ve asked Alec Steel from the National Audit Office to discuss the key issues. We’ve then got interactive learning sessions designed to help you think through the gaps that exist in your approach. For example, those interested in improving their productivity performance will find the work being done at both Incentive FM and CSL Seqirus to engage everyone to help improve the work particularly useful. Additionally, the learning sessions on how to develop effective problem solvers and the session on building an effective management system are key to improving productivity.

In terms of supply chain disruption, we will present our research in this area. It’s an area we are particularly interested in. We will share how we have been developing learning processes to teach and coach organisations to close performance gaps in supply issues.

The environmental crisis is an ever present challenge for all of us. John Manning of Ecobat will be accompanied by Neil Trivedi, co-author of The Green Factory: Creating Lean and Sustainable Manufacturing to discuss how lean thinking and practice is intrinsic in developing sustainable activities.

We also have a wide range of cases, from Fred Schnider’s story of how Iberia has dramatically improved its MRO (maintenance and repair operations) slashing lead-time by 90% during the Covid-19 pandemic to Nicolas Chartier’s work to develop Aramis Auto as one of the dominant online used car retailers. We also have a fantastic story from cardiac healthcare shared by Professor David Smith of Morriston Hospital.

Finally, we know just how important kaizen is in everything we do. We are delighted that Toyota has agreed to share reflections on how they go about developing kaizen spirit and we’ve also asked Sharon Visser, author of Lean Houses for Dragons, to provide her reflections of doing this from scratch. Our Chairman Dan Jones will challenge us to think about where Lean Thinking goes next.

With sectors as diverse as retail, manufacturing, engineering, pharmaceuticals, airlines, service and healthcare, there is something for everyone – whether you are a seasoned lean thinker or someone who is just starting out on their lean journey.

Lean Summit UK companies

PL: How has your approach to designing summits changed over the years?

DB: We now ask for a lot more feedback from the lean community. For this year’s event, we have asked where people wanted it, what problems they were facing, who they want to see, and so on. However, we still focus on a set of questions and match each speaker to the questions, rather than thinking of speakers and then designing the event around them.

PL: Any reflections over what we learned about learning over the past couple years?

DB: We have several speakers discussing how they coped with Covid-19, the Iberia case study being a good example. We’ve done a lot of experiments with online learning since the pandemic, and we will share some of this too. We know lean is situational. Learning is too, which means that blended approaches are important in this regard. In terms of the event, we will have Serhii from Lean Institute Ukraine speak over video – we feel it important that he shares his story with our audience. Our acceptance of the technology makes this possible. However, this is an in-person event. We think it’s important to have face-to-face events again, because they are the best way for people to develop their networks. Side conversations often create a lot of value for participants.

PL: Why should people attend?  

DB: Lean thinkers know how important it is to define purpose. So, here’s why we are organizing this summit:

  • To share how Lean Thinking can be used to solve the problems of today and tomorrow (it has a unique perspective that helps face problems and close gaps, no matter how big they might be – from the pandemic to the consequences of a war).
  • To raise awareness of the latest developments in Lean Thinking and Practice (our background in research, we recognize the importance of showcasing the frontiers of lean, which currently include embedding it in digital processes, new ways to teach, coach and engage team members, and lessons that are applicable to multiple sectors).
  • To provide insights into practical ways to get started, deepen, or enhance your lean journey and transformation (most of our attendees are senior leaders, line managers, and lean practitioners – each group having different needs, but all being interested in how they can take their efforts to the next level).
  • To enable participants to build their own network of lean thinkers (each year customers tell us that our Summit is the not-to-be-missed event of the year for anyone wanting to transform and or sustain their gains).

PL: What can they expect to learn?

DB: There are lots of learning opportunities at the event and at the pre-Summit masterclasses, a series of half-day workshops designed to introduce people to specific elements of the Lean Transformation Framework. I’m running one myself, on how to use the LTF. Former Toyota manager David Marriott will lead a session on problem solving and Peter Watkins will share insights into how to build a lean management system. Darren Walsh is doing a session on kaizen culture. Participants will be able to mix and match and also access our online Lean Learning Journey platform for supplementary materials.

The UK Lean Summit will be held on the April, 18th and 19th at The Spine in Liverpool, with Pre-Summit Masterclasses on April 17th.



Dave Brunt photograph

Dave Brunt is CEO of the Lean Enterprise Academy in the UK.