Jeff Kopenitz is an Advanced Manufacturing Lean Master with more than 38 years of experience in the manufacturing and service industries and expertise in Lean Six Sigma training and deployment. He sat down with us to discuss how he uses DVIRC’s proprietary Winning Teams™ Continuous Improvement Training to help his manufacturing clients improve their operating income and build a culture of Continuous Improvement.
1. Can you describe your average workday as a Continuous Improvement (CI) expert?
I see each day as an opportunity to learn and grow. In my role as a CI specialist, I am privileged to work with a wide variety of clients and people from different industries. Each client engagement provides me with the chance to further develop and understand the challenges businesses are facing today.
In my role I can train, consult, or coach organizations in their pursuit of enterprise excellence.
Every day provides new challenges that clients are attempting to overcome. I get the opportunity to partner with these clients and help them achieve the goals and objectives of their business. It’s exciting and very rewarding to see companies learn and grow. It’s a great feeling when an individual or client shares their appreciation for what they have accomplished, it’s a real motivator.
2. How do you start with a new CI client?
When starting work with a client, I follow a systematic approach. My first target condition is to learn what is the client trying to do. Does the client have a chronic ongoing problem that just will not go away? Is the client trying to modify the organization’s culture in a way that integrates continuous improvement into its daily work environment?
There is a time-tested adage by “Charles Kettering” that states a problem that is well stated or defined is a problem that is half solved.
I attempt to deeply understand what the client is pursuing. This first step is key to developing a helpful approach. With an understanding of what the client is trying to do I then examine the current condition. What is currently happening? I partner with the client to take a deep dive into their current status. Are current results meeting expectations? What is the condition of the organizational culture, patterns, and processes that produce the results?
With the overall Challenge defined and a good understanding of the current condition, we can determine where the client would like to be next. And we start working towards achieving that first target condition with small, but rapid P-D-C-A (Plan, Do, Check, Adjust) improvement cycles. This process is repeated over and over until the client reaches their Challenge.
Jeff believes that “a workforce without the power to think is like having a vehicle without an engine, it’s going nowhere”. He strives to make sustainable continuous improvement part of a company’s culture by incorporating organizational development, systems thinking, and change management techniques into his education training and consulting practice.
3. What are some of the issues that clients are dealing with right now?
I see three major issues across the business landscape today; they include a high level of complexity, change, and competition. These 3 C’s are forcing all organizations to pursue higher levels of agility, flexibility, and adaptability across their organizations.
Today’s leaders need to engage all associates who work in the business to also work on the business. This need is paramount with the current labor shortages and supply chain challenges that are plaguing all industries.
The organizations that realize their most valuable asset in their business today is their people and they need to support and grow their capabilities. This growth is supported and promoted by organizational leaders who can embrace a servant-leadership style- focusing primarily on the growth and well-being of their people. The servant-leader puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.
4. How do you help clients solve these issues?
As mentioned above my first step is to understand where the client would like to be. With that in mind, I can then partner with clients and provide training, consulting, mentoring, and coaching services. I find that each client’s needs are somewhat unique.
Partnering with organizations to drive change into their workplace is a passion that I have.
Developing customized training and consulting services not only addresses process improvements by applying lean and six sigma tools and new standard work methods; but most importantly we help organizations grow their team’s social skills, including effective communication and team-based problem-solving.
For many years we have focused on implementing lean tools and have ignored the importance of the social/human side of continuous improvement. Associates often resist change and feel victimized by change – our approach enables them to contribute to and be a part of positive changes. That’s a challenge well worth pursuing and very rewarding as clients and I learn, share, and grow together.
Our proprietary brand is called Winning Teams™. Our unique approach includes “applied learning”.
People get energized and love being a part of this professional development. The organization improves its bottom line while developing its talent. People feel valued and empowered given the tools to continuously improve. This also supports employee retention and is a powerful competitive advantage.
The Winning Teams™ program, developed over years of delivering Continuous Improvement training to hundreds of companies, offers a customizable “learn and apply” approach that enhances an organization’s team-based problem-solving skills, combining the technical tools, and desired behaviors of Lean, leadership, coaching, and organizational development.
Thinking about applying Winning Teams™ within your organization? Contact our Customer Support & Success specialist Teri Grumbrecht or fill out the online contact form here.