Lean Café – A Covid response idea that has legs!

For 30 years, the EU-Japan Centre has helped EU managers develop their understanding of Operations Improvement concepts such as World Class Manufacturing, the Toyota Production System through sharing of ideas and experiences. In 2013, after many years organising WCM study Missions to Japan, the Centre initiated “Lean in Europe” factory visits to host companies in Europe willing to open their doors and share their stories of implementing lean to improve their performance by developing their people.

By the start of the pandemic there had been 26 Lean in Europe visits to companies such as Lego or Danfoss. Two planned visits in early 2020 were cancelled with the outbreak of Covid. But the Centre did not want to stop supporting the Community of enthusiasts that had developed and wanted to still add value through sharing. This desire led to the creation of the “Lean Café” – a virtual event where “host” companies share their story and are open to answering questions. The first event was hosted by our friends in the Toyota Lean Management Centre in Deeside, North Wales. To date we have delivered 11 Lean Café events. The programme for 2022 is under development with a large list of people suggesting their business for a Café session. The short, focused nature of the Lean Café, using technology to conquer the challenges of time and distance has proven successful. 

We have just passed the 500 mark for participants. The results and feedback from participants has led the Centre to plan a blended approach to the best practice sharing activity into the future mixing a return to the Lean in Europe site visits planned when conditions allow with continued support for the Lean Café concept, to further advance the sharing of good and best practice within Europe.

Contact for details of future sessions.

Picture: Some of the participants at the 11th Lean Café session

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