Lean Enterprise Program Graduate Helps Create Lean Culture at the Workplace

Kris ManningKris Manning graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, then went on to earn his MBA from the University of Maryland. Upon graduating, he was hired by Clark Construction, a building and civil construction firm with more than a century of award-winning projects throughout the United States. For the past 17 years, Manning has held various roles across the country for this local builder. In the spring of 2014, he was determined to help create a Lean culture within the organization, and enrolled in the Lean Enterprise program at SDSU’s College of Extended Studies.

How did you hear about SDSU’s Lean Enterprise program?
Google. I was searching for a program that focused on Lean and SDSU was by the far the most impressive.

Did you have any “aha” moments when the class went onsite to local businesses to see Lean in practice?
We visited Chromalloy and Taylor Guitars and the one thing that I saw at both places was the commitment to improvement at every level of the organization, both in the layout of the workspace as well as the employees on the floor that we spoke to. The employees were “masters” of their workspace as well as the hand-offs to the next step in the process and that was exciting to see.

What was your Lean team project and what did you learn from it?
We realized that being efficient in a process that doesn’t add any value is simply waste and very often prohibits the flow of work — either in the office or on a jobsite. When our group studied our bid process for our group project, we realized (by using a metric-based process map) that our estimators were very efficient at certain processes; however, the more we studied the process it became evident that despite originally celebrating their efficiency, these processes added no value in finalizing our bids and winning new work. The program provided us an opportunity to see these “efficient” activities in a new light. We have since eliminated them from our new (refined) bid process.

How long did it take to complete the certificate and how many hours per week did you invest?
Twelve weeks. In addition to the class time, the total time was 12 to 15 hours per week.

What did you think of the quality and experience of the instructors?
I was very impressed with both the quality and level of expertise.

Do you find yourself applying Lean principles in your everyday life?
All of the time, to the point that my wife is no longer making fun of me and now recognizing areas in her daily routine that can be improved, particularly when it comes to getting our kids ready in the morning.

Would you recommend SDSU’s Lean Enterprise program to others?
Absolutely. What you learn about Lean will truly change your life because you cannot help from looking for (and finding) waste in everything you do.

Anything else you’d like to add?
I would recommend this program to anybody at any level in any organization; however, for the organization to truly benefit, the students must have the support of a supervisor who has the ability to implement change within their part of the organization.