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Lean Consortium Pivots Through the Pandemic, Opens to New Members

The Lean Consortium announced this week that its doors are open to new members for the coming year. 

The organization has pivoted through significant logistical challenges over the past two years. In addition to process improvement, today’s Consortium develops Lean leaders and backs top executives with fellowship and support.

“Our members helped drive changes that gave them value through a unique time in history,” said Elizabeth Peters, Consortium Facilitator. “Today’s Consortium addresses labor and leadership challenges that business executives face every day.”

The Lean Consortium is a community that works together to learn Lean principles and methods, then apply them to each other’s businesses. Each member company engages three people who go through Lean Leadership training, then serve on improvement events—called “kaizen”—at different sites throughout the year.

Kaizen Events Reduce Waste in Processes

These kaizen events (highly focused, rapid improvement activities) involve direct, hands-on changes at the hosting company with a professional facilitator. The team makes rapid changes to immediately reduce waste and create standard work for a process.

One recent example is in the potting and laydown operation at Robinson Nursery of McMinnville, Oregon. The Peters Company worked with Robinson leaders to prepare for the event. Teams members from multiple companies then came in, examined the process and made changes over three days. New standard work resulted in a 52 percent productivity improvement. The crew size reduced from 20 to 15 while overall output increased 26 percent. Crew members engaged with the event team in creating the new standard work.

“We’re amazed at how many new ideas consortium members bring that we just never thought of before,” said Rock Kelly, Robinson Nursery Container Farm Manager. “We just don’t get that kind of opportunity in our day-to-day workplace.”

Leader Development a Key Aspect of Consortium

Today’s consortium is more than just classes and events. It involves a complete Lean Leader course for three people per company, live coaching, 24/7 online resources, and bi-weekly discussions with C-suite executives from member companies. Members leverage the program to develop critical thinking and leadership capabilities of key staff. 

“The program exposes us to the business side of our industry and allows us to glean so much in a short period of time” said Kelly. “We’re now thinking outside the box with all the years of experience the consortium brings together.”

Five companies currently participate with the Lean Consortium: Bailey Nurseries, Eshraghi Nursery, JLPN Liners, Peoria Gardens, and Robinson Nursery. 

The Consortium is managed by Rick and Elizabeth Peters, professional Lean practitioners who have worked with nurseries and agriculture companies since 2007. 

“The Peters are great to work with and have become mentors to our Robinson team,” said Kelly. “They bring a level of professional expertise to the process that doesn’t exist anywhere else in our industry.”

The 2022 Lean Consortium program year begins in January. For more information, visit www.petersco.net/consortium or contact Elizabeth Peters, 503-250-2235 or epeters@petersco.net.