CI Conference: Setting the Stage
Amid the warm weather and dry, desert air of Scottsdale, Arizona, the 2022 Continuous Improvement Conference, presented by PRINTING United Alliance, began May 1. The annual conference serves as a strong central point for continuous improvement efforts across print segments, and for efforts that boost productivity and build healthy cultures. This year’s event, held at the Doubletree Resort by Hilton Paradise Valley, brings together more than 150 industry professionals and subject matter experts, all convened for the purpose of process improvement.
The day before the official start of the Conference, three concurrent “intensive” sessions were presented, designed to provide a deeper view into key concepts, and in one case, provide the basic structure of knowledge upon which a successful lean effort can be built.
Providing essential information for professionals and companies new to lean manufacturing concepts, “Introduction to Lean,” presented by Kyle Randels, Arizona Manufacturing Extension Project (Tempe, Arizona), described its primary processes and benefits. Using a simulation, participants were able to see and experience the benefits of lean firsthand.
In another session, John Compton, Compton & Associates (Naples, Florida) presented “Standard Work: What It Is, How to Create It, How to Improve It,” an intensive session focused on how maintaining stability in manufacturing can reduce variation, solve problems, and improve processes. Using an interactive simulation, his session demonstrated the value of standard work in a way that it could be seen and experienced.
About his session, Compton said he hopes, “the key takeaway is that improvement is a continuous activity with many methods to be used." Standard work, he says, is one of those methods, but there has to be an inner desire to be curious. “I think curiosity is the secret sauce for continuous improvement,” Compton says. For these activities, he says, "technology is the master, and quality is the servant.”
Another pre-conference session, “Leadership Skills for Engaging Employees in CI,” was presented by Jamie Parker, Process + Results Leadership Coaching (Denver, Colorado). Built on a concept that respect for people leads to essential engagement, Parker’s presentation focused on how teams can change outmoded, unhelpful behaviors, exchanging them for new approaches that foster CI transformations. Parker described her session as being, “super interactive, with great energy and great sharing. We made great connections.”
About the session, George Trachilis of Global Research Institute said a key takeaway was, “The need to translate our wishes for a better place into specific activities that happen.” It is effective communication, he says, that makes it work.
Old Friends, New Acquaintances
Assembled on a beautiful evening for refreshment and robust networking attendees gathered for a welcome reception. Together, newbies and veterans shared continuous improvement experiences and goals, chatted with old friends and fostered new connections, and anticipated the three days to follow.
At the reception, Stephanie Larios of Bay Cities Packaging & Design (Pico Rivera, California), who is attending the Continuous Improvement Conference for the first time, said she is attending the event because she is trying to move continuous improvement practices into the company, and build a culture around its concepts. “Our CEO is helping me gain more information to see if this is the right path for me,” she says, noting she’s already served as a valuable, improvement focused communication channel between production staff and management.