Lean Practitioner Training Berea College December 2016

Posted On:

By: Mark Robinson

Last week, on 6 and 7 December, I was at Berea College, Berea, Kentucky, USA. I was there to deliver a two-day Lean training programme. There were 12 participants in all; six from Berea College, and six from institutions in Alabama, Missouri and from elsewhere in Kentucky.

Our venue was the historic Boone Tavern, and one of the attendees was descended from a sister of the American pioneer, explorer, woodsman, and frontiersman Daniel Boone. It is amazing the things you discover when people, as part of the round the room introductions, are asked to, as well as the usual details, offer something interesting about themselves. All I could offer that was US related was that one of my 4x great grandfathers, William Watson, was in Florida from 1766 to 1784. He was a carpenter for some time, then later became an architect/house builder of some renown. Some of his buildings still exist in St. Augustine to this day.

Boone Tavern, Berea, KY
Boone Tavern, Berea, KY

Back to the training programme. As there were no pre-programme readings, there was no pressure on anyone to do anything ahead of the first day.

The material covered included:

Day 1

  1. Lean at St Andrews: Overview of history and development
  2. Introduction to Lean: Including Philosophy, Definition, History, Fundamentals, Principles, Wastes
  3. Common Lean Tools and Techniques: Including SIPOC, Ease-Benefits Analysis, 5S and Standard Work

Dotted throughout the day were a number of Lean games (e.g. Ball Game, Paper Plane Game, 5S Game), discussion of case studies and of lessons learned over the years at St Andrews.

Day 2

The St Andrews Eight Step Model: This was a hands-on day taking participants through the model from Request to Feedback. We simulated a Lean project and focussed on the Scoping and Redesign stages of the model. We created a BOSCARD, mapped out our current state and then generated and analysed our ideas for improvement.

Process Mapping at Berea College
Ideas analysis at Berea College

Now, what did the attendees have to say about the programme:

‘Thank you so much for a really informational and helpful eye opening program, it changed my way of thinking and way of approaching problems forever!’

‘The material was a review in some ways for me and very well done’

‘Your experience is extremely valuable and provides a roadmap for our work’

‘Someone said before I came that I could check email if it got boring – it was never boring! I enjoyed the heck out of this’

Of course, in the spirit of continuous improvement, feedback also indicated that perhaps I should give more explanation of the Lean games we played, and consider the volume of material covered. Some felt that the content would be better spread over three days rather than two. 

All feedback is valuable and will be considered well before we deliver the programme again. If you are interested in the programme being delivered at your institution, whether in the USA or elsewhere, let us know.

Now, what can I tell you about Berea College? Well, it is a very special institution. The College offers a high-quality education to bright and talented students who have limited economic resources. Founded in 1855 by ardent abolitionists and radical reformers, Berea was the first interracial and coeducational college in the South. Today, Berea is consistently ranked as one of the leading private liberal arts colleges in the United States.

Some factoids about the College:

  • It has an annual enrolment of about 1,600 students
  • It charges no tuition, so students graduate with little or no debt
  • Each student receives a tuition scholarship worth nearly $100,000 for four years
  • The College is one of only seven federally recognised Work Colleges in the United States
  • Berea primarily serves the Appalachian region and the Commonwealth of Kentucky
  • The College has an extensive collection of personal papers, organisational records, photographs, oral histories and non-commercial musical recordings gathered over nearly a century, documenting the history and culture of the Southern Appalachian region
  • Located 35 miles south of Lexington, where Kentucky’s Bluegrass region meets the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains

I will end by saying that process improvement is in very good hands at Berea College.


If you would like to find out more about what we do and how we can help, you can contact us here.

All Entries