XII Session of the Russian Lean School: New Faces, New Topics

The main Lean training event of the year recently finished in St. Petersburg. Enthusiasts of Lean Forum public movement had a meeting at the School.

Alexander Borodin

12th Session of the Russian Lean School (“Production Systems Development”) was held on June 6 – 8, 2012. It is a traditional event for training top managers of the leading Russian companies in the most advanced methods of building efficient business; this year it returned to St. Petersburg (the previous 11th session took place in Moscow in November). The main venue was Railways Center of Scientific and Technical Information. Some of the workshops were held at Locomotive Depot 15 of October Railways and at Lenpoligraphmash OJSC.

It’s also a tradition for those who organize Lean School – Orgprom Group and “Lean Forum. Lean Production Professionals” Inter-Regional Public Movement – to give the participants something special. This time there were two specialties. The first was a leading US business consultant Lawrence Miller who did two full-scale training classes for the first time in our country. Both were included in the XII session of the Lean School. Let me remind you that many famous foreign experts have participated in master classes, seminars and trainings within previous Lean Schools: Jeffrey Liker, Michel Baudin, David Meier, Sucru Tetik, Brian Maskell, Kioshi Suzaki and others.

The second specialty was the Lean study tour to Finland following the Lean School workshops. The participants visited several famous companies: Volvo, Valio, Avant Techno, AGCO, Tikkurila and Kone.

As for Lawrence Miller’s trainings, they were the most popular among the participants; the programs were very busy. In the first two days the guru and the audience worked on “Lean Leadership: Developing and Managing a High-Performance Organization”, afterwards switching to “Lean Team Management: The Tactics of Daily Management”. Galina Mizeleva, HR Director of “Avtopribor Plant” OJSC (Vladimir), says the training completely met her expectations. “It was very interesting to learn about a comprehensive system of changing organizational culture. Besides, it was particularly valuable that it wasn’t abstract theories but a full-fledged review of leading companies’ practices”, – she noted.

Within the same track (“System Development”) several more interesting training practices took place. In the first day participants were very interested in a seminar by Alexey Baranov, founder of the Russian Lean School, called “Management 2.0. Deploying Policy and Production System Development Programs”. It included an hour-long discussion involving one of the leading Russian experts in business optimization, Head of the Guild of Quality Professionals Yuriy Adler. Seminars and trainings by this specialist are always extremely popular; Yuriy’s skill of looking beyond the horizon and seeing outlines of new management solutions is well known. This time participants were not disappointed either.

But the most interesting event was the conference seminar “Lean Workshop of Management Teams (From One Director to Another: All Faces of Transformation)” on the last day of the School. Contrary to the name, not only directors spoke there. But the event was only the better for it: experience of HR, IT or financial specialist can lead one to develop a new management solution – most often low-cost and uncommon. In this respect the speech of Darya Dmitriyeva, Financial Controller at “Amur Gold”, was particularly interesting; she talked about her experience of using Lean methods in budgeting and financial planning processes – probably a unique thing for our country. Alexander Borodulin, Chief Editor of Business Excellence magazine was most of all impressed by the speech of Sergey Ivanov, Head of Directorate for Production System at TGK-1 OJSC: “It was a comprehensive story of implementing different business efficiency tools at a large power company. It seems Sergey concealed nothing, also talking about mistakes of process planning and people development, about the way they dealt with these mistakes. It was also very impressive that TGK-1 experience was described by a top manager who isn’t yet 30. Nevertheless, he has already reached practical understanding of the wide selection of Lean methods”.

At the same time at Lenpoligraphmash OJSC location Sergey Yevseyev and Alexey Katoshin, leading Orgprom trainers, did a 3-day training on Organizing Team Work in Gemba (within “People Development” track). Meanwhile Askhat Yagofarov, leading trainer and consultant of Orgprom Group, conducted a 2-day seminar training “How to Make an Idea Work” within the same track but at the Railways Center for Scientific and Technical Information.

1-day seminar “Suvorov’s Methods for Managing a Modern Company”, however, became a small fly in the big jar of ointment, as it started… almost 5 hours late. Fortunately, the organizing party quickly minimized the consequences of the insect’s intrusion into the valuable contents. Vyacheslav Letunovskiy, the teacher of the seminar, related the unusual and innovative topic in full, and the audience was greatly impressed by the fact that management methods invented more than 200 years ago work efficiently nowadays.

It is impossible not to mention the work of one of the most sought-after foreign business trainers and consultants of the last decade – Michael Wader. Trainings and seminars taught by him are invariably popular. XII session of the Russian Lean School wasn’t an exception. Process Development track was completely covered by the American guru who did the training with his usual energy and practical focus on the shopfloor of an October Railways depot.

On July 7, within the Lean School session, a coordinating meeting of the core group of “Lean Forum. Lean Production Professionals” inter-regional public movement and members of Supervisory Board and Expert Group of the Gastev Cup was held. Representatives of Orgprom Group, Russian Railways OJSC, AvtoVAZ OJSC, Russian Coatings OJSC, Standards and Quality Advertising and Information Agency, and Vizit company participated in the meeting. The final of the second national competition of management teams – Cup of Productivity Development named after A. Gastev – is drawing near. The issues discussed included improving the mechanism for assessing Cup participants and forming auditor teams. The Board reported on the work done in 2011 – 2012; current tasks of improving the structure of inter-regional public movement were discussed, as well as new initiatives and suggestions.

The next session of the Russian Lean School is scheduled for November 13 - 16 in Moscow; it will include the award ceremony to recognize the winners of the Gastev Cup.