The Language of Lean: Kaspar Companies Attends LBSU Leadership System Boot Camp

November 30, 2018

Thirty participants from Kaspar Companies spent five days at Pampered Chef in Chicago for a Lean Focus Business System University boot camp. Our co-workers experienced hands-on, intensive training for lean management, continuous improvement and kaizen principles.

BY DERON REED AND DAMON BAKER

As the week of August 13-17 drew to a close at Lean Focus Business System University’s Leadership System Boot Camp, Kaspar Companies’ leaders took home some critical lessons to all nine of its subsidiaries, in both the theory and application of lean manufacturing principles.

Lean Focus CEO Damon Baker leads and conducts the LBSU Boot Camp, which convenes regularly at Pampered Chef in Addison, Illinois.

Led by CEO Jason Kaspar, KCI is committed to three core values: stewardship, versatility, and family. Those values were exemplified well by all thirty participants during the week-long event. Not only did everyone graduate with flying colors, they showed— lesson after lesson—what leadership, teamwork, and winning look like in an environment that is fully committed to the lean journey.

The “language of lean” covers a lot of territory, but, in essence, boils down to improving organizational team problem-solving skills. While Kaspar Companies has been on the lean journey for the past 18 months, this is their first rodeo using Lean Focus’s problem-solving methodology. LBSU’s Boot Camp course offerings are divided into three broad categories, each with specific courses chock-full of real-world problems: Problem-Solving (PS2), Daily Management, and Strategy Deployment.

Indeed, one of the problems with any organization that does not practice lean management principles is that their organizations suffer from being in a constant firefighting mode. Typically, a firefighting culture will rely on management “experience” to solve problems whereas a problem-solving culture will depend on factual evidence and root-cause analysis in its logical decision-making processes.

“An organization that is characterized by widespread firefighting to conduct day-to-day operations will not dedicate the necessary time to truly solve problems in a sustainable way that delivers improved performance,” Damon Baker (Lean Focus CEO) said.

Indeed, LBSU’s Boot Camp imparts a great deal of hands-on experience to organizations such as Kaspar Companies and Pampered Chef, organizations which are fully committed to their lean journeys. In turn, such companies utilize Boot Camp principles on-site, putting them into immediate action and earning timely results.

Jason Kaspar, CEO of Kaspar Companies, is a self-confessed voracious reader and financials man with Wall Street experience. He likened Kaspar Companies’ previous Lean exposure to treading cautiously through the darkness. Kaspar appreciates the highly-organized and intentional nature of LBSU’s Boot Camp experience.

“I finally put all the pieces together in July of 2017 and put into motion what was designed to be a more intentional strategy … Company-wide, everything that was formulated in an embryo stage was kicked off in February of 2018. Since then, we have been following a defined cadence, and I consider the business system a subset of our overarching strategy … The launch of the business system at the Boot Camp was the foundation-building event.” Kaspar said.

“When we got back, we looked at four things that we want to accomplish over the next 60 to 90 days,” he continued. “Those four things are systematic Lean Daily Management (LDM) boards across subsidiaries, an A3 problem-solving initiative, a Kaizen calendar ‘resourcing exercise’ so we do not over-extend everybody, and an offshoot of an Obeya Room — an experiential room where all the information would flow from all the different subsidiaries to a headquarters.

“I have never heard of a systematic problem-solving process (such as LBSU’s approach), and I loved the way, from a training perspective, mock trials were employed using the LDM boards,” Kaspar added. “I give kudos to Baker because a lot of consultants for a lot of organizations set them up for failure, whereas the Boot Camp’s overall openness and very pragmatic approach tailored to our specific problems was very helpful and added value to our experience.”