EDM 2015 Feedback: “This was an experience of a lifetime.”

Honsha Executive Development Mission, Japan
October, 2015

“I had the privilege to attend the Honsha EDM in Japan in October 2015.  Also attending were seventeen colleagues from different industries scattered around the world.  We all had different experiences with Lean development and implementation.

The week long experience was well planned.  One day of dojo training, where we did hands on learning of Kaizen techniques, followed by site visits to eight different businesses.    During the week, I began to notice that it was the time in between classroom and site visits that were stirring my thoughts and imagination.  We had time to reflect, and share impressions and ideas with each other.  I was able to be completely removed from my work life, yet engaged as an observer.  In my journal, the notes flowed nonstop.  When I looked for waste and value in Japan, I saw my Maintenance Shop at the Port of Seattle.  When I measured takt time and cycle time in the laboratory, I saw my preventive maintenance teams protecting assets over eleven miles of waterfront in Seattle.  At every turn I was confronted with our own methods, from all aspects.  Beyond standardized process, I thought about our vision and goals, our employee training, safety culture, employee relationships, just to name a few.

It occurred to me that our hosts Darril Wilburn and Miyuky Honda might have embedded the most important lesson of the trip without ever pointing it out.  Respect and kindness were their gift to us.  Our trip was to a new culture and a place of uncertainty, where we needed guidance and assistance at every turn.  They led us there with grace, respect, and humor.  They made each and every one of us feel valued, without judgement of our own knowledge and experience.  Workplace change and improvement is similar, where people are off balance, not knowing what to expect.  We needed to trust, and be trusted, just as our co-workers do.

This was an experience of a lifetime.  It was inspiring, and completely relevant to any business striving for improvement.   My goal is to pay forward not only the Lean concepts, but embrace the leadership style modelled by Darril and Miyuky.”

Skip Himes 

General Manager
Marine Maintenance
Port of Seattle