Lean Builds People to Build Better

Lean Builds People to Build Better

Tom Weathers, 2022 LCI Congress Planning Committee Chair, Shares Highlights and the Best of New Orleans

Tom Weathers, 2022 LCI Congress Planning Committee Chair, shares highlights of the action-packed 2022 LCI Congress. Read on for some of his favorite aspects of Congress—learning, forging connections, and reflecting on actionable takeaways. Plus, he offers tips for just some of his favorite things to see, do, and eat in New Orleans next fall. One big takeaway: Lean and the continuous improvement journey is better with your peer community and Congress is where you’ll find them.

What do you hope people take away from Congress?

I hope people leave wanting more Lean in their life, more Congress! Our hope is you learn something new you can put into action immediately. That’s just one of the of the sixteen takeaways our planning team defined as part of the Congress Conditions of Satisfaction (CoS), our goal post for success for all attendees both new and returning (see the full list below).

Congress is such a unique opportunity to get inspired by your peers and lean trailblazers. It’s a chance to learn from their pain-points and successes. It’s an opportunity to reflect on what’s working and what’s not and then try something new. For me, some of my best Congress takeaways happened between presentations and also months later when I put ideas into action and continued learning.

Of course we always have inspiring speakers on tap. I am thrilled to have Andreas Phelps kick things off as opening keynote. He’ll set the stage for the Congress experience by illustrating the potential for lean to enhance our personal lives, project teams, and organizations. Andreas is a past Congress presenter, consultant, and author who inspired me and many others in our lean community.

And I am truly grateful to welcome our closing keynote, Carla Harris, to share her “pearls” of wisdom. A former Wall Street executive, Carla was the first woman of color to hold the title of Vice Chair of Global Wealth Management at Morgan Stanley. I’m excited to hear Carla share her insights about intentional leadership and other hard-earned truths.

Check out our Congress Conditions of Satisfaction and help us make it happen!

What does Lean add for organizations?

Our industry is overwhelmingly comprised of siloed expertise. Many projects involve dozens and sometimes hundreds of companies separated by contractual barriers with misaligned incentives. This leads to unintended and sometimes disastrous outcomes. An Integrated Form of Agreement (IFOA) has the potential to drive better team dynamics. Without that Lean holy grail, Lean still offers many benefits worth pursuing. Lean tactics like the Last Planner System®, Daily Huddles, Target Value Delivery, and Scrum can help teams drive radically collaborative planning and coordination for all of their project stakeholders. Lean also offers a framework for continuous learning and improvements empowered by the PDCA learning cycle. You can Plan, Do, Check, and take Action to embody better best practices. Lean encourages us to vigilantly identify and eliminate eight forms of waste found on every job site and workplace. Tactics like a Keep-Stop-Start discussion or Gemba Walks can help teams identify pain points and waste so they can strategically work towards better processes and outcomes.

Lean will NOT solve all of our problems, but Lean tools have helped many leaders develop a culture of trust and respect where great solutions thrive.

What would you like to share with someone new to Lean?

For me, Lean is about building people to build better. Lean helps us practice behaviors and habits of collaborative leadership. It’s about working to ensure everyone around you can bring their best ideas and talents to the task at hand. As much as that sounds like it’s about other people, it has a lot to do with yourself. Lean helps us gain insights into our impact on teammates and the people we serve.

A hard truth: You cannot simply copy-and-paste Lean into an organization or team. Lean efforts are fundamentally rooted in values, behaviors, and habits. And these take purposeful persistence and patience to weave into your current practices.

Congress offers up many ingredients for your Lean efforts, but you still have to do the hard work to adopt new behaviors and habits. That’s always easier said than done. The exciting part is you get to develop your own recipe for success, something no one can copy!

Why does Lean matter now and into the future?

That is a really important question! Come to Congress to find some answers. That happens to be the focus of a brand-new Congress track our planning team developed for Congress 2022. We’re calling it the “Unconference Track”. Not surprisingly we couldn’t fit it into a traditional track so it got its own. It will consist of five highly interactive and interrelated sessions that leverage our collective expertise. It’s an opportunity to explore key questions and challenges facing lean implementation. It’s a space where you can learn a few new facilitation techniques, find inspiration to trying something new, and forge new connections to help you take your next step.

Our “Unconference Track” will be facilitated by four passionate Lean champions: Hal Macomber, Rebecca Snelling, Dan Fauchier, and our opening keynote speaker, Andreas Phelps! Participants will collaborate to obtain a deeper understanding of motivations for Lean (why Lean matters for different stakeholders), better understand roadblocks (why Lean hasn’t worked for some teams and situations), and define actionable first-step solutions to counter a broad range of barriers to Lean implementation.

The final Unconference session explores the question “what next?”, challenging participants to define specific opportunities for moving our industry forward. This is an invitation for thought leaders, trail blazers, and passionate professionals to step up and become agents for positive change in our industry. Space is limited! Be sure to read about the new Unconference Track when you register.

How will the New Orleans setting enrich Congress?

New Orleans is an amazing mix of cultures, customs, rhythms, and aspirations. Some call it the melting pot of the South. It’s the perfect backdrop for Congress where peers unite to celebrate the many flavors of lean happening throughout our industry. That wonderful blending of shared passions is what inspired this year’s Congress Theme, “Lean Gumbo: The Right Ingredients for Project Success.” Come fill your cup!

New Orleans isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Our region grapples with systemic challenges ranging from education and healthcare access to rapid coastal land loss and the lingering effects of frequent hurricanes.  As a local saying goes, “New Orleans can be hard to love, but once you do it loves you back”. While NOLA’s issues are not the focus of LCI Congress, a few local business leaders will join us on the main stage to share their passion to build a better tomorrow.

What are some of your favorite things to see, do, and eat in New Orleans?

Closer to congress we’ll share tips for finding uniquely New Orleans experiences. For now, I’ll leave you with a few of my fall favorites:

Eating oysters and etouffee at Galliono Restaurant, just a short stroll from our convention location. Their “contemporary” Cajun cuisine is my go-to for treating guests. Just ask 2021 Phoenix Congress Chair Michael Williams and Congress Planning team member Felipe Engineer, who both made trips to New Orleans as Lean trainers to support the local Community of Practice.

Experience Krewe of Boo – Stick around Saturay after Congress to experience a slice of Mardi Gras magic. This is New Orlean’s oficial Halloween parade with floats, throws, live music, and plenty of excuses to cut loose. No admission required!

Visit the National WWII Museum – This world-class venue is a source of pride for many locals. Among the curated stories, you can learn how local boat builder Andrew Higgins and an army of craftworkers built the amphibious landing craft that “won the war”, as acclaimed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

What are you looking forward to at Congress next October?

Connecting with old friends and making new. Seeing our new Unconference Track take flight. Soaking up the advice and energy of other passionate lean professionals. Getting specific, I hope to learn more about visual process mapping and gain a few new facilitation tricks.

Mostly I’m eager to see our hard work pay off, both for the broader lean community and my hometown. We’re indebted to the passionate volunteers and LCI staff who work all year to curate Congress. I also have a lot of love for the many trainers, presenters, and champions who do the bulk of the heavy lifting these next few months to make Congress such a valuable experience.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Hear more from Tom in his video address—and register for Congress today!