Tomorrow I leave for India, where I’ll spend the next week working in a manufacturing plant owned by Danaher. I cannot think of the words to explain how excited I am.
I’ll be at Danaher’s Portescap facility in Mumbai starting Monday (after a little touristy action Sunday), where 7 other Darden students and I will strive to conduct a Kaizen exercise in specific areas of the plant, despite the fact that we speak a different language from most of the line workers and that we’re completely ignorant of Danaher’s typical processes. To say it will be a challenge is an understatement.
The difficulty of our exercise is compounded by the fact that Danaher is a fantastic company that already runs continuous improvement processes in their facilities. So all of these workers have been through lean exercises, and are held to daily standards of efficiency and improvement.
In fact, to say we’re running a kaizen exercise is misleading, because a key tenet of kaizen is that it is a daily activity; an activity in which everyone from the janitor to the CEO participates. So our focus will actually be on partnering with workers to understand where possible improvements can be made, to identify some possible areas with an ‘outside eye,’ and then to use some of what we’ve learned at Darden to help them implement these changes and convince workers the change is for the good.
I write a lot about innovation- it’s a topic that fascinates me. And what is so compelling and exciting about this opportunity is that it puts me right at the root of innovation. This is a chance to enter a world-class company, look at what they are doing, identify areas of process innovation and improvement, implement changes, and measure the results. Sure, I have to do it within a week, in an emerging market, with a language barrier, but……but, goddamn this is gong to be fun!