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  • Writer's pictureBill Greider

Lean Champion of the Month: Warren Austin, PTA Plastics

Updated: Aug 11, 2022

I love to highlight people who I work with that just consistently make me smile. Done properly, that's what the SPORT of continuous improvement does-it makes people smile.

I'd like to introduce you to Warren Austin, who's job title at PTA is Lead Mold Maker. I'm not going out on a limb to say that he is probably one of the top Mold Makers on the planet. He has dedicated much of his working life to it. He is extremely good at his craft. His "alternating career" at PTA is A3 leader, A3 coach, A3 closing emcee, member of their Lean beret, PTA 6S coordinator, and LSS Green Belt.

When you build a culture of continuous improvement, where improvements are indeed continuous, everyone has the opportunity to not only do their jobs at a very high level, but they also get to play in the lean community garden-every day! This is everyone working ON the business as well as IN the business.

Think about the hoops people have to jump through sometimes to make simple improvements. Approvals, proposals, permissions, sign-offs, ad nauseum. So let me tell you about Warren's latest improvement. I was at PTA last Tuesday, and I noticed a finished Flash A3 form attached to the A3 board with a magnet. I saw Warren was the leader of this improvement, and noticed that this particular improvement wasn't listed on the board as one of the 12-15 current A3 improvements. The concept was hatched on Monday, Warren pulled together a 3 person team, the improvement was done by Tuesday, and it closed company-wide at their scheduled closings on Wednesday, with an opportunity to give a quick reminder lesson on 5S (sort). The problem? Operators had to sift through a box of hoses to get the one they needed. Warren sent me the before and after pictures of this very fast elegant improvement.

This is one of a dozen or more improvements Warren has either led or coached this year.

Warren has an infectious impact on others in the company. When people see a veteran of 17+ years dedicating time each day to making improvements and then teaching lean to his peers (at the closing), the fun spreads, and it encourages others to participate. Companies do 1000s of these types of improvements each year, and it all starts with building a population of Warren Austins!! The TPS definition of leader is....thoroughly understands the work, lives the philosophy and teaches it to others. Any doubt Warren is a leader?

Thank you for making me smile!!

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