Corporate Citizenship Report 2009

Sharing our Expertise

Lean+ Skills Benefit Community

Sharing Our Lean+ Skills

Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo new penguin exhibit

Boeing Photo

An EWB-USA project team made clean drinking water possible for a village in Uganda.

“There has got to be a better way to do this.” How often do we say that while waiting in lines, filling out forms, searching for supplies or dealing with general inefficiency? That simple statement has led some Boeing employees to take action sharing their Lean+ skills in their communities to make things better at places like hospitals, food banks and even zoos.

Some projects might start with a traditional grant of funds from Global Corporate Citizenship and then add support from Boeing volunteers. Other projects are inspired by employees through their own community relationships.

Employees also teach the Lean+ processes and facilitate workshops for community partners focusing on improving processes or eliminating wasted time, materials and money. Boeing employees use Lean+ processes and tools everyday to improve quality and productivity, and drive the long-term growth of the business. Ultimately, the employees' knowledge helps the non-profit groups and other organizations learn how to maintain and build on their new procedures for greater sustainability.

When a humanitarian aid organization needed help to improve its turnaround time on approving engineering projects around the globe, Boeing employees responded.

“Zoos, hospitals, schools, engineering projects in remote areas – anywhere people are trying to do a good job – that's where Boeing employees bring value-added skills to make the world a better place,” said Anne Roosevelt, vice president for Global Corporate Citizenship.
Lean expert, Steve Lay, at Boeing's Kennedy Space Center

Boeing Photo

EWB Project Management team organizes work-in-process using task cards. The table-top visual board allows the team to quickly identify bottlenecks and project status.

The group in need -- Engineers Without Borders-USA – collaborates with local communities worldwide to identify, design and implement sustainable solutions that improve the basic quality of life. Managing the approvals and administration for more than 350 projects a year and growing, was straining the group's internal processes at its Boulder, Colo. headquarters. EWB-USA is supported by grants from Global Corporate Citizenship.

“Translating the many benefits that Lean+ has brought to our business into ones that will support a nonprofit such as Engineers Without Borders-USA is very exciting,” said Bill Schnettgoecke, vice president and deputy, Operations and Supplier Management and Lean+ Enterprise Initiative leader. “This is just another example of how our employees have helped community partners stretch their limited resources by showing them how to successfully use Lean+ principles.”

After attending an EWB-USA presentation Michael Hogan, a Lean+ product development specialist in Southern California, immediately saw a way to use Lean+ methods to assist the group in efficiently managing its many projects.

“They had a tremendous number of projects in work; a lot of switching between tasks, changing priorities, and unclear requirements for starting and finishing a task,” Hogan said. “They also identified first-time quality as a challenge, creating a lot of rework in the project life cycle, and identified a need for more qualified project mentors.”

Cathy Leslie, Executive Director of EWB-USA agreed: “With an emphasis on quality, it became apparent that EWB-USA had to limit the number of community programs within the organization until we could ensure the consistency of our mentors, the quality control process, and the appropriateness of the community design. Working alongside Boeing in this process has provided the necessary structure and procedural groundwork to allow us to move forward in the appropriate manner.”

Hogan is enthusiastic about the rewards of leveraging Boeing knowledge to assist EWB-USA's humanitarian efforts. “People at work get excited about the opportunity to get involved with an organization like EWB-USA,” Hogan said. “It adds to their pride in the company, and they want to know how they can be involved. It also provides Boeing engineers with a great opportunity to try new things and then be able to bring the results back into the company as a lesson learned.”

Lean+ has proven to be valuable to many types of community organizations. The road to St. John's Mercy Medical Center's Lean+ experience began when a Boeing employee made several trips as a patient to the rehabilitation center for treatment but always seemed to wait for hours to see a doctor. Discussing the problem with co-workers, in St. Louis he inspired a team of Boeing employees to use their skills for a different kind of ‘production line.' Their Lean instruction helped the 979-bed hospital in improve how it manages its inpatient care to eliminate long wait times and develop coordination among therapists, nursing and transportation. The hospital now has its own Lean team called the “performance optimization crew,” said Denny DeNarvaez, senior vice president for regional markets, CEO and President of St. John's Mercy Health Care.

“Our partnership with Boeing has been phenomenal,” DeNarvaez said. “Because of the mentoring our team received from Boeing we have made extremely dramatic improvements.” Not only did the hospital improve coordinated scheduling among acute therapy, nursing and transportation staffs and reduced patient wait times, but the Boeing team also helped staff reduce inventory levels in the pharmacy in St. Louis as well as a network hospital in Washington, Mo. DeNarvaez said she's confident these Lean best practices will be used at other Sisters of Mercy network hospitals that serve Oklahoma and Arkansas. Sharing Lean expertise continues to be a win-win for everyone, DeNarvaez explained. The Boeing employees learned about the complexities of operating a health care facility with all its variables and “in return have improved their own lives and the lives of their co-workers and others who use the hospital,” she said.

In another example, 93 community agencies participated in a Lean+ event guided by David Bethay, director, Boeing Constellation Transition at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Boeing employees who work on the Checkout, Assembly and Payload Processing Services and Space Shuttle programs at NASA's space center, utilize Lean philosophy in their everyday work but this team also found a way to help others benefit from this valuable tool.

“Teaching the Lean methodologies to the community has helped them make their time, energy and dollars stretch further,” Bethay said. “Taking a small idea and turning it into a big reality has allowed us to share some of the many benefits that Lean has brought to Boeing.”

As a result of the Lean+ workshop the staff at Florida's Brevard Zoo reduced their budget preparation time by over 65%. “The most beneficial piece was the Value Stream Mapping project,” said Nancy Grzesik, chief operating financial officer for the Brevard Zoo in nearby Melbourne, Fla.

“Zoos, hospitals, schools, engineering projects in remote areas – anywhere people are trying to do a good job – that's where Boeing employees bring value-added skills to make the world a better place,” said Anne Roosevelt, vice president for Global Corporate Citizenship.