How to Engage with the Lean Community [Lessons from the Road]

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 12-07-15

From the conferences I’ve attended to the unsolicited emails I receive, I’ve been continually impressed by the quality of engagement throughout the lean community. There is plenty of interest in learning, sharing, and collaborating.

I wrote my regular IndustryWeek column on how to engage with the lean community, as there is plenty to learn by doing so. I shared many points, such as the following:


3. Utilize LinkedIn Productively. While this is not just about LinkedIn, I want to emphasize productively. LinkedIn is not just an address book or social media feed that often resembles Facebook. It should be considered a network. But you don’t get anything out of your network unless you (1) contribute and (2) make deliberate asks.

I don’t accept most of the LinkedIn connection requests I get because there is no obvious reason we should be connected and the person doesn’t articulate one. But for those who do engage, they might say that they want to be connected because they want to learn from their network, yet make no requests or ask any questions even when I make the offer.

Don’t expect your network to spontaneously feed you the information you really need. You have to know what you need and make the ask. I love helping people when they know what help they are looking for, if it is in my power and capability to help. You should contribute as well. Don’t wait until you are out of a job and the first time everyone hears from you is when you are looking for a new one.

While I tried to share many points such as the following, I received the greatest response from the point about conferences. It’s a short column and not a lot of room, but there are a lot of conferences you can consider attending. Here are but a few to check out:

LEI’s Lean Transformation Summit
AME’s Annual Conference
IndustryWeek’s Best Plants conference
The suite of topical conferences from Lean Frontiers
The Mid-Atlantic Lean Conference
The Northeast Lean Conference
Lean Product and Process Development Exchange

I hope you’ll read my column and share your own favorite methods for engaging the lean community.