From the CEO: Focusing on the forest not the tree

AME | March 25, 2022


Have you ever watched a building construction project? Maybe it’s an office building you drive by during your commute or a new warehouse on your company’s property. Perhaps it’s an addition on your child’s school or a new movie theater in your town. 

If you drive by every so often it’s incredible to see the project take leaps forward each time you see it. Perhaps there’s a shell of the building one week, and the next you see a second floor added, then the walls go up the next. If you’re not passing it every day, the progress may seem fast and furious.

But if you’re seeing the construction project every day, it can seem so much slower. And if you’re the one doing the work – and you know that a building material was delayed by supply chain issues or that progress has been slowed by a worker shortage – that progress might even seem slower than it does to the outside observer.

When we’re in the thick of it, we often see the trees, not the forest.

With Monday’s rollout of the new AME Lean Sensei®, the team behind the work was in the thick of it for months as they updated the powerful tool and created connections to training and learning materials. It would have been easy for them to lose focus, but what I observed as they made these updates is a lesson in how to keep the big picture in mind and bring a project to fruition.

First, the team behind this update always kept the end users’ needs at the center of their work. They considered how and — perhaps more importantly — why a company would use AME Lean Sensei®. The end goal of using a tool like AME Lean Sensei® isn’t to receive the AME Excellence Award (though the Excellence Award is a wonderful acknowledgement of enterprise excellence) or simply to benchmark the current state. Instead, the architects behind AME Lean Sensei® knew that its power is how it identifies areas for improvements and then connects users to the information necessary to make those improvements.

Beyond maintaining a True North focus on the end-users, the AME Lean Sensei® architects also knew the importance of communicating along the way. If you joined one of our weekly lean coffee breaks when Mark Preston was present, you heard updates. If you were in a Champions Club meeting, you heard updates. If you talked to Michael Bremer or one of the AME Excellence Award assessors, you heard updates. If you attended the AME International Conference, one of our summits or other events, you heard updates. Those updates were like periodically driving by a building as it is being constructed. You heard of progress in leaps and bounds, even though behind the scenes everything was happening at a more deliberate pace. Perhaps one week you learned that AME had added new questions around technology and innovation or DE&I. Perhaps the next time you learned that Target magazine and video links had been added to connect users to best-practice information. And maybe the next time you heard about Lean Sensei®, you learned that we had finished adding a dictionary of lean terminology.

So, while the AME Lean Sensei®, itself, is a powerful tool, the update process can provide several lessons in how to keep the big picture and stakeholders in mind as you work to complete big projects.

Next up on the AME big project list: delivering the biggest and boldest AME International Conference in our history! If you’ve seen the lineup that we’ve announced so far, you know we’ll deliver on that promise.

As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.

P.S. Speaking of the AME International Conference, the end of our early bird discount period is upon us! Register by 3/31 and save 30% with our early bird pricing. Do not miss this opportunity to save on the world’s largest lean conference. Learn more at