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Frontline Manager Lean Immersion Program

Operational excellence and learning and development partnership builds effective lean training


Practitioner Presentation
Wednesday, Oct. 20 Location Code
11:30am-12:30pm Virtual WS/17

Times listed in EDT. 


Employee involvement is a critical component of a successful lean manufacturing program. Having employees who know and do the work as advocates in spotting quality issues and improvement opportunities is a powerful waste reduction driver. How do you build strong lean advocates among your frontline managers?

Leadec North America knew it needed more lean advocates and champions on the floor. In 2020, when in-person group training was not an option due to the ongoing global pandemic, the operational excellence (OpEx) manager and learning and development manager partnered to build the entirely virtual Frontline Manager Lean Immersion Program. In this session, hear how the program was implemented, what gains were realized, and discover the key to its success.


The program’s instructional goal is for participants to identify and correct business-related improvement opportunities or issues at the site level. The learning outcome is to have participants apply a root cause analysis tool and lean tool(s) to correct the identified needs. To launch the program, all site managers received an online questionnaire to identify a first and second priority need at their site in the safety, quality, delivery or cost category. Program participants met weekly on MS Teams, where the OpEx manager introduced root cause analysis and new lean tools. Participants would apply those tools to their needs and give a progress report the following week. At the end of the five-week program, tremendous gains were realized, and new lean advocates were established in the frontline manager ranks. The key to the program’s success was the immediate application of lean tools toward a real current need and group accountability through weekly progress reports.


Leadec has been providing industrial services since 1962, and it is committed to understanding the special requirements of manufacturing facilities. Its roots are in automobile production, one of the most demanding industries. However, this expertise opened doors for the company in other adjacent industries such as aerospace, machine and line builders and white goods. As a global partner, it offers customized service solutions for these and many other market segments. For almost 60 years, its technical expertise and capabilities have been the backbone of its customers’ production plants. www.leadec-services.com


Sonya Overstreet is the learning and development manager and certified performance technologist at Leadec North America. She has 20+ years of experience in engineering, performance improvement and workplace learning. Throughout her career, Overstreet managed the development of technical and leadership training within a variety of industries. She has been responsible for executing learning and development strategies to ensure employee capabilities, cultivating organizational knowledge management and promoting organizational performance. She has presented papers at the American Society for Engineering Education, Industry and Education Collaboration, DevLearn, and International Society for Performance Improvement conferences. Overstreet holds a master's in instructional design and performance technology. Her awards include Technology Rising Star 2017 from the Women of Color STEM Conference and the Excellence in Practices Operation 2016 from her organization. 

Austin Milster is the operational excellence manager at Leadec North America. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and project management professional who has used lean processes in range of environments, including the automotive and medical device industries, manufacturing, and the U.S. Military. He is currently responsible for Leadec’s OpEx program in the U.S. and Canada. Milster holds a master's in entrepreneurship from Oklahoma State University and a bachelor's in leadership from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Before entering the civilian force, Milster served six years in the active-duty Army as an artillery officer. He credits lessons learned through overseas deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as some of the main drivers for his emphasis on ensuring strong communication, teamwork and cross-functional collaboration take place throughout the organization.