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How to grow people and build a “fun” lean culture

Enabling people to flourish as an individual and contribute to the organization


Speed Chat with Experts
Thursday, Oct. 29 Location Code
12:30pm-2:00pm Virtual ThS/25

Learn how organizations understand what people need and provide opportunities and support for them to grow and be successful in a lean environment. Hear about successes and challenges leaders have faced when coaching or providing development opportunities for their teams.


Organizations are a collection of people. Investing in developing these people, and helping them “see the wastes’, is a path forward for both the individuals and the organization to prosper. In this session, leaders will share what this is in practice for them and their organizations. During this 90-minute “Speed Chat with Experts” format, time will be split between hearing from the panelists during a moderator-led panel and then individually as each takes part in small group discussions. This will allow you time to engage in longer, more personal conversations with each panelist and the moderator as each rotates from group to group.

Panelists: Paul Akers / Marc Braun / Eric Gilbert

Paul Akers is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, speaker and lean maniac. His company, FastCap, has a catalog of more than 600 woodworking products with more than 3000 distributors in 40 countries. He credits the astounding business growth to a fun, dynamic culture in which each of the employees puts into practice at least one two-second improvement per day. Akers developed that culture by hiring the right people, relentlessly teaching and reinforcing the eight wastes in a daily morning meeting, and empowering people to experiment and fail. He believes that until you and your employees see waste in everything that you do, you won’t understand lean. 


Marc Braun is the president of Cambridge Air Solutions. He joined the Cambridge family in April 2008 as the vice president of operations and later served as the executive vice president of sales and marketing. He was promoted to president in January 2017. Through his leadership, Cambridge has been able to set a strategy that works on the internal and external growth of the organization. He believes organizational health is everything. Braun's goal is to double the organization's sales in five years through healthy and sustainable growth by holding employees to the highest of expectations and loving them unconditionally. 



Eric Gilbert leads Anova, an American furniture manufacturing company that specializes in commercial-grade benches, tables, and litter receptacles. The 50-year-old company was founded by Eric’s father, Bill Gilbert. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Anova has manufacturing facilities in its hometown as well as in Winona, Minnesota. Anova sells products across the U.S. and Canada to a variety of markets, including education, retail, municipal, and residential. Anova embraced 2 Second Lean in August of 2018. Orders had spiked, but the manufacturing team was caught flat-footed and struggled to meet demand. The company chose to trust their team and started daily morning meetings, trained on the eight deadly wastes, and cut the team loose to “fix what bugs them." The last two years have been an amazing journey, with qualitative cultural gains topping the list of accomplishments. Anova has a history of lean. First implemented to great success in 1995, it faded in the mid-’00s and suffered multiple failures to launch between ’09 and ’18. As a result of this, Gilbert is laser-focused on creating and implementing a self-perpetuating lean culture that lasts. 

Moderator: Richard Evans

Richard Evans has spent the past 50+ years helping companies become more effective in delivering quality and value to the production process while focusing on customer success. With a background in manufacturing engineering, he mentors and coaches leaders to recognize waste and apply lean principles, tools and techniques. His extensive knowledge of various industries enables him to quickly focus in on opportunities for improvement. An approved Lean Bronze Review Course trainer for SME, he coaches teams to increase value-added content. Evans is the president of the Canadian Region Board of AME and has served as a program chair on multiple AME national and regional lean conferences since 2007. He is an AME Consortium facilitator, sits on the AME Excellence Awards Council, and is a past chair of the Lean Certification Oversight and Appeals Committee responsible for developing and maintaining the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Lean Certification Program for SME, AME, The Canadian Society for Quality, and The Shingo Institute. He is also a Certified Training Within Industry (TWI) Job Instructions and Job Relations Trainer. “Fix what bugs you” is a term coined by Paul Akers, and Evans promotes that in every aspect of his life.