By all accounts, the KZN Lean congress held recently was a resounding success as the drive towards greater efficiency in the workplace gathers momentum. Organised by the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business in conjunction with Vodacom, the congress was also supported by TLC Global, The Witness, both KPMG and EY, as well as The Protea Hotel Hilton and SA Airlink.
The highlights of the conference were presentations by keynote speakers Art Byrne and Kris Pederson who featured prominently on the two-day programme. Of particular interest was Byrne’s session on the Lean journey and Pederson’s inspirational presentation on designing a purpose-led business. The relevance of Lean thinking resounded throughout, essentially as traditional management approaches are found wanting in the 21st century. And yet, much as Lean implementation has tended to be tool-and-system focused, the philosophical basis is a critical foundation stone. Put differently, the primary aim of Lean is “drawing out people’s capability and motivation” – a far cry from an focus on driving down costs. As PCB CEO Melanie Veness explained, “Lean thinking is essentially about reconciling companies and their customers, management and their employees, and performance and creativity. At the heart of this, is respect.”
Much as a Lean strategy is applicable to all businesses, the congress stimulated discussion about forging a new path for manufacturing in South Africa. To this end, it featured presentations by company leaders already on the Lean journey, including Somta Tools MD Allan Conolly, Eddels Shoes production director Mark Veness and B&M Analysts director Rob Stewart. A particularly interesting contribution was by Zwelinzima Vavi, former Cosatu general secretary who put the case for the re-industrialisation of South Africa with Lean.
To view all the event presentation click here.