Boeing Volunteers Helping Non-profits with Lean

An article in the April 18-12, 2008 issue of the Puget Sound Business Journal caught our eye. Titled Penguins will benefit from jet maker’s efficiency lessons it describes the efforts of Boeing employees as lean trainers who have helped Seattle’s Woodland Zoo with what sounds like a production preparation process on the launch of a new penguin exhibit, an office 5S effort at the Hearing Speech and Deafness Center, an lean office flow project to reduce the time to match volunteers with kids at Big Brothers Big Sisters, and others such as the Department of Social and Health Services.
Boeing employees are sharing their time and expertise with community organizations so that the non-profit dollar stretches further. This is a great idea, please steal it. The article says that this is not a formal Boeing program but rather a volunteer effort, but then that Boeing will “continue to offer the training to organizations that are willing to embrace” the lean process. So it is not clear whether Boeing is in any way sponsoring this or whether they simply match requests for help from non-profits with willing employee volunteers.
As a resident of the Puget Sound area and a believer in corporate social responsibility, I say Boeing should take some of their profits to sponsor a program to actively teach lean to non-profits and give back to the community. Even better, why not make a commitment to not layoff employees during economic downturns or whenever efficiency gains are achieved but instead turn these lean-trained workers on community projects to streamline and improve the many screwed up community service, local and state government processes? That would result in a virtuous cycle.

1 Comment

  1. Karen Wilhelm

    April 24, 2008 - 8:56 am

    In Fort Wayne, where the former mayor was having great success with streamlining processes using lean and six sigma (he has an extensive background in manufacturing), ITT and Raytheon provided training and mentors to the city employees. I did an article on that for AME’s Target magazine.
    I have a friend, former employee of SME, who now works for our city. I talked with him about how we could help our city, and he was all for introducing me to the mayor, and then it all just died. Readiness is all.