The second annual Lean Thinking Guatemala Conference was held this spring thanks to Common Hope supporter James Womack, founder of the Lean Enterprise Institute. Jim is very well known among company CEOs as an expert on lean production and lean thinking. The core idea of lean is to create more value for customers using fewer resources, minimizing waste. Initially based on Toyota’s production system, the concepts are now applied by many companies around the world.
Jim has written a number of books on lean practices, including Lean Thinking, The Machine That Changed the World, and Gemba Walks. He founded the Lean Enterprise Institute in 1997 as a nonprofit training, publishing, and research organization to advance this groundbreaking approach.
The connection with Common Hope began in 2010, when Jim came down on a Vision Team with his church, First Parish of Brookline, Massachusetts. It was then he got the idea to plan a conference that would benefit local Guatemalan companies as well as Common Hope, which receives proceeds from the event.
This year’s two-day conference was widely attended by 120 people from across Central America, with presenters from Lean Institutes in Brazil, Spain, and the U.S. In addition to receiving proceeds from the event, Common Hope got a chance to share about our mission and programs. Jeff Barnes, Director of Strategic Planning, gave a presentation to the group during the conference.
The Lean Thinking conferences have made a positive impact in Guatemala already, building the capacity of local companies by teaching them to be more innovative, efficient, and profitable. The hope is to make an even bigger impact on the Guatemalan economy in the future, as companies implement these new methods.
The ripple effects are still spreading, to be sure. Jim has already returned to Guatemala since the conference to start planning next year’s event. And who knows, maybe some day a Common Hope graduate — helped through school by Jim’s fundraisers — will be working for a company he helped to train.