Bill Keen Discusses Kanban in Engineering Inc. Article about Workflow

The magazine of the American Council of Engineering Companies, Engineering, Inc., published an article about the adoption of Lean principles in their November/December issue.

In "Getting into the Flow" author Bob Woods explores how engineering firms are adopting flow efficiency as an operational method that uses Lean principles to improve management of projects and people. Specifically, the kanban method is a visual way of improving how work is planned and delivered. Bill Keen discusses Clark Nexsen's adoption of kanban, a journey that began in 2017.

From the article:

"We started with the kanban method to improve the processes in how we did our work,"says Bill Keen, the company's chief innovation officer. "People were working too hard, and we felt we could be better."

According to Keen, the visualization procedure exposed repeated bottlenecks, which led to strategies for mitigating them. "We have an abundance of work that can only be done by a few people in the organization. So now, when we see things that are interrupting their workflow, we attack those things collaboratively to get the work flowing again or improve how we are doing things. It is a very powerful tool for us,” he says.

Without citing exact numbers, Keen says privately owned Clark Nexsen has seen improvements in profitability. He is also seeing happier people in the firm. “In today’s world, people have demands outside of work, so we have to be more effective in how we do things. We can avoid that by not taking on risk before we have what we need to finish it. We still make mistakes, but we try to avoid imposing them on ourselves through bad habits,” says Keen.

“We are creating a value system for the firm,” says Keen. “You want to learn as you do your work, to continuously improve and look for ways to do something better than last time. We are teaching ourselves, in a way, to always be dissatisfied. We always want to be better.”

Read the full article in Engineering, Inc.