You don’t have to look too hard to find a Lean Champion at Aera’s Bakersfield headquarters.
More than 20 of these “change agents” have been embedded in several teams at Bakersfield headquarters this year. As part of the new Lean Champion Network, they are serving as resources to facilitate systematic daily improvement (SDI), a methodical approach to continuous improvement. They’re also helping co-workers share knowledge and experiences to improve processes, build employee engagement and deliver positive business results as Aera moves forward.
Implementing SDI is high among the initial goals of the Lean Champion Network. The SDI goal builds off the results realized in the company’s field operations over the past few years.
Since February, teams that are engaged in SDI have expanded from two to more than 20, involving approximately 180 employees from departments across the organization.
“Through the Lean Champions, these teams are connecting strategies, developing visual performance indicators and generating improvement ideas which drive Aera’s overall business results,” said Training Director Mark Bledsoe, who is helping roll out this initiative at the Oaks.
Marcus Coleman is a Lean Champion and a SDI facilitator for the light oil production monitoring (LOPM) team at the Oaks. Four mornings a week, he gathers with the group to discuss how to prioritize, streamline and improve their work. Standing before a whiteboard displaying visual metrics, they consider strategies, problems, solutions, results and behaviors.
“We’re using SDI as a platform to not only improve our business but to also grow our people,” said Coleman, engineering technician. “We want people to walk away from the morning huddle feeling encouraged, supported and set up for success.”
Another Oaks-based Lean Champion, Matthew Lusk, works within the reservoir team for Ventura. With his help, weekly meetings are conducted to help boost the unit’s efficiencies and performance. Among those who participate is Angie Ransom, engineering technology manager for Ventura and Data Management Center.
“Having a peer who owns the process and has a passion around it has improved engagement from all team members,” said Ransom. “SDI is the game-changer in getting us to switch our mentality to the idea that ‘the work is improving the work.’”
Still, there’s more to continuous improvement than just SDI, noted Lean Advisor Russ Penner. He hopes to see more lean principles and skill sets incorporated throughout the Oaks in 2018.
“The Lean Champion Network is a whole tactical shift,” said Penner. “It’s still in its infancy. There’s a lot of work to do to develop this into a true working network where people are leveraging their learning and knowledge from each other. Our immediate focus is on SDI, but future focus will be on learning and applying more lean tools.”
For many teams, the lean journey is just beginning, but the Lean Champion Network is excited to have them on board. “We want everyone to be a lean thinker,” Penner added. “It’s part of who we are as Aera.”