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AME Jacksonville 2014 First Impressions

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From the moment you arrived, you could feel this was going to be an awesome event.  Clear signs made it easy to navigate the large conference area.  Check-in was a snap.  There were kiosks and the whole process took less than a minute, including printing of your name badge.  Many volunteers were on staff wearing bright green vests.

People genuinely cared about others and the atmosphere could be described as warm and inviting.  Thanks to Myriam MIMI Sinclair for taking the “Ask Me” Picture above.
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As a newbie I was given a red color badge, which signified to the veterans that we might need a little extra help to assimilate into the tribe.  Additionally, we were invited to the hive (for “new-bees” – get it?).  At the hive were two gracious volunteers who were both funny (Bob Dempsey and Kieth Stout wearing bee costumes), and provided a great deal of information to help us assimilate quickly.  It was a fun and exciting moment filled with anticipation for what would come next. Thanks to Michael Vincent for snapping the “two bees” picture above.

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My first experience was taking a tour at Carlisle, which was one of the many host organizations offering AME Conference attendees to visit.  Boarding a bus with a bunch of new people who we’ve never met might be intimidating, but everyone was friendly, nice and there to learn.  The hosts at Carlisle were very informative and gracious.  Our hosts shared freely what they learned in their lean journey as well asked for feedback on what they could do better.  Asking for feedback is a sign of maturity.  Even though they know their business best, Carlisle employees were willing to take an outsiders views to heart.  I also met a nice young man on the bus (Mike) and found there was much I could learn from him.

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Throughout the conference, I saw Mike and we were able to start building a friendship.  What stood out for me about Carlisle was the visual nature of their communications systems and how all of the metrics they were tracking rolled up to an overall dashboard.

We did notice some things they could improve and shared some insights with our guide.  For example, many of their cells were similar in nature and the problems of the cell levels could be shared across the other cells as well as the countermeasures and solutions.  This systemic sharing of knowledge within the company seem to be any area that might help any organization learn and grow.

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I was fortunate enough to be able to pop in on Mike Osterling and Karen Martin’s value stream mapping workshop.  I’ve known Mike and Karen for number of years and admire their work greatly.

Mr. Osterling has been great mentor to me, and helped me get started as a small business owner, where I learned to help client organizations build high-performing teams that deliver measurable results.

Mike and Karen’s approach was very engaging, and the maps that the participants made were dutifully following the essence of the value stream mapping process that they co-authored in their book “Value Stream Mapping“.

What a great way for any newbie to become comfortable with the awesome potential of a week long conference!

I will share reflections of my favorite keynote presentations and value stream sessions, and of course my reflections of my Pizza Game workshop in the next few blogs.  Please stay tuned!

Thanks.  Bob Petruska


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