Competition is a big part of the business world, but shared experience and collective learning was a strong theme for the Lean Leadership Event on Wednesday at Augusta State University.
The day featured a panel of speakers from area industries, including Club Car and E-Z-Go, willing to tell what organization and management systems had improved their companies' efficiency.
"We steal everything," said David Kolb, of Thermo King Corp. "All of our ideas come from something we see someone else doing well, and we fit it into what we do."
Cooperation and openness were the two biggest lessons Kolb said he and his team had learned in recent years, resulting in better ideas and communication within the company.
David Johnson, staff engineer for Boral Bricks, said Boral underwent a rigorous reorganization in the past few years.
Before the reorganization, Boral's plant in south Augusta was messy and disorganized, said the plant manager, Trey Smith. He showed before-and-after pictures illustrating the change from piles of construction tools to clean walls with straight rows of tools.
"The worst thing is that this was acceptable," Smith said. "It was a major culture change for us to stop doing what we were used to and start working within an organization system."
Every month, a team from Boral takes stock of how the plant is functioning and what needs to be improved.
It might seem like simple housekeeping, Johnson said, but the streamlined workplace has made a significant difference in many areas of the plant.
"It saves time, makes things safer and makes you proud to go to work," he said. "We used to accept this because it had always been this way. This has been transformative for us."