An engineer who has launched her own change management consulting company is using the principles of Lean to both improve business operations and empower employees.

Sabrina Butcher has the experience to understand the changes that are needed. As an engineer who worked 20 years in the automotive and railroad industries, she knows firsthand how Lean methods can transform how a company operates.

She’s brought that knowledge to her change management, consulting and training company, called LUCYdoes.

The title of the company seems to answer the question on its homepage: “Does your culture understand Lean?”

Empowering Employees

One of Butcher’s main focuses is also one of Lean’s eight areas of waste: unused worker talent. Butcher focuses her change management philosophy on creating a culture where employees are empowered to improve operational efficiencies, cut waste and produce better products and services.

Butcher told that implementing Lean principles and tools creates a foundation upon which to build that culture, “not just for manufacturers, it’s for all industries.”

“I am focused on aiding companies learn the ‘people side’ of Lean, not just process efficiency. An encouraged workforce is the true driver of process improvement,” she said.

Butcher’s Background

Butcher started her work in engineering in Indiana in her Dad’s auto repair shop. As she moved into an engineering career, she became interested not only in the processes involved with her work but also the people.

She earned a AAS in Automotive Technology, a BS in Mathematics and a Master of Engineering. She also earned a Six Sigma Black Belt and a True Lean Certification from UK/Toyota. She’s worked in equipment and auto manufacturing, automotive repair, railroad operations and maintenance and for large agricultural operations.

Along the way, she developed a skill in helping to solve complex programs by coaching people from all levels of an organization. Her emphasis has always been on people – from frontline workers to executives – as much as process.

That’s also a major component of the much-admired Toyota Production System, which in many ways built upon the earlier process improvement inventions of auto industry innovator Henry Ford.

A Focus On Employees and Efficiency

Butcher, on the bio on her website, says she is comfortable dealing with workers at all levels. She believes that Lean methodology can empower workers and make their jobs better, in addition to helping the company overall.

In her interview with Nooga, she addressed the concerns some feel about Lean. Many, she said, think applying the methodology leads to eliminating jobs.

She said, “I feel there’s a stigma around Lean. It’s not just for white-collar people and it’s not about eliminating people.”

Butcher holds workshops where she coaches people on sustainable change management. She’s also spoken at TedX. She noted in her interview that she is one of the few female voices in her industry.

Early in her career, she was asked to have “empathy” for male employees who weren’t used to working with a woman and didn’t know how to act, a request that angered her at the time. Now, she said she understands empathy is needed on both sides of the gender equation, adding that the question is, “How do we make this work for both genders?”

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