Press Release: Lean Portland Partners with New Leadership at OEN

Portland, Oregon – April 14, 2017 – Maggie Finnerty, the new Executive Director at Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN), announced today that OEN is entering into an agreement with Lean Portland (a Benefit Company) for lean coaching and consulting services.

Often associated with the manufacturing industry, lean principles have potential to drastically improve the efficiency of nonprofits, many of which are already operating with scarce human and financial resources. As Lean Portland extends its reach into the nonprofit sector, it hopes to help nonprofits reduce operating costs and strengthen revenue streams by helping staff better prioritize and focus their time.

The agreement is part of Lean Portland’s unique mission: Developing our members leadership skills by helping nonprofit organizations learn to continuously improve.

“During a change in leadership, many existing processes are often revisited and called into
question,” says Finnerty, who started her role in January. “There is no better time for OEN to
start our Lean Journey, and we’re thrilled to have access to the unique talents of Lean
Portland’s volunteers. We are surprised and delighted to have world-class talent volunteering their time for us.”

“We’re here to teach the tools, but more importantly, we are coaching staff to help them adopt the underlying mindset that drives positive engagement,” explains Matt Horvat, Founder of Lean Portland. “Our vision is that Portland is a city where people are actively engaged in making improvements to their own work. And having ownership in your work is fundamental to dignity.

As Taiichi Ohno, the father of lean, used to put it, it’s about “respect for humanity.”

Lean Portland is also engaged in projects with The ReBuilding Center and Free Geek. Past
clients include Friends of the Children and Social Venture Partners. The current project for OEN involves Lean expert volunteers Kjell van Zoen of, Brion Hurley of Rockwell Collins, and Thomas Cox of Becoming a Best Boss.

The OEN staff looks forward to reporting their progress to their board, to their members and to the public.

About OEN
Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) helps entrepreneurs start up and scale up through
mentorship; hands-on business training; and access to loans, cash, and capital. A nonprofit,
membership-driven organization with a 25-year track record, OEN drives innovation, facilitates job creation, and puts Oregon on the map as a center for entrepreneurial excellence. For more information, visit

About Lean Portland
Lean Portland is committed to jointly developing leadership skills of its members and the staff of local non-profit organizations through project-based volunteer work that lead to continuous improvement. It has been a formalized professional organization since 2010 with the ultimate goal to ‘teach itself out of a job’ by developing people’s capabilities, building the Lean brand, and creating lasting impacts in the larger community.

To reach this mission, Lean Portland focuses on creating educational opportunities for members that are directly connected to pro-bono projects for local non-profit organizations. Lean Portland also provides members with networking and educational events, as well as the opportunity to build lasting relationships with other members and non-profit organizations. By creating an open source of methods, resources, and projects completed by the group, communities through the world will be able to replicate successes and learn from mistakes.

Holding Gains at Rebuilding Center

Today’s LeanPDX session with the Rebuilding Center jumped off from the momentum generated by the RBC’s warehouse meeting earlier in the week. They did some 5S training on their own and prioritized what they would be working on going forward.

At the top of that list was “Holding Gains”, which means different things to different people – from reducing rework and motion around the warehouse when an material is moved around, to the Standardize and Sustain concepts from 5S, even Leader Standard Work.

This week’s session stared out with how we could begin to really practice the discipline of standardized work, as well as sustain both ongoing operations and the smaller projects that the RBC has done with Lean PDX (see the Welcome Stations and Lumber Yard 5S posts).

This first step in creating this discipline is a standardized “closing procedure” checklist that Steve drafted up today, and will experiment on over his next few shifts.  This will primarily focus on warehouse safety readiness for the following day’s shift, but also ensuring the projects that have been kicked off are being sustained.  It will be backed up by the start of a management system to track the checklist usage and abnormalities that become visible from it (which is where we will pick things up next week).

Great work this week from the emerging Lean Leaders at the Rebuilding Center!

-Jared Davis

Gemba Walk at Free Geek

This was our first official working session at Free Geek.

We arrived at 10am, and spent the next hour rotating through 4 different stations:

  1. Receiving donations
  2. Sorting (cables primarily)
  3. Secure data area (SDA) – wiping hard drives
  4. Build – getting the computers and laptops up and running to sell or donate

We each spent about 15 minutes observing each area. Not enough time to really understand it, but it was sufficient to understand the primary process steps and what was done.

After our observations, we met with the management team, and discussed next steps. We had lots of notes, but didn’t go into too much detail on what we saw. We spent the 30 minutes with them discussing how to proceed.

When we discussed the goal of the organization, and where they are constrained today with providing computers to the community, the Build area was deemed to be the biggest bottleneck. They would like to double the number of computers per month, as they feel they have demand to support it within the community.

For next steps, we will be spending time in the Build area, taking many more observations and timings, to understand current state. We will be meeting every Friday afternoon from 2-4pm. If you are interested in helping each week, contact Brion.

The Operations Director had recently come back from a visit to another similar organization in Seattle, called Interconnection, which already uses Lean methodology. They are able to process many more computers per day with less staff and volunteers. This might be a good organization to benchmark with the entire team at some point.

I feel we are off to a good start, and we have an excited and engaged management team at Free Geek supporting us!