From Traditional HR to High Elevation Lean

Presented By:

Karen Aldrich

Session Abstract:

After 20 years of working in traditional HR roles, my enthusiasm for HR was eroding fast. Seeking a new challenge, I applied and was hired as Director of Talent Development for a manufacturing plant in the mountains of Southwest Colorado. This job was my first introduction to lean concepts.

My story weaves a tale about humbling myself to learn new concepts, tons of reading, learning some Japanese words, continuous improvement, identifying what truly adds value and approaching HR policies/practices from a people-centric viewpoint.

After 3 years, results have been amazing. My enthusiasm for HR is off the charts.  Our plant made money for the first time since 2009.  Our e-mod factor went from 1.49 to 1.09.  Turnover was reduced from 300% to 45%. (I know, we still have a ways to go, but its better!)  Employee engagement/morale has also increased significantly.

Many lean advocates use the term “transformation” when describing results of implementing lean.  However, for me personally, a better term is “restoration.”

Learning Objectives:

In this session you will learn…

  1. How a lean approach to traditional HR practices can add measurable value for your company (i.e. reduced turnover, less grievances, increase tenure).
  2. How to increase employee engagement when HR policies are more about the success of employees than protecting the company from a lawsuit.
  3. When continuous improvement methods are the motivation behind safety programs and policies, a work culture can be changed from “you better not” to “let’s make it better.”
  4. How a seasoned HR professional can succeed in a lean environment and be restored to love HR again.


About the Facilitator:

Karen Aldrich lives in Durango, CO and works as the Director of Talent Development for Western Excelsior Corporation. She has a BA in Speech Communications from Texas Tech University. Karen spent the early part of her HR career in the public school system coordinating job placement programs and then launched into a traditional HR career with both private and public employers. She has over 20 years of HR experience.