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Bruce Hamilton


Signs of Spring

When an old guy's fancy turns to continuous improvement

Published: Wednesday, March 9, 2022 - 13:02

Every February, there are welcome reminders that spring is on the way. The first for me is a witch hazel bush in my front yard that defies subfreezing weather to produce fragrant yellow flowers. Then, a few weeks later, crocuses and winter aconites will emerge from the snow. The cycle continues through spring and summer as each species awakens, blooms, and then rests. Some plants, like witch hazel, develop with very little support. Others, like a late-summer blooming Rose of Sharon, require special protection from blight and insects.

There are several metaphorical lessons I take from the witch hazel and its coinhabitants of my yard:
• The first is that there will always be early bloomers and later bloomers—people, as well as plants. People, in particular, learn and grow at different rates. So, celebrate the early bloomers but don’t expect them to last forever. They deserve a rest. And have patience with those of us late-bloomers who will come along eventually. 
• The second is that some of us require more care than others. Lacking that individualized attention, only the hardiest, most self-sufficient souls will flourish—not a good condition for gardens or human organizations.
• The third is that maybe, for both plants and humans, this is the they way things should be—a continuous cycle of growth, each in its own time with its own unique contributions, awakening, blossoming, and resting. Call it a continuous-improvement culture.

By the way: Here’s another sign of spring: our second annual Lean Spring Showcase, happening this year on April 1, 2022. Through the magic of Whova, attendees will virtually visit nine great companies with creative employee teams, each sharing a best practice or two from their continuous-improvement cultures. Hope you’ll join us. You can register here.


About The Author

Bruce Hamilton’s picture

Bruce Hamilton

Bruce Hamilton, president of the Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership (GBMP), brings hands-on experience as a manager, teacher, and change agent. Prior to GBMP, Hamilton led efforts to transform United Electric Controls Co.’s production from a traditional batch factory to a single-piece-flow environment that has become an international showcase. Hamilton has spoken internationally on lean manufacturing, employee involvement, continuous improvement, and implementing change. Also, he has contributed to numerous texts ranging from visual control to variety reduction. Hamilton’s blog, Old Lean Dude, is an ongoing reflection on lean philosophy and practices, with an emphasis on keeping good jobs close to home.