Lean Blog — 478: Shaunté Kinch on Solving Big Problems in Manufacturing, Healthcare, and Beyond

Episode page with video, transcript, and more


Joining us for Episode #478 of the Lean Blog Interviews Podcast is Shaunté Kinch.

In 2022, Shaunté founded Empact Global, a consultancy that works with organizations to help them solve really BIG problems. Her more than 20 years spent implementing Six Sigma, LEAN, and design thinking concepts have inspired her to take on “wicked problems” in a “VUCA” (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world.

Originally trained by Shingijustu (pioneers of the Toyota Production System) she has educated over 2800 people in continuous improvement and innovation, led hundreds of workshops, and coached more than 60 leaders.

Shaunte holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, and a Masters of Engineering, Design, and Manufacturing, both from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA.

In today’s episode, we discuss what Shaunté learned about Lean in her first aerospace jobs, including time spent working with the famed Shingujitsu consulting group. What did Shaunté learn and discover when she was recruited into her first healthcare organization? We discuss problem-solving in the context of shopfloor improvement, management practices, and big societal problems like inequities and a lack of diversity in some Lean settings.

Questions, Notes, and Highlights:

  • How does Lean help us navigate a VUCA world?
  • What we know vs. what we THINK we know? 
  • Facts vs. data?
  • How do assumptions get leaders in trouble?
  • Leaders observing leaders? Doing so in a non-blaming way?
  • Helping people go from “we don’t have time” to making time?
  • What’s your Lean origin story?
  • “Everything was an experiment” – seeds planted by her father, a math & science teacher
  • Northrup Grumman – “Lean Engineering”
  • Boeing – “real training” from Shingujitsu
  • From Aerospace to healthcare? What’s different?
  • “I don’t think challenge is supported enough in HC”
  • Ideas on how Lean practices need to evolve?
  • Shifting to working independently / your own firm?
  • Fighting the way we’ve always done it, including in hiring and selecting speakers for events
  • Diversity and representation on conference stages, Lean in general
  • How does it feel to go to a conference and not see a Black woman on the stage?
  • Celebrating Juneteenth

The podcast is sponsored by Stiles Associates, now in its 30th year of business. They are the go-to Lean recruiting firm serving the manufacturing, private equity, and healthcare industries. Learn more.

This podcast is part of the #LeanCommunicators network