Lawton is built by “everyday innovators”

By C.A. Lawton | June 12, 2019

As we explained in the article, How EBI Lite generates incredible momentum for improvement, EBI stands for employee-built ideas. At The C.A. Lawton Co., we strive for continuous improvement. The best way to achieve it is by inspiring employees to make incremental improvements in their individual roles and work environments every day.

Although all Lawton employees have stepped up to make improvements with EBI Lites, there are some that go above and beyond with their ideas. These individuals are Lawton’s everyday innovators. Today, we’d like to highlight some of their best ideas as inspiration for continuous improvement.  

Dawn Bek, customer service

Our first everyday innovator is customer representative Dawn Bek. She is always the first person in Lawton’s customer service and sales department to hit or exceed the quarterly EBI Lite goal. However, this wasn’t always the case.

According to Dawn, when Lawton employees were first required to meet a quarterly goal for this program, she really struggled to come up with good ideas. However, over time, continuous improvement became a habit, and the quality and quantity of her ideas improved, too.

This is exactly why the EBI Lite program is so important – it causes a shift in employees’ thinking and awareness when it comes to finding solutions to everyday problems. EBI Lite drives an innovative mindset.

Dawn confirms this notion: “As I’m doing things, I just think, ‘Why do I do it this way? Could I do it different to make it faster or easier or safer?’ I probably wouldn’t think that way without the EBI Lite mindset.” She now finds that opportunities for continuous improvement jump right out at her.

Here are some of her amazing ideas:

One of Dawn’s duties is to produce status reports for customer orders. She did an EBI Lite to include a forecast within it. This enhancement predicts the number of castings that customers will need at various times in the future. This helps Lawton better gauge the pace of production and do a better job of satisfying its customers. It also gives them a better understanding of their future casting needs.

Another great idea Dawn implemented is creating smart lists in the computer program she uses. It enables her to quickly filter through all of the data she manages to create a short list containing only the information she needs. This makes her work faster and more efficient.

A third idea that makes Dawn an everyday innovator is her creation of a system that organizes the information she shares during the contract review process. By making it easier to understand, her system helps to eliminate miscommunication and makes the entire contract review team more efficient and effective at serving our customers.

Because the contract review process involves many people and departments at Lawton, this EBI Lite has had an impact on all of them. It’s a great example of a small improvement that has made a big difference.

Lori Goemans, human resources manager

Another one of Lawton’s everyday innovators is HR manager Lori Goemans. This quarter, Lori broke the company record for the most EBI Lites anyone has ever had with nearly 70 – and the quarter isn’t even over yet! Because Lori is in HR, many of her EBI Lites focus on ways she can simplify her work and be more efficient and productive with Microsoft’s Excel software.

Additionally, in her role, Lori is very focused on Lawton employees, so many of her EBI Lites are focused on making improvements for their benefit. She is always looking for ways to streamline the employee onboarding process. She really wants to make new employees feel more comfortable and enable them to learn and adapt to their new work environment.

In fact, one of Lori’s recent EBI Lites involved adding new information and reorganizing the way we do our “Day One Hour One” packets for new employees. They contain all the information employees need to start their new job.

During a recent experience onboarding new employees, their interactions and questions inspired Lori to reorganize and add information to the “Day One Hour One” packets. This is another great example of the ways in which an EBI Lite can be a team effort at Lawton.

Lori’s most famous EBI Lite, however, is her “Rocketbook revolution.” In the past, she struggled with many notebooks. She couldn’t remember which notes were in each one. In addition, because she took notes during so many meetings, she knew she was using a lot of paper.

To solve this problem, she found the Rocketbook, a special type of device that instantly digitizes her handwritten notes. It enables her to quickly organize and retrieve them, and it doesn’t waste any paper. She has since gotten many others at Lawton hooked on the Rocketbook. We are saving time, paper and are more organized because of this innovative idea.

This is not the only way Lori has inspired her coworkers. When our purchasing employee, Ryan Adamski, saw how many EBI Lites Lori was getting, he decided to try to beat her record. Ryan was able to implement 24 EBI Lites in one week!  We love friendly competition at Lawton, especially when it’s inspiring our employees to find ways to be every day innovators. Ryan now has 59 EBI Lites for this quarter.

Ryan’s focus for his EBI Lites is on standard work, updating and improving it, and improving the way it’s written and organized. The value of this, he says, is when he is out of office, whoever fills in for him knows exactly what to do and has clear instructions. His idea helps keep Lawton efficient and effective.

Tricia Berg

Tricia Berg is another everyday innovator at Lawton. Not only is she one of the people with the most EBI Lites, but she is also responsible for cataloging all employee submissions for this improvement program. Lawton has standards for its EBI Lites, so some are not accepted.  However, even the ones that aren’t accepted still demonstrate that people are trying to improve their work.

Because Tricia sees all the EBI Lites and keeps track of them, she is exposed to a wide variety of ideas. She says that out of every 100 EBI Lites, there are probably three to five amazing ones that make her say, “Why didn’t we do this sooner?” Another 30 to 50 EBI Lites are moderately valuable. The rest are only incrementally valuable. But she says that’s OK because Lawton management wants all employees to submit all of their ideas, whether they’re amazing or merely average. What’s important is that everyone is thinking innovatively.

Tricia also collaborated with a coworker to consolidate two reports into one. That was beneficial to both of them and has significantly enhanced communication and collaboration between them. Tricia has also created notes and tips that are useful when it comes to filling in for another employee.

Tricia used her own checklist when she filled in for our HR manager while she was on vacation. Tricia kept a call log of the applicants she had reached out to and made simple standard work for how to cover for Lori. This kept Lawton’s HR department running smoothly while Lori was gone.

An impressive number of ideas

Tricia said the number of EBI Lites continues to grow quickly, year after year. In 2017, Lawton’s first full year of doing EBI Lites, Lawton achieved 638. In 2018, 2,577 were accepted. This year, Lawton employees are on track to do 4,984 by the end of 2019 – an incredible growth rate! That means employees are being much more aware of the ways in which they can make improvements.

EBI Lite stands for employee-built ideas. These innovations enable Lawton employees to be the ones to build this company through one small improvement at a time. Though each idea may only be like one small drop in the ocean, together they make a wave.