APICS NoCo Lean Panel Discussion Recap


Recap of October Stay Connected Event:

Panel Discussion & Networking Dinner
'Real Lean vs. Faux Lean'

This panel discussion featured some of the world’s best lean practitioners. Each panelist addressed what they know in terms of “real lean” as practiced by the leading organizations. They also shared their insights into “faux lean” which is often characterized by the practices of laggards.


The panelists provided great insight into how they are succeeding and working through the challenges of making a Lean transformation for their organizations.


Some of the questions they addressed:

  • I hear people say that lean is about culture and behaviors. How do the concepts of culture and behaviors impact what you are doing with your lean transformation?
  • My company has been working on lean for three years, but it is just a random bunch of cost cutting projects. What should I do?
  • I am a supervisor and have been struggling with the massive change that is required of me to transition from giving orders to coaching teams of empowered employees. What have you done to help your supervisors be successful with lean?
  • We have done some training for all employees, but have not seen anything in terms of a transformation. How do you address the gap between training and actually getting something done?


The answers came quick and showed that all were dealing with many of the same issues. The panelists had great stories to share and the attendees left with fantastic ideas on what they could do the next day when back at work.

Are you interested in learning more about Lean?

Check out our upcoming Lean events here.




  • Mark Watkins, Worldwide Director of Toner Operations and Development, Lexmark
  • Thom Mandl, President, Mount Sopris Instruments
  • Kristin Driscoll, Plant Manager, Aurora Organic Dairy
  • Shane Coffey, Manufacturing Engineer, MKS Instruments


Facilitator: Mike Loughrin

Mike is the Chief Executive Officer of Transformance Advisors, Advisory Board Member for Loyola University Chicago Supply and Value Chain Center, Director of Lean Six Sigma Programs for the International Supply Chain Education Alliance, and Director for APICS Northern Colorado.


Panelist: Shane Coffey, Manufacturing Engineer, MKS Instruments

Shane Coffey is a manufacturing engineer with MKS Instruments in Boulder. He has been working with Lean under one banner or another since 2009 when, as a Six Sigma black belt for one of CAT Inc.'s major suppliers, he received training on their "Caterpillar Production System." Since then he has seen real and faux Lean efforts in both manufacturing and distribution environments and is glad to work today with an organization dedicated to true Lean.


Panelist: Mark Watkins, WW Director Toner Operations and Development, Lexmark International Inc.

Mark has spent a career with Lexmark for 26 years in many different roles: manufacturing engineer, controls engineer, manufacturing manager, engineering manager, development manager, etc. Over the last 3 decades Lexmark has had to develop it's own identity separate from the original spin off from IBM in 1991. This includes growth and manufacturing around the world. To stay competitive globally, Lean concepts (in various forms through-out the years) has been instrumental to our longevity and success.

Lexmark started it's official Lean 'program' about 2006. Like many organizations, it was an effort to 'check the boxes' and to be honest not very successfully or sustainably. Mark and the Boulder site leadership have taken the concepts and tried to boil it down to the elements and fundamentals that drive improvement. The main focus is Continuous Improvement through the systematic elimination of waste; and to transform a very historical "just tell me what to do and I'll do it" culture to a culture based on personal accountability. As the business matures and continues to become more globally competitive, the vision of all employees to strive for perfection is critical and the main focus of the Lean mission.


Panelist: Kristin Driscoll, Plant Manager, Aurora Organic Dairy

Kristin is a native of Mount Zion, Illinois, graduating from South Dakota State University in 2006, with a B.S. Degree in Dairy Science, Emphasis in Manufacturing. Kristin has been in the dairy industry for nearly twenty years. and with Aurora Organic Dairy since May of 2006 most recently as Interim Plant Manager. She started her career with Safeway Milk Plant as Production Supervisor in Bellevue, WA and Denver, CO, as well as Robinson Dairy, in Denver. She has worked on all sides of operations management in production, quality and continuous improvement. She is a Certified Lean Master and Six Sigma Black Belt.


Panelist: Thom Mandl, President, Mount Sopris Instrument Company

Thom Mandl is President of Mount Sopris Instruments in Denver, a world leader in the manufacture of geophysical equipment used for sub-surface investigations. In 2014, he launched the company’s Lean initiative that has dramatically improved customer outcomes, global competitiveness, and financial results. Prior to Mount Sopris, Thom was a Lean practitioner with Altec Industries and Ford Motor Company. Thom has an engineering degree and MBA, and holds professional certifications in Lean and supply chain management.

Thank you to the Gondolier for hosting a fabulous dinner!



Are you interested in learning more about Lean?

Check out our upcoming Lean events here.