This article was originally published in "Inside Vermilion County" by Vermilion Advantage.
Local employers are benefiting from the new IMIN Network (Inspire, Motivate, Improve, Network). While the underlying focus is sharing information and strategies related to continuous improvement and lean processes, the group is finding broad areas that apply to almost any kind of business practice.
The group is led by Amanda English and Mike Gragert, Watchfire Signs; Stephanie Yates, Danville Area Community College (DACC); Rob Newbold, IMEC; and Vicki Haugen, Vermilion Advantage.
Group members explain the general purpose of IMIN is to create an area network to collaborate and share information on issues they all face in the work environment. Each meeting gives an opportunity for discussion along with a presentation on a Lean or Continuous Improvement topic. “Our hope is that everyone can take something with them, using the tools and ideas they got from the meetings, to make continuous improvements at their place of work,” says English. “We also want people to feel comfortable sharing their struggles with others who can offer up suggestions or fixes they might have implemented at their place of work.”
Topics are essentially chosen by the attendees. In 2018, topics have included: LEAN 101, Standard Work for Leaders, panel discussions on LEAN/CI Efforts from local companies, panel discussion on LEAN in HR practices, and Value Stream Mapping. IMIN Network events are a combination of presentations, panel discussions, activities, Lean coffee, facility tours and collaboration opportunities. Meetings occur on the third Tuesday of the month from 7:00am to 9:30am, typically at DACC.
Meetings are open to the public. Participants, from all levels of an organization, represent a variety of industries: manufacturers, service companies, education, healthcare, logistics, data processing centers, machine shops, distribution centers, local government agencies, and VA Illiana Healthcare System, to name a few.
The local IMIN Network collaborative originated from a similar program in Indiana. “A few folks from Watchfire Signs had been participating in a similar type of program based in Lafayette, Indiana called the Wabash Valley LEAN Network (WVLN,)” says Gragert. “We decided to work on a plan to create something in the Danville area.” He and English reached out to the leadership of WVLN in Indiana along with IMEC, DACC and Vermilion Advantage. To their surprise, all three area groups wanted to be a part of the effort. Over the next seven months, the group met regularly to create a vision for the program, set an annual schedule, and layout the roadmap to kick off the network.
The diverse partnership benefits the participating organizations and the greater Vermilion County area. “For DACC, as a training partner for Danville area companies, it was a privilege to be asked to be part of this steering committee,” says Yates. “DACC has a strong network of training providers that could support the initiative and Bremer Conference and Workforce Development Center is a centralized location ideal for scheduling of the monthly events. IMEC has provided their talented training resources and facilitation of events and activities. Vermilion Advantage has provided economic and workforce analysis. We are excited about how the people and the pieces have come together to form IMIN.”
IMEC’s Newbold agrees. “For IMEC, being involved in the IMIN Network has tremendously improved our business,” he says. “As a company focused on driving growth through enterprise excellence, delivering direct examples of how we help companies has given our organization opportunities to provide services to several new clients.”
In addition, Newbold says, “We've been able to collaborate with DACC and Vermilion Advantage to win a sizable state grant to provide additional lean training to organizations over the next year.”To learn more about the network and the next area event visit www.IMIN.network