Continuous Improvement as a Driver of Competitive Advantage Theme of upcoming Mid-West Lean Network Conference

Counting down to the Mid-West Lean Network Conference (from left): Kevin Thompstone, the Thompstone Group and director, Shannon Chamber; Gerry O’Connor, business development manager, IDA Ireland; Sinead Slattery, business marketing manager, Three; Helen Downes, CEO, Shannon Chamber and Gene Leonard, managing director, LBS Partners. Photo: Eamon Ward.


Since its formation in late 2016 by Shannon Chamber and now an industry-led network, the undertakings of the Mid-West Lean Network are encouraging an increasing number of companies in the region to look towards continuous improvement tools and methodologies as a driver of competitive advantage.


This will be demonstrated at the annual Mid-West Lean Network Conference being held in the Analog Devices Building at the University of Limerick on Thursday, 14 November, 2019. This day-long conference, which is sponsored by Three, and now in its third year, draws a capacity audience, such is the calibre of presenters who outline their journeys with lean and continuous improvement.


The line-up of presenters this year includes Tony O’Connor, general manager, Graepels, Fiona Keogh, learning and organisational development manager with Analog Devices International, Robert Bourke, partner, Holmes O’Malley Sexton (HOMS) and Tim Cotter, associate director, business consulting, Grant Thornton. Topics will include the many facets of lean, transformation and change management, how lean matters in operational and service industries and, transactional lean.


This year’s keynote speaker Gary Keegan, former director of the Irish Institute of Sport and former performance director with the Irish Athletic Boxing Association’s high-performance boxing programme is an ardent believer in facilitating people to realise their own potential, through creating a support environment to enable them to do so. In his current role as CEO of Uppercut, a high-performance advisory for organisations, his performance coaching expertise is widely sought by many top players and business executives.


He will outline how devising a world-class management programme that is underpinned by a process-driven business model can deliver optimal results in sport or business.


Speaking ahead of the Conference, Shannon Chamber CEO, Helen Downes said: “It is tremendously gratifying to see the impact the Mid-West Lean Network has had on companies in the region. Over one-hundred companies are now members of the network and attending the annual calendar of workshops we organise. The fact that the network is industry led means that it is  the members who choose the workshop topics and the format of the annual conference. This year, on the encouragement and advice of the steering committee, we have introduced a new concept for the annual conference award.


“This year’s award, which is sponsored by LBS Partners, will go to the best A3 project storyboard entered as part of a new ‘street event’ element of the conference programme. A3 problem solving is a structured problem-solving and continuous-improvement approach, first employed at Toyota, which provides a simple and formatted procedure to guide problem solving by workers.


“Nine projects have been entered for the award by Zimmer Biomet, Analog Devices, Cook Medical, Essilor, Molex, Atlantic Aviation Group, Reagecon and Advanced Technical Concepts. Each company will give a detailed overview of their project to the conference audience in a street-style event. The winner will be selected by the conference attendees via an online voting system in the auditorium on the day. The fact that the winner is peer chosen is an innovative aspect of the conference, which promises to be a very informative day all round.”


For further details or to make a booking for the Mid-West Lean Network Conference, which takes place at the Analog Devices Building in the University of Limerick on Thursday, 14 November, commencing with registration at 7.30am, log onto


About the Mid-West Lean Network

The  Mid-West Lean Network aims to strengthen and increase the existing culture of lean within companies in Shannon and the wider Mid-West region. Its aim is to enable each industry to broaden and strengthen their competitiveness through knowledge sharing and bench-marking against each other and different industries. The Network is supported by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland and led by a steering committee, chaired by Claude Costelloe, site leader, Zimmer Biomet Ireland.