Continuous Improvement Summit | October 7, 2019

Join us for the 9th annual Continuous Improvement Summit at the American Family Training Center



Registration opens at 7:45 AM.  Enjoy networking, continental breakfast, and the CI Poster Showcase until the Summit kicks off at  at 8:30 AM.  Download a map to help guide you to the Training Center.  Registration closes FRIDAY at noon.  Details here.

Networking and Poster Sessions

Learn about exciting, impactful, and creative continuous improvement projects completed during the last year, and network with the people who made them happen.  The Showcase will open at 7:45 AM until the Summit Kick off, and will stay open for additional networking during morning breaks.

Summit Kick off

American Family continues a cultural and digital transformation to bring its traditional customer focus to a whole new level through collaboration, experimentation, empowering people closest to customers and processes to create an agile culture of experimentation and innovation.With over 12,000 people in the enterprise, and operations spread across the country, American Family has had many successful local process improvement and innovation efforts that never scaled into a coordinated enterprise-wide effort.

Matt Cornwell, Ignite Associate Vice President, will share how the company is changing that through their Ignite program.Matt leads a team of lean coaches who support the company’s cultural transformation efforts through the implementation of the American Family Lean System. His team’s purpose is to help the organization: empower employees closest to the customer, experiment, increase agility, and become more customer driven. Through coaching, the Ignite team helps their business partners implement a management system for all AmFam that drives both incremental and sustaining innovation of current business model to make products, services, processes, and customer experiences significantly better for the future. In his fourteen years at American Family, Matt has held leadership roles in continuous improvement, enterprise strategy, corporate planning, change management, and executive administration functions. Matt started his career as an industrial engineer and earned a Six Sigma Black Belt before joining American Family

Kristy Rogers, Ignite Manager, currently leads a team of Lean coaches who support the company in achieving results through the implementation of the American Family Lean System.  Prior to coming to American Family, Kristy spent 20 years of her career working in the public sector.  Her experience ranges from “in the field” environmental work to leadership roles including Continuous Improvement Director and Division Administrator at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.Kristy is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and played a pivotal role in launching the State of Wisconsin’s Lean Government Program.

Poster Flash Talks

Relax, get comfortable, and get the highlights of some of this year’s posts ad exhibitors present their posters in rapid-fire flash talks.  Make note of the posters you find intriguing for follow up conversations.

Breakout Sessions

Gemba Tours: Back by popular demand: Join us at the Gemba for a chance to see the American Family Lean System in action and interact with teams that are implementing it.  Six sets of Gemba tours will be offered during the conference, each with a maximum capacity of 10 people per tour.  Please register for a tour when you arrive!

Understanding the Customer: Customer Empathy Techniques
To improve and innovate we must understand our customers, their problems, what drives value for them, and how they will adopt any solutions we design. In this session American Family Lean Innovation Coaches will lead us through Deep Customer Empathy interviewing techniques. You will generate observations through these interviews and turn your observations into insights, customer personas, and hypotheses for future experimentation. We will go beyond traditional Voice of Customer techniques in this practical, hands on workshop. This session will be repeated in the morning and afternoon

American Family Lean Innovation Coaches

Developing and Maintaining a Continuous Improvement Culture
UW-Stout has created and maintained a culture that engages employees, values their input, and relies upon their contributions.  Processes used at UW-Stout provide a model for other organizations, agencies, and departments for how to establish and adapt a continuous improvement culture that endures and grows.

Kevin Wilkinson, EdD, Assistant Professor of Operations and Management in the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Management; and Andrei Ghenciu, Associate Professor of Mathematics in the Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science at UW Stout

The People Side of Processes
The people on a team are the biggest factor in a project’s success or failure. It’s not enough for them to know improvement techniques. They also have to believe in what they’re doing and feel valued as well. In this session, participants learned how to embed practical approaches to help people embrace process improvement. Part of the learning came from the book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, by Chapman and White.

Kristin Polywacz, Manager, Center for Operational Excellence & Organizational Development, Madison College

Communities of Excellence 2026: Transforming the Work of Leaders
Beginning in 2010, a small group of leaders developed the hypothesis that a systems framework – the Baldrige Framework – could be adapted to transform the health and wellbeing of residents in communities.  In 2017, community leaders from Excelsior Springs, Missouri joined the first cohort of the national learning collaborative and began their Communities of Excellence journey.  This session will explore key concepts of the Communities of Excellence framework as well as the lessons learned from implementing them.  Come learn more about Communities of Excellence and how it’s begun to transform the work of leaders in Excelsior Springs.

Kim Halfhill,
Excelsior Springs Communities of Excellence Steering Team

Preparing the Next Generation of Leaders
Every day, 10,000 baby boomers are retiring and by 2020, 48% of the workforce will be millennials.

*All statistics are from Brandon Hall’s State of Leadership Development 2015: Time to Act is Now

Hennepin County’s traditional senior leadership programs are outstanding but have limited capacity. County Administration explored options for addressing the growing need for future leaders by developing the Action-Based Leadership Experience, or ABLE, to provide opportunities for less experienced leaders to learn and use new skills over the course of 18 months. The program involved top leadership, managers, supervisors and subject matter experts as mentors to those in the ABLE program.

This program was in such high demand that another version, ABLE Light, was created to allow even more interested employees to participate. Learn how the ABLE principles can be help your organization prepare for the next generation of leaders.

Pam Haats
MIPRO VP Business Development, Public Sector & Midwest
Hennepin County Continuous Improvement Manager (retired)

Lean Leadership for Transformation and Beyond

Many organizations are undertaking some form of transformation today with Lean being one of the key methods to improve performance.  Transformation requires a multi-dimensional undertaking that requires aligning Purpose, Process, People and the Customer. Yet, there is an attraction to focus narrowly on tools rather than building a holistic transformation approach.  While the overly focused tool approach initially produces results, this narrow focus never leads to ongoing sustainable change.

As MIPRO is leading the lean community out of the Tool Age and into the Era of holistic “Sustainable Prosperity Management”, we invite leaders to explore why achieving “Sustainable Prosperity” is so difficult and what leaders can do to improve your organization’s success.

Travis Piotrowski
Vice President, Business Transformation, MiPro

“Life is like a bead bowl — You never know what you’re gonna get” – Data Collection in Quality Improvement (QI)

Meet Beyoncé the Bead Bowl and join us for a fun exercise on data collection in QI.  Kathleen Caron, Performance Management and QI Coordinator at the WI Department of Health Services, will facilitate an exercise demonstrating the impact of sample sizes in QI.  Come join us to learn about the differences between sampling in QI and research.  Discover the answer to that eternal question — “Do I really need to collect a ton of data for my QI project?”

Kathleen Caron, Performance Management and QI Coordinator
Wisconsin Department of Health Services

A Case Study in Change Management:  The Merger of Two Organizational Effectiveness Offices at UW Madison

For most employees, the word “merger” elicits an immediate negative reaction and conjures up feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. That was certainly the case for employees of UW–Madison’s Office of Quality Improvement (OQI) and Administrative Process Redesign (APR) office when it was first announced in June 2017 that the offices would be merging. The merger decision came closely on the heels of the announcement that APR’s founding director would be retiring later that summer—about six months after the retirement of OQI’s founding director. What happened next offers lessons in change management and provides a roadmap—as well as hope—for those faced with a similar situation. The new merged office, named the Office of Strategic Consulting, is arguably greater than the sum of its parts. In this session, two of its staff who were part of the transition, Kathy Contezac, Communications Officer, and Jim Thompson, Internal Consultant, share some of the strategies and tools used to manage the transition and help staff move through William Bridges’ stages of change from Ending, Losing, and Letting Go—through the Neutral Zone—to a New [and exciting!] Beginning.

Kathy Contezac, Communications Officer and Jim Thompson, Internal Consultant
UW Office of Strategic Consulting

From Imagination to Results – a 20-year Vision for Community Growth and Organizing

 Through the lens of Performance Excellence, City of Madison staff discuss how Imagine Madison, the city’s 20-year vision for community growth adopted in August 2018, will be monitored through the developing performance management and outcome budgeting framework, Results Madison.

 Karalyn (Kara) Kratowicz,
Performance Excellence Specialist, City of Madison

 StrategyLink: Using Data for Decision making

This session explores making data-driven decisions to help organizations measure, analyze, and improve organizational performance. (For Baldrige enthusiasts, it’s a dive into Categories 2 and 4 of the Baldrige Excellence Framework).  No prior Baldrige knowledge is needed to benefit from this session. Mike Gratz has over 25 years of entrepreneurial leadership. His experience brings to life the practical application of Operational Excellence and continuous improvement tools.

Mike Gratz
Advance Advisors Group

 Building a Culture of Quality

Are you struggling to get quality improvement off the ground? Do you face resistance trying to implement positive changes? Shift the paradigms and empower your workforce to guide your organization towards excellence.  This session dives into the meaning of culture, key quality principles, and offers strategies for leading your organization’s culture towards one that embraces change and continuous quality improvement in daily work life.

Tracee Burke, Quality Improvement Coordinator, Southern Wisconsin Center

The Wisconsin Center for Performance Excellence is grateful for the support from American Family Insurance, and MetaStar Inc, and the many individuals and organizations who helped make the 9th annual Continuous Improvement Summit a success.

American Family Insurance is a tobacco-free environment.  Use of tobacco products and e-cigarettes is prohibited in all interior and exterior spaces, including inside your vehicle while on company-property and in parking ramps and parking lots. We ask that you refrain from using tobacco products and e-cigarettes while using our facility.


Summit 8 Highlights

2018 Breakout and Intensive Session Speakers (presentations will be uploaded as received)


Summit 7 Highlights

We’re pleased to share presentations from its seventh annual Lean Government Conference. Our 2017 line-up reflected the progress Wisconsin organizations have made and the opportunities to capitalize on our gains.  Access the presentations below: