ILC Conference: Growing and Giving Back

Interest in the Iowa Lean Consortium (ILC) annual conference is stronger than ever. Three hundred people from 97 organizations attended this year’s event held October 25 and 26 in Altoona. Organizers credit the event’s success to knowledgeable keynote and breakout speakers who delivered actionable insights.

“It was a privilege to bring people together who are leading improvement and change in their organizations and connect them with others who face similar challenges. We saw many hugs and high fives and heard a lot of laughter as people shared, learned, and connected while improving their knowledge and growing their network,” said Tracy Schuster, ILC director.

New this year was a “LEANing Together” preconference event. Divided into teams, attendees used continuous improvement strategies and hands-on learning to provide potential process solutions for the Food Bank of Iowa.

“For years, members have asked us, ‘How can we give back? How can we work with the nonprofit community to share our knowledge and help them improve processes in the work they do?’” said Schuster. “I learned about a similar activity at the University of California– San Diego. We adapted their model to help the Food Bank of Iowa improve their processes and help them provide food to Iowans in need with greater efficiency.

Kicking off the main conference was keynote speaker Katie Anderson, an internationally recognized leadership consultant, speaker, and author of the Shingo Award-winning and best-selling book “Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn.” Her presentation was based on her book, which tells the story of her mentor, Toyota leader Isao Yoshino, and what he taught her about learning, leading, and caring.

Will Bowen, known as the “no complaint guy,” closed the conference. He helped attendees understand why people complain and shared specific tools for turning complainers into collaborative problem solvers.

Breakout speaker presenting to conference attendees.
Breakout speaker presenting to conference attendees.

Conference breakout sessions focused on topics ranging from Lean tools to leading through change. Keynote and breakout sessions were recorded and are available to ILC members.

Now is a great time to join the ILC. There are a variety of connection and learning opportunities lined up for members. These include a trip to Kentucky and engaging local learning tours featuring Iowa businesses.


For more information, contact Tracy Schuster at or 515-715-0164.