Several weeks ago, Lenovo hosted the grand opening of the new US fulfillment center in Whitsett, North Carolina. The official news release, and broader media coverage speak to the usual points of interest - the job creations, partnership with local and state government, and the commitments to the community which Lenovo is demonstrating by this move. What I wanted to talk about today, were other aspects that I personally found interesting and compelling. I met a number of new Lenovo employees and was surprised and impressed by the diversity of their career backgrounds and personal experiences prior to joining Lenovo. For example, I met Jaritza seen below working in the configuration and custom imaging area of the facility. In the course of our conversation, I learned that she previously worked as a specialist on a semiconductor fabrication line, so she not only knows her way around a PC, but has seen and understands the processes used to build it's most foundational components.
Other employees I spoke with had management, and industrial process experiences prior to joining Lenovo, and I could easily imagine the kind of contributions they make to the Lean Six Sigma process under which the facility operates. I remembered blogging about Lean Six Sigma last yearwhen Lenovo began to deploy it, and was impressed to see that the new fulfillment center truly embraced the principles and structured the processes and operations accordingly. The lean discipline removes waste from processes while the six sigma principles improve consistency of execution. While at the facility, I had the opportunity to meet Ken Grissom, the general manager, and spend a few minutes walking around with him. We talked about the processes, the present and future missions for the facilities, and the innovations, including the use of Lenovo's own ThinkPads, as part of an overall integrated inventory management and control system. Each fork truck carries a ThinkPad and a laser scanner, wirelessly networked. It was gratifying to see the company tag line about putting innovation in the hands of more people applied to our own efforts.
I was left with an overall impression that the center is in extremely competent hands. Ken exhibited vision, a unique understanding of his employees, and what is required to foster an outstanding work ethic. Employees will show up for a job, but to achieve excellence, you need to have them truly believe in what they are doing, and channel their creativity and passion for excellence into all aspects of what they do. While this enthusiasm was evident in every employee I spoke with, it's perhaps best visualized by a banner hung at the entrance to the work area. Each employee signs their name, committing to the ideals and values by which this center operates.
As I left for the day, I thought about our other plants around the world in Mexico, India, China, and Poland in varying stages of completion and about the people, processes, and cultures playing out in each of them. Our new Shanghai plant went live last May and our Baddi, India plant became fully operational on August 30. Lenovo manufacturing facilities in Mexico and Poland are currently under construction and are expected do "go live" by the end of 2008. These each play a critical role in Lenovo’s growth and evolution as we shorten supply lines to our customers, and assume direct control of our end-to-end supply chain by improving our costs, reducing our delivery times, providing the value-added services our customers need, and ensuring our innovative PCs are manufactured with the highest level of quality. Lenovo products are world-class, and we are hard at work to ensure all other aspects of the Lenovo experience grow in excellence to match them. More to come...