August 22-24, 2021


Columbus, OH

CI 21 / About

The 2021 Continuous Improvement Conference (August 22–24 in Columbus, Ohio) is the only annual event focused on helping custom manufacturers such as printing and converting companies achieve operational excellence by using the concepts of Lean manufacturing and other management and quality systems. Year after year attendees directly link reduced costs, lowered waste, and increased profit margins to ideas gained from conference presentations and networking.

Whether you’re starting a structured improvement program, or are looking for ways to sustain and improve your existing efforts, the conference has content specifically designed for your knowledge level.

Read more.


Mike Hoseus

Center for Quality People & Organizations (CQPO)

Karen Martin

TKMG, Inc.

David Veech

Leadersights, Inc.


John Compton

Lean 101

A Lean organization understands customer value and focuses key processes to continually meet those needs with the least amount of resources. In this workshop, attendees will receive foundational knowledge of Lean manufacturing concepts and tools. The training combines a classroom setting with hands-on simulation. The simulation gives participants the opportunity to manufacture products in a simulated factory and see the benefits of Lean manufacturing firsthand. Participants will learn about one-piece flow, cellular production, pull and Kanbans, point-of-use storage, quick changeover, quality at the source, batch reduction, teams, standardized work, workplace organization, and visual controls. Each concept will build an individual’s ability to identify and eliminate manufacturing waste.
Michael Maxon

Value Stream Mapping

This is the class to get your Lean journey moving! Value stream mapping is a tool that will allow you to see how work moves through your facility. You’ll learn how to construct a current state map that captures not only the flow of work, but information such as inventory, process times, and setup times. Mapping will allow you to compare production lead-time to processing time. After the current state is established, the workshop will focus on how to “Lean out” a value stream. In the case study, attendees will apply guidelines to create a future state map. Finally, developing an implementation plan is covered so you’ll know how and where to begin improving a value stream.
Jamie Parker

Leadership Skills for Engaging Employees in CI

Do you lead your employees in a way that engages them in continuous improvement (CI)? If you’re not sure, sign up for this interactive workshop. Taught by an accomplished speaker and consultant with plenty of hands-on managerial experience, Jamie explains how to bring Respect for People to life in a way that engages the frontline staff so CI thrives. She’ll show you how to get your frontline team to change old, unhelpful behaviors and adopt new behaviors that are needed to fuel your CI transformation. You’ll learn and practice the art of asking good coaching questions that help people become competent problem solvers.
Mike Hoseus

How to Create a System of People Willing and Able to Solve Problems

Many companies embarking on a Lean journey become frustrated with kaizen events and isolated improvement projects that yield great short-term results but have limited sustainability.  They are searching for something more: the culture of continuous improvement with its philosophy, processes, and people aligned to cultivate problem solving.  Aligning your organization around purpose within a Lean leadership system can leverage the power of the entire organization, not just a few leaders. Learn how to use the Lean work system and its process to create a management development system for your company that will engage leaders daily at all levels to develop your people as problem solvers. This presentation will describe how to create a system of people who are willing and able to solve problems.
Travis Russell

Our Quest for Operational Excellence

Creating real change in an organization requires that you change people’s habits and behaviors, the sum of which is your culture. Getting employees to think and act differently is the key. Hear the story of how manufacturer US Synthetic developed a change management approach that not only helped it win the Shingo Prize, the world's highest standard for operational excellence, but also created a continuous improvement culture that has driven consistently good results.
Ryan Tierney

A Lean Thinkers Guide to Organizing Processes, Developing People, and Improving Every Day

Seating Matters transformed itself into a world-class Lean manufacturer of specialty seating in a span of three years by following the principles of 2 Second Lean (laid out in Paul Akers book by the same name). The Northern Ireland-based company had grappled with excess inventory, slow production, and vendor issues and only began to truly thrive after practicing Lean thinking. Hear about the company’s experience with introducing and implementing Lean, and how employees hold each other accountable to the highest standards as the company continues its never-ending journey of continuous improvement. Tierney will discuss the company’s daily meeting, 3S program, improvement system, and how it manages bottlenecks. (Note: This is a video presentation with live Q & A.)
Aravind Chandrasekaran, Ph.D

Creating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Companies have scored impressive gains by applying the Toyota Production System to redesign processes, eliminate waste, and boost quality. But in too many cases, when the leader who championed Lean leaves, these efforts begin slipping. Through his research Dr. Chandrasekaran has identified a set of practices that can stop this collapse and sustain a culture of continuous improvement. These practices have been developed by studying leading health systems around the world, but they will pay dividends for any leaders and teams who struggle to keep up with customer demand, navigate internal hierarchies, and build a lasting continuous-improvement system.
Tracy Owens

The Fastest Speedboat

In the 2006 book Innovation Games, author Luke Hohmann introduced a dozen useful idea generation and problem resolution activities that can be used for market research and product development. One of these games that we have enjoyed using is Speedboat, and we have adapted it for additional utility… for more speed, you might say. Our version of Speedboat comprises elements of four additional trusted quality tools: Fishbone, Affinity Diagram, Force Field Analysis, and Interrelationship Diagram. Practice the deployment of this expanded Speedboat game in our workshop and then take it back to your organization to accelerate idea generation and give the project team a head start toward success.
Bruce Hamilton

Lean Policy Deployment

Most organizations can develop a long list of things of things that are either broken or in need of improvement. However, it’s not so easy to decide which to do first and which to put aside. Policy deployment is about surfacing and prioritizing the many improvements you could make to a short, doable list. It’s also about linking your strategy to tactical plans and even daily activities and creating a balance between daily work and improvement. And it’s about sharing and aligning your scarce resources to achieve improvement faster and avoid project overload. Learn the critical points of every key step in the process and use them to assure that your organization’s vision for the future is understood by all and is not just management’s wishful thinking.
Les Pickering

Powerful Tools for Expanding Your Lean Implementation

Drawing from advanced Lean manufacturing techniques typically seen in the automotive and aerospace industries, Les will reveal how to use some of those same techniques and solutions in the world of printing and converting. He will discuss how a handful of package converters have constructed and are using Obeya (war) rooms, to promote collaboration, problem solving, and continuous improvement. The rooms use a variety of visual communication tools to give managers and supervisors a clear understanding of what is currently happening and what steps are being taken to become better. Also being explored will be the method of using KamishiBai Cards (story cards), a Lean technique for auditing and checking processes. Les will share some of the best practices he has discovered while working with sophisticated converters across three continents and 17 countries, all in packaging. Even advanced companies will able to take away some new ideas.
Tim Riecke

How to Get Started on your CI Journey

Companies often decide to embark on a Lean/continuous improvement initiative without anyone on staff who has implementation experience. If this is true of your company, a veteran of multiple CI implementations will show you how to get your initiative off to a solid start. He’ll cover essentials for success: sustaining momentum by communicating why, integrating the company’s mission, objectives, and key performance indicators, involving everybody every day, and ensuring key initiatives stay aligned with the true North direction of the company. Whether you are a top executive or a Lean practitioner hired to implement your program, this presentation will help you ensure long-term success and avoid a potentially disastrous false start.
Terry Rayner

5S & the 8 Wastes: Five Steps to Improve Company Performance

5S is among the most important and powerful Lean tools. However, 5S by itself is only half of the Lean building blocks. By implementing both 5S and 8-waste programs as you commence your Lean Journey, you will find out how Lean will improve employee satisfaction, product quality, and increase sales (by delighting your customers)—while adding to your bottom line! This session will share real-life experiences, as we review how to implement the 5S & 8-waste elements, so that when you get back to your business, you will have a game plan for success!
Brian Van de Water and Kevin Weeks

Set-Up Reduction

Beating the competition requires steady gains in production efficiency. This session defines how to cut makeready time through the single-minute exchange of die (SMED) system, a vital component of Lean production. You’ll learn the concepts behind SMED, such as the distinction between internal and external tasks, and a specific multi-step process. Importantly, learn the tactics to conduct an improvement blitz over just a few days, which dramatically reduces your makeready time on a press or any other production equipment.
Karen Martin

Choose to Be Outstanding

Discover the essential ingredients that drive exceptional performance with this keynote based on Karen’s award-winning book, The Outstanding Organization. Learn how to strip away unnecessary complexity to enable the levels of performance and innovation that make an organization truly outstanding Proven, practical, and surprisingly simple, Karen’s system focuses on four key behaviors for excellence—clarity, focus, discipline, engagement—that, once instilled into a company’s DNA, open the door to sustainable growth, profit, and a deeply engaged workforce. Drawn from her latest book, Clarity First, she’ll also explain the critical need for clarity and how to use it to innovate at higher levels and problem solve more effectively.
David Veech

The Idea Farm

Change is sweeping through organizations at an exciting and challenging pace. Those who can’t embrace this or build resilient systems will suffer in many ways. Building resiliency skills in the workplace is the best preparation for any kind change. To build these skills, you’ll need a system of structures that allow ideas to surface and then flourish through collaborative refinement that leads to more ideas.  In short, what you’ll need is an idea farm.
Jeff Spain

The Human Side of Lean: Why the Soft Skills Matter

Simply stated, the “people side” of Lean will always trump the “tool side.” For a successful implementation, leaders must gain trust and respect from workers by fostering their development and by walking the Lean walk. As the founder of Toyota famously wrote: “People are the most important asset in your organization and they are the determinant of the rise and fall of it”. This session explores how leaders should address aspects of Lean and corporate culture that impact people's attitudes.
Moderator: Jim Workman-PRINTING United Alliance

CI in the Time of COVID and Beyond

Believing in the philosophy of continuous improvement is the easy part; overcoming inertia, employee cynicism, and day-to-day pressures to put CI concepts into practice requires real commitment. Our panelists reveal why their companies made CI a business imperative and how they are transforming corporate behaviors. You’ll hear about obstacles faced, lessons learned, and measuring CI’s impact. Find out how these companies are accelerating their rate of improvement and benchmark your progress against theirs.
Karen Martin

Advanced Problem Solving

For leaders seeking to improve operations, the ultimate goal is to develop a problem-solving culture that touches upon all aspects of the organization. This session focuses on the questions that you need to ask to drive deeper critical thinking, better problem breakdown, and better root cause analysis. Further, Karen will show you how to sell the need for solving a problem in the first place. She’ll address the multiple hats a problem solver wears and the organizational mindsets that are critical for good problem solving. Even if you have good problem-solving skills yourself, this session will help you spread that know-how to others.
Missy Gieselmann

CI Habit Formation

We explore a topic central to continuous improvement—building better habits. Atomic Habits by James Clear has been on the New York Times Best Sellers list for over a year since its 2018 publication. Everyone knows that change comes in small steps, but the book offers strategies to avoid failure and temporary gains and instead make sustainable, lasting changes. Atomic Habits applies to becoming more efficient in business, but the strategies and lessons equally apply to personal improvement (exercising, spending money, etc.). We’ll review Clear’s Four Laws of Behavioral Changes and discuss the application of his strategies to establishing a CI culture.
John Compton

The 12 Most Spoken Words in a CI-Oriented Company

The conversations heard in printing companies where continuous improvement is effectively practiced seem to have a lot in common. There are several words that keep appearing and reappearing in those conversations, so much so that it’s quite easy to create a list of them. These words are used because they’re drawn from the core principles of Lean management and manufacturing as well as operational excellence. This session describes these words, and more importantly, why and how they’re used. How many do you know and how do you use them?
Steve Anzalone

Three Metrics You Need to Improve Customer Satisfaction and Operational Effectiveness

While there is great interest in continuous improvement (CI) in the printing and graphic arts industry, most small companies struggle to implement Lean manufacturing and CI initiatives. In this session we will explore three key metrics that will allow companies of all sizes to simply and effectively get started on their journey toward improved customer satisfaction and operational effectiveness.


Steve Anzalone

Anzalone Advisors, LLC

Aravind Chandrasekaran, Ph.D

The Ohio State University

John Compton

Compton & Associates

Dean DeMarco

IDL Print

Missy Gieselmann

Wikoff Color

Mike Hoseus

Center for Quality People & Organizations (CQPO)

Randy Lewis

Priority Envelope

Karen Martin

TKMG, Inc.

Michael Maxon

Duggan Associates

Tracy Owens

3 Point Consulting Ltd.

Jamie Parker

Process + Results Leadership Coaching

Leslie Pickering

Quadrant 5 Consulting

Terry Rayner

JPS Graphics Corporation

Tim Riecke

Ardent Mills

Travis Russell

US Synthetic

Jeff Spain

Columbus State Community College

Ryan Tierney

Seating Matters Ltd

Jim Tomblinson

Modern Litho

Brian Van de Water

SPL Consulting, LLC

David Veech

Leadersights, Inc.

Kevin Weeks

Label Logic, Inc.

Want to become a sponsor?

There’s no other conference like this in the world, and you should be here! Learn all about the benefits of becoming a CI Conference sponsor.

2021 Event Location

Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel
50 North Third Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Phone: (614) 228-5050
Room rate: $159 plus tax
Hotel Website

Hotel Reservations

The Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel is ideally located in the heart of the city, just steps from the historic German Village, and in close proximity to the Ohio Theatre, Columbus Convention Center and Ohio State University. Enjoy its eclectic mix of unique guest experiences, signature services, local artwork and upscale accommodations during your stay. The spacious guest rooms feature contemporary style, luxurious bedding and deluxe amenities. Unwind in the rooftop pool and bar – the perfect urban retreat. Feast on farm-to-table American cuisine with an Ohio flair at Latitude 41, a Dean James Max destination restaurant. Gather with fellow attendees at its casually sophisticated Bar 41. (Note: bar and restaurant closed during pandemic and may reopen in time for conference.)


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PRINTING United Alliance is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, race, age, religion, sexual orientation, disability or physical appearance. We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants, speakers, or guests in any form. Conference participants violating these rules may be expelled from the conference without a refund at the discretion of the PRINTING United Alliance staff.

COVID-Related Safety Information

Conference Safety

The safety and wellbeing of our attendees, sponsors, and staff is the top priority of PRINTING United Alliance and the Renaissance Columbus Hotel. We will follow all published rules and regulations, as well as venue protocols that are in effect at the time the event takes place. Especially because of the recent rise in COVID cases, attendees are asked to be respectful of one another’s space. We will have masks available at the registration desk, and hand sanitizer both at the desk and in each meeting room.

Marriott Safety & Cleanliness Program

For more information, visit Marriott’s Commitment to Clean:

The hotel is offering limited housekeeping services at this time. Your guest room will be clean upon arrival, but there will not be daily room cleanings. If you need additional towels, soap, shampoo, etc., you can always request these items.

Columbus Public Health Department 

Effective August 5, 2021, the Columbus Public Health Department and the Franklin County Public Health Department issued a mask advisory urging everyone to wear a mask indoors and in crowded areas regardless of vaccine status until further notice. To see the advisory, please visit  Given the developing situation, if there are new advisories, we’ll alert you.

We are excited to bring our community together again live and in-person. Having a safe meeting is our number-one priority. If you would like to read our corporate events statement, please follow this link. We look forward to seeing you at the event.

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