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Although continuous improvement is still in its early stages, Schulist talks about savings in the hundreds of millions of dollars. At a time when high energy prices are front page news, what effect can consumers expect this to have on the price of electricity and gas? “It is unlikely that many companies will be reducing their energy prices,” he admits. “Our real issue is, if you look at what is forecasted for price increases in the United States in the next 20 or 30 years, the actual rate of increases expected will be higher than infl ation. Our ratepayers cannot bear the anticipated cost that is forecasted nationwide for energy increases, so our goal is to make sure that our processes and methods are so good that our increases will be at a lower rate. That’s our commitment to our community.” DTE’s approach to this is to take lean sigma to another level to incorporate environmental and social goals. “It’s still in the development stage, but we have worked on something called sustainable lean sigma,” says Schulist, “which is something that we have gone to patent on— using lean six sigma approaches in sustainability. There is a set of tools from the environmental side and social side, and a set of tools from lean six sigma which we have combined into what we call sustainable lean sigma—applying business rigor to triple bottom line issues. Schulist says the lean sigma approach defi nitely works in a non-manufacturing setting, and he is excited about working on the social, environmental and economic sustainability of the communities which DTE is tied to. But what is he personally most proud of over the last year? “That we now have a leadership team that is fully engaged in driving us, and that is going to be the key to our future success. That’s what I’m most proud of, and it took the most work!” implementations. Three questions, in particular, stood out. Are top executives committed to a long term vision of adding value? Are executives committed to developing and improving teams and people? Will there be a continuity of philosophy at leadership level? “Liker is local to us,” says Schulist. “He’s from Michigan. So we invited him in and we talked, and we decided that if we were really going to do this, we needed to have these three things aligned. So we spent most of last year working with executive leadership to develop a deployment vision for 2008 and the future. “From the people side, we have been working with Steven Spear at MIT,” continues Schulist, “with the support of Toyota’s supplier network (BAMA) and Dana Corporation, to help teach executives how to become leaders in continuous improvement.” A fi ve day course has been developed, using Spear’s work on the capabilities of the operationally excellent company, and their relevance to the utility industry. “What it comes down to,” Schulist continues, “is how do you design your processes to see problems? When you fi nd a problem, how do you rapidly swarm that problem to solve it at its root cause so that it doesn’t come again? And how do leaders ensure that learning is shared across the company, so local lessons are shared globally and implemented appropriately, and how do leaders become the people who can do those fi rst three things?” DTE has around 90 people doing full-time continuous improvement, across both gas and electric utilities, including customer service, fl eet and warehouse, legal and HR, as well as operations. Despite the obvious operational differences between a slow moving assembly plant and the high velocity continuous fl ow environment in a process industry, the tools and philosophy of lean and six sigma are indeed transferrable, and Schulist found his automotive experience valuable, but he has found his approach to the deployment of lean tools has altered slightly, because of these differences. Instead of starting with the tool and deciding where to apply it, he’s now more focused on identifying a problem and deciding which tool to use, so the tools become counter-measures for solving problems. “I was much more tool focused before, and now I’m much more process focused. It’s not about applying a tool for the tool’s sake.” DTEEnergy 102 May 08 www.bus-ex.com H Hansen Industries enjoys a good working relationship with DTE Engineering, WSC, and all of the power plants. When we repair or replace heat exchangers, air compressors, vacuum pumps, and machining or in fi eld maintenance, working with the knowledgeable Edison personnel brings much satisfaction to the end result. We look forward to our continued relationship as a partner with DTE Energy. H Hansen Industries “I was much more tool focused before, and now I’m much more process focused. It’s not about applying a tool for the tool’s sake”

May 08 www.bus-ex.com 103 In 1926, P.W. Graham and his sons started a modest building contracting business out of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, dedicated to the values of hard work and pride in every detail. Today, Graham Group Ltd. is not only an employee-owned, industry-leading family of companies but was also recently awarded membership to the Platinum Club of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies. Platinum Club members represent the business elite of Canadian-owned and operated companies, having consistently met strict financial and operational criteria for a minimum of six years in a row. In 2006, only 44 Canadian companies received this honor. “To reach the elite ranks of Platinum Club, a business needs to demonstrate repeated and consistent enterprise-wide excellence,” said James McSherry, executive vice president and managing director of CIBC Commercial Banking. “It’s a distinction that honors the entire company, not just the senior ranks.” Graham Group was chosen because of its passion for change, innovation in applying leading business practices, and ability to motivate employees. In addition, it has GrahamGroup Kate Sawyer learns how this Canadian construction company has built an international business from the ground up Historicfoundations