Cultivating Trust in a Seeds Lab

Presenters: Kelly Moore & Rebekah Wagner


Session Abstract:

In 2014 Syngenta’s Vegetable-Seed Quality Laboratory began its continuous improvement journey in efforts to improve it’s sample-turn around efficiency.

The efficiency efforts, however, uncovered another problem, a deep cultural problem.  What originally was considered a ‘shy’ culture in the largely contract workforce was discovered to be one filled with fear and mistrust.  A dedicated team of leaders cultivated a very intentional no-blame environment.  Quality errors were identified and rather than blaming employees, the improvement kata was used which engaged employees to find root causes and eliminate.  The culture change was complete when introduction of JI not only transformed the culture but transformed people into confident instructors. Today’s lab showcases highly engaged and involved employees who are accountable for their own work.  This presentation will describe the journey taken, the ups and downs, and the lessons learned.  Although the backdrop is a quality-control laboratory, the methodology – which begins and ends with people – is applicable to an industry.

Learning Objectives

In this session you will learn:

  • Employee trust can be built through problem solving
  • How quality errors are being eliminated with JI partnered with the improvement kata
  • How JI transformed both people and a culture


About the Presenters:

Kelly Moore is an Operational Excellence Lead at Syngenta LLC.  A synthetic organic chemist by training, Kelly began leading a Syngenta site Lean Manufacturing journey in 2007 and has been an active part of Syngenta’s enterprise continuous improvement transformation since. Kelly is passionate about coaching and catalyzing practitioners in their continuous improvement journey.

Kelly is also a seasoned Toastmaster and would welcome a Toastmasters written evaluation.

Rebekah Wagner is a Laboratory Operations Manager for vegetable seeds product quality control at Syngenta Seeds.  A physiological ecologist, Rebekah oversees two testing laboratories and a team of 20 technicians.  Rebekah and the team began their journey of continuous improvement in 2014.  The team has created a culture of continuous improvement, using standard work and the improvement kata to solve problems and create opportunities for everyone, every day.