The highlights from the 27th International 20 Keys® Conference


The prestigious organization, the owner of the Japanese methodology for Lean transformation 20 Keys® - PDI (Professional Development Institute), decided to organize the 27th International Lean 20 Keys® conference in Sofia, in partnership with its key partner Next Consult. 

The event was held within 4 days, during which the attendees visited the production facilities of leading companies that successfully implemented Lean practices and were able to get to know the experience of international Lean consultants during the official event on October 22 at the Balkan Hotel in Sofia.

Special guest was Dr. Yoshi Kobayashi - President of PPORF (Practical Program of Revolution of Factories) Development Institute, Lean consultant and owner of 20 Keys® methodology.
Dr. Kobayashi told interesting facts about the founding of the 20 Keys ® methodology and the PPORF organization:
“The story of 20 Keys® began in 1982 when my father, Iwao Kobayashi, founded it after retiring after 37 years of experience at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

As a Mitsubishi engineer, he created the entire Sagamihara line in 1970, based on which army tanks and construction machines were constructed.

The original name of 20 Keys® in Japan is the PPORF (Practical Program of Revolutions in Factories), after which the PPORF (pronounced "Polufu") was named by the western 20 Keys® countries, which comes from The 20 Elements of Kaisen. It officially adopted the name 20 Keys® when it released the "First Book of 20 Keys®" in the United States in 1990.

We call it a "hands-on program" because it is designed in a way that even complex practices can be easily implemented by anyone in the company.


20 Keys® helps managers and their employees achieve higher productivity while maintaining good quality. ”

About 700 companies in over 30 countries have implemented 20 Keys® and the statistics are impressive. The reports show a 200% increase in productivity, an 80% reduction in defects, a 50% reduction in inventory and a 20% reduction in costs. Dr. Kobayashi shared his positive impressions of the growth in Bulgaria, saying that he saw great potential in the development of business in our country. The excellent results reported, showing the development of the companies implementing 20 Keys® in Bulgaria is also a serious plus, which Dr. Kobayashi pointed out and reason to choose Bulgaria to host the 27th International Lean Annual Conference.

After him, Toshko Petkov - Business Consulting Partner at Next Consult, took the stage, which touched upon the topic of involvement of employees through Lean, which is so painful for most companies, and noted that about 70% of the companies in our country plan to implement Lean practices next year.
"In recent years, Bulgaria has been going with a moderate business growth of about 3.5-3.8%. This means that the business environment is developing, there are new investments, new jobs are needed, which require human resources. The lack of people in active working age is a fact and that is why it is even more important to learn to value and respect our employees, to trust them and to provide them with a working environment in which they feel happy, valued and calm. ”-
Mr. Petkov noted


Before the conference, Next Consult conducted a survey on the state of Lean practices in Bulgarian companies, which involved about 100 mostly large and medium-sized companies.

"Companies operate in manufacturing as well as in other business sectors such as services, logistics and transportation, trade, finance and more. They were asked specific questions about the level of implementation of some of the major Lean practices.

A summary of the answers shows that:

- Over 70% of companies consider their organization to be in line with strategic priorities;

- More than 65% of the companies consider that they have development, more knowledge and skills among the employees, which gives them sufficient flexibility for sudden changes in the external environment;

- More than 75% of companies believe they have a good level of technology used;

- Less than 20% of participants believe that their level of organization and ergonomics at work is very good;

- More than half of the companies consider that they have sub-optimal levels of work in progress and inventory;

- Over 60% of companies have difficulties in motivating and engaging people;

- More than 70% of companies do not have a clear understanding of major losses among all employees;

- Most companies think that the maintenance of machinery and equipment and the quality level are not good enough." -
Mr. Petkov summarized

After the presentation of Toshko Petkov, Huibie Jones, Managing Director of ODI in South Africa came on the stage to present how to produce with better quality.

"Quality is a very complex indicator that involves a few of the Lean keys. When we talk about quality, we want to reduce defects, and our main goal is to reduce them to zero. With the Lean methodology and 20 keys ®, this is possible.” - said Jones in her presentation.

After that, Shereen Mosallam - Operations Manager at Symbios Solutions came on stage and talked about how to deliver faster.
"To deliver faster, we talk again about complexity and touch on the importance of quality human resources and good management for the company." - Ms. Mosallam added.

Stefan Oestreich - Head of Daimler Trucks and Buses In-house Consulting Operations and Dipl. Eng. Georgi Filchev, Consulter in Daimler AG gave an interesting overview of the Lean management of the world’s largest Truck and Buses manufacturer. Daimler Trucks operating system consists of 92 methods clustered in principles, and goes way beyond production processes. It involves also administrative processes, but more importantly – the system aims to break process silos and optimize the entire supply chain – end-to-end.

The future big topics of Daimler in the area of lean are Lean leadership and Digitalization with the ultimate target to introduce Continuous improvement as culture in the organization.

Daimler is trying to use digitalization to implement smart process based on Machine learning and Artificial intelligence, not for replacing, but for supporting the people. For the company, Smart automation means non-standardized acting, i.e. all this supporting equipment should help workers resolve unexpected situations.

Yavor Nikolov - General Manager at Sensata Technologies Ltd. told about Lean transformation through the eyes of an international product manager.
"My strong opinion is that Lean is working. Real statistics from one of the factories where we implemented Lean pratices showed a 95% reduction in delivery time in 3.5 years. It was vital to take action because we were at a loss. After Lean implementation, the statistics changed. From -2% profit we got to + 20% and started hiring about 150 new employees a month. ” - said Mr. Nikolov

After Mr. Nikolov on the stage came Stefan Markov - Head of Process Improvement at Lufthansa Technik, who told us about Lean transformation in Lufthansa Technik Sofia and the continuous process of optimization.
"We believe in the Lean methodology and its logic. We are supporters of the idea and put a lot of keys into our work. It is very important work processes to be clear and the employees to be trained and calm, especially when it comes to the lives of hundreds of people, as in our case. In such a situation, how the processes are managed is of the utmost importance.” - said Mr. Markov.

KAPCI Coatings has shared its success story and impressive results after implementing the methodology. The conference also gave the scene the official award of the 20 Keys® Award for Excellence to KAPCI Coatings managers. The award was presented by Dr. Yoshi Kobayashi, who expressed his extremely good observations on the progress of the company and the results shown.

For an even more exciting, exciting and hands-on experience, Next Consult organizes visits to the manufacturing facilities of five of Lean's most successful companies in Bulgaria. These are Rollplast, Coca-Cola HBC, Sensata Technologies, HL-TopMix, Lufthansa Technik Sofia.

On the first day of the four-day conference, guests visited Lufthansa Technik Sofia and Rollplast's production facilities.

In the production base of Rollplast - a leading manufacturer of windows, doors, blinds, garage doors, etc., we were able to see the 12 keys that have been applied so far.
Rollplast has been implementing the 20 Keys ® Program in partnership with Next Consult since 2015. The program has led to significant improvements in order, process efficiency, employee engagement, reduced claims, reduced machine damage, and more.

The company has over 500 employees, 58 stores and 50 warehouses in the country and abroad and is growing, which is why the 20 Keys ® Program is so needed.



Lufthansa Technik Sofia specializes in the maintenance and major overhaul of the hull airplanes of the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 family. The base, which covers a total area of ​​55,000 square meters, employs about 1,100 highly qualified employees. On the tour, they told us about the already established Lean practices, how they improved the processes and what their future optimization plans were. Guests were excited about the opportunity to personally experience the specifics of aircraft repair and maintenance.


After the official presentation at the Balkan Hotel, it was our turn to visit the Coca-Cola HBC production facility.
Their factory is modern and with a high level of Lean practices. The guests were delighted with the coordination between the departments and the ever-growing results, especially with such a large volume and over 2,300 employees.

The third day was reserved for a visit to Sensata Technologies, Plovdiv. The brand new factory of the American manufacturing technology company Sensata is an excellent example of advanced Lean practices. The company is a world leader in the production of sensors and controls for automotive, aviation, medical, agricultural and more. In Bulgaria, the company has 2 factories in Blagoevgrad and Plovdiv, as well as a testing laboratory in Sofia.

During their visit to Sensata, the guests had the opportunity to share their impressions and participate in interesting and useful discussions accompanied by games.

On the last day of the conference, we visited HL TopMix. The company has been on the market for 18 years and is a manufacturer of premium livestock products. As a Next Consult client, they have been implementing 20 Keys® in the last one year and the results are not delayed. Currently, in partnership with Next Consult, work is underway to implement Key 3, and there are significant improvements in order, process efficiency, and employee motivation.


The entire Next Consult team is proud that we were honored to be the organizers of the 27th International Lean Transformation Conference 20 Keys ®. During the four days, we were able to answer on a lot of questions, to show clearly a large part of the methodology and, of course, to meet and get acquainted with representatives of international companies.


The event was supported by media partners:

More about the revolutionary program 20 Keys® here.

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