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Maria Grzanka

Continuous Improvement Instructor, Consultant

Maria is recovering from more than 20 years of experience in corporate continuous improvement. Armed with a Lean Sigma black belt, and a degree in Integrated Supply Management she currently serves as a principal consultant for Lean Portland and Quantum Leaders. Much of Maria’ s early work experience focused on process improvement relying on external metrics and clever process design to achieve results. When a new, smartly- designed spreadsheet reduced process time from more than a week to one day yet no one would use it, she knew she was missing something.

Maria embraced the Lean philosophy that “ the problem is in the process not the people,” although something seemed to be missing with how Lean was being implemented. Through self- guided study and mentorship, Maria continued searching for ways to make processes work more efficiently and people work smarter. She discovered that what brought about real change, was the energy individuals brought into each interaction. Maria often utilizes the Living Organization® Approach and the ARC Framework™ which helps her work with the energy of a group or organization to make lasting impact. Because this framework extends and integrates existing tools and models it allows her to help weave together bits and pieces to meet the needs of a group’ s unique makeup.

Maria holds a degree in Integrated Supply Management from Western Michigan University. Since 1998, she has worked in nearly every function in the supply chain: receiving, expediting, purchasing, production planning, warehousing, distribution, shipping, logistics, and operations excellence ( metrics & dashboard reporting) . Her experience spans a variety of industries from companies like Saturn, Pfizer, Tektronix, Danaher, Con- way, XPO Logistics, and Vestas Wind Systems.

Since 2016 Maria has been actively involved as part of the leadership team of Lean Portland, a professional group dedicated to ' helping people make work better.' She serves as a senior consultant and communications lead managing marketing and administrative tasks while mentoring and coaching junior consultants. Lean Portland hosts educational and networking events for Lean and Six Sigma professionals and offers pro bono consulting for local nonprofit organizations such as Free Geek, The Rebuilding Center, Depave, Social Venture Partners, and the State of Oregon Department of Health & Human Services Lean Academy.


Meeting facilitation/management: Maria is able to quickly synthesize a process or issue into a format that everyone can see. By using interactive visual techniques, the whole group can begin to see the thought process behind problem solving. This method of organization is what allows a group to follow the thinking through to actionable results.

Continuous improvement culture: Maria brings a variety of tools to the work of process improvement. From lean and six sigma, project management, and change management. Maria use these tools throughout her work in meeting facilitation, instruction, and coaching. It's never about the tools alone though. The tools are only a means to an end.The end goal is always creating a safe space to allow the work of change and continuous improvement.

Training & Instruction: Whether delivering existing materials or designing new material, Maria's experience in a variety of environments and industries allows her to tailor the learning experience for each group through visuals, discussion, and demonstrative activities.

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