Technology & Automation in Lean with Bruce Hamilton

Technology & Automation in Lean with Bruce Hamilton

by Patrick Adams | Sep 21, 2021

 

This week on the podcast, I’m chatting with Bruce Hamilton. Bruce is President of GBMP, a Boston-based non-profit founded in 1994 that provides Lean and Six Sigma assistance to manufacturing, healthcare and service organizations.

In this episode, Bruce and I chat about how technology development is impacting Lean and how organizations can reduce turnover and increase employee retention during Covid. 

 

What You’ll Learn This Episode:

  • The Lean Toyota Production system and why some organizations have failed to see improvement from it
  • Creating a unifying concept for both management and employees 
  • Employee retention strategies during Covid
  • How technology could change Lean
  • Using an automation solution and if it’s the right choice 
  • Some of Bruce’s biggest influences in Lean
  • How to make a change in your organization without a leader driving it
  • Advice for people starting their Lean journey

 

About the Guest: 

Bruce Hamilton is President of GBMP, a Boston-based non-profit founded in 1994 that provides Lean and Six Sigma assistance to manufacturing, healthcare and service organizations.  Prior to joining GBMP, Bruce spent thirty years in manufacturing, leading his factory to a Shingo Prize award in 1990. From 1996 to 1998, his factory was also a project site for the Toyota Production System Support Center (TSSC.)  

Bruce is author and actor in the 2004 Shingo Prize winning video, Toast Kaizen and co-author of the comprehensive multimedia training package, e2 Continuous Improvement System, which combines GBMP’s acclaimed video content with self-study workbooks, classroom learning and workplace practice.   In 2000 he was inducted in the Shingo Prize Academy and in 2015 was inducted into the AME Manufacturing Hall of Fame.  

GBMP is an affiliate of the Shingo Institute and provides an annual Northeast L.E.A.N. Conference, http://www.northeastleanconference.org , held  October 6-7, 2021 at the MassMutual Center, Springfield, Massachusetts.  

Important Links: 

https://www.gbmp.org/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/bruce-hamilton-a09a4616/

http://www.northeastleanconference.org/

Full Episode Transcript:

 

Patrick Adams  

Welcome to the lean solutions podcast where we discuss business solutions to help listeners develop and implement action plans for true lean process improvement. I am your host, Patrick Adams. Hello and welcome to the lean solutions podcast. My name is Patrick Adams and my special guest today is Bruce Hamilton. Bruce is the president of GB MP. He’s also a senior examiner for the Shingo prize in a certified Shingo Institute workshops. facilitator. Bruce is a past recipient of the Shingo prize in both the business and academic categories, and inductee into the Shingo Academy with five total awards and all and in 2015, Bruce was inducted into the AMA manufacturing Hall of Fame. He’s also, as most of you probably know, he’s the director and the actor of the famous toast Kaizen video, which Bruce and I talked about just a little bit earlier, before I hit record, was actually my introduction into lean manufacturing. So Bruce, welcome to the show.

Bruce Hamilton

But thanks, Patrick, happy to be with you today.

Patrick Adams  

I am super honored to have you on the show. Bruce, as I mentioned, the toast video was my first introduction to the seven wastes and where I learned that lean was going to be a passion of mine. So I just appreciate all the work that you put into developing that video and putting it out there for the lean community. And so many people I’m sure that are listening, have been impacted not only through the toast Kaizen video, but through all of the amazing work that you’ve done in the lean community. So thank you for what you do.

Bruce Hamilton

I enjoy it. I enjoy what I do. 

Patrick Adams  

And I have, I have several questions for you, several burning questions, and I could probably talk to you all day. But obviously, we have a short amount of time. So I just have a few questions that I want to hit on. And the first one I think is a heavy question, the lean Toyota production system has been out there for a long time. And, and and after 40 years of trying, why have some organizations failed to have significant gains and failed to sustain improvements that could benefit from deploying lean into their organization? What would you say to that?

Bruce Hamilton  

Yeah, we had another there isn’t a single answer, Patrick. I mean, in a very general sense, it’s, I think, because largely management doesn’t know what lean is. And we’ve, we’ve had, you know, a tendency to apply it piecemeal, as this tool or that tool. And the technical part of it is, you know, necessary, but far from sufficient, you know, this slogan of my little organization, everybody every day is to Kono, you know, this ideal condition where people are coming to work, and they actually are solving problems, they understand their problems, and they’re in an environment where they can solve them. And most organizations are not like that, you know, they don’t come from that background, they have a few problem solvers, and everybody else is supposed to do a good day’s work. So the concept of getting everybody engaged, has just has a lot of obstacles, you know, even financial obstacles, such as, you know, cost accounting sort of treats employees as a necessary evil, you know, as sort of a, what do we call it a, an expense, you know, it’s an expense and a variable expense, like, we can take it or leave it. Whereas in, you know, in lean or Toyota production systems, the employees are the most valuable resource. So there’s, there’s a lot of things that organizations have going against them, in order to get that flywheel turning in the right direction. You know, also, a lot of organizations are just not, they haven’t felt enough pain. Organizations that tend to get off to a good start have a specific need for a problem to solve. And it’s, you know, sometimes referred to as the burning platform. And that doesn’t get you that it doesn’t last forever, but it’s a good way to kickstart and demonstrate how you can solve problems. If you engage, you have a highly engaged workforce, and you give them the right tools. There’s a lot of, you know, Ellie Goldratt, used to call these lucky companies where things are good enough, you know, maybe we’re bumping along, we can, we can make believe that things are okay for a while, we have different we outsource to the lowest possible area. And we have these sort of tactical approaches to staying in business, but things are just not bad enough. And for a lot of organizations, they are lucky . It doesn’t matter what they do, they’re still making money. And so when an organization like that tries to make a shift into this kind of thinking, there’s just an awful lot going against them.

Patrick Adams  

Yeah, that makes sense. And what would you say for an organization like that, where what I talked about is creating a compelling story or looking for opportunities to to give your team in tentative or or, you know that that drive to want to get better to want to improve because I’ve worked in a few organizations that were just like that where well we make we make enough money to not have to worry about that. Why? Why should we be worried that we have two extra people standing here? You know, looking at parts and inspecting parts? And so what would you say to organizations like that, that are in that place and are saying we don’t need to improve anything to do anything different? We got plenty of money. Why do we need to worry about that? Well, what would you say?

Bruce Hamilton  

Yeah, well, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s tougher, actually, um, because you would like to have some unifying concept for both management and employees. And generally, if you’re making a lot of money, that management’s kind of lazy about that, too, they’re getting their bonuses, things look, okay, why rock the boat. So that’s challenging for employees, you know, even organizations making a lot of money, people come to work and have lots of problems. And a surprising number of people who say they hate their jobs, but they’re going to work. And they’re, they’re doing it because they got expenses, personal expenses, mortgages, and car loans, and college loans, and all those sorts of things. And so that group, I think, if you have some enlightened management, you can focus on those problems, because even in an organization that is making money, people don’t like living in pain, they don’t like problems, no, like, health care, for example. Clearly, I think last time I checked, 30% of hospitals were underwater, so they definitely need to be doing some things to make money as well. But that’s not their primary goal. They’re there to make people well. And, of course, that’s one thing I’m sure all healthcare providers can agree on. But if you talk to the folks who are on the front line, and I’m not just talking to the past 18 months, which has just been hell, but even before that, highly stressed, just lots of problems, systems that are broken, trying to get things done trying to make the patient Well, in spite of the fact that things don’t work, high level of frustration for people who want to do the right thing. And so the burning platform there is, you know, really focused on the employees, the health care providers, what can we do to make life better for them, they’re trying to do their best to care for, you know, for patients and the burning platform, there may not, you know, be profitable, hospitals hate to talk about profits, they’re not there for that. But it’s also true for very successful companies. You know, you can be more successful, of course, but, but I think just focusing on retention, retaining employees, if you’re in an environment where people feel empowered to address problems that they have, you’re much more likely to keep them there. Sure,

Patrick Adams  

sure. And employee retention, it has been a struggle for many companies over this last year, since the COVID, pandemic started making recommendations for companies right now that are struggling with employee retention.

Bruce Hamilton  

So it’s a tough, it depends on on the industry, there are some industries, I think, like food service, right now, it’s kind of got got a black guy, a food service employees have gone elsewhere, I can’t think of a single company that I work with, who isn’t struggling to make do with, with fewer resources. Now, of course, this is the idea of lean or TPS, if you really subscribe to the idea that 98% or something like that of the elapsed time, between paying and getting paid to produce a good or a service, there’s a whole lot of opportunity in that timeline, to make people’s work more productive, and, you know, make their job easier by taking away the problems. So rather than, you know, dealing with this labor shortage in terms of trying to look for people, let’s develop the resources that we have. And incidentally, as I understand it, labor shortage is not a short term problem. You know, we’re experiencing it now with COVID. But if you look out over the next 50 years, we’re not going to have people for a lot of these jobs. So we should be as productive as possible.

Patrick Adams  

Yeah, very true. And that actually brings me to my next question, because the future as we look to the future, technology is changing things. Right. COVID changed a lot of things for a lot of companies. And I think, you know, it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next few years. But I think all the listeners can agree that technology is definitely changing, especially in the manufacturing arena. You think about Tesla and the approach that they’re taking and different things, but I’m curious to hear from you. If you think that industry 4.0 is going to change the focus of lean or you know, any anything that’s out there that’s progressing, progressive thinking in businesses will change the focus of lean.

Bruce Hamilton  

Yeah. So you know, it’s interesting that there’s no question that the Internet of Things is changing the industry. And actually not just in manufacturing, we work with insurance companies under health care organizations where persons are being replaced by robots. And sometimes, you know, purposefully and sometimes without a whole lot of sense, the industry 4.0, IoT, or just more buzzwords that have come along to describe a process, which has been ongoing for the last century. You know, it’s not that new. And so I’m more concerned that as we apply these additional technologies, and we should, and they’re, they’re really amazing that the lean thinking should be a part of them. Because it’s entirely possible. I mean, you go back to, you know, General Motors trying to automate their workforce out of existence back in the 80s. This is this, we could be going through the same thing. So excuse me if I sound a little cynical, but we don’t have a good history with applying technology. So an organization that applies it thoughtfully, I think, will get a huge benefit. And as I said, I think there are places where human effort couldn’t be replaced. repetitive, so the humans can do thinking work. And I know there’s even you know, intelligent robots, and certainly that will be a part of it as well. Hard to say where that’s going to go in the long term. You know, that’s all science fiction. Now. Maybe someday we’ll just have super creative robots, we won’t be needed at all. That’s still kind of science fiction. Yeah. And yeah, so this is it’s an extension of a trend towards automation. And I think there are places where it’s very purposeful. Yeah,

Patrick Adams  

absolutely. And I’ve been involved with, with a few companies that are using automation in the right way. But I’ve also been involved at a few companies where I’ve seen, you know, well, let’s just try to deploy automation, because it’s the cool thing to do. And because everybody’s doing it, have you had any experiences with that, where companies are just trying to push automation? Because, well, that’s the future and we just need to do it. And what I’ve experienced is, they’re introducing much more waste into the process then than they would have if they would have just thought about, okay, what is the problem we’re trying to solve here? And what’s the right solution? Maybe it’s not an automation solution. What’s been your experience there?

Bruce Hamilton  

Yeah. So it’s a mixed bag. Unfortunately, I think there are more companies who are for you, as you say, just doing it because it’s the thing to do as much as a lot of companies get involved with lean, better figured out why they’re doing it. And, but it’s so easy to miss applying it, Shigeo Shingo used to refer to what he called superficial improvement automating a waste. So in the not too distant past things like agvs, and heist, high bay storage systems were automating waste of transportation and storage. And Shingo was quick to point out like 60 years ago that the only way to reduce the waste of transport is layout, did you and yet I see companies I’m working with companies who are proudly showing how you know they’ve got these robots, they’re able to push buttons in elevators and go up and down floors to go to get the stock which it should have been in a different location in the first place. Right? So they’re doing material handling and rather than having a person push the cart, they have a robot push the cart. Now I’m pretty proud of that. But that’s a superficial improvement. And I might add a very costly one. So yeah, but you know, companies are experimenting. Again, I think we had to be careful because the basic idea you know, Rosie, the robot is an investment. But Rosie the Riveter is an expense. And when you look at this in the books, and if you don’t get to the floor too often, which incidentally, was what that post video video was all about, like, why don’t you go take a look? Right? Then you’re bound to make these bad decisions that are based upon bad economics and just bad ideas. So you can take this wonderful technology, and really make a mess of it. And I worry about that. Yeah, absolutely.

Patrick Adams  

No, I see the same thing. And that does worry me too. But obviously, there’s a lot of great technology out there, a lot of great automation when you’re doing it for the right reasons. And like you said, it’s not a superficial improvement, but they’re actually removing, you know, the waste of motion or removing, waiting, you know, by introducing automation and there’s a good you know, ROI there, then it obviously then it makes sense, and I think we’ll see more of that as as we move into the future but again, as you said, it should not change the focus of lean, lean should be included in that. And so I would agree with you 100% there just to kind of shift gears here a little bit. In the beginning of of the interview today I talked about the toast video being such a huge influence in my personal journey into lean and I have many other great influences on my life in my and my my lean history, including the toast video and obviously You, Bruce, but I’m curious from your standpoint who, you know, who’s been the greatest influence, or what’s been the greatest influence on your personal Lean journey?

Bruce Hamilton  

So, um, boy, I mean, there’s been a lot of influences. Some of them are big names, and some of them are just folks that I worked with, you know, a lot of folks on the front line, and it’s some of it’s the technical knowledge, some of it’s just the spirit of improvement and creativity, you know, so yeah, I mean, in terms of, if you look at sort of conceptually, Shigeo Shingo was a big influence for me, more or less, just, you know, my good luck that his publisher was located in the town next to where my company was. So at a time when I had a need, there were shingles books, and at the time, you know, going back in the 1985, and 86, there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot written about TPS. You know, there were a few American reporters. As a matter of fact, I found out about books, and a little footnote that Robert Hall had in his book zero inventories. And that’s a wonderful book, but it’s kind of a book by a reporter who took a look from the outside and said, Oh, yeah, your sugar. Shigeo Shingo talking about seven wastes and that’s what got me started there. Cheese begins once, I think a lot of his thinking is still yet to be discovered. You know, people say, Oh, yeah, he’s the guy who created Quick Change over a pokey okay, but he did a whole heck of a lot more than that. Okay. And I think we’re just discovering that a lot of what Shingo had to do with this whole business was, you know, a brutal in session attack on the status quo, like no matter where you are, you can always be better. And other people echo that as well. But Shingo really articulated it in a way that I think resonated at least with the folks that I worked with when I was in the industry. And then a second influences Oba who was a teacher to me, when we were a project company for Toyota Production System support tssc and trying to change their at change, change the acronym, the acronym is saying that support center there used to be Toyota productions, his Toyota Production System Support Center. Yeah, and Oba was a contemporary of Mr. Ono. And he was the one who kind of hat was charged with trying to help American companies understand what TPS was. And you know, it was so different. He was coming from a culture speaking of culture, which was very different from ours. He had to come into this country, which was just strange in terms of the way we do things, and bring these ideas to us. And, he did it in a remarkable way. He was just an amazing guy. He just, it’s just a year since he passed. Very sad when it went too soon, because he was really active up until the end. And he had definitely had a lot of impact on the chair and definitely changed the trajectory of my journey.

Patrick Adams  

And that’s, that’s great. And I echo what you said about beat going too early, definitely so much opportunity, and so many other people that he was able to influence. You also mentioned, Bruce, that you have some maybe not so big names that have influenced your lead on your personal Lean journey. I’d be curious to hear who they were or if you maybe just mentioned one or two of them.

Bruce Hamilton  

Sure. So let me just say one more thing about GMO but here’s the call. He was the guy who caused the post Kaizen and video. I’ll really be interested to hear about that guys, because Mr. Oba visited the ARS plant one day and he said, Bruce, you must do Kaizen too. And I said, Yeah, well, I’m helping everybody all the time. I’m helping them with their crises. No, no, you personally must do Kaizen. So I spent about six weeks working on different projects. I selected some I posted about what I was doing. I got some help from folks on the floor. They kind of laughed with me as I was learning and six weeks later, Oba comes back and he looks at what I’ve done. He said, You have a pretty good job. You know, what did you learn? It was sort of like, Yeah, well, yeah, I learned it’s not so easy to change yourself because of some of these things, it helps to have people working with you. So he was a lesson for me. Then he says, Okay, now all of your management team must do Kaizen. That’s what you need to do. And at the time, I was a general manager. And I’m thinking oh, you know, not everybody is quite as on board as I am I got folks and other functions who are not going to do this. And if I can’t find some way of getting them involved, we may not see Oh, but again, because commitment was a really big word for this guy. Right? And it is a big word. Yes. And passion, commitment. If you don’t have that you’re not going to get much done. So kind of in a fit of frustration. One night I woke up and said, You know, we’re going to go. I’m not going to talk about the factory of the office, we’re just going to go and directly observe a process that we’re all familiar with. And that was toast. And that’s basically where the video came from. In 1998, I made the first one. That’s not the one that people see. But it was the one that I took to meet with my managers. And we all watched toast, we all watched the toasting Grace is something we walked by every day and never really looked at and made our observations. You know, some one person did a rather Decent Work combination sheet and another did some five whys and they tried to apply the tools. And I got a bit of a 50% hit rate, I’d say thumbs up. Yeah, I guess I see what this is all about. And that was acceptable to Mr. Robot. So even though I know a lot of people in different industries, such as healthcare, use the toast video all over the place, you’d say, I wonder what they’re doing with it. But you know, people say, Oh, yeah, it’s good for teaching the frontline. But it was originally for vice presidents, where the idea was, you know, direct observation is important. And improvement is not about it’s not about the work as much as it is about all of the things that get in the way of the work. Yes. And that’s kind of the message for them. And then that’s carried forward from there. So anyway, people who are maybe not world famous. Sure, there’s some, I think, a person that I’ve worked with for many years, she’s just retired, somebody who started in sales and then came into operations and a very passionate, very people oriented person, by the name of Pat wardwell. Worked with GMP for many years now. She’s living a good life. But I think she was living the good life with us as well. Others that come to mind right off the bat, a gentleman by the name of Louis Qatada, who is known as somebody from Portugal who worked on the production floor, who just had an incredible eye for improvement. He saw things instantly, he saw things that I didn’t say, he was the person who could create a device that was both quick change, and pokeo can do it for $100. And do it quickly. Bob Camacho is another person. These are names that would not even be known to people, but share with people who just impressed me. mightily. Dan Fleming, a guy that I work with the people who are, critique what I do, you know, I think it’s my good fortune that I’ve been around people who, you know, if they didn’t like what I was doing, or let me know, you know, my wife worked as a as a test technician when I met her and the first thing I remember her saying to me was, you know, bros, managers are people who sound like, they know what they’re talking about, even they don’t.

And now we’re married to a smart woman. So these are a great influence. Yes, indeed, very insightful. And not afraid to speak her mind. And you know, that’s a big challenge. Sure. And people, you know, the the, like, the the topic of psychological safety or emotional safety, you know, is huge, and always has been, that there have been so many organizations that like to brag about their quality systems, but see if you can find somebody who would speak up to report a problem. No, I’m just not going there. I’m not going to bring it up, because then I become the problem. So they’ve got a quality, it’s got a quality system, but you’re gonna have quality culture, people just aren’t afraid to speak. So if you’re lucky enough to find those angry people who still have enough chutzpah to tell you what this you’re full of, then you’re off to you’re heading in the right direction. And there are many more people. I’ve mentioned a few. Yeah, but I worked with a bunch of those folks. And it was, you know, that was very rewarding to me. And still, as I meet those people along the way. They’re just amazing. Yeah. And that’s probably the fun part for me, because the reality is, you know, kind of going back to your first question, you know, a lot of organizations get something, they get something done, but I look at them. And I’m very disappointed, because I’m saying they’re just getting started, but they’re happy with where they are. complacency is a big enemy. People lose the will to keep trying, and that was messages. You just gotta keep going. You can’t reach some plateau and say, yes, it feels pretty good. You hear things like, well, you should have seen us three years ago, and I said, Yeah, I don’t really care how you work through he or she fights, right. It’s like, what are you doing now? And so that’s frustrating to me. You have to enjoy the process. Because the result is not always satisfactory. So we work with a number of organizations and we have a good fortune of having a nice friendship with tssc. So that if we get to a company where we really see that as Mr. Oba call that a commitment senior leadership is really as decided, yeah, we’re gonna do this, you know, when we sort of do a handoff and say here, what, please take this off our hands, you can do it, you can help them better. And there’s a handful of those, and then maybe 20 to 30% more, who get a pretty nice gain. And then it starts a sliding scale, you know, down to the organizations that just never got started. Right now. And I will say that, you know, you should never give up hope, because I worked with companies who maybe tried three times. And third time’s the charm. It’s usually because someone in management, however, has shown that commitment, somebody new comes in, you take a look at companies that are successful, almost all the time. I’m gonna say all the time, it’s because there was a visionary leader who had enough savvy to change the organization. 

Patrick Adams  

Would you say? So? We talked about a lot of things. But just based on your last comment, right there, would you say that if a company doesn’t have that visionary leader that’s driving the change? You know, from the top? What would you suggest to people that are listening that don’t in a company that maybe doesn’t have that one leader there? That’s driving it? Can they still impress change into their organization from where they’re at? If that is if there isn’t a leader like that.

Bruce Hamilton  

So it’s very rare that that leader would be there on day one, that would be almost an accident, maybe that’ll change over time. You know, the story out there at Fremont, where they basically brought in leadership, there’s examples of leadership change, and all of a sudden things happen remarkably fast. Right? Okay. But Failing that, generally, and I’m sure you see this to the leadership that you would like, is sort of maybe near to the top, but not at the top. And so they’re faced with the task of managing up. Sure. of, you know, I worked with a guy on the Shingo Institute for many years, a guy who have another influence on me, I probably if I were to think about this, this question of influence, there’s so many people but this guy, his name is Gifford Brown, he was the site leader for the world’s largest engine plant was a Ford engine plant number two. And and Gifford was trying to bring TPS two to four, he brought chinko in to help with change overs in his plant and did a number of other things. And he referred to it as the trainer was a Cleveland, the Cleveland engine production system. Okay, okay, for a while I’m maybe Miss speaking here. But it was something like that. And he talked about, you know, how hard he tried. And to bring this to the rest of the organization. One day, I was talking with him, and he referred to the system as the power train, production system, cord, power upgrade, or train reduction system. And I said, Oh, I said, What happened? He says, Oh, well, it’s his words. Now. He’s referring to his bots, that, that this had now it had grown and expanded. So they had some learning anything grown into something larger. Now that, you know, any of these things have our perpetual motion machines. But that was giffard. Jane, I said, Oh, you almost feel kind of bad to you. He says, No, it feels great. He says this is exactly what we need to do. If we want to, we want to bring this, this change. We have to keep remember that the the leadership is just like anybody else, they have beliefs, and they need to, we need to kind of convince them, we need to show them. You can’t just leave them to themselves and assume that they’ll figure this out. So I worked very hard at that. And when we have success, that’s cause for celebration.

Patrick Adams  

Absolutely. Oh, that’s great. And you mentioned, you mentioned again, about the people that you surround yourself with over the past years and the influence that they had on you and in the many different names. I think that there’s a lesson to be heard there too, you know, for our listeners, just to think about who are you surrounding yourself with? And you know, from a personal development perspective, are you actively seeking out those influencers that can help influence your life because sometimes, sometimes they’re not going to come to you and you have to go to them and and, you know, really be intentional about seeking out those people that can have an impact on your life. And so I appreciate that. You mentioned a few of those names. And again, I just challenge the listeners to think about who those people are and how you could be intentional about reaching out to them and looking for some development opportunities there. Bruce from a development perspective for you personally, any recommendations to the listeners for personal development in the you know, from perspective books, podcasts, videos obviously the toast video, I would absolutely suggest to everyone but anything else that you would say would be a good place for people to start especially maybe people that are new to the lean world and TPS

Bruce Hamilton  

yeah so I mean, depending upon I mean there’s there’s so many books today on on lean and they’re good books to be sure, but I’m a strong believer in some of the classics like if you haven’t read taiichi Ohno’s Toyota production system you’re kind of missing the point because the why behind all of this system the philosophy behind it is incredibly important as we want to understand how how we keep this going and how we get there because a lot of organized in a lot of books are focusing on what what does good look like but they don’t tell you how to get from where you are to to something that’s better. So de giano option goes books, tomo, Sumi Sugiyama his book, The improvement book, these are old books. There’s hundreds of Patrick yard books to say those are the old books. Yeah, yeah, no, no, no, all by Japanese guys. Ryuji Fukuda’s. Managerial engineering was the first book that Norman bodak published. And it’s one of the most valuable I’m not even sure if it’s still in print. But I always recommend it to people, because it was talking about how managers have to change in order to make this work. And that’s one of the challenges is, we think of this as something that’s going to work on itself without managers having a Avers function with a responsibility. So that’s very important, you know, non non lean kind of books, so to speak, there’s a wonderful book called leadership on the line, which has to do with basically how you create, you know, what they like to refer to as adaptive change, or maybe in lean world, we call it transformational. Change, sure, and manage keep your job, you know, because because these are, it’s risky territory, where you, the reality is that when you start getting into the reasons why an organization is not able to bring about this cultural change, it involves a whole lot of beliefs, that people have deep seated beliefs. And these beliefs are not so easily changed. And, you know, like, in leadership on the line, the authors talk about standing on the balcony, and looking out on everybody below and saying, okay, what’s this look like? What’s this system look like? How can I bring about a change in this organization? Earlier, I was talking about people who have the savvy to do this. So it’s one thing to have this vision, but it’s yet another to be able to look at those pieces and say, How can I make this organization move out of when, you know, because it’s not strictly formulaic, there’s no history book, you can go to no subject matter experts who can tell you how to do it, you plot this out, depending upon the situations at hand, the people who were there, the beliefs they have, and how you’re going to influence those people. So it’s a it’s a really interesting challenge, even though you know, without the technical part, it would all be moot, it wouldn’t really matter, because there actually is a technical part, like Toyota refers to it on the one hand as TPS technical, which are those tools that we always hear about and TPS, managerial? Like how do you create an environment where you actually would get to benefit from those tools, which and, and then at the base of this kind of trust triangle is the philosophy which comes out of Ono’s book about people being the most important resource and Human Development and those sorts of things. And so there really are like three legs on a stool, they all have to be there. But a lot of organizations strictly focus on the TPS technique, and they just sample tools, and they get some benefit. And it could be short term, it could be they could sustain it for a while. They may be happy with it. But it kind of goes back to your first question. Very few organizations really get to that point where every current, every target condition is now their current condition, and they’re just going to keep on storing.

Patrick Adams  

Right. Right. It takes quite a bit to get there for sure. suggestions for new people that are just entering the market, you know, maybe a listener who is, you know, just just new to a hospital or an engineer, young engineer, just just getting out of college, you know, just landed their first job at a manufacturing plant, a team leader, that worker who was just promoted into a team leader role. Anyone that’s listening out there, that’s kind of new in the market. Any suggestions to them for, you know, how they might start their Lean journey or even just personal development, anything at all for them.

Bruce Hamilton  

So I mean, not all world’s know about it. I had a brother who was a professional musician, and he, he just didn’t he and I could talk about, you know, the alignment because of Music and Musicians and so forth. But that wasn’t his world. Okay, so do what you love. Do what you love. Yes. If you can figure out what that is. And if that’s hard to know, and you may not be the first thing you do, it probably isn’t certainly wasn’t the first thing I did. Although I can’t think of any job I ever hated. But you know, so I think you need to be patient. I am 223 year olds and just entering the world. And they’re impatient, you know, they would like to sort of, I remember that it’s a long time ago, but I remember how I felt at the time. And so you know, in soccer, we say the game is the best teacher, you just get out there and start playing. That’s right. Um, it’s, uh, you know, they’re certainly reading, I think there’s a lot of good reading that can be done, you can learn a lot from other people’s mistakes, if that’s your intention, okay. And well, I would say I would encourage persons who, you know, in their 20s, something that maybe they ought to get out and experience the world in which you’re going to work, maybe it’s healthcare, maybe it’s education, maybe it’s government, and see what the current condition is, and try to understand what, you know, what that looks like. And as they’re thinking about changing it, you know, certainly lean concepts are very applicable. So all the books we’ve talked about, they could be valuable. Um, you know, you have to find yourself in an organization where there’s that context, because there’s a lot of every day I visit, I go into an industrial park. And I know that seven out of 10 companies have no clue. But this is not. So it’s new, it would be new to them. You know, I have a personal preference, I think smaller organizations have a better shot at this type of excellence only because of the inertial problems of very large companies. The Lord, you know, it’s I think it really is hard for me to give specific advice to young people other than say, find the thing that you love. And then pursue that. And if the organization that you’re in, is not making you happy, doesn’t mean that the topic is that you’re, you’ve chosen the wrong topic. You may just have chosen the wrong company. Sure. Sure. Look, again.

Patrick Adams  

Sure. Now, I appreciate that. Thank you. And speaking of young people, I think back to when I was young, one of my most favorite movies growing up was Back to the Future. And that, and that is actually the theme of the Northeast lean conference that’s coming up here, beginning of October, getting back to the future. And so I wanted to just throw a plug out there for the conference, because I believe there’s still time to register, right?

Bruce Hamilton  

Oh, certainly, in fact, generally with the conferences, the registrations have been about three to four weeks in advance of the conference right after summer’s over. This is a very unusual year, Patrick, but look, I just would like to impress upon people that at least in the state of Massachusetts, 90% of all eligible people eligible to receive a vaccine have received it. So we are going to run a safe conference. Yeah. And, people are dying to get out. Yeah, that’s probably a bad choice of words there. I knew what you meant. You want to get out? Yeah. And so we’ve had some good early registrations, but we’re definitely looking for more. It’s a great program with five wonderful keynotes and 48 breakouts. We’ve been working hard to put it together. It’s in Springfield, Massachusetts, on October 6, and seven. So would anybody like to register? They can go to our website and find the registration there.

Patrick Adams  

And we’ll, we’ll drop the website into the show notes for anyone that is interested in registering. What is the website, Bruce?

Bruce Hamilton  

Well, actually for the conference, it’s easy to remember it’s northeast lean conference.org

Patrick Adams  

northeast lean conference, and is there a Is there a virtual version for people that can’t make it in person or is it an only an in person conference back this year and probably going forward?

Bruce Hamilton  

We’ve always videoed a lot of the sessions. But this We will live stream all of the sessions. So for organizations whose, you know, corporate policy is not letting them out yet there’s an opportunity to participate virtually. And of course, all that material for registered registrants will then be online indefinitely. So that if they miss a session and go to another, so yeah, if you if you, you just can’t make it in person. And I hope you can. But if you can’t make it in person, you can join us online and attend all the sessions there.

Patrick Adams  

Perfect. And for those that are listening, that might be interested in learning more about GB MP and some of the coaching and consulting training opportunities that you have there. Is there a website that they can go to to learn more about what you guys do?

Bruce Hamilton  

Yeah, gbmp.org perfect. 

Patrick Adams  

I’m gonna throw that in the show notes as well. So if anyone is interested in learning more about what Bruce is doing with his team as UPnP you can find the link in the show notes as well as registration for the Northeast Lean conference getting back to the future. Bruce, it’s been great to have you on the show as a guest. Really appreciate your time and the opportunity to talk with you just so much appreciate the value that you brought to the listeners today.

Bruce Hamilton

Well, thank you for having me, Patrick. 

Patrick Adams  

Thanks so much for tuning into this episode of the Lean Solutions podcast. If you haven’t done so already, please be sure to subscribe. This way you’ll get updates as new episodes become available. If you feel so inclined. Please give us a review. Thank you so much.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Meet Patrick

Patrick is an internationally recognized leadership coach, consultant, and professional speaker, best known for his unique human approach to sound team-building practices; creating consensus and enabling empowerment. He founded his consulting practice in 2018 to work with leaders at all levels and organizations of all sizes to achieve higher levels of performance. He motivates, inspires, and drives the right results at all points in business processes.

Patrick has been delivering bottom-line results through specialized process improvement solutions for over 20 years. He’s worked with all types of businesses from private, non-profit, government, and manufacturing ranging from small business to billion-dollar corporations.

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