Creating Sustainable Lean Culture with Andrew Van Breugel

Creating Sustainable Lean Culture with Andrew Van Breugel

by Patrick Adams | Nov 23, 2021

This week I’m speaking with Andrew Van Breugel, an experienced manufacturing professional with a diverse range of skills and Lean experience that  extends to plant management, operations management, product development, manufacture and quality. 

 

In this episode, Andrew and I speak about sustainability and leadership in Lean and how leaders can develop their leadership skills and also help their team with executing sustainable Lean culture. 

 

What You’ll Learn This Episode:

 

  • Should Lean leaders be striving for more 
  • How leaders can develop their skills 
  • Tips on how leaders can help develop their leadership skills 
  • How to help create sustainability in Lean and Lean culture 
  • Some of the main factors in failure 
  • Vision statements and how to get them executed
  • Communicating continuous improvement to your team
  • The importance of personal development for leaders
  • Leader Standard Work 
  • Lean and time management 

 

About the Guest: 

Andrew Van Breugel is an experienced manufacturing professional with a diverse range of skills covering analytical chemistry, product quality, product development, manufacturing, process chemistry, technical sales, business improvement and general operations management in various Asia Pacific and Europe, having tertiary qualifications in science (chemistry), business and accounting. Andrew’s experience extends to plant management, operations management, product development, manufacture and quality.

 

Andrew has been directly responsible for business operations analysis, business improvement using Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing and the Toyota Production System and is a certified Evaluator with the Australian Business Excellence awards and a certified Assessor with the Singapore Quality Awards. In positions ranging from Operational Excellence Manager to COO of manufacturing organizations, Andrew has spent many years considering the effectiveness of and the role of senior leadership in lean deployments.

 

Important Links: 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrew-van-breugel-a514927

https://www.thinkrci.com/

[email protected]

 

 

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. Our guest today is Andrew Van Breugel. And he has been directly responsible for our business operations analysis, business improvement using Six Sigma lean manufacturing, and work with the Toyota Production System. So welcome to the show, Andrew.

Andrew Van Breugel  

Thank you, Patrick. It’s a pleasure to be with you today.

Patrick Adams  

Absolutely. I’m excited about diving into leadership, because you have quite an extensive background in a lot of different areas, and specifically want to talk about leadership today. And obviously, you know, based on your background, I just I love seeing and reading a little bit about, you know, some of the things that that are important to you, you know, when it comes to leadership, but I think one of the main things that I wanted to talk about was just that, you know, some leaders seem to accept mediocre leadership, while others maybe want a little bit more than mediocre. Right. And I am just curious to hear what you think leaders should, should strive for, if they should, you know, just kind of go about their day, punch a clock, do what they got to do to survive, or if they should be, you know, looking for more than that in in their role. Any thoughts on that? Yeah, that’s

Andrew Van Breugel  

a good question, Patrick. So certainly, in the context of lean and lean methodologies, you know, it doesn’t work in a culture of near enough is good enough, right. And I think a lot of our leaders today, because they have a lot of demands put upon them, one thing they’re not naturally going to do is invest the time and the effort that is needed to develop a culture that will support lean. So when it comes to having that passion for excellence, it’s like a sports person, okay, anybody can go down to the pool and jump in and sort of splash around and make it to the side and surviving is actually easy. But to become an athlete, the amount of work that’s necessary, the ability to self reflect the desire to always be better than what you were yesterday, and measuring that, in the case of an athlete down to fractions of a second, that is not a skill set, or a behavior that you would typically find in leaders, because they don’t work with that mindset. And with that timeframe in mind, they are going to do what’s good enough. What satisfies the stakeholders to the extent possible, and then we’ll move on to the next thing. And that’s what we find a lot of lean a lot of Lean programs suffer from, because that’s just not an environment that will support an ongoing sustainable, lean practice.

Patrick Adams  

That’s right, I tend to see a lot of leaders that get promoted into a leadership position, because they were, they were really good at running machines or, you know, they were maybe good at whatever the position is that they were that they had hired into the company for. And because they were really good at that particular role, they get promoted into a leadership position, you know, managing people, but you know, a lot of times they don’t necessarily know, you know, how do I develop my leadership skills? Or how do I develop myself as a leader, and again, that is, could be detrimental, not only to the organization, but to the person who’s trying, you know, they’re trying to do their best, but now all of a sudden, they’re struggling with how to be a leader, because they don’t know how to be a leader. Any thoughts on that?

Andrew Van Breugel  

I think you’re right. So I think what you’re unpacking there is a desire to promote or to recognize people because of a short term mindset. This is the guy or girl who can get the job done for us. Now, whatever our particular constraint is, today, whatever our particular challenges today, this is the person that chose the skill sets for that, and the bias towards technical capability. Even in a non technical environment, let’s say a bank or a hotel or something, you know, your ability to transact that is often rewarded today. But Lean is not really a technical process. And this is very important for me. Leave is a human process. It is a social process, right? The tools are the simple part. Anybody can learn the toolset. Right? Right? In fact, you shouldn’t even look at the toolset until you understand the social side and the behavioral side of lead. So when we start promoting on that basis, or companies that do promote on that basis, I think are starting to see better success on a long term and sustained sort of basis because they say, You know what, I’m not promoting you for the here and now. I’m promoting you because you can modify the culture, the behaviors, the practices that we need in order to support me, and that’s going to take three, four or five years. So I’m not talking about next year’s sales figures or even I’m talking about where we’re going to be in five years, but unfortunately, we don’t see leaders are typically selected on that basis and often they’re not The band in the same role in four or five years right? Now,

Patrick Adams  

would you save? So for anyone that’s listening, any recommendations to anyone that maybe is listening who was promoted into a leadership position, but doesn’t have the experience or the knowledge they have leading people or understanding people? Any recommendations for them? Or maybe someone who is in a position where they have promoted someone into that role? You know, should? Are there certain development opportunities that they should be looking for, to suggest to their team members or for themselves? Anything at all that you can think of?

Andrew Van Breugel  

Well, the answer is, of course, yes. But what are those opportunities, what the definitely not is, well, you know, go with this training course, and learn about how to manage conflicts, or motivate staff or whatever, ah, the true leader is the one who can, first of all, I need to know what you’re doing deeply enough that I can contribute to its improvement, I need to have gone through repetitive cycles of learning around the process that I’m managing, because ultimately, what I’m going to do is develop you to do that. Alright, so what is leadership actually, is it just simply sitting somewhere and making decisions? Well, yes, that’s what it is for many people. But for me, it’s not. The reason I’m a leader is because I am holding up the mirror to myself constantly. I’m looking for ways to develop myself and improve myself, I’m looking for ways to improve the process, through the people who work in the process. But most importantly, I am teaching you how to do that. Now, that’s not something you could do in a day. Yes, you can learn it. But really, what you’ve got to do is practice. So my advice for those leaders that you mentioned earlier would be to learn how to go through those repetitive cycles, for example problem solving, or improving something with the people that you manage. So that you’ll teach them just like a coach truly does. In a professional sport, the coach doesn’t play the game, as you know, he makes sure that everything is in its place when it needs to be in its place. That’s right, everybody has fitments, everybody’s showing up on time. Everybody understands the vision, everyone understands this week’s objective. And often there are players because they can teach you how to do things as well, but they don’t play the game.

Patrick Adams  

Right. Right. That makes sense. Just to shift gears just a little bit into another subject that I am interested to hear your thoughts on. Sustainability of, of lean, you know, obviously, we’ve been talking a little bit about leadership. And that definitely plays a role in I’d love to hear your thoughts on that as well. But I’m also thinking about organizations that I go into who develop or create their own operating systems, you know, for example, you know, the name of the company, you know, whatever operating system or you know, acne products, operating system, whatever it might be, if they’ve adopted or they’ve created their own operating systems, shouldn’t this help ensure the sustainability of Lean In within the organization?

Andrew Van Breugel  

Well, yes, it does help for sure. But typically, those operating systems or the, you know, ABC production system, or whatever name firms give to it, it’s very, very heavily biased towards the tool side. So what we’re trying to do here is eliminate waste and reduce variability and make value flow and a bunch of tools to do that. And we’re calling it you know, the ABC production system. Nothing wrong with that, by the way, right. But now, some of the two things that I mentioned earlier that are absolutely essential, and that is the leader and the culture. Right. So the operating system is the perfect complement. Once I have figured it out, do I have my leadership practices in place? And do I have my culture in place? Because without those two things, it doesn’t matter about my production system, I’m not going to be successful, period. Right. So yeah, having a production system and we see this in a lot of firms that we go to, you know, aren’t we’ve tried to copy one or rather production system to obviously, the big one is the Toyota Production System. We learnt the tools, we bought the books, we have the training, we’ve got a few black belts here and there. Very good. Now I’m going to go back to my boardroom or my office, and I’m going to do exactly what I was doing before re-introduced That that will that will result in failure. I’m just going to put it out there. It will result in firing.

Patrick Adams  

I would say that’s probably a large portion, right of failures are. I mean, at least in my experience, what I’ve seen a lot, that’s exactly what happens.

Andrew Van Breugel  

Yeah. So am I going to say it might result in failure, it will result in failure. Okay, I believe you’ve got to have these two things you’ve got to have. You’ve got to be constantly designing and creating a culture to support lean and improve. I’m using the word lean a lot, but I suppose and by the way, Just as an aside, I hear people say, oh, let’s not use the word lean, because you know, it’s got a bad connotation and whatever, doesn’t have a bad connotation for me at all. Right? Lean simply means doing stuff without waste, how that can be perceived as bad. I have no idea. So I’ll use that word freely and without apology, but yes, Hey, can I get some people in to help me with the culture? First? Right? What does a Lean culture look like? What does it mean to have people that are actually focused on improvement? You know, what does it mean to have leaders that are driving the excellence culture? What does it mean to spend time to teach people and develop people how to solve problems and improve flow? What does it mean to have a behavior system or a rewards and recognition system aligned to that? What does it mean, actually, to ditch all of our short term thinking? Yeah, and all of our, you know, what’s the ROI of this project, put that aside, and you’re embarking on a journey that is going to take five to 10 years. And we just can’t, we can’t get our heads around that. And that’s why, you know, we’re not always successful with a lean implementation. It’s a true action system, no problems, right. But just like the mechanic or the carpenter, who walks around with his toolbox, if he doesn’t have other things around him to support him in his work, the toolbox isn’t going to get him where he needs to be.

Patrick Adams  

That’s right. So true, so true. And so I see the same thing in so many different organizations where, you know, they just have not understood and got to the point where they understand that it’s really the leadership of, or the behavior of the leaders, that is really going to give you the culture that you’re looking for. And if you have a specific culture in mind, like a culture that’s going to support lean transformation, then you can’t just think that it’s going to happen by accident, you have to be very intentional about the inputs, about the behaviors of your leaders. And, and that is, it is possible to, to manage or to control to manage to create those inputs within your leadership team to give you the output of the, you know, the culture that you’re looking for. So I appreciate that you talked about that, because I think that’s definitely a key point in developing a, you know, a lean organization. Yeah, I agree. Another thing that we tend to see, you know, with a lot of organizations is, and, you know, for me, I talk a lot about continuous appearance, right? Instead of continuous improvement. So, organizations that appear to have it all together at the surface level, but underneath, you know, maybe not so much, you know, and in some organizations that have gone into, you know, you see these great vision statements written on the walls, and, you know, or they have, you know, their their mission statements, you know, listed on concrete statues around a big fountain, you know, but often these mission, you know, these missions, these vision statements, they, they don’t make it, they don’t, they don’t make it down to the the employees in the organization, they they’re not embedded in the organization, you know, to the core. They’re just ineffective with organizations. And I’m curious to hear, you know, why do you think and your experience or what you’ve seen, why aren’t these vision statements, you know, being effective within organizations?

Andrew Van Breugel  

Yeah, well, that’s a great question, and I think it gets back to me will always get back to me. And that is, first of all, do I have leaders who truly, who truly believe in that vision, and also the values that sometimes organizations serve together? Am I passionate about it? Right? Do I get up in the morning, and the first thing I think about is, how are we going to move a little bit closer to that vision today? Right? Or was it a great offsite Exodar exercise we got someone in to help us make the vision, it’s a beautiful statement, we made lovely colored posters and whatever. And by the way, that’s still better than not doing it at all true, or if, but do I have a leader there? Who can take that vision and translate it through behavior into action? So for the CEO, and I’ve gone to the trouble of putting his vision together, what am I doing on a daily basis to reinforce that vision? How am I coaching my direct reports to teach that vision to their people? And how am I translating that into integrated plans, across departments and if necessary, across sites so that the vision actually drives our business? Alright, and if I can’t do that, then I really don’t believe in the vision, is that correct? And guess how long it takes for people to figure that out? Right, you know, maybe two days and then realized, well, if that’s the fish, and I don’t understand why I never hear anybody talk about it. I understand what’s not in my head. activities. I don’t understand why it doesn’t drive the KPIs in my department. I don’t understand why a boss hasn’t explained to me, Hey, to get the vision down to what you’re doing in your job every day. Let me help explain it to you. That’s right. When we improve something or make something better, let me let me help you understand how that contributes to the overall challenge of that vision. Right. Now that takes time and effort. And it’s a space that managers don’t like working, right? They don’t like spending the time doing that stuff. Right? Here’s the KPIs just to get it done. And we’ll have a review in a month right now. Right. So that’s why the vision is it. It’s nearly always done with good intention. But like many good things, have you really mapped out what you need to do with this vision? Do you? Do you know what you’re getting into? Right? By putting that poster on the wall? The answer in most cases? No, not really. I just assumed I would put it up there. And everybody would just go and do it. Not good enough.

Patrick Adams  

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I see, I see so many leaders who, you know, maybe they went to a conference, or they have a friend at another organization that has adopted, you know, lean methodology. And so they come back to their organization, and they create this, you know, this vision for deploying lean into the organization in the exact way that you’re that you’re explaining. And the unfortunate thing is that, then they get busy with other things, or whatever, and they just expect for it to happen. And that’s just not the reality. To your point, there needs to be intentional communication throughout the organization on it, like not just intentional, but continuous. I mean, every standard meeting, every quarterly, every annual meeting, your leader should be talking about this vision, you know, that not only not only talking about it, but to your point it should be embedded in their goals, their objectives, I mean, everything. And that’s when they’re truly living it in that way. That’s when, you know, team members start to go, Okay, now I see the vision, I see how my work is connected to it. And I see how I see how important it is for this organization. Right,

Andrew Van Breugel  

exactly. And to do that requires a very committed leader, right? I have to be committed to the vision. Now, look, employees genuinely want to do what they think their boss wants them to do, right? employees do what their bosses want them to do more or less. So you know, what if I don’t see you energized by the vision? Why would you expect me to be right? If it doesn’t push your buttons? Why? Why is it going to push mine? So it’s really simple when you think about it. So when you wake up in the morning, and you’re one of these leaders, you’re one of these influences, you know, you got to be conscious of this stuff, you got to be conscious that if that vision is going to drive our business, I’m going to have to say something about it suddenly stepped up in some way, shape, or form several times a day, probably, that means commitment. So that begs the question, what are leaders truly committed to? When they get to work? Are they committed to the vision? Are they committed to the values? Are they committed to a Lean culture? Generally not? Because they don’t have them, they don’t work in the timeframe that’s necessary to deploy those sorts of things. They’ve been working for sort of two or three months now, what are we doing this quarter? And you can’t think like that, when you’re talking about lean, and you’re talking about, you know, visions, through challenges, and then target conditions and ultimately, actually, in your, in your business, you can’t be thinking three months.

Patrick Adams  

Right? Exactly. And also, you know, what, what is coming out of, you know, a senior leader, senior executives, mouth it, you know, that the people are smart, and they’ll watch and they’ll listen. And if it’s always, you know, about money, finances, bottom line, you know, whatever it is, I mean, insert whatever you hear from your senior leaders, then that’s what’s important to them. And the team, the employees, they know that right? So if you’re never, you’re never communicating, continuous improvement or lean, or, you know, how it how their work, you know, can impact how that ties even back to the bottom line. I mean, then, is it really that important? You know, if they’re only hearing about accounting, if they’re only hearing about human resources, and they’re never hearing about Lean, you know, that’s a serious issue for an organization.

Andrew Van Breugel  

And especially if I’m not seeing if I’m not seeing leadership, committing to developing people. Now, it’s not that you know, especially large organizations, they do their fair bit of training, and they spend a lot of money on training, and so it’s taken necessary on the job skills, but where’s the component about making me more capable of delivering against company objectives? That’s right. I can start to work with you, as my boss, improving things according to target conditions that are aligned to the challenge, which is aligned to division, when are you going to come down to the shop floor? Actually, we don’t need to go training, why don’t you just come down on the shop floor and teach me something? How many managers, heavy leaders do you think you’re comfortable doing? How many CEOs do you know, let’s not talk about CEOs, let’s talk about site leadership teams. So that’s people reporting to the best senior person in the site, how many of those go down on the shop floor, and work with their people on making something better? I don’t know, I don’t, I don’t have the offset. But if it was more than one and 100, or one in perhaps 50, please, I’d be surprised. I was doing that. Even in organizations that say they do it, let alone the ones that don’t even know about it.

Patrick Adams  

Right, I was fortunate enough to work for a plant manager that was that exact type of leader and would be out on the production floor, you know, working right alongside the team members to help solve problems. And I mean, he was the first one out there rolling up his sleeves, teaching, he was an engineer by trade, but teaching and asking the right questions and just, you know, helping the team to work through challenges. And he you know, so, you know, that’s the kind of leader that you want in an organization, not not one that’s going to be that you’re never going to see or you’re never going to hear from or you don’t know, what’s important to them. I mean, that makes it very difficult, you know, as a, as a production employee, or as an employee in any organization, to really understand, you know, how do what’s important to the boss, you know, and how do I align with that? And so I absolutely agree, and you talked about development, you know, of employees, but what about development of executive leaders? To me, how many executive leaders? Do you know that, you know, maybe there is a plan for development within an organization? But what about a personal development plan for an Executive leader? You know, how many executive leaders are spending time, you know, with ongoing learning, in just reinventing themselves? I don’t know what, what your thoughts are on that, and how it ties in with Lean culture?

Andrew Van Breugel  

Yeah, yeah, we got back to the sporting analogy, right. So if I want to be at the top of my game, I want to be a true Olympic athlete, say, I’m spending a lot of time looking at other people. And I’m spending a lot of time trying to learn techniques and things that other people do. Because I know that there’s always a way to be better. And I’m investing a lot of time doing that, right. I’m watching videos of going to sports meets, you know, my coaches helping me do that as well. I’m spending a lot of my time trying to learn from other people. The executives don’t like my experience, they tend not to do that very much. I got here after all, don’t forget, because I was able to deliver things that people wanted. I got here because I made all the decisions, and a lot of them were correct. And that’s why I ended up in this position, people are supposed to be looking at me to learn how to do things. It’s not the other way around. So I’d say that’s a conscious attitude. I think it’s subconscious, right? It’s just sitting in the CEOs office or in the boardroom, people aren’t expecting me to spend time learning etc. They just think the mindset shift that will be needed is quite extraordinary. Now, I have come across a few. In my career, I have had a few or seen a few senior leaders, very senior leaders that did this. Some of them even had their own sort of coach, the right person that would come in an external person, and just lay it out there. Right? You know, I need the brutal truth, because I get it from anybody. So I need the brutal truth, that that’s actually quite effective. But yeah, I suppose if I was chairman of the board, I’d go to my CEO and say, Well, I do want to see it spinning 15% of your time, 20% of your time, maybe a combination of learning and teaching. And I want to see it in your calendar. Right. So don’t just tell me to do it. Let’s say write your Outlook calendar. And let me see what you’re doing this week. As I look through it, I see nothing. Right. I see no sessions with anybody. I see no problems. I see meetings, for sure. And at those meetings, you’ll be talking about problems. Yeah, I get that. But the ongoing development and turning that into teaching and actually learning yourself from teaching. Yeah, I think most senior people will say, I don’t have time for that.

Patrick Adams  

Yeah, I would agree with that. And, that is you know, we talk a lot about Leader Standard Work, which is important not only for mid managers and team leaders, but also for executive leaders and making sure that they are blocking time for important things. And also building in those behaviors that are going to result in the culture that they’re trying to grow within their organization. So blocking time for Training and Development, blocking time for coaching, blocking time to be out on the you know, where the value add work has been done whatever that is in your organization, and mentoring and asking questions and removing roadblocks. I mean, those are all things that can be built into, you know, an executive leader’s standard work. And I think that that’s the difference between a successful Lean leader and maybe a leader who just has the appearance right of trying to lead an organization through a Lean journey. And then

Andrew Van Breugel  

I guess that that sort of opens a question: is a Lean leader, somehow different from the leader who doesn’t say that really leader, you know, if he’s not like a Lean leader, therefore, I’ve got my Leader Standard Work. And you know, I do my Guimar at this time, and I’ve got a coaching Keller at that time. So that’s a choice I’ve made. Let’s say, if I’m a Lean leader, that’s a choice I’ve made. And maybe I’ve been told to do it by my organization, that’s fine. Now, if I’m not doing it, does that mean I’m not a Lean leader? Doesn’t that mean I don’t value lean? Does it mean, I think someone else should be doing it? You know, I don’t have the answer to those questions. But I do know the questions that executive teams need to ask. Absolutely. Because the thing about Lean is you can there is no argument against it. There is simply no argument against removing waste. And there is no argument against removing variation. I’ve never heard of an argument that makes sense to me, why wouldn’t I do those things? So then you say yourself left, right. I don’t see it being done anywhere, right? Or at least not formally, in many places? And that for me, is the elephant in the room? That’s that, that’s the question that we need to get executive teams into a room and talk about, right, so that, if it’s such a good idea, or if at least we can find any reason not to do it. Why do we not do it? Why’d I? Why are we not excellent at it? Why am I not? Why are we not excellent at something that we can’t see any reason not to be excellent at? Absolutely. So that’s what I love to get into a boardroom or a meeting room or whatever, with a site leadership team as well, again, that’s what we’re gonna talk about today. We don’t need to talk about the shop floor, or what do we do? Do we just need to talk about us? And answer that question, what is the reason we don’t invest in it, when no one can tell me why it’s a bad reason not to.

Patrick Adams  

But I think going back to your earlier point, I mean, any leader can open up their calendar and, you know, look at where they’re spending the majority of their time, you know, if you’re, if you’re trying to run a manufacturing plant, but the majority of your time as leader is spent in a conference room or in meetings, you’re you’re in the wrong place. You know, if you’re if you don’t have a certain amount of your time dedicated to personal development, then in your calendar that you’ve blocked time for right, then what you have to ask yourself is, is this going to give me the results that I’m looking for? So again, I think for any organization, you can ask yourself those same questions. Where am I spending the majority of my time? And where am I spending that time? Is that going to give me the results that I’m looking for as far as a Lean culture from a continuous improvement culture?

Andrew Van Breugel  

Right? Now, some people counter that and say, Look, my job is to grow sales, I have to manage costs, you know, I have to do strategy, I have to think about long term planning. Why do I have to be the one that’s doing this Lean stuff? I mean, I get as important and I subscribe to that. But I’ve employed some and I have not. But I’ve employed a specialist to do that. That’s actually, you know, there is some merit to that argument. But in the end, I feel it doesn’t matter who you are, the higher the senior person at a site or an organization has to demonstrate lead culture. Yeah, it’s never, it’s never going to work just to say, and then some people say, Hello, it’s so important to be, I’ve gotten to spend 180,000, getting this operational excellence guru to work for us. That’s how important it is, to me, that’s seen as successful. So y’all don’t say that. I’m not investing in it. I’m spending hundreds of 1000s of dollars on it. Yeah, there’s an argument there. So you know what, I still don’t think people are really going to believe you until they see you. Not just telling everybody what the culture should be, but being a part of it, and driving the culture yourself, right. So you can still set expectations for your direct reports around what they need to be doing and lean with what they need to be doing about developing themselves and their people. You push it down too far in the organization and it loses a bit of credibility, and it becomes ours too hard. I don’t have the influence. Where’s that toolbox? Again, let’s go do some statistical process control. Or let’s go do a spaghetti chart or something. Because that’s easy. It’s fun. I can do it myself without having to have other people involved, you know, we don’t want to push our lead practitioners into that situation, they should be changing culture. That’s what Lean practitioners should be doing.

Patrick Adams  

Yeah, agreed. And I do want to be careful, you know, as there are, I’m sure their executive leaders are listening right now. And I don’t want to say that 100% or 80% of your time needs to be standardized, you know, that, that because we know, as you said, Andrew, that there, there are definitely leaders who are focused on other areas that, you know, where a lot of their time is dedicated. And so I would say, though, that there should be a portion, you know, of your time that standardize where you are making an effort to support, you know, the Lean efforts that are happening within your organization, whether that’s through Gemba walks or coaching, you know, conversations or, you know, showing up at a stand up meeting to help remove some roadblocks. Whatever it might be, you know, being there and being visible to the organization is definitely not just not just to not just to appear, right, but really genuinely interested in genuinely excited about the things that are going on. I think that’s because people know the difference, right?

Andrew Van Breugel  

And there are different levels of involvement. So I’m not expecting the CEO of a 30,000 person company to necessarily go on the shop floor and solve problems. I don’t expect that right. I do expect them to be reviewing the approach of lean, certainly their leadership team, I do expect them to be very intimately acquainted with our deployment, how are we doing it? Where are we with that deployment? Or expect them to know? Can we link any can we see any results from this deployment? How do we know it’s working? And I especially expect them to be driving that process whereby we review the results and review the approach. So now we’re going to say, okay, that went well, for six months or eight months. But I think we can, we can talk about how to do things differently now. Right? So So and that can be done through that that’s effectively a PDCA cycle as well. And you can have your board doing that. And so it’s not, it’s not that I’m talking about why this widget falls over. Every 20 minutes, I’m actually doing coaching and work, the process that we’re talking about is the Lean deploy lean deployment process itself. That is the process that I’m responsible for. That’s the one that I’m reviewing the approach of, that’s the one that I’m monitoring the deployment of, that’s the one that I’m looking to see what the results were. And that’s the process that I’m looking to review from time to time, so that there’s ongoing cycles of improvement in that very process itself. That’s what maybe the CEO would be doing, as he could communicate that through the organization so that people know, well, he’s doing his part, yet he’s not coming down on the shop floor doing your coaching unnecessarily because there’s five layers between him. And I’m not saying it’s a bad thing if he does, but he should really be driving the approach and the process and making sure it’s effective, and that there’s ongoing cycles of improvement in it. Right.

Patrick Adams  

Absolutely. I agree. 100%. And earlier, we talked a little bit about sustainability. I’m curious to hear your thoughts around lean deployments that are, you know, often begin very, you know, successfully, they take off and do really well, for the first few months maybe or for the first few weeks, whatever it might be. But then, you know, there’s few lean deployments that actually are sustainable that actually do persist. And I’m curious to hear if you’re in your experience, what do you think the reasons are behind that?

Andrew Van Breugel  

Yeah, well, you know, every answer you ask has got the same answer. Every question you ask has the same answer. Why did they do it? So let’s talk about that. So, okay, the idea to do Lean is probably rooted in the fact that we have some problem or some opportunity that we’d like to address, somebody of influence has determined that lean makes sense, right? I can’t really see what’s wrong with Lean, why would we not do? There seems to be enough people who know what it is. So maybe we’ll employ one or two of those. And we’ll teach a few of our own people as well. So far, everything looks pretty logical, right? Very doable, fairly affordable. Bunch of projects get spun out. Troubled, calculates the ROI. And it’s great, maybe we should do more of this. So far, everything sounds perfect and sensitive. But again, I haven’t talked about the social side of it. Have you considered for firm for instance, that whilst everything makes sense to you, as the business leader, don’t make sense to me down on the shop floor necessarily. I don’t understand why I’m doing it by analogy, but no one’s ever come down here and look at anything we do. And now suddenly, you’ll want to process flowcharts of everything. I get that right. So now there’s a whole community out there that don’t get it, and they don’t understand. And more particularly, they may be fearful of the impact of it, because it’s the old arguments who lean, I’m doing Lean. Everybody knows the labor cost of my organization, apart from materials, is probably the biggest part. Maybe it is the biggest part, even with materials, how can we possibly be lean without removing? So people? So a lot? No, I’m not interested, I’m just not interested in doing it right down down low enough. So I have not addressed the cultural size. Right. I have not addressed the social and behavioral side of Lee, I have not even done anything, probably, to intentionally modify the culture, I may have done nothing to hire people that know that part of it. So I’ve got my black belts or whoever, but they’re, they might be walking around with a toolkit. So you’re probably wondering, you know, don’t matter what question you asked, I seem to come up with the same answer. And that that is because somebody there is only to it, there is that is the answer, right? First step, I got to know what leadership team will have to have in place, if I’m not willing to make changes in the leadership team, I don’t go down the path of change. This doesn’t mean removing people, I need to get the leadership team to where they need to be to support a lead deployment. So I spent half a year just doing that. We don’t even talk about it to anybody on the shop floor at this point, until I get my leaders lined up the way they need to be. Secondly, my people, managers who, you know, anybody has someone reporting them, we got to create a culture out there, you don’t have to come in, stick your finger in the machine, press and press the green button on the machine, you know, one minute past seven, and do that until 359. That doesn’t have to be the way we work moving for these, I believe, if I’m a Lean leader, that maybe you should stop at three o’clock and spend an hour fixing stuff. How many places have you sold? How many places? Have you seen really do that? Because if you’re not making widgets, you’re wasting time, the company you’re costing the company money now, don’t do lean to the place like that. It’s a total waste of time. Right? Right. Lean means investing. Lean means culture, if you want it to sustain, it don’t matter who’s at the top, doesn’t matter if the production manager leaves the operations director doesn’t matter anymore, that that person is left because it’s cultural, right? He was not cultural. Now, it all depends on a few individuals, you have the influence or the authority to make it happen. Eventually, those people will move on or do something different, because you’ve never made a positive culture. It will not be sustained.

Patrick Adams  

Very true. Very true. Any closing last words for listeners around maybe sustainability around leadership? You know, anybody that’s listening right now who’s maybe wondering, maybe they’re in the beginning of their Lean journey, you know, any advice that you would give to them around next steps or things they should think about things they should consider that maybe we haven’t mentioned just yet?

Andrew Van Breugel  

Well, I don’t know that we have mentioned, but I’m just going to reinforce that last point again. Okay. Do not be Do not be bamboozled by the toolset, right. Do not be hasty. In your acquiring the toolset and implementing lean on the shop floor. resist that urge. Because by now people should know that that’s not how it works. Instead, get help on how to get my leadership team where they need to be made perhaps myself first, right? I mean, I want to do it. So that’s a good sign. But do I really know what I mean for yourself? I coach, right. And I’m not talking about a traditional lean coach or Sensei, I’m talking about a leadership team coach, one who won who knows what a leadership team that’s going to deploy lean has to look like? Sir, we don’t want to go firing people. So that means it’s going to take six months just to do that. Just to teach the leaders what lead is yes, the tool side of it, you know, they’ll play their little games and make a toy car or something. That’s all good. But it’s a habit that behavior consequence management system, have we got one? How are we going to reward people who have the right behaviors and deal with the people who don’t? What are we going to do about those wrong decisions we’ve made in the past? We put people in positions of authority, not because they were culturally sound, but because they could get the job done. What are we going to do about that? Because the answer is nothing. Maybe we should think twice about this Lean deployment. So get yourself someone who can do it, do it from the top, do it you’re gonna say do it from the top down. Everybody says do it from the top down. But I really do mean that right? Get the leadership team in the right place first, get the culture decided can take time to to make it happen, but at least know what the culture is going to be. And then when you think you’ve made some inroads there, then bring out the toolkit because believe me, that’s easy. Honestly, rolling out the toolkit, not hard, right, do the hard part first.

Patrick Adams  

I love it. It’s great advice for any leaders out there that are listening in and wondering, you know, what are the what are the next steps? Or how do I? How do I make sure that I have a sustainable Lean culture in place? So thank you, Andrew, great conversation, really appreciate your time. If anybody is interested in more information, or maybe they have more questions for you, where would they be able to find you or get ahold of you?

Andrew Van Breugel  

So they can go to our website? Do you share email addresses?

Patrick Adams  

Yeah, yes. If you want to throw an email out, we can. And we’ll also put that in the show notes. And then that way, if anybody is interested in reaching out to you, they can grab your email, website. Anything right in the show notes.

Andrew Van Breugel  

Yep. So I’m going to give that to you now. Sure. Yep. So the email is just a van Breugel. So a V A N BREUGEL. At think rci.com They can also find me on LinkedIn, which is pretty easy. Just put in my name, Andrew Van Breugel or RCI, you can follow us there on LinkedIn if you like. We’re very happy to share our thoughts and, and share experiences. Always happy to help. All right.

Patrick Adams  

Well, thanks again, Andrew. Really appreciate you being on the show. And I look forward to diving into another subject in the future.

Andrew Van Breugel  

Yeah, well, I would enjoy that. It’s been great being on your show. I appreciate what you’re doing or the practice of lead, and enjoy listening to your podcast. So thank you very much. All right. Take care, Andrew. All right. Thank you.

Patrick Adams  

Thanks so much for tuning in to 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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