Avoiding the Continuous Appearance Trap with Patrick Adams

Avoiding the Continuous Appearance Trap with Patrick Adams

by Patrick Adams | Jan 4, 2022

 

Patrick Adams is the author of the best selling book “Avoiding the Continuous Appearance Trap.” He is an international speaker, coach, and consultant. 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-profits, government, and manufacturing ranging from small business to billion dollar corporations. Patrick is a proven leader and highly experienced consultant with specific niche focus on organizational strategy and leadership development which brings a unique human approach to sound team-building practices; creating consensus and enabling empowerment. He motivates, inspires, and drives the right results at all points in business processes.

 

Important Links: 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrickadamsii/

https://www.findleansolutions.com/book/

 

Full Episode Transcript: 

Craig Tedrow  

This is Craig Tebow and I am going to be your host for this episode of the podcast. I’m going to be turning the tables on Patrick here, I’m going to be the one asking the questions to Patrick. So this is going to be a fun time for us to listen to Patrick talk about his book and what he’s got coming up this year. For those of you who don’t know, Patrick Adams is the author of the best selling book avoiding the continuous appearance trap. He’s an international speaker, a coach. He’s a consultant. Patrick’s been delivering bottom line results through his process improvement solutions for over 25 years. So I would get the chance to say now Hey, welcome to the show, Patrick.

Patrick Adams  

All right. Well, thanks for having me, Craig. I’m excited to be here.

Craig Tedrow  

Yeah, me too. This will be fun. Didn’t ask you the questions this time and letting your audience listen to something a little bit. twisted up a bit.

Patrick Adams  

Exactly. Now. All right. I’ll be on the other side today. So I’m looking forward to the questions. Excellent.

Craig Tedrow  

And I really want to talk about your book. And I know that you got a special announcement about it. And we’re gonna get to that at the end of the podcast. Okay. First of all, for those who are listening, they’re not aware of the book, avoiding the continuous appearance trap? Can you give us a little bit of a summary about it and explain how it came to be like the motivation that you had behind it?

Patrick Adams  

Sure, absolutely. So the book itself actually walks the reader through 12 questions, to help them uncover what’s truly underneath their culture. And it really helps to give them or at least begin helping them to build their own roadmap for success. So just a little bit of background on that I actually spent just about eight years in the United States Marine Corps, before I received a service, disabling injury and was forced to medically retire. But while I was in the Marine Corps, I had the opportunity to work under many different leaders, great leaders, and I was developed and was privileged to to lead other Marines as a leader myself in the in the military, but since that time, have also been afforded the opportunity to lead and serve many others in the corporate world. And during that time, from the military and the corporate world, I’ve worked with many different people, all different leadership styles and approaches. And, you know, I’ve been able to experience approaches that work and approaches that do not work. And, you know, I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m also not perfect as a leader. In fact, in the introduction to my book, I actually admit to a royal screw up when I was a young Production Supervisor, where I was putting on a show in front of leadership. And then, you know, acting a different way with my team, you know, that the the point of that story is really just understanding that we have to be willing, as leaders humble enough to admit that we make mistakes, and reflect and learn and change, you know, accordingly. And I think that that’s the key, right, reflect, learn and change. But I would say that, anyways, back to your question. I tell you all of this, because so many companies struggle with leaders who say one thing but they do another right, leaders that appear to want positive change, but their actions reveal something totally different. Luckily, I personally learned very quickly that this type of behavior creates a really toxic environment where people hate to work. And because of that, you know, I changed my entire approach to leadership. Because you know, at the end of the day, slapping some paint on a machine is easy, right? However, real and lasting change is difficult. It takes respect, it takes dedication, it takes time. So you know, Early in my career, I worked for two very real companies. And if you were to walk into both of these companies, they would look very similar. Both had visual management, they had similar KPIs of safety, cost, quality delivery, both had very similar org structures. And in walking through these two companies, it would be very hard to determine the differences in their approach to business solutions. So one of the companies had what I consider a true culture of continuous improvement, while the other one had what I like to call this culture of continuous appearance, which is what I talked about in the book. You know, underneath all the floor tape, the pretty scorecards, the lean posters was a very toxic environment where people hated to work. And the company, unfortunately, had high turnover, there wasn’t any stability in the organization. So really continuous appearance is the opposite of continuous improvement. You can, you could also define continuous appearance as fake lean. So companies that say they are lean, and like to appear as if they have it all together, but struggle with those flavor of the month activities, you know, no real sustainment of initiatives. They’re usually the ones that are experiencing continuous appearance. So that’s really the motivation behind the book. Why wrote it, you know, what it’s about background, things like that.

Craig Tedrow  

Excellent. I love how you put that story in the beginning of your book. I mean, that had to be pretty humbling when you realize that too,

Patrick Adams  

It was very humbling. You know, it was one I actually struggled with. Katie Anderson, and I had some conversations because I was struggling to leave that in there. But at the same time, it’s like, it’s the reality of so many leaders out there, that, you know, we do make mistakes, we do things that we, that we we shouldn’t do. And you know, the problem comes when you’re not adjusting your leadership style, based on your learnings, when you’re not taking the time to reflect and adjust based on what you’re learning. But you just continue down the same path, even though you know, it’s creating, you know, toxic environments, or you know, the wrong culture or whatever it might be. So, I definitely feel like it’s an important piece of the book, obviously, so we left it in there.

Craig Tedrow  

Well, for sure, I think some people reading it are gonna say, You know what, that’s kind of talking to me or speaking to me at this moment, you know, that can really change someone else’s trajectory, too. Yeah, that’s great. Absolutely. Now, in your book, and your book, you lay out 12 questions. So why do you use questions?

Patrick Adams  

Yeah, that’s a good question. It would seem logical that I should give readers the answers right, rather than questions. Right. You know, as I mentioned, I have worked with many companies who have been successful in applying lean methodology, who are currently experiencing amazing results that lean initiatives offer. So why would I not give our listeners the roadmap? Right? I mean, that’s really the question, why wouldn’t I give you all the answers? You know, many of our listeners have probably heard the name John Shook. I always love this quote that he put out there. But if you don’t know John, John was the first American employee at Toyotas world headquarters, he actually helped Toyota transfer their production, engineering management systems from Japan to new me, and then to other operations around the world. But the quote that I think is key, John said, Lean management is very much about asking questions, and trying things, or encouraging others to try things. Lean management itself, is not much about providing the right answers. But it’s very much about asking the right questions. So yeah, it’s a powerful quote, it really makes you think, and, you know, if I was to give our listeners a roadmap with all of my answers, their first inclination would be to just go implement it, well, let’s go do all those things. Let’s go, you know, let’s go try to implement those tools or those techniques, whatever they might be, you know, they would want to implement the solutions that I give them right away in hopes of creating this culture of continuous improvement. The problem with that is that it can be very detrimental to an organization, trying to implement another organization’s roadmap for success. It just simply doesn’t work. And it’s been, you know, I, in my experience, I’ve seen it fail multiple times, where people try to, to, you know, just take a cookie cutter approach to whatever this company did, or that company, the the opposite of that, what you should be doing, is you have to ask yourself, ask your organization, the right questions. And if you’re asking the right questions, it becomes more of an evolutionary process of learning, which is what you want. You want it to be, you want to evolve, the organization must evolve as they’re learning as they’re reflecting and make adjustments and take action on those learnings. That’s what should be happening. And as long as they’re learning then, you know that evolutionary processes are the key, what we don’t want to happen is for it to become an implementation process of correcting, responding and correcting. We don’t want that. Okay. So it really becomes, it’s really the beginning of scientific thinking for an organization. So, you know, I, I’ve been asked the question, what is, what’s the value of you providing these to the company? You know, case studies in your book, Why? Why would you do that, you know, one of the companies is not successful, one of the companies was successful. And I really think that under scientific thinking, the goal is for the reader to think about where they need to be in their situation and where they are today. Right, so what’s their current state, and what’s the possible future state or the vision, you know, then develop some some, you know, one year challenge or whatever it might be, and then break that challenge down into smaller targets, and go after those one at one, one by one experimenting, right to overcome the obstacles that are keeping you from getting to your future state. But the questions really help guide you to help you to determine where to begin, and to help you learn, you know, what works and what won’t work along the way.

Craig Tedrow  

Okay, well, I like to use questions too, because when I see a lean initiative get started. Sometimes it is, it’s just sort of preaching to the people how to do it. And I think it’s so important to listen to the folks that are involved in the process. So in your book lay out questions, right, you know, right from the beginning, it just focuses on listening to these answers and taking something with them. So it sounds great. Can you share one of those questions with us?

Patrick Adams  

Oh, of course. Yeah. I would, I would say, you know, one of my favorite questions out of the 12 is question number nine, which is how safe is it for your employees to fail? How safe Oh, okay, your employees one fail? Yeah. So my leading quote, for this chapter, comes from Katie Anderson, who ‘s also the one that wrote my forward. She’s the author of Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn, which was also published last year. She just published her workbook as well. But she says, leaders’ words and actions set the culture for their organization, seemingly small choices when it comes to language and behavior can have a big impact and shaping that people centered culture that you want for your organization. So I think this is important, because, you know, leaders have to understand how their words and actions affect the people that are working for them. And when it comes to, you know, fear based cultures versus cultures where employees feel comfortable to experiment and try things and potentially fail. There. Those are two very different cultures. And a lot of that is determined by how the leadership is approaching their team, you know, what is the language? What’s the behavior that’s being displayed in the organization? In the beginning of the chapter, I also reference Captain Michael Aberthaw, who’s a former Navy Commander, and he’s the author of it’s your ship management techniques from the best damn ship in the Navy. So I don’t know if you have read that Craig? Or no,

Craig Tedrow

I have I have, that’s a great book. 

Patrick Adams  

Oh, it’s so good. So the book for those that are listening that have never heard about it, it’s the story of an organizational transformation, with innovative leadership, right for the military, and I spent time in the military. So I know that his approach was very different from what is normal for the military. So he took command of at that time, what was the worst performing naval ship in the Pacific Fleet, he made it number one in 12 months. And the crazy thing about this is he did it with the exact same crew, like he didn’t fire a bunch of people and then bring in a whole new regime, you know, leadership regime, like he didn’t hired, bring different sailors in to, it wasn’t any of that it was the same crew, which is what’s crazy. So he attributes much of the turnaround to that of empowering and trusting his sailors to make decisions, which is different, it’s very different than what you would expect or what you experienced in the military. So obviously, in the military, there’s a reason why officers make decisions or leaders, you know, are making decisions sometimes could be life or death, right? So it’s, you know, sail your sailors, Marines, they have to understand how to follow orders. So how do you create an environment where people are following orders, but they’re also empowered to make decisions and trusted when they do make decisions? Right. So he actually turned this around by turning over the decision making to his crew and then shared the accountability right. So Of course, the commander knew that they would fail. Like when he gave them decision making authority, he knew that they would fail, he knew that they wouldn’t just make all the right decisions right away. Right. So one of the things that he writes in the book, as he says that, even if the decisions were wrong, that he would stand by them, and hopefully they would learn from their mistakes. But the more responsibility that they were given, the more that they learned. And again, he’s using that word learned, right? So he wants them to learn. And the only way that they can learn is by making mistakes by failing. So it’s the same way with organizations where leaders have to trust their employees to make decisions and sometimes to fail. And that’s, you know, that the leader’s job when an employee fails, or when a team member fails, is to ask them the question, what did you learn? Not, you know, create, write them up or make it punitive. It needs to be a celebration that they tried something, and then a question of what did we learn? So can we adjust to that?

Craig Tedrow  

You know, that’s probably the biggest takeaway that I got from that book. And the Navy is where they didn’t bring in their all stars to make the ship run the best they use the crew that they had. Yeah, so I mean, how many times do you hear well, if we only had the right people in the right seats, we could do this? Right? Well, that you’re not gonna always get the right people in the right seats. You work with what you have. And those folks turned out to be the right people in the right seats.

Patrick Adams  

Exactly. And how difficult Do you think that was for him? Because I know, there’s listeners that are probably like, you know, there’s no way I could do that with the team that I have, or what, you know, whatever it might be. But I mean, think about this, this is a naval commander who, who, you know, was probably feeling the same way, you know, how difficult is this going to be? You know, so leaders have to ask themselves, how safe is it for your employees to fail? You know, companies cannot develop breakthrough processes, if they’re not willing to encourage risk taking, thinking about

Craig Tedrow  

leaders, and you’re in your background here. Can you share a story of someone who was particularly good then and like, what made them good at doing that?

Patrick Adams  

Mm hmm. Yeah. I would say, you know, just sticking to the military theme here. You know, it’s one of my favorite stories. But when I was serving in the United States Marine Corps, I attended a training school called sere. So sere stands for survival, evasion, resistance, escape. And basically, we were trained to survive if we were ever dropped into an enemy area during war time, right. So being able to survive an increment, you know, sometimes cold weather conditions is the first step. And then they train you how to evade from the enemy without being captured, which I would say that’s probably one of my most favorite parts of the school. But we were able to practice our survival innovation skills by producing by basically procuring food and water, constructing small evasion, fire shelters, and then even evading tracker dogs and aggressor forces for quite a long distance. So, for me, it was fun, maybe not for everybody, but but, you know, then once you’re captured, you get put into a mock prisoner of war camp, and you have to survive. And then escape comes in when you have to basically utilize the skills that you learned to try to escape that from the POW camp. So it’s pretty cool stuff. But anyway, while we were inside this POW camp, a young captain held the highest rank, and he was placed in charge of our entire group. And I watched this captain, as he communicated between us and the aggressors, because we weren’t allowed to talk to the aggressors, but he could. So he would talk. I watched him how he managed the other officers that reported directly to him, I watched him listen, you know, ask them their thoughts. He would listen, before making decisions, everything that he did, was done with a servant’s heart. And, you know, his main focus was always to serve his people. You know, of course, he had certain obligations to the US government being the highest ranking officer in a POW camp, you know, he had certain obligations to the US government, right. But it was clear that his priority was taking care of his team. And the captain didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk, he displayed this leadership through action. I watched him give up some of his own rights sometimes so that other officers or other enlisted members, you know, under his leadership could be more comfortable. And I remember this one particular situation where we were, you know, we hadn’t eaten for a few days. Very little. We were all very hungry. We were tired, we’re exhausted. And you know, you have to imagine the frustration. In the exhaustion that we were all under, but the enemy soldiers, the aggressor soldiers brought out this large pot of rabbit stew. And I would say probably hours before they even brought out the pot of stew. Like we could smell it in the air. And it was like, really, really good. And more hungry. Yeah, it smelled amazing. But they lined us up. And we were super excited, because, you know, we were obviously going to have a nice meal. And we hadn’t had much in a few days. So I was obviously super excited, but they actually lined us up with the highest ranking officers first and then the enlisted members last. And after many of the officers received their bowl of stew. They had made it through a number of the officers, there was an argument at the table between a few of the aggressors and the stew table, and the pots were actually tipped over onto the ground. And all of the stew was basically wasted all over the ground. And there were multiple enlisted members who had not received any stew yet, and I was one of them. So again, you have to understand when people are hungry, they become pretty ornery. I think my wife calls it hangry. Right? When do you think so? Yeah. So now multiply hangry times 10. So, you know, things could have gotten out of control pretty quickly. And while this was a real life simulation, someone probably could have got hurt that day if the captain didn’t step in, and take action. So what happened was he immediately called everyone to attention. And he instructed those who were already given soup, to share their portion with another who didn’t receive any that day. And he didn’t just say it, he didn’t just delegate it from his office, right? He didn’t really have an office, but I’m trying to make the connection right to our listeners, right, because, you know, this leader imagine this leaders on the production floor, right, he was out there with us, he’s, he’s in the operating room, he’s he’s at our desk area, he’s attending our standard meetings. I mean, this captain was there with us, he wasn’t absent from the place where the value added work is being done. So he was there. And he acted first, he walked over and shared his bowl with two or three other service members. And the other officers followed suit, right, a true example of servant leadership, I believe those service members would have followed this Captain anywhere, right? So if any lean organization is to succeed, they have to have servant leaders who walk the walk, and most of all, they need to be dedicated to putting other people first.

Craig Tedrow  

Right, exactly. They share the gains, and they share the pains as well with everybody. Absolutely. Yep. Now, for those out there listening who might not have read your book, what do you think someone should consider when they’re thinking about buying your book? Like, why should they read it?

Patrick Adams  

Yeah, good question. I would, I would say that my book avoiding the continuous appearance trap offers readers a guide to help spark scientific thinking within their organization. Right. So there’s no better time than now to ignite something fresh and exciting into an organization, the beginning of the year, it’s January, we’re kicking off, you know, this, this fresh new year, you know, let’s kick it off with something good. Dante said from a little spark may burst a mighty flame. Right. So you know, going back to my sere school example, I learned how to start a fire on the top of six feet of snow with wet wood. And that’s not easy to do. However, if you understand the proper ingredients and how to apply them, you can ignite a fire even in the worst conditions. So there’s three ingredients that it takes to start a fire: fuel, oxygen and heat. And when one of those components is absent, the fire goes out. So there’s also three types of fuel that you need to ignite a fire and keep it lit. And the order of adding those types of fuel is super important. So you have to add your tender for example first, which would be wood shavings or lint, right to get the fire started. Then you have to add kindling, small branches or twigs. I use birch bark, because it helps take night. You can even use birch bark shavings for your tender and I’m telling you all of this if there’s a reason why I’m telling you all this so hang with me. Once you have a good flame going you have to add your firewood then right so you know that that would be the the order and it’s important the order is important. So if you follow that proven order, anyone can ignite a fire with even the smallest spark. So just like starting a fire in the forest, there’s ingredients that are necessary to fuel a mighty flame of continuous improvement in any organization. And those ingredients I feel like are laid out in this in my book, if I tried to enable actions or deploy tools, techniques or proven solutions before I’ve set the expectation, then the fires just not going to burn. If I try to empower my team for success with no long term vision or no connection to mission, then it’s going to fail, right? So readers can use the 12 question assessment that’s identified in my book, and it’s available on our website for download. But they use this assessment to determine priority and establish the right order for their experiments. The book helps guide them through using all the right ingredients and applying them in the right order to fit really any organization from any industry. You know, so we make that connection to the CI world. You know, what exactly is the tender kindling the firewood, that’s, that’s needed? Well, Tinder, if you think about it, a Tinder is everything that’s involved in setting the proper expectations up front. And then once those expectations are set, it’s time to add the kindling. So this is the stage when we’re enabling action within our teams. And then the last one is the firewood that’s got to be last. And this is the long term stability and sustainment for change. Then in detail, the details behind each of these types of fuel can really only be identified through scientific thinking through asking OK, questions. And by doing that, the result is going to keep the fire burning, understanding this can give any reader the spark that they need to ignite positive change going into this next year.

Craig Tedrow  

Great. Alright, so now tell us what the big news is about your book.

Patrick Adams  

Sure. So later this year, we’re going to be publishing the companion workbook, I’m excited to get that out there. It’s going to be probably late summer when that’s going to be published. But the workbook is going to emulate Leader Standard Work. And it’ll have some additional tips and tricks as well as a guide to help facilitate what you know whether it’s a single person or a team, going through the learning journey, you know, embedding scientific thinking into their organization. So really, the workbook will help guide them through that. So look for that, to be available this late summer. But also beginning today, and going through January 15, we are offering my book avoiding the continuous appearance trap at a discounted price of 25% off. So again, this is a great way to kick off anyone’s year. And you can do it with a small investment for a limited time between now in January 15 25% off, it’s available right now. You can go out there, grab this book for yourself for your team. And I think it can be a really great way to kick off the new year.

Craig Tedrow

I love it, you got 12 questions in your book, and we got 12 months coming up, you know, a great time to crack the book open. So where can somebody get a copy? At that 25% off?

Patrick Adams  

Yeah. So you can go right to Amazon search, avoiding the continuous appearance trap, or you can go to avoid continuous appearance.com. You can purchase the book there. We also have some more information about the book, and a free assessment download that’s available on the website as well. So also you can reach out to me directly if you have any problems. I would love to help you get connected with the book. So

Craig Tedrow  

yeah, great. What other kinds of things are coming up this year? I know you mentioned a few things with the book and the workbook. But what else is out there for listeners?

Patrick Adams  

Yeah, this next year, we’re excited to officially launch our Lean Solutions Academy and our Lean solutions community. So those will be offered to help lean leaders connect and develop their skill sets. And as always, we offer coaching and consulting, you know, through the company, we’d love to come alongside companies and help them on their Lean journey in whatever way that we can. So feel free to reach out.

Craig Tedrow  

Great way. I appreciate you letting me turn the table on here and get the microphone on my side. Absolutely. That was fun. We need to do this more often. I think so. Thanks a lot, Patrick. I really appreciate that.

Patrick Adams  

Absolutely. You know, thanks for having me, in running me through the process of being a guest on the other side here, Craig, thank you.

Craig Tedrow  

Excellent. It took too long to do this. Absolutely. We’d like to wish everyone an amazing, amazing new year and just remember, keep it simple. Keep it visual, and continue to improve.

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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