Nummi and GM European Plants with John Rooney

Nummi and GM European Plants with John Rooney

by Patrick Adams | May 3, 2022


In this episode, John Rooney and I discuss Nummi and its impact on European workers during his time as an executive at General Motors.

 

What You’ll Learn This Episode:

  • What is Nummi?
  • The impact of Nummi on the GM European plants
  • True Lean vs. the appearance of Lean
  • Has manufacturing changed?
  • Advice to a company starting out on its lean journey.

 

About the Guest: 

John Rooney had 40 years Automotive Experience (Opel-Vauxhall-General Motors) John started as an apprentice and made it to executive level by the time he was thirty Had the opportunity to see and work in many manufacturing plants across the globe (Europe, Brazil, USA, China, and South Korea) Six Sigma Black Belt

Since retiring from the Automotive Industry in 2018 felt he needed to share his learnings over the many years. Has collaborated with several companies (including the ILSSI) working on Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Leadership training and CIP workshops to name a few.

More recently decided to start his own company (JRC Learn to be Lean) with his partner Roddy Craig who again spent 41 years in the Automotive Industry.

Roddy and John now work with companies to help create that culture that is needed for Lean creating bespoke training packages to suit the companies’ individual needs.

 

Important Links:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-rooney-b017a74a/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/roddy-craig-01585816b/

 

Full Episode Transcripts: 

 

Patrick Adams 

Hello, everybody. Our guest today is John Rooney. John has 40 years automotive experience where he started as an apprentice and worked his way all the way through to the executive level. By the time he was 30 years old, pretty amazing. Over the years, he has had the opportunity to see and work in many manufacturing plants across the globe and achieved his Six Sigma Black Belt. While he was working in various different companies since retiring from the automotive industry though, in 2018, he felt his need to share his learnings over the many years through his company JRC learned to be lean. Hey, welcome to the show, John.

 

John Rooney 

Thanks, Patrick. Thank you for having me, sir. Absolutely.

 

Patrick Adams 

I am always excited to talk to people across the pond and hear about experiences that are happening over on your side of the world. So I’m looking forward to the discussion today. And one of the things that actually comes to mind is one of the things that we’ve never talked about on the show is some of the work that was done with new me and I know your Lean experience. You know, I’ve seen some of your experience that has tied back to New Me, and the new plant and the things that happened there. I’m curious to hear I want to talk a little bit about the impact that maybe that had, you know, in the UK or in European plants, places that you’ve been around the world. So let’s talk a little bit about new meat. And what maybe we’ll start out with there are some people probably that are listening that don’t know what new me is, or maybe have never heard about the new meat plant. So maybe we could start out John by just talking a little bit about what it is what happened. You know, what is new? Me? Exactly?

 

John Rooney 

It’s quite interesting to thank Patrick, I learned more about Nummi. After retirement grazes, it may seem but I read so much about you, me after retirement. So I’ll take you back to roundabout, I think was 84. I was a young, you know, I was a young engineer key. And we heard about this plan that was in America part of Toyota part of GM. And what GM actually did with the European plants, which was the Opel Vauxhall side. As for the high potentials, I wasn’t one of them, but I’m talking high level executives to go and spend two years in America. Now their job was to go look see visit as part, as well as the, you know, the Japanese visit. But to bring that back, I think, you know, the synopsis of the GM yet this is great working on it. One of the big roadblocks for me that was when you read about it was the culture. The culture was so different. And also the communication you can imagine these guys have come back from two years in America and they want to change the world in UK plans that is fully unionized. Well, overmanned lots and lots of ways, but they’re just gonna go in and change it. So my opinion of new mares is I’ve read a lot more about, you know, the Kinsey analysts and books very interesting book for sure. That that, in the end disbanded. As you know, it just didn’t work. GM walked away from it took that little snippet that it believed would work for all, you know, that the respect for people and the key for me wasn’t taken away. It was just left it stayed at stores. And it went I think it went in for mothballed for a number of years. And now it’s no longer there. You know. So for me Nummi exciting times a great idea offer from Toyota. And did GM and the European funds take it in? I don’t think so. Yeah, I don’t think so. There was some snippets. But they take it in,

 

Patrick Adams 

right. And just so people that know who are listening and have never heard NUMMI before, what what happened was Toyota and GM created a partnership. And they chose the NUMMI plant in the US to experiment with and have had this partnership inside the NUMMI plant and funny thing that NUMMI plant was actually one of the worst performing plants in the US from you know, GMs perspective at that time, lots of different issues that were going on there culturally. But they took the executive leadership team many of the, you know, leaders in the organization and and took them to Japan first and in golf to them and immerse them in Japanese culture and the Toyota Production System and then had them come back. And so you know what, what John is talking about now is the partnership between numi and the European GM plants where then they brought the European plants over and visited New me to try to bring back some of that to Europe. I’m almost feeling like a bit of the what you know what we call in the US the telephone game, maybe where it’s like, Well, did they really receive all all the entire message from the leadership at At NUMMI, were they were they working directly with Japanese leadership in the NUMMI plant? Or were they working with us leaders? Or what did that look like?

 

 

John Rooney 

I don’t think that they weren’t. But I think you’re right, Patrick. It was mainly US leaders. And it was only, you know, they didn’t go to Japan. But certainly, you know, there were certainly Japanese leaders that were still in the new meat plant itself. So again, for me, I think the Europeans were getting a diluted version of fluid. So you were getting, you know, all the points, you know, the develop different they didn’t do a TPS system. They did a GMs system many, many years later. But for me, I think European plants locked down and it was a directive from GM. Everybody get over there, we’re going to learn, we’re going to change. And instead of focusing on the people, the first thing, these groups of people who come back was had can’t reduction steps, the first thing out the box, we can have a

 

Patrick Adams 

reduction. Right. Wow. And that’s the wrong mentality right off the bat.

 

 

John Rooney 

Right. You know, we talked about respect for people and respect for others. The first thing you come back, and you you know, the guys, obviously, they were high level, in the European plants. And the UK plants, the waist level was significant. You know, it was unbelievable. So it wasn’t hard work for them to come back to the plants and take all the low hanging fruit away. But you lost the trust in the people because they see you missed. Yeah, sounds good. The communication back to the plants, nobody really mentioned you me, nobody explained. What was the difference? And you know, how we’re going to change and why they did it? You know, the communication was, we’ve learned some new things, and we’re going to implement them in Europe. And that was the that was the message, you know.

 

Patrick Adams 

Right. So what impact if any, do you think that, you know, the NUMMI plant had on GM? European plants? Did you know that? Did you witness any change any positive change or you know anything at all?

 

John Rooney 

I think you always say there was some positive change. But you can imagine the guys that have been out there learning came back, was separated. For example, they developed a new system called Quality Network process systems decided that’s what we’re going to use in European Oh, another buzzy word. But then the plants decided to make up not Kaizen teams as touches it was called and then called cue nips teams, same thing, no different. But again, they were hand picked teams, not not from every area, you know, from me from quality and just brought into a nice office set up in a lovely office, all on their own. And their job was to take out the low hanging fruit. Now the problem that that made a lot of a hand back, very cross functional. There was massive of low hanging fruit. Believe me, Patrick, you know what I know. Now for Think back to them times, it would have been so easy to take it out. But they were getting good plaudits for taking the waste out with the second team, the actual guys on the shop floor weren’t as well involved as it should be. So in the end, qf says it was they were seen as the enemy. You know, these guys are coming in the night here, you know, that are here to help, you know, making things easier, better, faster, cheaper, it wasn’t always the case it was to take out low hanging fruit. I mean, nobody was ever made redundant, that that was always the thing about box or when I started. There was 13,000 people to give you a size of the plant. And now I went to the plant. I was fortunate to go the plant two weeks ago, for the 60th year and the last ever built UK, Astra. And there’s about 1000 people. Wow, that’s a huge. So, you know, you see that? And people will say well, is that what knew me called is that what cause ankle and to be honest, you know, over the years, there was natural attrition. So people really were redeployed, whether it be Body Shop, paint, shop, press shop, and so on. But years on years, there was very, there’s quite a few voluntary packages and people just left at the time, I always remember at the age of 30, and I questioned myself now, I got offered a position at Toyota and I always wonder, Should I have gone? I didn’t. And I always remember going to my boss and saying is my letter I’ve been for the interview. And he just said, Remember, the grass is always greener if you go and let me know. And that was the that’s the only thing I said from now. I’ve decided at the time because of logistics. And where it was to stay. You know, I did well, but I always questioned myself is where would I have been if it had gone to Toyota? Sure. Well, I think the new may impact on your have been particular was going to make a mass headcount saving. It wasn’t a change of the culture and how we were going to change people. And what we were going to do it was how many heads can we take out the respect for them workforce for me, I was in quality and managed care margin, and then they butchered quality. And lean didn’t really gel and why the quality and we’re here just to tell people what’s wrong. That’s what we’re here for, you know, they always say about the quality guys having a golden finger that you just, that’s wrong, that’s wrong, that’s wrong, you know, you’re not there to help you there to find out what’s wrong. So you’re here on you, then from the new me years, and particularly, I would say, from the 2000s, it became a game that every year, GM would set your targets for the European plants have a five 10% headcount cut with no legit logic behind it was just take it out. And that, unfortunately, that became a bit of a Game Over the years, then because the more honest, you were here before, would you would be knowing there’s going to be a 10% cut. And I shouldn’t say there’s probably not on your podcast, but there was a thing called white rabbits, what you end up doing, you build jobs in. And when you get pressurize you can take them out, but aren’t the real jobs, not really, they’re probably not loaded, the probably 60% Loaded of fat. So it was, it was a game that went on until probably, I would say around about 2000. And then then the lien really started to come in and not because the new me DM at that time then started develop the GMs system, which started you know, if you look at it, anybody loves it very much.

 

John Rooney 

A copy of the Toyota Production System, you know, the, the five key areas, but it’s slowly embedded. You know, you can imagine one of the things Patrick was, if they went to a guy when they had the big audit, while we did our big of audits, they’d have a team of 12 people from all over Europe coming to measure you. Yeah, you know, and the guy in the shop floor, they expect them to know, the mission, the vision in his head, every single guy, I mean that that changed in the latter years that we should, you know, that’s crazy to think he can know where it is, it could be on the walls, it could be in the supervisors file. He’s not going to remember everything. So it just become a driven target game. But yeah, in the early years, it was so easy to take the low hanging fruit, what you had to get efficient, you know, yeah, to get efficient in the latter years. So in other impact for me, but not, you know, did we ever mentioned knew me and the plant was ever mentioned to the shop floor? Probably not.

 

Patrick Adams 

So John, what do you think it was then? You know, when when things started to change, and you felt like TruLine was starting to to get, you know, accepted and implemented in the way that it should be? What do you think was different? You know, where leaders were maybe looked at a little bit differently, or whatever it might be.

 

 

 

John Rooney 

It really took Patrick that it was a slow process. I’m gonna tell you something now that hopefully, from around about 2000 to about 2017. Certainly Europe never made a profit for 17 years. Yeah. So all these wonderful ideas were always a question of, why would you keep Why would you keep your if after 70 years, you didn’t make a profit? I reckon they lost something. The reason that 25 billion over that 17 years. Now question was we were doing everything that was right, we were making the change, we’re making the headcount savings. So you could never figure it out. But it’s amazing to see I suppose my last year. And I’ll go back to your question in a minute. My last year, last year and a half. The big stir Lantus group bought his house, they bought Opel Vauxhall Mary Barra came over to the UK came to our plant, shook hands with everybody because she was selling us to what was then the Persia group. But as you know, now that still ANSYS and they bought the fee at group. And they managed to turn the plants around within its first year to make about 500 million. The second year was more around the 1 billion and I believe last year, you know, since I’ve left, it’s just gone. Potential. And they are very people related, I have to say their structure. They are they’re what’s called the pursue excellence, which is, again, a copy of the trail to production system, but the guy at the top call us to virus he came to the plants and the elders remember him coming over to the plant. And he had to meet with the execs at the end. And he put us a bit of a synopsis is part time hobby is formerly free racing. That’s what he does as a part time hobby. And he still does all together and he said guys, are you doing well. He said he had a bit like me last weekend. He said there was I was doing me qualifying and I thought it was doing well. Not five seconds off the second five. But when I’d finished, a founder was still ninth on the grid. And that’s where you are you doing lots of changes, but you’re not where you need to be. So you need to expedite the changes faster, and get to where you want to be. And I think, since 18, they’ve really changed the whole plant. They’ve changed everything to the fact they’ve just been announced. That work, they will be the valley electric plan for the whole Europe, for the small van. So you know, they’ve just shot for a major reinvestment, which you’ll reopen in about September, and they’ll be making electric brands 100%. So, you know, I think the whole thing about you had to get the trust in the people on the shop floor, that was always the, that was the hardest bit, because you were singing as head shoppers, headcount, quarters, whatever you want to call it. For a period of time, you’re not going to believe this, but we mates we’ve put suggestions scheme, if you’ve got a head out, that we’d get 12,000 pounds. That was good when it was a group of people, you know, if you have a team of six, and you rebalanced the work, sure. But it become a bit of a cutthroat thing. If you imagine what’s going on was thinking, Well, we know that jobs weak, and we’ll get rid of that. But that that drove a lot of interest, but it drove them to become more involved. And there’s something for us in other something if arose. And they did do it. And that was took away many years ago, sir. And now it’s all about really balancing the work, making it making it easier, better, faster, cheaper for for the people themselves. So I think the biggest change over them years, is gaining the trust in the people.

 

Patrick Adams 

Right? Absolutely. And I can obviously I can hear how there was obviously a significant change from the way that things were to the way that they are now, obviously, some of those those, you know, decisions that were made in the past drove the wrong types of behavior. And but obviously, you know, over a few years, you guys made some some adjustments to that and laid the right foundation. And now, you know, the the the benefits are being realized, which is amazing. Do you think that you know, in the different organizations that you’ve worked in, not just jam but but other organizations as well? Do you think that organizations are really truly adopting continuous improvement as in the proper way? Are they really lean? Or do they just think it and I talk about my book, this this culture of continuous appearance, right? Are they just appearing to be lean? Or are they really lean? What do you see the difference being?

 

John Rooney 

What Patrick, you now, if we, like many plants have been through, if we had a big visit, at the plants, everything that didn’t move was painted. Everything that didn’t move was painted. And when you came in, and for me, if you go to a car plant, the easiest way to see is it really lean manufacturing, right, is to look at its float. So your float is the amount of vehicles that have come off the line, that should be going straight to the different you know, whether be a drive test, whether it be a shake and rattle test. But if your floats through the roof, because you’ve got that much repair on the yard, you really might look pretty might look the place really look fancy and clean, but yards full of cars. So for me, since leaving the auto industry, it really does depend on the company itself. But not just that for me, where we always start, it’s the guys at the top, what is the mindset? And what’s the company culture? To me, if you haven’t got that from the top down, you’re not gonna you may think you’re going to be a lean company. And there’s so many companies that you probably see them, Patrick that are making great product, great product, great profit. But somebody’s told them in corporate, we need to do Lean, we’ve got to do Lean, because everybody else does lean. And they say okay, well we’ll pick 10 people or whatever it may be, let’s put them through the sheet that process let’s get all the boxes ticked. And then say yet we are lean down. But we’ll make a profit. Why worry about it. And it’s just, it’s since leaving the industry, there’s places we go into and you think, wow, I truly believe once I left the automotive industry, I’m going to see some wonderful things outward. And I often say sometimes they’ll go, I think I’ve gone back to the 1970s and it scares me.

 

Patrick Adams 

I actually worked with a company one time that the employees actually said that to me. They said we don’t really need you here we make enough money to not have to change we know that we don’t need to make any changes where Fine, we we make enough money.

 

John Rooney 

Wow. It’s it’s I don’t know if you ever work but I’ve worked with we’ve met some dogmatic MDS who really think they know it. They know Lee whether just to help go on the shop floor. But don’t worry, the series, you create some prickles? And you said, well, we want to change this, or let me run it autonomously, and I’ll run it for you for the week. No, no, no, don’t do that. Don’t do that you’re upset people. And so let’s just, this is what I want you to do this is and then they put you in a box, don’t go outside that box. Don’t go outside of it. We can see scope or objective for much more improvement you have, you’re not here to do that. But that’s that’s, that’s for me. And it’s frustrating, particularly, you know, when you go on the shop floor, you always get that obligatory shop floor tour, and the point out all the good things. That’s great. But I don’t know about yourself, I like to meet the guys on the shop floor because you get the real answer within probably 20 minutes of what type of company it is. That’s right. They’ll tell you whether the culture is what it is. And, you know, you always get the bleating about senior management. But yeah, you know, how many times usually pass the key walk on the shop floor, and it looks pretty, and you just look across the five s cleaning board. And it’s blank, there’s no material on it, you know, there’s no shovel, there’s no brush. I mean, it’s a lovely board probably cost an arm and a leg to buy. But it’s not they’re no longer

 

Patrick Adams 

tells you something about the culture.

 

John Rooney 

I’m not that I think your book says it all is people like to make it look pretty. And it’s when you you know, the simple thing of five is when you get to the shining, that’s where the stone, well, we’ve got it shine, you know, we don’t, we don’t need to do anymore, we don’t need to sustain it, you know, just just carry on now. And then that’s for me then falls down. And you can imagine what message that sends to the shop floor. They all get engaged, enthusiastic about this five as you go home and tell your wife, and then within three months, we don’t bother with that. And that was something last time that was we used to do that. It’s it doesn’t really work, you know. And it’s if you can’t get a company that works, you know, from the you’ve got to get to the guys on the shop floor for me. We I spent most of my career on the shop floor, our officers were on the shop floor. And if you’ve got a problem, where do you go, you go and ask them, they’ll tell you, you don’t need some. With all due respect to Lean Six Sigma, I don’t need a damn IAQ or project charter. I’ll go and speak to a guy say show me what’s really wrong. And for me, that’s even in my latter years that’s about I liked you know, and get the team leaders or the team members to present you know, what we would use was a PPS similar to an ad, but their enthusiasm about fact they found what it is what they’ve done to fix it, what they’ve done to contain it, it just gives you that lefty thing, and it’s great to go out and see them on the section and say that was fantastic. And you know, people say about reward a thank you. gives you so much more simple. Thank you. So guys. If you can’t engage the people, it’s just something that’s happening in senior management that may take off may not be a bit of a bonus. But as we said before, if you make a profit, yeah, let’s bypass that by just move on to something else.

 

Patrick Adams 

Sure. Sure. You mentioned the importance of executive or senior leadership, being engaged and involved in order to support lean transformation. Do you Would you have any character what characteristics behaviors what are the things that you would see in an executive or senior leader that you think would be the right behaviors and characteristics to support a Lean culture?

 

 

John Rooney 

Well, for me, if you’re on the shop floor, I mean, I always remember one guy, it was one of the guys that went to New Me. He ended up with my boss when he was quality manager, and he ended up as the HR director of plans. Even when we had two and a half 1000 People his name was Phil, I won’t say second name, but he knew everybody’s name. Every single person’s name on that shopfloor. How Patrick I don’t know I thought I was quite good at that. Right. And because isn’t it you know, if you walk into work, you walk past the production line, you see somebody, you wave, say, Hi guys, whatever, but also be somebody he’s got to help. He’s got to be approachable. Certainly be approachable, and not. You know, I haven’t got the time for that. These we always call the guys on the shop floor footsoldiers and it sounds like an army thing. But without your foot soldiers you won’t survive. You simply won’t survive. So it’s having engagement approachability like As you know, you know, sometimes in executive manager, you have to make tough decisions. But it’s how you portray that decision. And why you made that visit, you know, decision is so important. You know, some some people, we had certain execs that were, you know, very simple not come out the office and just say we need to take 10 out of 10 heads out of that area, no discussion, no reasons why he’s been set a target above him. For me, I’d go and work with the teams. You know, the trade union on both sides could be a hindrance, but also a trade union can be helpful. You know, they were there for the people on the floor. But also they were there, they understood the business. And when my teams, I had many, many Kaiser members in general assembly, I think something like 28, Kaiser members that worked on a section each, and obviously, the stewards were on every section, but we taught all the students your last time, it’s, so there was no argument when we do a US time and say, it comes out as that. They’d say, Yeah, okay. You know, they don’t understand where the waste was. But if he didn’t do that, you can imagine Well, looking at him, he’s working too fast, you know, it just became opinionated thing. So my decision was, we just stream them. And that made it easier for me to train them and what we know, right? So, for me, approachability is the most important thing, they see you as a high level executive of what it may be. We used to every year Patrick go on the line. We called it the hands on experience. I did it in Belgium, I did it in Poland. And you’d actually go on the line for the week. Because, you know, love it. And you’re just one of the guys, you dress like them. And they’d always put you on the worst job? Of course they would. They would always plan the job that the IES were saying, well, it’s tight, but it’s okay. They would put you on that job. And believe me, the end of the week, you would just think I couldn’t do? How did they do it? you question yourself? How do they do that? For me? It’s like a ticking clock, you know, depending on you know, say a 40 hour job to now the tack time be around about 90 seconds. Like Kelly’s doing it every night is just like a just like a robot just like a robot not yet. And you think the world that you know that? That is a skill in itself to be able to do that. So true. Can I do it? Probably not. I did it for a week, whenever the need coffee on a section, I’ll get them all not just for one, I’ll get the whole section and coffee because it gives me two hours away copies for everybody. And that’s how it was. It was a great time. But you know, there was a plant there, Patrick was the jewel in Opal, it was the jewel it was a Belgian plant in answear. We used to get taken there, we took every single Alipay there to say this is how you need to be this is how you float needs to be or circumstances change in certain times that plants shut down. So you know, you just you’ve got to win win every time. And that’s what you always got. Opel Vauxhall cycle life of a model would be probably around about six years. And every six years, you don’t have to fight for the next model. It wasn’t a given right. You have to fight against sister plants. Our sister plant was a Polish plant. But we still got measured the same as you can, we still got measured the same, although their cost per car would be significantly lower, just based on the wages alone.

 

Patrick Adams 

Wow. Very interesting. Love hearing about the stories of from different even different countries that you’ve worked in probably very different cultures, I’m sure. We’ve talked to quite a bit about headcount reduction, and just the negative effects that that can have. I want to I want to go back to that real quick, because there are people listening that that are probably, you know, thinking to themselves, well, you know, sometimes we can’t can’t get away from headcount reduction, like, you know, business is down, or where we do make some significant productivity improvements that that allow a specific area to go from 10 people down to eight people or whatever it might be, what what do you think would be some positive ways to deal with headcount reductions? What would be your recommendations on how to, you know, how to approach that and still, you know, keep a, you know, a positive outlook on the future.

 

John Rooney 

As you say, it’s gonna happen, you know, you if you do a new meatball, remember, they used to call them up walls, line balanced table now, but is, you have to get the trust in the people from the beginning that, you know, let’s be honest, if it was me, I’d be very worried that you know, am I going to lose my job? So, the way was is, is to show how you will be redeployed within the same organization. Now, there will be a stage at a certain time that you can’t keep redeploying and he It’s, it’s, it’s looking at the natural attrition. And, you know, you want to keep the younger members, there’s nothing against a guy that’s 50 to 60 years old, trying to do 92nd Tack time work, you know, on a balance of 80% efficiency every day, every out, that’s not going to, you know, that’s not going to work. And you know, with ergonomics, particularly how ergonomics significantly changed over the year and how it gets measured now from what it was many years ago. So it’s, it’s really, you’ve got to gain that trust from the beginning that we’re not here to call heads, we’re here to make improvements, if necessary, in some cases, is actually up production. But no headcount increase. So that’s another one for the we always did is to show that we’re gonna go from 42 jobs to 46 jobs, but not taking enhance out, but we’re gonna make you more efficient. So, you know, they have to work harder, but we, you know, we put all the things in place that makes that work sensible. So nobody’s lost a job, or we’re making four jobs an hour or more. Right. So it’s really how you communicate it, Patrick, it’s, if you just go in, and you heard that there’s a Kaizen team coming in, they’ve been told we’ve got to take two heads out. And if there’s 10 people to two of them, and it was always normally done on a fair lastin first out basis, we’ll be thinking, Well, what’s going to happen to me, so imagine, you go on to your wife, your children, you say, I’m not sure if I’m, I’m going to be working, you know, because this is what’s going on. So you have to explain up front, and we do that, on any CIP workshop for headcount, we would present to the whole section of what’s going to happen, based on the numbers, we could see what sort of reduction or change that would be explaining that the people that would probably go on into body shop, or to paint shop, but nothing about redundancy, it’s just making it more efficient. But it for me the key if you don’t communicate it properly, one people won’t engage, because why should they get rid of my own job? It doesn’t make any sense, right? It really doesn’t. But if you can look at and some people went on to better jobs, you know, we you’d be amazed when you look at a shop floor, Patrick, of how many level, you know, degree level people that are put in with some counts. And you’re looking at using envelopes. So ideally, with them what we do if we were hitting a section, somebody the admin, we’d say, well, you know, there’s a potential, and maybe apprenticeship, maybe an engineers position, so you gotta give them some incentive. That’s familiar. You can’t just say, we’re going to take the heads out. That’s it. Sorry, guys. There’s in the UK would be called the Dell cube, you know, you’re out a job, off you go. And it’s how you do that really?

 

 

Patrick Adams 

Sure. Good advice. Another strategy that I’ve seen work really well is some type of kaizen promotion office of some sorter or a lean team. So you would, you know, move your your access people over to a lean team gives them give them some training, some developments and coaching, have them go and facilitate and lead other Kaizen activities around the organization until a position opened up, and then you would plug them back in. And I feel like that’s also been a really great strategy that I’ve seen work well at companies. Yeah. John, what what one bit of advice would you give to a company starting out on its Lean journey?

 

John Rooney 

Well, one simple word for me is involve everybody, you know, from the beginning of all memory, but to explain and communicate what you’re doing, but also why you’re doing it. Get, be open with them from the beginning. You know, the reason we’re doing this is because, because they’ll always be a suspicion of what you’re all about. Why are we doing it? Why do we need to do it particularly when you get companies that are showing a profit every year, the guys on the shop floor to say, why are we doing this? And we you know, we’ve we’ve just had our profit shared out. So why do we need to do this? I think you’ve got to put me people’s mind at ease. Because lean, when you say the word lean, some people align it with making the place look pretty, as you know, some people align it with headcount reduction. And it depends what then people do. Engage everybody from the beginning, you know, create that buzzing atmosphere that people feel, they can come to work, they can think they can make ideas, they can, you know, we’re going to change, you know, imagine going home to your wife, we’re trying to make the company better, and that’s what you’re trying to do, in essence, aren’t you? Start start slowly for me, don’t you know, take out the low hanging fruit to start. Don’t you know, don’t go in like, deep and then regret what you’ve done because the people will be watching you. You bring in lean in for succeeds, great. If it doesn’t, well, it was your fault. You said it would work. It wasn’t wasn’t ours, you know? That’s right. Scott, we we always do, you know, the underpinning for me five s standardized work if you can’t get them to start the five s, certainly up to the first three assets and standardized work, because how do you make improvements? If you haven’t got the measurements? How do you know what how do you want to change the standard and prove it? Right? Senior management, you now you know, you bring in this lean in and they’ll suddenly say other senior management’s are doing gimble walks. Oh, Kemba Walker was Kemba. Walker. Sounds very, needs to be seen as a support walk, not as a watchful eye. Yeah. Because they, you know, you’ve got to gain this trust as well. You know, he’s been in the NBA has been in his office for the last two years. Now, he’s suddenly walk in and asked me questions on the shop floor.

 

Patrick Adams 

And he’s writing things down every time he asked me a question and makes me nervous.

 

John Rooney 

Yeah, but he really does. And you go. So what’s the problems on the group? Now? You know, imagine you go, well, they would tell the truth. No, it’s okay. It’s fine, major bump, it’s all about that trust. Find your gut, I always call them golden nuggets, you will have people on that shop floor that would take lean I talked to water, they will take lean like a duck to water, find them, find and utilize them. You said before Patrick about what we did with the Kaizen team setting the General Assembly, we would do it on a rotational basis. So we’d look for the people that are keen for one. And secondly, but don’t keep the same Kaizen team forever. Because you put some back on the line and take some new members. And what you’re doing, you’re building up the skill of the line itself. So in the ideal world, everybody becomes a Kaizen member. You will make mistakes, you will make mistakes, explained that will happen. It won’t be perfect. It will never be perfect. But learn from their mistakes. Lessons learned for me is something and GM, certainly the Opel, Vauxhall, whatever you were asked to do a lesson learned on the previous launch of a model. We did days and days workshop, from the next model that was exactly the same. So what’s scary, but you know, right, and don’t try and eat it all in one go. marginal gains, always one week cry when we do continuous improvement will get you there, if you want if you if you persevere.

 

Patrick Adams 

That’s right. Great advice, John, love. Love those points. And just to kind of close out today, John, obviously, I love what you’re doing with GRC learn to be lean your your new company, your availability to people to help companies improve. In fact, you even came alongside one of our Greenbelt courses, and I helped do some coaching with that, too, which, which I much appreciated. But why do you most, what do you most enjoy about helping companies improve?

 

John Rooney 

It’s when you first walk into a company with a B, and by the way out there, even when I’m shopping, if you walk into Costco, coffee, or whatever, you look, you can’t help but look and say, Why did they even that they could do that? I mean, it’s going into a company, even if they think the lead is to get on the shop floor, you know, something we’d love is the shop floor. Get to speak to the people, they’ll tell you that the way it should that balls that they go because you’ve come from outside, you’re a you know the word consultant that always scares people anyway, they always think you’ve got to get the emotional side that they can link to you. But you know, if we’re doing working with a company, and it may, something we always do is we ask the day before we’re doing the workshop or the training, we perfectly go the day before, just to go and have a coffee with the guys on the shop floor. Walk around, meet the people. And what that gives you when Robbie and I are doing it, it it’s imperative you get to know them you find out who’s got a family who hasn’t who’s going to be loud, who’s going to be quiet, who’s going to give you you know, you spot the nugget straightaway, you think he knows, you know, he probably will I’ve read this book, read that book and identify the loved ones because you know that you’re always going to be but you’ve got to utilize their skill to your advantage. Use them skills, you know, when you get somebody says, I’ve done all this before I know it all it’s never gonna work, blah, blah. You’ve got to drag that into the thing. And it’s really working on a plan whatever you do and is getting that engagements and familiars. You know, sometimes the senior management’s are a bit. We’d looked into, we whatever we put the The guys on the shop floor through whether it be production games or, for me, I really prefer I like the knees up in the jeans on the shop floor and actually do the real stuff. It’s great talking all the pretending that the games will for me if we can get on that shop floor and do it is then you watch people’s enthusiasm that are very, you know, very reluctant to start. But they grow. And it’s nice to think at the very end perfect when you walk away from a company, they’ve embedded it in their culture, if you can get that you’ve achieved your goal.

 

Patrick Adams 

That’s right. Amazing. John, if anybody is listening right now, and they want to get a hold of you and talk about, you know, maybe questions or talk about that what you do now is as a consultant, what would be the best way for them to get ahold of you?

 

John Rooney 

I was explained to me, Patrick, we were brand new, four weeks old, even both of us over the age of a certain amount. I’m not going to say what that is. Because you know, you can book at the moment, you can catch me on LinkedIn, you can catch me colleague, Roddy Craig, he’s on LinkedIn, we’ve just kicked off the LinkedIn company page. And within the next two weeks, the website will be going but by all means, ask for a link, drop us a line, ask us a question we’re trying to

 

Patrick Adams 

perfect. And what we’ll do, John is we’ll put you and your colleagues LinkedIn link into the show notes. And then once you do have your website up and going, if you send me that link, I’ll drop that into the show notes. So that people that are listening to this down the road, we’ll have access to your your website. So if you are listening right now, go check out the show notes and you’ll be able to find a link to John’s LinkedIn page and potentially to his website depending on when you’re listening to this. But outside of that, John, thanks so much for being on today. Really appreciate your insight love your your stories and experiences at GM with 40 years automotive experience and being part of you know, the time when a lot of the new me learnings were coming over to to Europe. It’s pretty, pretty amazing to just hear some of your experiences. So thank you so much for that.

 

John Rooney 

Patrick been fantastic. I’ve really enjoyed it. Thank you

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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