Lean Leadership and Lean Culture with Rick Foreman

Lean Leadership and Lean Culture with Rick Foreman

by Patrick Adams | May 24, 2022

In this episode, Rick Foreman and I discuss Rick’s Lean Leadership journey to include his learnings as the V.P. of Lean Development for Federal Heath. Rick truly exemplifies the qualities of a servant leader and has been successful in his many roles throughout multiple industries.

What You’ll Learn This Episode:

The purpose behind your Lean Leadership journey
The core of successful Lean transformations
How to keep Lean engaged in the culture
The biggest struggle in deploying lean at Federal Heath

About the Guest:

Rick Foreman is the V.P. of Lean Development for Federal Heath Sign Company and a John Maxwell Team certified speaker, coach, and trainer. Rick has over 32 years of lean leadership development experience within aerospace, telecom, sign, medical manufacturing, service industries, supply chains, and community engagement. This in-depth practice of utilizing coaching techniques and mastermind studies to develop people-centric leaders and engagement across multiple locations has led to cultural transformations, with team member, profit and organizational growth. During this period, two of the Texas facilities received recognition for “Lean Enterprise Excellence” from TMAC, while realizing significant, positive business results. Rick has a BA in Management Ethics, a MAM in Business Management, and over 30 years of serving others through coaching, mentoring and helping them reach their full potential and purpose.

Important Links:

Contact Rick by email at [email protected]

Website: https://dropinceo.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/rick-foreman-24a4a3a/

Full Episode Transcripts: 

 

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, everybody and welcome to the show. Our guest today is Rick foreman. Rick is the VP of Lean development for federal heat Sign Company and is also a John Maxwell team certified speaker, Coach and Trainer. I’m excited to hear a little bit more about that. But Rick has over 32 years of Lean leadership development experience within aerospace, telecom, Sinai Medical Manufacturing, Service, industry supply change. I can go on and on. But I just appreciate you coming on to the show. Welcome, Rick.

 

 

 

Rick Foreman 

Great to be here. Thanks for having me. Yeah, it’s it’s exciting to have someone with, you know, with your years of experience on the show, and I’m excited to hear some of the stories. You were recently on the Gemba Academy podcast, and I was listening to that. So if anybody is interested to go out and hear Rick’s interview with Ron over on the gemba academies podcast was a great interview, some really amazing stories. We were talking before I hit record, just about some of the conversation that you guys had over there. What was the just let’s just kick off with that. What was your experience like on the Gemba Academy podcast? Well, it’s pretty easy going. It goes, Ron and I, actually the first video he ever did for gamba Academy was here in our offices. And he brought his little camera into an office where I was and he did an interview with like, what are we doing with lean on the shop floor here. And it literally was the first live video for gamba Academy. So So Ron, and I go back, I think that was oh, eight, so almost 14 years, that we go back. So and the other thing that makes it a bit easier is it’s about 10 minutes from my house. So when I leave the office, if I’m doing something with GIMP Academy, I just dropped by the studio and pop into the other side of the booth. So Ron and I have have a really a long term connection and relationship. And we share similar values and thoughts on lean and, and values outside of business as well. So it’s a great deal. So sitting down with him is the challenge is normally to not let it go too long. And, and to cut the story short and get to the point and make it meaningful. So I’ve done, I’ll call him three drive bys. For Ron, I’ve actually done in three podcasts. The last one was on gratitude. And as lean leaders. I mean, I’m wired to see waste. So almost walk into place. And I have this crazy GPS that goes into a waste spaghetti diagram matrix. And it’s, I typically see what’s not going well, in any process versus Hey, that’s pretty awesome. So it was interesting to have a conversation to wrap our heads around. Can we slow down and be still for a moment and also see the progress and the good that’s going on? With the baby steps being okay, so, so sitting down with Ron, it’s just like an ongoing discussion, like we grabbed a cup of coffee. And now we’re 14 years in and we’re still talking about well, that worked. Well, that didn’t work. So well. We got a tweak this what’s going on. So I love doing these podcasts. And I love the link community. I love the common approach. All of the link community to me for as long as I’ve been in it is about helping people and adding value. And that, to me is had a lot of authentic aspects to which I think is really neat. And so I love being a part of the community and supporting and adding value wherever I can.

 

Patrick Adams 

Yeah, I appreciate that Ron such a great guy. He was he was a guest on the show all the way back I’d have to go back and look at what episode it was. But I was on Gemba Academy he was on here on the lean solutions podcast. And we had some really great conversations. He’s such a such a great guy, like you said, very down to earth humble. It’s just great to have conversations with him and with people like you. So I appreciate that, that you’re popping on and having these conversations to again, just help share with the Lean community. And you did mention Lean leadership and you as a Lean leader, Ron as a Lean leader, myself, we all we all consider ourselves lean leaders. What would you say is the purpose behind a your personal Lean leadership journey, but let’s talk Lean leadership in general, you know, what was shouldn’t be someone’s purpose as a Lean leader.

 

Rick Foreman 

Also, just ultimately from that the way you asked it is, our goal is to add value and to serve others and a model that will and so for me, and part of I guess I’d say my John Maxwell background to his training as a leader it’s, you know, how can we make a counter shift in our thinking to kind of overcome the

limiting beliefs of this is always way we’ve done it or we’ll never get there. And I find that if people feel fulfilled in what they’re doing, you know, that moves forward a lot more smoothly. And I’m sure you heard on the Lean podcast, I’m not a big fan of Lean being done to people. I’m more a fan of Lean done with people. And I think leadership makes all the difference in that. So you got to move the ball forward, but you got to serve the people that you’re helping do that at the same time. So it’s kind of a for me, it’s that servant leadership, of engaging with people, and how can I just continue to add value while I’m still pulling them forward?

 

Patrick Adams 

Absolutely. I like I like that as a as a good, good definition. You mentioned limiting beliefs. What are some of the maybe examples of some of the limiting beliefs that that you’ve seen in your 32 years of Lean leadership?

 

Rick Foreman 

Well, we’ve always done it like this. We’ve had success, why do we need to change? You know, I mean, I’ve been doing this, I’ve had personal quotes. I’ve been here 15 years, I’ve had people tell me, I’ve been doing this 45 years, how could you think we could do it different? You know, and I go, like, yeah, it takes me back to, you know, quote, about change, you know, one quote I have about changes, you can change, or be changed by the change, but changes coming. We saw that in Oh, eight, no, nine, we saw that through the COVID. And so the status quo of staying where we are, at least in manufacturing, or service, and maybe in any business we’ve seen over the last couple of years is if you’re satisfied with staying the same, that’s a dangerous place to be. So I think that limited belief is to I don’t want or I’ll say one, I don’t need to change. The second one is, we’re okay. And I think both of those are really dangerous. The business you and I are in are continuous improvement. When I left the last company to come here, the owner said, Hey, you’re going to be doing that continuous improvement thing. After a couple of years, you’ll have them go and it’ll be all cut up, there won’t be much left to do. And I said, Well, you know, they call it continuous improvement for a reason. It’s continuous because you never get there. And so I think we’re really living in that time where the pace of change is so rapid, that if we’re okay with being okay, that’s super dangerous, especially as a leader. And the other thing is, if you say, well, we’ve always done it that way. And for me, that’s kind of where the coaching comes in. Is, and I’m not a degreed engineered. I have a degree in management. I have a Master’s, I have a coaching certification with John Maxwell. But to me, it’s how well can you interact with people? So for me, a lot of it is the Socratic questioning where somebody says, wow, I’ve always done that for 45 years. And the Coaching Habit is one book, one of the questions, seven questions the Coaching Habit is is sometimes you need to just ask, Well, what else? You know, what else could you do? And keep pulling people with a bit of tension, I guess, to keep bringing it forward. But I think the biggest limiting beliefs is we’ve always done it this way. And we’re okay. I’d be concerned with both of those right now.

 

Patrick Adams 

Hey, Patrick, here, I hope you’re enjoying this episode of the lien solutions podcast. And I always hate to interrupt the show. But I wanted to take a moment to let you know about our lien Solutions Academy. We offer many flexible learning and training options to include elearning courses, live virtual classroom and onsite classrooms. Our newest courses include Leader Standard Work and visual management, check out all of our offerings on our website at finding solutions.com and click on Academy. Now, back to the show. That’s right, yeah, things are changing so fast, like you said, in our competitors are improving, right. So as a company, competitors are improving, if technology is improving and changing, if you know, other companies, the world, you know, globally is changing, and you’re comfortable with where you’re at. You know, I always like to say you’re inevitably you’re really moving backwards, you’re really not standing still, you’re moving backwards, because the rest of the world is definitely moving forward. So I appreciate that. You brought that up? How much of what we talked about, relies on leadership behavior in an organization, what do you think, you know, what level of importance do we put on the behavior and I see behavior as an input, where, you know, culture that lean, you know, the Lean culture would be an output and I don’t know how you think about that. But I just wonder about behavior, right? The inputs from a leaders perspective, how much of that is relying on on behavior?

 

Rick Foreman 

Yeah,well, I’ll say No doubt you’ve run into this I’ve ran into in many of those in the Lean world where they Bring us in a leader does and say, Hey, I need you to go over and help and fix this. I’ve never been a consultant, but I’ve been invited in, Hey, give us our perspective. And even our previous CEO and current CEO, we’ve been invited to other companies, you know, to share. And it’s like, there’s that misnomer right there, right? Where I’m going to bring you guys in, and you’re going to help change this? Well, there’s the big, the big elephant in the room right there. I’ll say it’s everything. In my opinion, Maxwell has this quote, I’ll go to my grave, quoting it and believing it. And he says everything rises and falls on leadership. And it’s certainly I think there’s an element as a factor of one person, can I influence lean no matter where I am in an organization? Absolutely. But if I’m going to pull the organization forward, in a positive way to have transformation, and to have success, it’s it starts and stops with leadership. You know, one quote I heard recently was behavior is the echo of belief. And if the beliefs as a Lean leader don’t match up with what you’re modeling daily, it’s really just happy talk, or what I refer to, unfortunately, as bubble handling is like, oh, yeah, yeah, oh, we’re all for, oh, we’re all for Lean. But then when the rubber meets the road, and the pressures on and one thing I’m really seeing now, everywhere it’s such a height limit is we have to be so urgent and firefighting, to respond to the customer that we won’t take time to do the important things like problem solving, or we won’t stop and catch our breath and really do the work we need to do to make it long term successful. So maybe that all plays off leadership. leadership’s got to be bought in to say, okay, timeout, I’m gonna give my people time to work on this, or I’ll go as much as you know, is your office organized and structured? I mean, do you believe in the discipline thinking that comes from success? Or do you just want everybody to look clean and straight, and nice, you know. And we are, we have been crazy blessed, because our I’ve had two CEOs, and they’re 1,000%. On board, I was hired in reporting to the CEOs, I’ve done a couple of things of taking over manufacturing for a couple of seasons in between plus two and lean. But I’ve always reported to the CEO, because I’ll give our CEOs credit. They believe it starts and stops with them. And so they’re 100% on board, well, makes my job easier. But it also sends a message to the organization that this isn’t a flavor of the month or just happy talk, we’re really moving forward. And so they position people for that, but they also model it. So to me, it’s everything because I I’m more of a believer like you. It’s got to have that now, can you make some inroads? Can you make some improvements? Can you do some things, I mean, I used to run a machine on the shop floor, I started on the shop floor, cleaning bathrooms and pulling chips out of machines and filling it up with coolant. I started that in 1978. So I believe you can make an impact and influence wherever you are, you can be that leader. But if you want to transform an organization, you have to have the leadership in there.

 

Patrick Adams 

Yeah, I agree. 100%. And I love the quote that you that you mentioned too. And inside that quote, you said that as a Lean leader that are you’re asked to quiet the quote asks the question, do our beliefs as a Lean leader match up with what we model daily? From a model modeling perspective? What would you say? Like what are some examples of what a good Lean leader should be modeling? And obviously, this is going to be different depending on whether I’m a team leader, because, you know, I have people listening to the show that are, you know, all different aspects of industry and different levels within their company. So team leaders, you know, up to executives, C suite leaders, what would the What would some of that modeling behavior look like in a lean organization?

 

Rick Foreman 

I’ll go back to the simplicity and the complexity of six s or five s whatever you want to call it, right? And I am a firm believer that five s if you want to add safety. It’s really the discipline thinking that comes from that, to me, that’s where the gold is. It’s I don’t need a piece of tape around my stapler. But if I have a discipline to put things back where they go, that type of discipline thinking opens doors to see waste are involved with problem solving. So I go too far as this no matter where you are on that spectrum, not just your office. But even your files, how’s your email inbox? How do you manage emails? How is your office structured? One, I think sometimes we forget that people are watching. And I don’t care whether you have a degree or don’t have a degree, I’ve been in manufacturing for 44 years. Now, a lot of smart people no matter where they are, and they look at leadership, and they know whether we’re following it or not. If you’re the team lead on the shop floor, or if you’re the CEO, or if you’re excusing yourself as an engineer salesman who has a pile of papers, people come in and they go, Oh, is this real or not? I mean, that’s step one. How can you want me to keep everything structured on my CNC machine on the shop floor, and I walk in your office and it’s disaster? First thing to my mind is it’s happy talk, or, you know, how do you manage your emails? And I think the other thing we run into, and we’ve seen is, everybody’s at a different level of that. But are they involved? We do. book clubs, we have a federal heat lien University, I have 32, lien champions, none of them report to me. I train and mentor and coach them, and they have responsibilities besides their full time job. So the talk is important. What is their message? their email, their verbal conversations, how they treat other people? Are they respectful? Are they good listeners? Are they respectful to really go to the gamba? And not management by walking around? But do they care enough to go out and ask Bob? Hey, Bob, how’s it going? Is there anything we can do to help you? Hey, I noticed you were hunting for a tool. Are you guys short? Can we get you on? If we could fix one thing for you? And even in the offices, I’ll go ask somebody and I’ll go, and if we, if we could fix one thing, what would make your life easier and more efficient? And I’ll joke and say, you know, it can’t be get rid of somebody or something like that, you know, I tried to put humor in it, but but also very seriously saying, What can I do to help you. And I don’t know if Maxwell said it or somebody else, but said people don’t know, we care unless we show it. And I think that true authentic engagement in the gamba, whether that’s in the office, whether you’re in design, whether you’re in project management, whether you’re a blue collar on the shop floor, wherever that is, if you’re an authentic leader, that cares about your people, it’s going to come out, people are going to know about it. I mean, I, we have so many people, but I can tell you, you know, this person’s daughter’s runs track, this guy has somebody playing football, this other one’s doing art, this one other this other family members got a personal crisis going on. And I’m supporting them and our thoughts and prayers. And I mean, I could go on and on, it’s got to be way beyond we got to do this stuff to get better. It’s got to be I care about you, we’re in this together. If we win, our team members win owners, when customer wins, everybody wins. So to me that goes back to that very first question. Ultimately, if I can help add value, and truly, authentically care about people that’s modeling it.

 

Patrick Adams 

So Rick, what would you say for the individual that’s listening right now, who is not in an organization where, where executive leadership is supporting, you know, a Lean transformation, or they’re supporting behaviors that, you know, would align with what you would see in a Lean leader? What would you what advice would you give to them? You know, again, if they have leadership around them, maybe they’re reporting to a leader, maybe people underneath them or peers that just don’t, don’t agree with or buy into lean as a as a methodology? What would your advice be?

 

Rick Foreman 

Well, I think that goes back to and once again, we’re not all wired that way. But what do you want to make out of it? You know, the first question becomes, do you believe in it? Do you believe in these principles? Do you believe this type of behavior has value? And we’re probably in somewhat of a What about me society, and to some extent, but I look at it as you know, what can I do? And, and I asked this question all the time is, what do you control? What’s in your control? And what can you do about that? And I still think that goes back. You can take somebody that has zero people reporting to him that’s sweeping the floor, if they’re influencing other people to get better or improve their leader, and so I think we all have that choice and decision every way. I got to ask ourselves, Am I gonna allow my behavior to be dependent on what other people are doing? You know, there’s a couple of choices in organization, they’re not doing it. Okay? Do I feel the value I’m getting, I should stay or I should leave. Okay, there’s that one. The other thing is what difference can I make. And I can only part of that off my journey. I mean, I started sweeping the floors 44 years ago, and I felt run companies, I’m getting to coach and do Lean and continuous improvement, which is my heart and passion. I do it in the community, I do it outside, I mentor young men, if you took me and parachuted me in to a law firm or anywhere, I’m going to be me doing what I do. Because I think that’s kind of my calling and purpose. And so my purpose is to help somebody else find the next step of their purpose. And so I think for somebody, you got to ask yourself, What’s my choice and what I want to make out of this, you, you know, to get to the Ag part, you’re gonna have a lot more fulfillment, a lot more joy and a lot more satisfaction, if you don’t base what you’re doing, on what your managers doing, your fellow team members are doing, do what’s right, and try to make it better and see what that impact and influence comes out to be. So that’s always mine is to ask the question, you know, well, where are you wanting to go? What do you want to get out of this? Why I’ll even go why. Why are you here? You know, are you just here for the paycheck and some people will be some, some people, that’s where they are. And that’s okay, too. But I think as lean leaders, for us to not even challenging questions, just reflective, questioning, getting people to think a little bit different, get them to dig in a little bit different, and things like that. We’ve seen huge success, and we’ve seen huge challenges. And I’ve personally with people, I have some people that are knocking it out of the ballpark, and I got some people there’s like, you know, it’s like an anchor dragon sometimes. But you keep coaching, you keep challenging. And I just ask people, well, what can you do in that situation? How would that make you feel? Yeah, what benefit would come out of that. And it’s interesting, because you get people to kind of stop and reflect on that. And they’ll start seeing different avenues, different options, besides just saying, Well, we’re like that nobody else wants to get better. There’s nothing I can really do, which none of that is really true. And in that sense, I think we put the own lid on ourselves, we just put the self limiting lid, we just placed it over our head and like, Well, wait a minute, I could improve this and make it better. I don’t need a manager or process engineer anything, I can improve what I’m doing right here. And get 20% more production or make this better quality or, or safer. I have that I can do that today. Why don’t I do that? Maybe that influences somebody else. And they go wow, look, Bob made that improvement now look what I can do. So that’s my approach to it.

 

Patrick Adams 

Yeah, no, I think that’s great. And you hit on this earlier, but just the genuine interest or genuine, you know, seeking true understanding of what’s going on in a genuine way. People are not stupid, they know if you’re just okay, oh, it’s my five minute walk around that I have scheduled that I need to quick run around and show face that people aren’t stupid. They know, right. So, you know, really, genuinely going out. And, and spending time with people and getting to know them. You know, I just think about we were talking earlier, Rick, about your son being in the Marine Corps. And obviously, thank you for his service in the Marine Corps. But we were talking about that, and I was thinking back to my time in the Marine Corps, and how they literally everyone in your in your group knows each other at a whole new level, a different level than what you see out in the in the secular world. And, you know, people know, the how many kids you know, your buddy has, you know, how long you’ve been married, you know, and the crazy thing is, is that you you’ve only known each other for a short amount of time. But I think that’s what actually makes it special in the military. Because you know, you’re only going to see, you’re only going to be together for a short amount of time, and then you’re going to be get deployed or transferred somewhere else or whatever it might be. So you spend the time to really get to know people on in a deep way very quickly. Which I don’t know if you’re familiar if you know that or not. But I think that that’s something too that, you know, I see that with a good Lean leader is someone that genuinely cares, and they’re going to spend the time they’re going to go out and they’re actually going to you know really dig into people’s worlds in in a way that other people won’t and and get to know them and so I appreciate that you brought all that up and we talked through that. I think I know the answer to this question, but I’m going to, I’m going to ask it anyways, what do you believe is at the core of a successful Lean transformation?

 

Rick Foreman 

Well, we’ll go back to my previous ramblings. It’s, it’s leadership. Yeah. And you need management, you have things you need to manage, and they need to happen. And Jamie flinch ball will, I’ve used his book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to lean. And, boy, there’s a couple of things I just love about what he wrote in that, you know, and it’s, it’s tension and stress, right? It may seem stressful, and even our CEOs and part of our senior management team joke about it. Well, I hear Rick talking about tension, you got to have tension to move forward. Yes. And I think that’s where a leader, a leader realizes, I gotta keep pulling my team forward. And I think even in leadership, no different than flow, there’s a push and pull system, right. And I think we get better results, even in leadership when we have more of a pull system than a push system. Now, sometimes you have to say, hey, I really want you to try this. And let’s just see how it works. You know, sometimes that kata can be pretty engaging, you know, like, and sometimes people are where they are, and they may not get it. And so, hey, let’s try this. Let’s just give it a shot. And then we can adjust it. You know, let’s see, we may be surprised. But I think that leadership is different than management and leadership is, especially today, you have to adapt. If you’re not adapting today off what happened yesterday, you’re going to be behind. And not only that, if you care about your people, as a leader, you have to be adapting because you want to lead them well. You want to pull them forward. You want. I mean, at the end of the day, if we’re doing Lean, well, it all goes to the bottom line, it should be in all the key performance indicators. In my opinion, you don’t need a bunch of different numbers to show if you’re doing Lean successful. Aren’t you profitable? Is your return on sales good is your return on investment good is your revenue per team member good, you know, are your customer service satisfaction scores, which ours are 9.5 out of 10. And we we randomly pick 30 or 40 a month, and we keep a three month rolling average that we’ve done for over 15 years. And we’re averaging 9.5. The point five are pretty bad. We’ll have a senior manager follow up. So it hits everything. But I think if you’re doing it well. And to your point, you said other and we talked about stories. Last week, I came in Friday, the guy from shaping and creating walks up and he goes, Oh, you’re not gonna believe this. And he’s pulling out his phone to show me a picture. So what I know about the guy guy lives out east from Dallas here has some acreage has farm animals. He’s telling me when the new goats are born and all of this, he pulls out the phone and he shows me a picture of this like six foot snake in his chicken house, right? And so they talk about that and I go, wow, what are you doing? And so he says, Wow, I gotta do this and that and all that. We’re talking about how neither one of us likes snakes and all that. But I said, Then he talks about it’s it’s crazy how a conversation can come. So we’re talking about continuous improvement. I said, Well, what’s your next move? And he said, Well, I’m going to have to do this and that and so it’s almost like a quality review five why’s like, Okay, how did this okay, here’s the problem. Six foot snake got into chicken coop. Okay, why did they get into chicken coop? Okay, well, I have this open over here. And I’m going to have to, I did some research and I dug into the root cause and the root causes that things not sealed off. Very good. So here’s what I want to do. I want to add this, this paneling and stuff on the site when we get done. We just had a casual conversation. But in reality, we just did a quick five why analysis on a countermeasure on how to keep this big, ugly snake out of the chicken coop. But that guy felt totally comfortable. Stop and show me the picture on the shop floor. I make sure I’m on the shop floor like every 30 minutes and let’s it’s a busy day with meetings and stuff. But that guy comes up to me and so he’s like, Hey, I got a storm going. Here’s what I’m doing here. But I have randomly people come up share with me stuff like that. One, they know I care, which I do. And to that engagement opens a whole nother I don’t have to necessarily go out and say hey, as you’re creating let’s do a Kata experiment on how you’re creating. We can take the chicken coop and Snake situation and potted that thing get a counter major in his head. Now when we’re going out talking about other improvements. He’s already into it. He’s already got that mindset. Do because we have this comfortable interaction, but you know, it’s not a normal lead story has walking through the plant, that guy got a snake in his chicken coop, we went through a five, why we came up with the countermeasure, we’re checking it out, we’ll do some kind of coaching and come back. Mine’s more, I just call it coaching is Socratic questioning that I’ve been taught with the methods of the John Maxwell team, you know, but so we’ll go through it. And we definitely have a plan, do study adjust work. If it doesn’t work. I mean, literally, like two or three weeks from now, I’ll go back out there, and I go, so So how’s your countermeasure work? And I’ll even say it like that. I’ll say, How’s your countermeasure work? And then he’ll smile. And they go, Well, this is what I did. And all that. So far, so good. Well, there’s, there’s to me the difference than leadership management, right? In our organization, others, I see a lot of SMQ boards, I see people going out, walk into the board. And one of my best mentees and friends in the company we just talked about it yesterday morning is I can’t tell you how many times I see people walking by not engaging with the other team members, and walking by piles of cash of improvement that are screaming at you on the way to go over to the board to talk about your current state. Nothing wrong with that. You need that. But this leadership thing that we’re talking about here. How do we get there? And how do we engage the culture to me? It’s this emotional intelligence, whatever you want to call it, this part is to have enough awareness that it’s all of these people out here are people. That’s right. And, and they all have purpose. And they all have meaning. They’re all trying to take care of families. And do I care enough to stop? And I can stop mass? Hey, I noticed you were hunting for a tool. Do you have one can I get one? But I also get say, I had another young guy. He was getting married. And I like so. So perfect example. He’s getting married. He said, Yeah. And I said, Well, how close you guys get and what’s going on? He’s in assembly.

 

Rick Foreman 

We’re talking lean, and away. I go. He goes, Yeah, my fiance has this list. And I said, Oh, she’s got a checklist. He goes, Yeah, she’s got a checklist. And I said, Okay, that’s a checklist kinda like we have over here, right? And he goes, Yeah. And I said, Well, how you doing on that checklist? He goes, not very good. And I said, they’re important, aren’t they? And he goes, Yeah, I said, if you don’t have that checklist done, you’re gonna find out how, how important it wasn’t right? And he goes, You’re right about that. But even that, here’s somebody I knew he was getting married, we had some conversation about it, you can say, well, you’re really keeping those guys on productive. I connected with him. Right? And then I show concern. But then it opened the door for us to have a conversation about continuous improvement and important a checklist. So you know, we got snakes and chicken coops, we got checklists before you get married. And I could go on and on. But to me, this is the difference between I’m so rigid, and managed. And I think today, that authentic leadership that truly cares about people enough to stop, stop and ask your people questions, stop and engage with your people, real people going through real life going through real challenges. I don’t know if Maxwell said it, I’ll wear that out. But I’m just saying, walk through the crowd slowly to hear what isn’t being said. Because here’s what I know, I got people that have family members going through cancer, I got people that are checked to check. I got a young guy that’s getting married, I got another guy that’s raising chickens that’s got a snake issue. You know, I got I got people that have real life issues going on. And we come in and work together and spend all this time together. Continuous improvement is first authentically, do I care about you? I care enough to engage with you. I care enough to ask you what you need. And maybe maybe it’s we can’t do that yet. Or maybe the budget. We can’t do it this month. But then the question is, what is the best thing? And another guy stopped me this morning said, Hey, I was asking about the airlines. Where are we? And I said, Well, I got with the two people in the plant manager and they’re looking at it and they’re talking about maybe battery or this or that I said but they’re on it they’re working on he said, man, thanks for following up. So that feedback mechanism getting, you can show people you care by just getting back with them as a follow up so I can rattle off but you know the story side of it to me, it’s very real. Yes. What we do every day is very real. It makes a very real difference. And if we truly care about our people, that’s what we should be doing.

 

Patrick Adams 

That’s right. That’s right. And you guys are Really modeling that at federal heat. I’m curious to hear a little bit more about how you’re you’re you’re keeping lean engaged in the culture specifically at federal heat, what are some of the things that you guys are doing there to really engage the, you know, the the end game, the Lean culture?

 

Rick Foreman 

Yeah, I think there’s a bunch of change, we’ve had over half our senior management retire. And we’re probably through acquisitions and just people retiring. Even though we’ve been in business since 1901, we’re 121 years in, and we’re acquisition of maybe seven or eight larger companies that are now into this federal heat. Probably five years or less, maybe 50% of our people have been here five years or less. And you can look at that two ways. Okay. What I’m saying is, we’ve had a lot of change, even in the product, and some of the customer base. So about the time you think you got some good standards and SOPs and standard work, again, you have a new program, you have a different type program. So onboarding and standard work are super important. In some places, we’ve done really well with that. In some places we haven’t. And I think that’s our challenge is, but to me, it even goes back to the leadership issue, somebody has to call timeout, say, Do we have time to onboard people? effectively. And so we use a lot of temp base for the labor side, and you’re not hiring people in necessarily the values or to the level of experience. So in some places, we’re super robust and structure on onboarding and training on others. The turnover, that is so much, it’s hard. So for us, I think that’s our real challenge. And I can tell you all about the stories and how amazing that is. But I can tell you, we have a real day to day challenge of making sure we get a standard in place. Some of our plants are super high mix low volume, we have people ordering things today that we had really not a lot of foresight on we deal with a lot of franchisee type, not necessarily national companies. It’s not like everybody’s given this a three year forecast. And here’s what we’re working, we literally get it week to week at times, with a 30 day due day. So and every city and municipality has different requirements, there’s a lot of variables in it, yeah, you’re gonna break some material, you’re going to weld some material, you’re going to paint it, you’re gonna put some electrical in it, things like that. So the process is that the process equipment or stuff is similar. Everything else is different at times. So that’s our challenge is continuing to coach use the Lean champion team to develop. I think our success or anybody else’s success, really, in these days is going to be come out on how we develop leaders, right? Are we super intentional on developing leaders? And for me, I’d say a Lean leader. This is like, you know, can we see beyond just here’s the five steps we do. Here’s the toolbox. I talked with people all the time. I can give you a toolbox, until you go across the street to build this house. Depending on what house you may need five of those tools, you may need 10 of them. We equip and work towards that. But the decision making on which tools and engage in that when you have just this constant fire, take care of the customer take care of the customer. This is due tomorrow, I’ll take care of the customer. And so it’s really reactionary. And one of the things I’ve told my lean champions, one of them in particular, he’s like, he’s just firefighting like crazy. He’s just trying to survive. And I said, and so I stopped asking him I said, he said he he was frustrated. And I said, Well, I said five years from now, I said, Do you want to be the captain of firefighting? Or do you want to influence some that change to lessen the firefighting? Yes, ha, that’s a good question. I said, What if you could be the water going through the hose that was influencing who was holding the hose and that was changing where the water actually put the fire out. Instead of you just became an expert at holding the hose fighting these fires. I said which one sounds better to you? But to me, that’s the type of coaching and reflection of developing leadership is to get people to slow down for a minute to be still. I say a couple of things.

 

Rick Foreman 

Unless you get still it’s gonna be hard to know. It’s gonna be hard. Hard to get clarity if you’re in constant firefighting. So take a moment get still take a breath. If you listen to Ron, my favorite book says Be still and know seek first and find. And, and that’s part of my Lean principles. If I can’t get still, it’s gonna be hard for me to know what to seek first, and find that thing that’s going to help somebody. So this was a, one of my lien champion mentees that I’m mentoring right now is to get him to think from man, we’re crushing it on the firefighting versus I’m the water and value putting out the fire. Because Because one is way more stressful than the other one has more rewards, even self satisfaction, oh, man, I’m making a difference for several people versus I’m just a guy looking at me down here fighting the fire. I am a Jedi firefighter. So

 

Patrick Adams 

well, and there’s so many people out there that, you know, were promoted into leadership positions, because they were good at their job or good at running a piece of equipment or, you know, whatever it might be. So they’ve never had the the leadership development that you’re talking about. And so, you know, I guess one question that I would have, as we as we start to kind of wrap up today would be what do you what, what? What suggestions would you give to someone who’s listening who has never had that, that training or that development? Is it something that they should be committed to? Is it you know, is it a conversation with their leadership around what development should look like? You know, should they be working it out on their own? I mean, what do you think what, what should be their first steps?

 

Rick Foreman 

I think that I think there’s two things there. One, that’s a great first step of I’ve had a couple of young guys come to me and say, Hey, what do you think I could do or study or focus on to get better? Oh, what do you think would help me? And so they made that decision, like you said, they went to their leader and said, you know, what do you think I would like to girl in leadership, and that would be like, super rare and crazy. I’d be a happy dance guy out in front of the plant. Somebody came to me like these guys and said, I just had a guy that day said, and he’ll randomly say, what book he got. I’ll give him a book. He reads it over the weekend, he popped in today’s our safety manager in here said, he said, Hey, I knocked that book out, what’s your next book, and that’s Besides, we have a federal eighth lien University. And level three is six leadership books. And even in my lane champion meetings, like I’ll have one tomorrow, this month, we’re taking some of John Maxwell’s podcast on on developing teams, or things like that. And so we’ll have a PDF. And we’ll literally just kind of have a table talk around what he said in that podcast and use the template is questions, the PDF. And we got people from office people from we got people from their cross functional from all over the company. And we’ll sit there and ask ourselves, what do you get out of that? What do you think we can apply? What does this mean to us? So you can initiate that on your own. If you want to be a leader, what is way neat versus when I started out the amount of resources up there on leadership and things to get better. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Zig Ziglar Zig used to say a drag University. And I got about a two and a half hour drive to the plant nice Texas all have a podcast going I have a Maxwell podcast going I’ll have some other leaders go on and stuff like that I’ll listen to back at him and all of that, you know, I mean, it’s a choice. And you can take it individually. But you can also go to the person man and say, Hey, I’d like to grow in this. We’ve made it we’ve made a path. And it’s totally volunteer to the senior managers. But we have a path where there’s use GIMP Academy, we use book clubs as kind of roundtable masterminds for discussion and reflection. And then we have an application learning by doing and we have a level one, we use some big game Academy, we’re not six sigma or lean. And then we have the book clubs, a level two is just more it’s not harder. And then level three is not for the faint hearted. I mean, it’s six in depth book studies that you do in a group and Morgan the academy, but by the time you get through that and there’s a ton application in that, then you should be emotionally aware and you should be developed as a leader to point to be making a difference for your team. Whether you have that title or not. And my thing with the title is, you know, I don’t even know who said this, but I love it said that title is like the nose or tail on the pig. Neither one determines the quality of bacon.

 

Patrick Adams 

That’s right. I love that I might have to steal it.

 

Rick Foreman 

So yeah, that’s to me, I think you hit it off, you can ask your person or you can do it yourself. Yeah. And you can, you can literally, it’s as simple as this. If you want to make a difference today, you can make a difference today. 44 years ago, I decided to make a difference, because I cared about people. Very seldom that I have a position and title, they came to me and asked me, and this is the first time I’ve been able to do Lean full time, even though I’ve been chained trained by Boeing and some of those that actually were trained at Toyota, but a pain if you can help people’s lives be better and be less frustrated, they go home less frustrated, you can impact their family life, you can impact the community. To me, that’s the coolest part about it. While I’m helping improve the quality of life of our team members. That’s a win for me.

 

Patrick Adams 

That’s right. I love it. Rick, this has been great. The conversation has been great. Obviously, we I’m sure you and I could talk all day long. So much appreciate your time. And we’d love to have you back on we can maybe we can dive into you know, some of the work that you guys are doing at federal Heath, you know, around, maybe even just the the federal Heath lean University, I’d love to dive into that a little bit more and learn more about what you guys are doing to help support coaching, serving training, you know, application at the gamba. So with that, thank you so much for being on today. Hope to have you back again soon. Love the stories. If anybody has a question, and they want to reach out to you, what would be the best way for them to get ahold of you, Rick?

 

Rick Foreman 

It’s our format, fo r e m n at federal heat.com.

 

Patrick Adams 

Perfect. And we’ll throw that in the show notes too. So if anyone’s interested to grab that email, you can pull it right out of the show notes. I’m sure they can reach out to you on LinkedIn as well. I’m guessing you’re out there on LinkedIn. Absolutely. Yeah. So that’s another way to connect with Rick as well. Rick again, thanks, love what you guys are doing and federal Heath and love the work that you’re that you’re doing to help change the help promote lean within the Lean community and outside the Lean community. So thank you.

 

Rick Foreman 

Thanks so much, Patrick. It’s been a joy. Enjoyed it. Incredibly.

 

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.

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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