Book Study Question and Answer with Xylem Inc.

Book Study Question and Answer with Xylem Inc.

by Patrick Adams | Jun 7, 2022

This episode is a recording of a conversation I had with a global team about my best selling book, “Avoiding the Continuous Appearance Trap.”  A team from Xylem Inc. spent the past few months studying the questions in the book and discussing their answers and learnings for application across the enterprise.  The team had some great questions for discussion.

What You’ll Learn This Episode:

  • The background on my book, “Avoiding the Continuous Appearance Trap.”
  • CI Culture and Assessments at Xylem
  • Is it possible to measure organizational culture?
  • Have any companies “arrived” at becoming a company of continuous improvement as defined in the book?
  • How do we best support lean in the future with all the recent changes in work environments?
  • Why is it important to make things visual?
  • How to develop stability with standards and why its so important.
  • If I could write an additional chapter, what would it be?
  • What’s Patrick’s next book?
  • Some tips to drive CI virtually.

 

About the Xylem Inc:

Xylem Inc. is a leading global water technology company dedicated to solving the world’s most challenging water issues. They are an international team unified in a common purpose: creating advanced technology and other trusted solutions to solve the world’s water challenges.

To learn more about Xylem Inc. you can visit

Xylem – Let’s Solve Water

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, and welcome to the Lean solutions Podcast. I’m excited to have you here today, because we’re going to be listening to a recording of a book study group that I was able to be a part of around my book, avoiding the continuous appearance trap, Dan Davis and the team at xylem had the opportunity to read through my book and have some really deep discussions. And during their last book study, they invited me to come in and talk about the book, the motivation behind the book, and just some, some answers some really great questions that the group had. If you’re if you’re not familiar with xylem, xylem is a they are a leading global water technology company dedicated to solving the world’s most challenging water issues. They’re a leading global provider of efficient, innovative and sustainable water technologies improving the way that water is being used, managed, conserved, and reused an amazing company, amazing global company, and Dan Davis, who was the individual that that invited me into the book study, he is the vice president of continuous improvement, the center of excellence. And there’s many other individuals that you’ll hear on the recording that were involved in the book study, an amazing company doing some amazing things in from a cultural standpoint, just they just have such an amazing culture of continuous improvement. So listen in, I hope you’ll enjoy this episode of the lean solutions podcast.

 

Xylem Team 

So without further ado, I’ll turn it over to Patrick.

 

Patrick Adams 

Yeah, thank you, Dan. And welcome, everybody, I just appreciate the opportunity to come in and talk with all of you, I’m excited that you were able to dive into my book avoiding the continuous appearance trap. And it sounds like you had a pretty interactive discussion. I love the love the the the social page that you guys run, and Dan was showing me that as well as the the the book study groups that you do with the breakout rooms. So some some smaller group setting discussions, pretty amazing. I mean, hats off to you guys. You know, just looking at what you guys are doing from a cultural standpoint to really support and promote a true continuous, continuous improvement culture within your organization. I mean, these are the types of things that so many organizations are missing. You know, when they, when they’re trying to in, they’re asking themselves, why? Why can we not get this stuff to stick? Why is it so difficult for us, and yet, they’re, you know, they’re stuck in conference rooms or in offices, and they’re not interacting with each other and having these, these personal development experiences and, you know, sharing some of the things that are happening from from a CI perspective. You know, I always I love to talk about Paul Akers at FastCap if you’re not familiar, you can check him out go out in YouTube, but he’s the CEO of a fairly good sized Corporation FastCap. And he comes in in the morning as the CEO and he walks the production floor. And he’s probably more excited than most of the people that he’s talking with his employees. And he’s he literally has a cell phone out. And he’s recording all of the amazing two second improvement, he asks, he asked all of his employees, you know, just find one, two second improvement that you can make every single day, just something simple, you know, turn the table this way, or get put your give yourself a a pen and pencil holder that’s closer to your your, you know, work activity, just little simple things. And he goes around and he records these on his cell phone. And then he posts them out to they use a company WhatsApp, to share all of these experiences and things and even these little things. Again, like I said, he’s super excited about them. And that creates this level of engagement and excitement in the employees that they want to continue to do more of the little things, which as we all know, add up to really big things. So I love what you guys are doing. It’s exciting to see and talk with all of you. So with that, I’ll just kind of dive in and talk to you a little bit about the motivation behind the book, give you some some inside stuff. And then and then we can open it up for questions and talk through maybe some of the the questions, the 12 questions that you guys read in the book. So just a little bit about my background. I was in the United States Marine Corps for about eight years. And when I got out of the Marine Corps, I wasn’t really sure what to do because I was actually medically retired. So I didn’t plan to get out of the military. I was actually planning to do you know, 2030 years in the in the military and retire. And so I was when I was injured. My wife and I were kind of caught off guard with what is the future look like for For us, and I actually had a buddy who got me a job as a production supervisor at a small plastics plant here in West Michigan. And I have to tell you, I know this sounds really weird, but I fell in love with manufacturing, I absolutely love the idea of taking raw materials, working them through these different process steps coming out with this finished product that the customer was happy about. And I just really enjoyed that I enjoyed the thought of it, I enjoyed working through that and enjoyed the, the, you know, being a leader, you know, and being able to develop people to do their jobs better. And, and it was just an amazing experience for me. And I decided, you know, what, this is where I want to spend my time. And then when, from there, I worked at a couple different companies in operations leadership, and ended up at a tier one automotive supplier where I was introduced to lean manufacturing. And this was where I was just blown away, I was like, You mean, we can not only, you know, look at these processes and build, you know, finished goods for our end customer and make them happy. But we can also like develop improvements and dive into these processes in a deeper way. And really, you know, remove the waist and just, I just was in the way that my mind works. Maybe some of you can, can attest to this, but the way that my mind works, I’m always looking for better ways to do things, you know, how do I do this better? How do I do this faster? I mean, I literally will take different turns to my kids school, trying to figure out which is the fastest way to get to school to pick up my 13 year old daughter. It’s it’s almost a disease to be honest, it’s it’s, it’s tough, but it’s good. I love it. So anyways, I love love the idea of lean manufacturing, I ended up at a company.

 

Patrick Adams 

Some of you may know Parker Hannifin. They’re a large global organization. Fluid connectors is the business that they’re in our that the division that I was in, there’s a lot of days of aerospace and a couple other things. But I at at Parker Hannifin, I hired in there as a plant lead manager and I had the opportunity to work under some really, really amazing leaders. And when I was at that company, I just was engulfed in lean, and all lean, everything lean, everything that we did was, was aligned to a true north, everything that we did was about developing a learning organization. And it was just an amazing experience for me. And from there, I worked at a couple other companies as in kind of an internal consultant, and then ended up about six years ago now stepped out on my own, because I wanted to help more companies realize the benefits of what Lean and continuous improvement can do for their organizations. So that was, again, just a little bit about my background. So when I, when I did step out on my own, I had, I knew that at that point that I wanted to write a book, I knew that there was I have the this vision of, you know, getting this book in the hands of as many people as I could, because I had worked at these two organizations that were so similar at the surface, but so different underneath. And I just knew that this case study of these two companies could really help people to realize that they needed to make change in their organization, because so many companies that I worked at so many companies that I was going into, had this culture of continuous appearance, which is obviously what you guys read about in the book. And, you know, again, companies that I’ve worked at companies that I’ve went into consult with just so many companies that have you know, just tons of what I call wallpaper on the walls, you know, Value Stream maps, and process maps and post it notes, and they walk through the hallways and you know, show off their their wallpaper, you know, but nothing underneath, in fact, more of a toxic culture underneath all of that a culture that’s, that looks at that and just laughs and is like, yeah, that’s what they show the, you know, the President when the President walks through, that’s what they show the customers when the customers come through, but that’s not really what we do. And, and I was struggling with that, because I knew the real benefits of lean and continuous improvement and having a true culture of continuous improvement, because I had experienced it personally. And so I my heart literally broke for these people that were like, Yeah, that’s just all a big joke. You know, when you would go out and actually talk to the people that were closest to the to the value at work, they would just say yeah, that’s a that’s a big joke. I don’t ever see my, my manager. I don’t ever see the plant manager. I don’t ever, you know, we we don’t have any alignment to goals. You know, I just come in and I punch my clock. You know, I’m actually looking to get out of this place. Just conversations like that, that just literally broke my heart. And so I knew that I wanted to write this book. I wanted to get into the hands of as many people as I could. And that’s what we did. And as a team last year We published avoiding the continuous appearance trap. And we hit some really cool milestones being, you know, a hot new release. And we were able to hit bestseller status on Amazon and a couple other things, which was really amazing. To see the book, like I said, getting into the hands of so many people around the world. And since then I’ve been able to pop into book study groups like this one, talk with different individuals, go into companies and meet with them. And you’ll be, you’ll be hopefully excited to hear that we’re actually working on a workbook, that will be a supplement to the book itself. Because again, we’ve had so many companies that have used this as a book study, and then they’ve come back to me with questions. And so we’ve taken those questions and those discussions and we’ve created a workbook that I’m now actually have the rough draft sitting right over there, I have to walk through that, this week, and next week, and then we’re working on final draft, hopefully getting it published in September timeframe. But that will be, you know, literally, you can write answers in there. And it’ll walk you through, you know, the book as a as a book study. So I’m excited about that as well. So with that said, one other thing that I want to mention just about the book in the process, I’ve had a lot of people that have asked me about the questions why why did you establish the chapters as questions? And you know, I’ve had a lot of people that have asked me, why don’t you just, you know, you worked at this company that had this amazing culture of continuous improvement? Why don’t you just give us the roadmap, like they clearly have had things figured out? Why don’t you just give us that roadmap, give us those 10 Steps to Success, give us those five steps to implement a lean organization? And the reality is, is it doesn’t work that way. And for so many companies that try to and don’t get me wrong, Toyota is amazing, right? They did some amazing things, they laid some amazing foundational work around what a continuous improvement culture should look like. But to take what Toyota did exactly the way that they implemented it and try to deploy it into your organization is going to it’s going to fail, it’s going to be in fact, detrimental to your organization, because we’re working in a different time. Right? We have different team members, our culture is different. The way the industry is probably different, right? So you can’t take what Toyota did exactly the way that Toyota applied it, and try to apply it to your organization. In fact, the company continuous improvement in the book, you can’t take exactly what they applied and developed at their organization and try to apply it at your organization because again, it will fail. Those of you that know John, Shep John, Chuck was the first American employee at Toyotas world headquarters, and he helped transfer production systems in management systems from Japan to new me. And if you’re not familiar with Noumea, I would definitely go check that that case study out. But John said that Lean management is not about it’s not about the the giving someone a roadmap, it’s not about providing the right answers, but it’s really about asking the right questions, right, we want people to try new things and courage things, right. So what he was promoting, after being at Toyota for the time that he was, what he what he’s promoting, is this evolutionary process of learning, right evolutionary process of learning. And that’s really, for an organization that truly has adopted lean and understands continuous improvement to its core, they’re really embarking on this journey of, of learning this, this, this evolutionary process of learning. It’s really scientific thinking, right? And so for you, when you’re reading through the book, I’ve established these 12 questions. And then as you know, underneath each question is another five questions, right? But the reason why I’ve done that is because I really want the reader to, to embark on this, this evolutionary process of learning for themselves personally and for their organization. Right, I want I want them to imagine what’s possible within their organization as the answer these questions, want them to really answer the questions, honestly. Because again, some some leaders won’t answer honestly, they think they have it all figured out. They think they don’t have any problems. Right. And as you know that having no problems is probably the biggest problem of all because we we all have problems in our organizations. And the the moment that leaders realize that and they start to ask themselves and answer these questions, honestly. They’re going to start to identify and uncover some problems in their organization that need to be solved. And by solving those problems, you’re developing your own roadmap for success, you’re developing your own culture of continuous improvement that makes sense for your, your culture, your people, your industry, your company. You know, so again, that’s why we have, that’s why we laid out the question. That’s why I laid out the 12 questions the way that I did, and developed it, excuse me into an assessment process.

 

Patrick Adams 

So again, that’s just a little little bit into the background of the book, why it’s laid out the way that it is. And with that, Dan, any any questions that you want to throw out there?

 

Xylem Team 

All right, yeah,that was a great introduction. You know, we we do a training course on Socratic questioning. And that really didn’t dawn on me that, you know, it was the intent on those questions. So that’s very fascinating, as you were explaining that love and make sense, perfect sense as you go through, you know, one of our struggles is we’re global. And we’ve got 50 Plus manufacturing sites, and we’ve got hundreds of branches and trying to even get different sites to kind of follow the same model has been a challenge. And having those discussions, you got some sites that are more advanced, you got other sites that aren’t quite there, and, you know, putting frameworks for the teams to start working on we’ve got our design and production system, we’ve got an assessment with questions and standards that we’re trying to get folks to get to, and been working working on that this year. So without further ado, I’m going to open it up. If you have a question. Go ahead and hit your raise hand button. I think it’s in the chat button. So we’re at reactions, some reactions raised hand.

 

Patrick Adams 

And Dan, while we’re waiting for, for everyone to maybe think through some some questions, they might have just a question for you around that what you just said, Now, do you guys have an overarching assessment process for each one of your sites? Or is is our do the sites have, you know, some level of expectations that have laid out for what is the the production system that you guys follow? Or the management system that you follow?

 

Xylem Team 

Yeah, we we’ve got, we’re relatively new with the assessment. So we’re about three years into the assessment, we’re still working on our top 25 manufacturing sites. We’ve got different pillars around CI, safety, quality, and in it’s kind of turned into this massive assessment. So it’s just a big sledgehammer. And so I’m still having discussions around the the massiveness of it, intention was good. We’re, you know, just trying to work through it. I’m sure I’ve got COVID slowed down the peer assessments, sure. And we couldn’t get out in the factory. And everybody’s like, well just do a virtual and I’m like, you can’t somebody, you have to walk the floor, you’re going to talk to the people. And so we’re going to Paulina leads up our assessment support. And so we have monthly meetings, we’re doing one of the things I encourage everybody to do is what we call the model self. And so a model area where you can test and play around and kind of playground and teach and educate. Yeah, and so each month out of the 25 sites, we have groups now that are starting to show their models, so and share amongst the other 25, so that we can start seeing some of the work that’s being done there. And we just picked that one off last month. And so we saw some really good stuff. We’ve got another one coming up next week, to again allow for folks to see what the others are doing. We’re trying to open up you know, nicely with technology as you’re trying to open it up to be able to allow for others to see in and you’re able to be inspired and, and go out and try to experiment with someplace

 

Patrick Adams 

very nice. That’s great.

 

Patrick Adams 

Hello, everybody. I hate to interrupt this episode of the lean solutions podcast. But I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to my book, avoiding the continuous appearance trap, and instead of you hearing from me, I’d like for you to hear from Paul Akers, author of two second lean, and his thoughts around the book

 

Paul Akers 

Leanis for 2% of the people in the world. There are an awful lot of posers out there. People that do Lean because they’re mandated to do it. They think it will work. But there are very few people that embrace lean with their full heart, head and emotion to create a true Lean culture, one that is not full of posers and posturing, but full of authentically when they have total participation from everyone in the organization. Patrick’s book uncovers the essence of what those organizations look Like, and what the posers look like caution, are you in the fake zone or the real zone.

 

Patrick Adams 

Thanks so much, Paul. If you’d like to get your copy of avoiding the continuous appearance trap, you can go to Amazon or you can go to avoid continuous appearance.com. Grab your copy there. Now, back to the show. I see the questions,

 

Xylem Team 

Hey, Dan. Hello, Patrick. Hello. My name is Lloyd and I’m from the Philippines. And it has been a pleasure to meet you today. Just before I ask my question, I just want to say that I really enjoy reading your book. I think this book really creates a visualization when you when you start reading it. I like the way I visualize how good looks like and also how bad looks like and I think that’s, that’s really important when it comes to understanding the culture for continuous improvement. One of my favorite chapter in the book is on the question three, I’ll say the question is on the question, we were, are you pursuing perfection? And I really liked the analogy when you talk about how to, to identify the true north. But one of the questions that probably I also received from from other colleagues is, although we don’t say how do we measure something as intangible or maybe I’m wrong, maybe it’s that intangible? Or probably there’s a tangible way in measuring an organizational culture? How, what’s your comment on that?

 

Patrick Adams 

Yeah. Yeah, that’s a good question. I, you know, so from a cultural standpoint, you know, you culture is really an output of the inputs, okay, so called the CIO culture, I see as an output. The inputs are leadership, behavior, leadership actions, well, not just leadership, but the whole organization, right. So any, any people in your organization, they’re there, their actions, their behaviors, where they’re spending their time, how they’re interacting with each other. Those are all the inputs that will develop what will later become your culture, or what has already become your culture. So everyone has a culture, each site, your site in the Philippines, and each site in the US, and wherever they are, they all have their own culture. And as a whole, you guys have a company culture that’s already been developed, because of the actions behaviors in the, you know, just the, where, you know, again, where leaders are spending their time, and primarily, I do say, all people, but leaders really help to establish what that will look like. And so that’s why, you know, many times in the in the Lean world, we’re we’re talking about how to develop leaders in the right way. You know, I say, I talked about this in the, in the book that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results, right. So as an organization, if our leaders are behaving the same way, but they’re, they’re continuing to ask, Why isn’t this working? Why isn’t, you know, we’ve deployed this new assessment into the plant, we’ve, we’ve, we have these new Lean tools that we’ve laid out, we’ve trained the team, but if the leaders are behaving the exact same way, and they and they’re asking why do we not have a different result? That’s insanity. It’s complete insanity. So you leaders have to change the way they behave. And going kind of full circle back to your question, how do you measure that? Right? That’s a really difficult thing to measure. But I think what you have to ask yourself is, what do you want the culture to look like? Because the culture can just happen, it can just become what it is by happenstance. Or you can be very intentional to create the culture that you want a learning culture, a culture that supports continuous improvement. And the way that you’re intentional about that is determining the right inputs, the right behaviors, and actions of leaders that go into that. So I would look at, you know, measuring I would I would look at those and you know, the the inputs before I would look at the outputs when it comes to culture. And I would start I would start looking at you know, are leaders following some level of Leader Standard Work? Have we established what are the right actions and behaviors that are necessary to create the culture that we want, you know, and then start measuring that and the more that you you ensure that your your leaders are spending time where they should be spending it at the gemba that they’re, you know, meeting with their teams regularly, that they’ve that the team members understand what their goals are and how their goals are aligned to the TrueNorth? You know, those are the things that are going to develop and create a culture in the end. So that’s a really hard question. There are definitely some cultural assessments that are out there. There are organizations that can come assess your culture and give you a score. You know, for your culture, but really at the end of the day, I think you have to ask yourselves, what do you want the culture to look like? And then start measuring and ensuring that you have the right inputs that are going to give you that culture that end output of that culture and the at the end, does that help answer Lloyd?

 

Xylem Team 

Yeah, thanks. Thanks, buddy. I like the analogy of creating the metric on the input level and having the cultural output. I like that.

 

Xylem Team 

Yeah.

 

Xylem Team 

Hey, Patrick. Lana’s. Hey, thanks for joining. I think we’re every single person that asked you a question is getting said they appreciate reading and enjoyed reading the book. Um, I am located in our sights, technically Mooresville, North Carolina. It’s right near Raleigh, North Carolina. And my question, Jacksonville

 

Patrick Adams 

for about four years when I was in the military, so I know Raleigh very well,

 

Xylem Team 

isn’t that figured you would know. So my question to you is, in your experience in industry, did you ever have the opportunity to see a company continuous appearance get to company continuous improvement? Or did you kind of see some trials and fails? You know, just I was interested to kind of hear your thoughts on that?

 

Patrick Adams 

Yeah, that’s, that’s a really good question. I can’t say that anybody’s ever asked me that before. So so this will be a first, I definitely have seen organizations that have embarked on their journey toward becoming a company that has a true culture of continuous improvement. The company that I talked about, in my book, it took years and years and years to develop the system that they have and to, to, to have that culture that they’ve developed and created. So for so for a lot of organizations that wants that the first step is, is seeing it is seeing it and believing that you are in a culture of continuous appearance. So that’s the first step. And once organizations have accepted that fact, they need to start, they need to embark on this journey of changing, right. And for many organizations, like your organization are, they’re so massive, it’s like, you know, a ship in the water, you know, that’s trying to turn and you can’t turn a ship on a dime, right? In the water, it’s, it takes a long process of turning that ship in the water to get all the way around to even turn, you know, 180 degrees or 90 degrees. So what I would say is, is yes, there have been organizations that have made that realization that they were living in a culture of continuous appearance. And then those same organizations have, have developed the the, and established enabled actions around what those expectations should be for what a call a company with a culture of continuous improvement should be. Right so they’ve they began to enable the actions. And then they’ve established sustainment, you know, within each step of the way. So, as they’re improving, as they’re developing towards this culture of, of continuous improvement. They’re, they’re putting stopgaps in place to to sustain that so that they can continue to move forward. So what I will say is, yes, there’s companies that are on the journey, have they arrived there yet? The companies that I’ve been worked with and involved with, I can’t say that they’ve arrived necessarily, but can you say that any company has ever arrived when it’s continuous improvement, right? We’re, I consider that a 100%. Complete success, if they’re moving in that direction. And they’re starting to to realize the benefits of that. So they’re realizing the metric benefits. They’re realizing the cultural benefits. And they’re, they’re, they’re continuing on that journey towards perfection. Right. So I guess I don’t know if that answers your question. But I think that yes, in every company has a has moved in that direction in its own way on its own path right.

 

Xylem Team 

Now, that was great. I appreciate the color behind that. Absolutely.

 

Xylem Team 

All right,

 

Xylem Team 

Kevin. Hey, Patrick. Kevin here from I work with Anna. So um, right out of the Raleigh, North Carolina area as well. Very nice. All right. Fantastic book. You know, we all loved it, for sure. In the session stand set up, were wonderful. I have a question. You know, I noticed the copyright. You know, the book was published in 2021. You know, given the fact that, you know, our workplace, not just silent but you know, companies were Why’d given the results of COVID? And where that’s taken us, you know, we know that the hybrid work model is really here to stay. That, you know, that is to say, we will have employees that are going to work remotely moving forward and some hybrid in the office side of the office. Do you have any advice on sort of the message of your book in keeping, you know, bearing that fact in mind, how to best deliver this culture of continuous improvement? And, you know, kind of keep the ball rolling? Yeah.

 

Patrick Adams 

Yes, thank you for the question, Kevin, this is this is that this has been a question that’s been asked quite a bit over the last year, as you can imagine, with so many organizations that have gone, you know, to, you know, virtual work environments. And what I think that the key is, if I don’t know if you’re familiar with Agile methodology, but you know, that there’s, for those of you that are that are hearing that word for the first time. You know, agile is a methodology that that came out of the IT world. But it was really the concept behind it was that we don’t want to wait all the way until the end to deliver this, you know, software package to the client, and then have them hate it and have all these revisions and have to go back after we’ve spent months and months developing this thing, we really want to bring the customer in, in, in short iterations throughout, so that they can give us feedback on how we’re doing throughout the process. And then at the end, when we deliver the package, that they they’re happy, and they love what they got, because they were involved in the process all the way along so that you know, then agile was then taken and applied has been applied alongside lean, because it complements lean really well, in that, you know, lean talks about these rapid PDCA cycles. And so we take agile and the idea, especially now with everything that’s happening with supply chain issues, and COVID, and all these different things, and we organizations have to be more flexible and more agile than they’ve ever been before, we can expect as an organization we can’t expect to make to set, you know, even a 12 month, you know, goals or 12 month objectives for our employees, and then expect nothing to change in the next 12 months. As leaders, we have to be willing to look at those goals and go, Oh, COVID just popped in, we need to make some adjustments here. And that’s okay. We don’t We can never say like, No, we set the goal, it’s a 12 month objective, you have to hit it or you don’t get a raise. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case anymore. Because things are changing so rapidly. We as leaders, we have to be willing to take that in stride and make adjustments accordingly. And so in the Lean world, we’ve taken these agile concepts, and we’ve, you know, aligned them with Lean. And we’ve we’ve started to, again, just this, this learning process, right of how do we respond in different situations? And how do we adapt the tools? And how are we flexible with the tools and techniques to make sure that they meet whatever situation or challenge that we’re working in? So that goes to say, you know, back to your question, I think that Lean is, is a is a timeless concept methodology, it’s never going to be outdated. It every single if you understand that the the main principles of Lean, and you you know, bring in, you know, these, if you’re willing to be flexible and agile with how you apply the tools and techniques, then there, they’ll never go out of style. They’re always going to be applicable for every organization at any time. And that’s what’s amazing about the methodology, you just have to be willing to adjust them. You know, so I’ve seen many organizations that have done a lot of really different things, I think about Menlo innovations in Ann Arbor, who is at a powerhouse lean organization. And, you know, when COVID happened, they got together because they were doing, they actually work in pairs. They’re a software development company, and they they work in pairs. So which is really crazy. So they do all of their coding in pairs. But they found that the cost justification and the benefits, you know, of having less defects in their code outweigh the cost of having pairs while you can’t work in pairs during COVID. So they quickly got together and they figured out Okay, let’s start utilizing Google meats. And they came up with all these different ways of how to, you know, every the whole company logs on virtually as together they do their daily stand ups together, which was a, you know, something that they did every single day when they were together. They do them together, but they do them virtually online. They came up with a new way of doing that. And in the company, they have a helmet that they pass and as they pass the helmet, they talk you know, whoever has the helmet is who’s talking Well, on the Google meats, they had a different way of passing, I think it was the hand raised or whatever. That’s how they passed it. So they were adjusting, you know, one of the, they wanted to keep the same culture. But they needed to adjust the the way that it was being delivered the you know, what was behind it. So they came up with some different creative ways to do that, right. And then they would, you know, go into their breakout rooms in their pairs, and they would stay on Google meets all day long together and work in pairs on coding. And so and so now they’re back together again, and they didn’t lose anything. They just had to do things a little bit differently, right. So I think for organizations, they have to understand the same thing. We’ve had the privilege of leading multiple virtual Kaizen events, where we’re where we’re actually the team has, you know, cell phones, tablets, we’re on FaceTime, we’re going out live to the gamba, where as a team, we’re, we’re looking at the gamba, on their tablets. You know, they’re taking pictures, they’re putting video up. I mean, all of that is still applicable. It’s just the the mode in which it’s delivered has to change, you know, based on the times and the situation. And that’s what true Lean is all about is being flexible and being able to learn as you go, you know, you can’t establish a roadmap for your organization, and think that things aren’t going to change down the road, you have to be willing to revisit it and look at the delivery method and what’s happening and our leader, is it still relevant for our leaders to be doing things this way? Or should they change and do it this way? So I think, you know, at the end of the day, my answer to your question is, you know, be willing to learn as you go and be flexible and agile with the tools and the techniques. And as long as you do that, as long as you understand the power behind it, the principles behind it, then the application of it is always going to be relevant.

 

Xylem Team 

Sounds good. Thank you so much. Yeah.

 

Patrick Adams 

Did I answer your question? Good. Evening, sure. To make sure I can hit on your question.

 

Xylem Team 

Before we get to Dave, I saw Alberto put something on the chat. Alberto, you want to come live and ask the question. He might be traveling.

 

Xylem Team 

Yeah, done? Yes. I know, it’s a big, very generic question to put to think here will be the one one of the best tools you can use in order to keep the culture going. In your organization.

 

Patrick Adams 

I would say one of the best tools for culture for continuous improvement culture is, is transparency and visibility of everything, get the make the problems visible, make the challenges visible, make everything that you do. If you can create a visual and make it visual for the team, then I think that it’s so much more impactful that way. Because everybody has their own perception of what’s being said, or what’s meant when something is presented. It’s not until you make it visual that everybody’s like, Oh, okay, now I get it, or, Oh, that’s not what I was thinking, you know, I was thinking this, you know, a Value Stream Map is is a perfect example of that, you know, you have so many different you have people in all these different processes that are thinking about things their own way, and it’s and, you know, approaching business, their own business in their own way. And they don’t understand I’ve had so many examples of when, you know, we walk a value stream, and you have someone downstream that says, you know, I didn’t even realize how the work that I was doing was impacting this person, or I didn’t realize that you, you know that that was something that would affect you down the road. But it wasn’t until we got it up and made it visual, that we actually were able to agree on what the process is or what or how different things were impacting different pieces. You know, hidden factories, become visible, you know, when you go I remember just a couple of weeks ago, we were in, in a brainstorming session with a team. And we were throwing up a process map of what the team thought was happening out on the production floor, and leadership, threw it up there. And the team was sitting in the back kind of quiet, and I could see them kind of shaking their heads and looking at each other. And so I called them out and I said, Hey, do you not agree with what’s up on the board here? And of course, you know, they were like, No, that’s not anything near what’s actually happening out on the production floor. And I was like, really? Let’s go look, let’s go see, you know, so we walked out to the production floor, and sure enough, they had, I would say two or three, what I call hidden factories of rework that were happening, you know, outside of the production line. They had, you know, two or three extra employees that were, you know, handling these hidden factories on the side of their normal production line. And one of them they had even called the hospital and they had it, you know, they established it as a working location for their team members and leadership had no idea because they weren’t spending time out where the work was being done. And they weren’t on a regular basis, having these conversations with the team. So by going out there and actually seeing it, and by visually putting it up on the wall, you know, that that’s where the team was able to then come together and go and have some good discussion around why is this happening? And how can we, how can we solve this problem, right? So I guess, if that’s the first thing that comes to my mind would be just to make things visual. When we make things visual, it just the impact of that can be just so, so massive on on an organization. So in anything that you’re doing, keep it visual, make it visual? That would be answer.

 

Xylem Team 

awesome. Yep. And Alberto is out of our Chihuahua, Mexico facility. So they do a lot of great things down there. Dave?

 

Xylem Team 

Patrick, I’m out of two plants, two factories in central Pennsylvania. And my question for you is around chapter four. Just to read a sentence of yours without standards, there can be no Kaizen must move on to chaos and stabilize before you can improve. My question around that is, we run the one plant seven days a week, 24 hours a day. And I spent a lot of time on the shop floor and continuous improvement projects. And one of the issues I have is I’m dealing with so many supervisors, so many different teams, that I’m seeing the same processes being done a lot of different ways. So I just wanted to see some of your thoughts about standardization or standards.

 

Patrick Adams 

yeah, that’s it. Yeah, this is, this is something that it almost needs to be chapter one. Because if you if you’re not, if there are, so many organizations are trying to embark on this improvement journey. And when they’re completely unstable, and when you’re when you don’t have stability in your in your processes. There’s no possible way that you’re going to make improvements you how do you ever know, you know, when you’re getting better if you know, third shift is learning it a different way than first shift. And, you know, this leader teaches at one way, and another leader teaches another way, and, and you talk about, you know, the issues that we’re having right now, with a great resignation, and people not coming back to work or not wanting to come to work. You know, how much greater is that? In an organization where, you know, I met with one person for 10 minutes, and they told me one thing I met with the next person, half hour later, they told me a different thing, this place is a mess, I’m not going to work here, I’m gonna go down the street for you know, 25 cents an hour or more. And that’s what’s happening. Right. So there’s, there’s, this is such an important issue right now. And so my, my response to you would be, standards have to be established, and in leaders have to support the standards that are there. So if you if you have standards in place, then are you auditing to the standard are leaders out there on a regular basis auditing, and not for not because it’s a punitive thing, I’m not looking for someone to do something wrong, so that I can write them up or not follow the standards, I can write them up, but as a coaching opportunity, and to ask the question, why, you know, this, the standard was established for you to do it this way. But I see that you’re doing it a different way. Can you explain to me why I’ve had someone telling me before, I’m not going to do it that way, because it hurts my shoulders. You’re telling me to reach up here and do this all day long? I’m not going to do it. It’s it’s It hurts my shoulders. Well, that makes sense, right? We need to change the standard, we need to give them the tools to not to cause them to not be their shoulders to hurt. So people are people aren’t coming to work to just to just fight the system. And I won’t I won’t follow the standards, because I don’t follow standards. No, that’s not what’s happening. There’s a reason why they’re not following the standards. Either. They were trained, different, you know, or they found a better way to do things or it’s not safe for them to be doing it that way or whatever, right? They name your issue. But as a leadership team, it’s our job to figure out why. And, again, not from a punitive perspective, but from a coaching perspective to understand why are we not following the standards. If we found a better way to do things, we need to train the rest of the team to do it that way. And we need to update our standards so that the rest of the team is doing it that way. If it’s hurting your shoulders, it’s probably hurting other people’s shoulders. So we need to change the standard to make sure that it’s not hurting your shoulders, right. If you are trained, different by different people than I need as a leader, it’s my job to go find out why you were trained different by different people? Is there you know, our training standards off base? Do we do not have training standards? Do we not have identified trainers that are training a certain way? So do we need to work on our training system? It’s never never we’re never blaming the people, right? We’re blaming the systems. If the systems are, are not set up for the team to be successful, then they’re not going to be successful, no matter how hard the people try. Has anybody seen the red bead experiment? everybody familiar with that? by Deming? If you haven’t, you can YouTube it red bead experiment, doesn’t matter how hard the people try it, the system is broken, you’re gonna get bad results, right? So you have to fix the system, whatever the problems are, that are behind it, why are we not following the standards? We need to fix that so that we enable our team members to be successful? That answer your question, Dave?

 

Xylem Team 

Absolutely. You gave me some ideas to try and think about Thank you very much. You bet.

 

Xylem Team  

Yeah, I think one of the things we’re looking at Patrick, there’s a software company out there that allows you to do video standard work. And it it automated, it’s pretty quick, we do a lot of standard work. But the problem with our standard work is, you know, it’ll be in place for a year or two, and the management will change, and then it gets lost, and then you’re trying to find it and it doesn’t get refreshed. And so I’m trying to experiment a little bit with videos, and then QR codes on the machine. So somebody could actually scan it and have a chapter. So if they’re looking on how to change a tire how to do something quick. So we’re in the very beginning stages of kind of exploring that with, with a company to see if that’s a way to help with some of the training and methodology on there.

 

Patrick Adams 

Yeah, and I’ve seen I’ve seen other organizations do that. And I think it works great. I’m having a visual, to be able to watch it on your phone. I mean, everybody’s carrying the phone around these days, you know, to be able to just do a quick scan, and watch the video. I mean, I think that’s a great, great way to to standardize it. You just have to make sure that when that your trainers are following that write that however they’re training, you know, that they’re training to whatever the video standards are telling them to do.

 

Xylem Team 

Yeah, it’s amazing nowadays with like, I was changing the garbage disposal than my sink. And we got to a point where I couldn’t get it figured out. And so I just Googled, you know, the garbage disposal model and pulled up the video, and somebody’s done a video on it. So it’s a lot of information out there. All right, Bartek. was getting some feedback. We’ve got time for probably one or two more questions. So if you want to have a question in there while we’re trying to get bartacks answered, yeah.

 

Xylem Team 

Hi, Patrick. Hi, everyone. Hello, and thank you. So, Patrick, I would like to thank you for your work. It was really a pleasure to read it. I have one question. The book is quite fresh. But probably you meet quite a lot of people who already read it, maybe 1000 of them. What would you like to change? If you had the chance to write it once again? Or what would you like to add? I mean, additional chapter after the meetings with the other other readers?

 

Patrick Adams 

Yeah, that’s a great question. Another question that I’ve never been asked before. That’s interesting. Let me think about that. You know, I think that probably a couple of things that come to mind, when I think about that. Simplicity is something that I think is being missed. In the Lean world. I think there’s a lot of, unfortunately, there’s a lot of consultants out there in both the Lean and Six Sigma world that have created a very high level of complexity around Lean and Six Sigma. And I think it doesn’t need to be as complex as it’s being presented. And so I think that, you know, from a simple simplicity standpoint, I think that there could be some more discussion around that, and bringing lean back to the principles back to the basics. And I think that that I really tried to present my book in that way to make it I’m a pretty simple guy. And I need things to be presented simple to me to really understand them to be able to apply them and that’s what I’ve tried to do with the book. But I think that maybe even expanding on that a little bit more in the book could be could be another topic. Another thing I would say is, you know, from a morale standpoint, I think developing you know, one of our values at my company is fun to be fun. Um, to have fun, you know, we are humans, and we spend as a team, you know, you guys are spending more time sometimes with your colleagues at work than you are with your own family. And so I think, you know, why would we not want to be real in, you know, in our work environments, and, and so I think bringing fun into the work environment and understanding how that can value an organization. So, you know, being very intentional about activities, engage in engaging conversations, you know, things that are that our take us take our minds off of work, and make it just more about being real as people. And I think that also ties back to, you know, the principle of respecting people, you know, and from a legal standpoint, you know, respecting where people are in their lives and making sure that we’re tapping into the reality of, of people’s hearts and minds and, and how to really make them enjoy their jobs. So I think that would be another one. I will say that I am looking, I’m thinking about this is something for you guys, I am thinking about my next book, you know, we are putting together the workbook, which is going to come out in September. But I have been thinking about the you know, we talk in this book, obviously, we talk about the appearance trap. From a it’s more of a cultural appearance trap, right? Well, I’m thinking about the appearance of leadership. You know, when I was I spent eight years in the Marine Corps in the United States Marine Corps, I’ve been I’ve worked in a lot of organizations with a lot of different leaders. And I see this appearance of leadership. And I’ve seen this true, a true leader to the corps that has the right type of leadership to lead a lean organization. And the two of them are very different, that you know, the leader that kind of appears to have the right skills and abilities and characteristics versus the leader that actually has them. And that’s another topic that I think could be another book potentially, so maybe something down the road that that will be coming out, you know, a couple of years from now. So

 

Xylem Team 

thank you. Thank you for mentioning that the lean should be also simple and fun. Yes.

 

 

It Bartek Where are you located?

 

Xylem Team 

So I’m located in sterling Poland. And we are together with a guest I have been learning at the site

 

Xylem Team 

Bartek can see him do a lot of great things in in Poland, they do a lot of posts, they they’re rocking out with the with the team there and they have a lot of fun. And so it’s it was timely when he said fun because when I think of fun, I think is stressful and and also Chihuahua has a lot of fun to be though. They’ve got a point Kaizen mascot is how much fun they have done is in Mexico facility. Hi, Steve, last question.

 

Xylem Team 

Well, thank you very much, Dan. Hey, Steve, St. Louis, Missouri, we do a lot of focus on transactional processes in our area of focus. And we’re, you know, we struggle with how long we can keep people on Zoom or teams, you know, and engage. And you mentioned, virtual kaizen. And you mentioned the other group, other other company that, you know, kept were on Ron for extended periods of time. So how have you seen that be done? And how long can we keep people engaged in zoom and some tips on that? Yeah, to help drive continuous improvement?

 

Patrick Adams 

Yeah. So what I would say is, there’s also a lot of really, really great software out there that’s been being that’s been developed and is being used, I would definitely go out and benchmark some of the different software that’s out there to help kind of break up the time that you’re spending on, you know, on the computer Amuro is a really good one that I think, you know, Storm board Miro, even Microsoft Teams has some good stuff plugged in, we use Trello for project management. So there’s a lot of really, really good tools that are out there that can help, you know, change the landscape of being on a, you know, on a virtual meeting for X period of time. For our for us, we do yellow belt, Green Belt Black Belt training, and we do we do some of that virtually, you know, we’ve broken that down to, you know, short periods of learning, where we’re taking breaks, or even leading, you know, exercises in the middle of class. I mean, different things like that to break it up. There’s, there is different types of elearning, right, interactive elearning versus you just listening to me talk. So there’s Interactive elearning where you can actually, you know, it’ll tell you, hey, you know, look at the picture and click on click on the area that needs to be five asked, you know, we have some of that in our Lean Solutions Academy where we have interactive learning, we have, you know, virtual live, we have virtual recorded learning. So we try to meet the learners, you know, wherever they’re at what you know, everybody has a different learning style. But I think frequent breaks, I think, utilizing different software and tools to engage people. You know, icebreakers, really fun icebreakers, I was working with one team where we did a costume contest at the beginning of a virtual training. Everybody showed up with different masks on, you know, just different things like that to break things up. But I will say probably the most important part of what we’ve have this new way of, you know, everybody being online now, I would say is for leaders to be checking in on your people. Because we’re still human, and it to be sitting at home on a computer all day long. That can be tough. And people need we weren’t humans are not made to be alone, we’re made for social interaction. And so for leaders to be checking in on your people, if you’re, if you’re in, you know, a close enough distance to be able to drive to their house or meet them for coffee, or, you know, in person that’s ideal. Otherwise, you know, a phone call or a text message, or, you know, shooting them a video or a voice message that you’re thinking about on the you know, that you’re you appreciate what they do, I just had someone on my podcast the other day, has his recordings going to come out here in a couple of weeks. But he said that he he actually did a handwritten note that he sent to the spouse of one of his workers, to just let her know how much he appreciated her and the efforts that she put in, because of him spending so much time online, or working weekends or things like that. So I think, just think about your people as leaders and make sure that you know that we’re still human. And we still need that, you know, that extra interaction or that extra touch, even though we’re not in the office anyway, probably even more now that we’re not physically in the office together. So hopefully that answers your question, Steve, very much, so

 

Xylem Team 

very much. So

 

Xylem Team 

thank you very much.

 

Xylem Team 

You bet. What? Well, Patrick, thank you so much for your time today. It’s been great. We love the book. You know, we’ll we’ll talk more off line because I want to get some thoughts on how do we, you know, I want to see on your workbook, if you’ve addressed transactional. So as we were reading it, we felt that there’s a lot of manufacturing references. In this, we, because we want to use this we’ve got a program called leading for continuous improvement. So maybe when your leadership book comes out might be more of a fifth and then this But although there’s some great content here that we want to share, so Lloyd and I have been having conversations on, you know, is this the right book for our leadership team, we’ve got about 500 folks that we want, we’re gonna take through this leading for CI program, and try to give them some references. But that transactional piece is kind of coming back because that’s what you know, a lot of people in transactional is like, oh, you know, even though you still you say, continues to prove it’s everywhere. There’s still that stigma of like, oh, we worked in factories. And so we were a little bit as we’re going through the book, thinking about that of how do we spend it a little bit. I mean, you can always change all these examples into transactions very easily. Yeah. But I didn’t know if in the workbook, you know, some of those type of things like transactional section, you know, like, here’s some questions ask yourself in the transactional for the workbook. Yeah. Maybe it’s a supplement on down the road. But anyways, it’s been great. We love it. We love it.

 

Patrick Adams 

You bet. I appreciate it. Dan, I appreciate the time and appreciate you guys diving into the book. And if there are any other questions that we didn’t hit on today, I mean, feel free to shoot me an email with any questions or anything or reach out to me on LinkedIn. I’d love to to interact with you there and we’ll definitely get those those questions answered. Thanks so much for tuning in to this episode of the lien 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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