Achieving Strategic Goals With Calvin Williams

Achieving Strategic Goals With Calvin Williams

by Patrick Adams | Aug 29, 2023

In this episode, Calvin Williams and I delve into the essence of FIT, exploring its foundational premise and its role in guiding organizations. As our conversation unfolds, we unravel the relationship between FIT and Agile Strategy Execution, dissecting how these concepts synergize to empower organizations with the adaptability and strategic prowess needed in today’s dynamic landscape.

What You’ll Learn:

  1. What is the premise of FIT?
  2. How does an organization become FIT?
  3. How does FIT work with Lean?
  4. What exactly is Agile Strategy Execution?
  5. What is the relationship between FIT and Agile Strategy Execution?

About the Guest:  Throughout his career, he has helped generate over $2.5B in cost savings and growth opportunities for some amazing organizations. This was done by applying sound principles of Industrial Engineering, Lean, Operations Leadership, and Respect for People. He works on the cutting edge of both Operational Excellence and technology and is also a SaaS founder who understands how to apply the latest developments in tech like AI, ML, IoT, VR/AR, Cloud, and many others to accelerate growth and Operational Excellence.


Click here for more information on Improver University

Click here to connect with Calvin Williams

Click here for “FIT: The Simple Science of Achieving Strategic Goals”

⁠Click here for The Lean Solutions Summit 


Patrick Adams  00:00

Hello, and welcome to the Lean solutions podcast. My guest today is Calvin Williams. And Calvin is actually a returning guest. He was with us back in season one, where we had an amazing discussion and we talked about getting back together and today’s the day. So let me tell you just a little bit about Kelvin, because we are going to dive into his book, which I’m excited about. So we didn’t get to talk about that last time. But throughout his career, he has helped to generate over $2.5 billion in cost savings and growth opportunities for some pretty amazing organizations. This was done by applying sound principles of Industrial Engineering, lean operations, leadership, and of course, respect for people. He works on the cutting edge of both operational excellence and technology. He’s the CEO and founder at improver, Inc, which we talked extensively about last time we were on, but he’s also the author of the book fit the simple science of achieving strategic goals. Welcome back to the show. Calvin.


Calvin Williams  01:29

Patrick, thank you so much for having me. And I really appreciate the warm introduction there.


Patrick Adams  01:34

Absolutely. So yeah, I’m excited to to dive into your your book, which did publish just this last December. Is that correct?


Calvin Williams  01:44

That is correct. Just in time for Christmas? Yes. All right.


Patrick Adams  01:48

And so you know, you’re a few months in here with the the publishing of the book, and it is out on Amazon, we’ll drop a link to it into the show notes. But how’s the process been? Since it’s published? How have things gone for the for the book for you? What is it man like?


Calvin Williams  02:07

Yeah, yes, it’s been good. The book has become almost a business card for me. Right? I meet people now. And they’re, their first impression of me is, hey, I read your book. And I like what you have to say. And now let’s talk business. Right. It’s a, it’s a great way to, to get the conversation started. Really. So yeah, yeah,


Patrick Adams  02:29

absolutely. So Tell, tell us the the premise of fit. What what, tell us give us a little bit of the background, just so the listeners know.


Calvin Williams  02:38

Yeah, so fit is both an acronym and an adjective. I’ll quickly walk through both of those on the acronym side fit stands for focus as in focus on what’s most important to improve. Ai stands for iterate meaning iterate towards your goal, as opposed to just take a big slug of tasks and try to implement them all at once, right? Just iterate take an iterative step in the ante stance to track your progress along the way. So with each implementation, with each iteration, you can measure the true impact of what you’re doing, instead of just saying, Hey, we got better, you can say, hey, we did this exact thing and an improved results by you know, eight and a half percent, for example, right. So that sort of gives you validation of, of the real, the real impact of each iteration. So pretty simple, really, on the agitative side, though, fit stands for becoming what you need to become in order to achieve your goal. So again, with the first F focus on what’s most important to improve, set a goal, hopefully, it’s a challenging goal, something meaningful, but then it’s a process of becoming what you need to become adjusting your behavior pattern, your mindset, making changes within yourself, and the processes that you control, to become to become that, that person of that business that’s capable of achieving what you set out to do.


Patrick Adams  03:59

Yeah, I love that. And obviously, the word fit. You know, you know, if you work out, I’m assuming that you do,


Calvin Williams  04:07

but not enough. Obviously,


Patrick Adams  04:11

think about it’s like staying fit, right? So our physical bodies and staying fit. I don’t necessarily think organization, but obviously that that makes sense. So was there a tie in when you came up with the title to like our physical bodies and staying fit? You know, and what did that look like when you were kind of putting together the title for this book?


Calvin Williams  04:34

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. That’s exactly what it’s for. Right? Because if you think about what fitness means for a mountain climber, and this is in the intro of the book to fitness for a mountain climber is very different for fitness for a NFL football player who’s trying to win a Super Bowl right? While a mountain climber might be thinking about like mental endurance and dealing with the conditions you know, hot, cold, whatever the case Maybe breathing techniques, things like that, that’s fitness, like you need to nail those things down to be a great mountain climber. But if you’re trying to play winning the Super Bowl, like the things you need to nail down are going to be different, right? Just obviously, speed, you know, sprint speed and, you know, mental endurance of, you know, standing a game through overtime. And, obviously, the physical the skills necessary to, to perform in your specific role on the field. You know, that’s, that’s the definition of fitness for that, you know, that job, right? So fitness is more relevant to the goal of the individual. And if you tie all the goals of individuals together, you should be able to add that all up to the goal of the organization. Right? So, yeah, success, successful companies are made up of successful people. And that’s the concept.


Patrick Adams  05:55

I love that. And I like that you use the examples of two totally different, like sports, you know, or activities, mountain climbing, and football, because it even makes me think about, you know, just organizations that are trying to apply specific tools to, you know, become a lean company, or whatever it might be. And sometimes, the tools work, and sometimes they don’t work, but the the some of those behaviors, that those underlying behaviors and those actions are going to work, maybe in both areas where maybe the tools need to be a little bit different. Would you agree with that? Or?


Calvin Williams  06:37

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Because, you know, if you think about the way a lot of companies have approached lean, it’s been very much tools and training and workshop, you know, project driven, which, you know, if you’re a company that’s trying to trying to become number one in the market space, right, you’re trying to become, you know, increase market share, and you want every household using your product, right, your, the way you approach lean, and the way you approach, the way you operate your business, the way you approach continuous improvement should be different from a company that’s trying to maximize margin person or individual sale, right? Or, you know, a company that’s trying to maximize flexibility, so they can serve new customers, different customers, right? Maybe it’s a different market. So depending on what your company strategy is, that should trickle down, or that should show a give instruction, to what tools or what methods or even how you prioritize projects, right? As to what you go after, and how you prioritize those iterations, like, what are we trying to achieve? Get clear on that first, and then you use the tools as a mechanism or a means to to achieve your, your vision or your goal?


Patrick Adams  07:50

Sure, sure. Yeah. And, you know, I, I used to work out a lot more than I do. Now. I still run quite a bit. So I try to run, you know, a few days a week, just to keep myself fit. Right.


Calvin Williams  08:04

Good. Good for you. Yeah,


Patrick Adams  08:06

I tried to just possible I mean, I need to get more consistent. But, um, you know, I think about the things that I need to do in order to stay healthy, right, I need to watch my diet, I need to stay consistent with exercise. I mean, there’s certain things that I need to do to keep to stay fit right and consistent. How what does it look like for an organization? Right? So how does an organization stay fit?


Calvin Williams  08:30

You know, if you look at an organization and what it is, if you can put a definition around what an organization is, its economics be described as the the collection of habits and behavior patterns that it displays, right. And I think Mike rather in his work with Toyota kata, I think lien and its original intent, before it became, you know, what it’s sort of turning into, which may or may may have strayed a little bit from the original intent. What they were trying to do is, you know, create a mechanism to shape and drive the right behavior patterns. And, you know, fit for an organization might be How frequently do we reconnect and conduct those iteration cycles. So we can drive that routine improvement because the behavior pattern that you’re trying to drive with fit is really the behavior pattern of routine iteration. So if it’s, you know, if you’re at the C level, and you’re a CEO, you want to, you want to iterate as frequently as possible, but you’re going to have some natural limitations, right? One is going to be how quickly you can get data back from your system after you make a change, right. And if you’re at the sea level, usually things move a little slower when it comes to data and feedback. So you might be iterating at a monthly or even quarterly cycle, right? If you’re in the middle of the organization, you can usually get feedback quicker. And you might be iterating. At a you know, let’s say monthly cycle, right. You get to frontline supervisor we talk in weekly as you get closer to the front line where you have more time more real time streaming data and information coming, being fed back to you, you can iterate more frequently, meaning, you know, daily, perhaps even hourly, right? If you want to get to that level. So fitness in this sense is one, knowing what you want to be when you grow up, right, knowing where you’re going, having clear clarity on your Northstar, you know, this is the mount mountain, we’re going to conquer next, right? Get clear on that. And then it’s making those iterative steps in that direction. And then at a company wide scale, you talking about engaging an entire organization to help you do that. So each and every person in the company should have a goal. And each and every person in the company should be iterating toward that goal on a consistent basis.


Patrick Adams  10:40

So what would your recommendation be as we think about the focus area of fit? And you mentioned, you know, every everyone in the organization should have a goal. How many goals is, is the right number for a team or a person? I mean, in order to really stay focused and apply that the next, you know, couple phases here? Yeah. What was your recommendation there?


Calvin Williams  11:08

That’s, that’s a fantastic question. I’m glad you asked. I would say that a person only needs one goal in order to in order to start going. That doesn’t mean abandon everything else. And, you know, disrespect everyone else who also have goals, right? But it means in order to start, take, start taking steps, you need one goal, right. And those goals are organized almost like Sprint’s, right. So what we encourage is, instead of having, you know, five goals per year per person, just set one goal and give them six weeks, right, because if you can achieve one goal every six weeks, you’ll end up with way more than five by the end of the year. So you’re actually better off by now, there’s another aspect of this, there’s several other aspects of this, and one is like go whip, like the whole concept of lean one piece flow, all the benefits you get from reducing inventory you get from reducing go with as well, right? The science behind this is a person is going from two goals down to one, a person is 243% more likely to achieve it by going from two of those down to one. Wow. So as you stack on more goals, the likelihood of achieving any of them is exponentially declining. The other piece of that is 92% of people never achieve goals. So there’s a for any goal that you have assigned in an organization, there’s only an 8% chance that it’s going to get achieved, and is largely dependent on who you assign it to. Some people are drivers and achievers and goal oriented. But there’s a good chance that 92% of your organization is not. So the real opportunity for a leader is to activate the 92. How do we get them achieving? Because obviously, we’re talking about speed, we’re talking about competitiveness, we’re talking about winning markets, we’re talking about winning customers. Speed is a is a huge piece of the puzzle. So and I know a lot of leaders that are frustrated that they want to see results, they want to see results faster. The the ticket to that is to activate the 92% and give them the conditions that will increase the likelihood that they will achieve their goals as well.


Patrick Adams  13:26

Right. Right. Well, and the fact that you mentioned that, which is obviously just staggering to even think about, but 8%, you know, if you already have, you’re getting 8% of your team to achieve their goals, and you’re working on the 92? How much more important is it knowing that that you have that the goals that they’re working on are aligned to your dreams that you have? Right? Because if it’s only 8%, and your team has doesn’t have clarity, and then you’re taking the shotgun approach, and they’re just working on stuff that may or may not bring them closer to your true north? That’s it has to be another piece of this, right? I mean, you have to be aligned.


Calvin Williams  14:05

That’s it. I guess the other way to look at it like this, you know, 8% is like 112, right? Let’s say you give a person 12 goals, that’s a lot. I’ve had a boss give me more than 12 goals once, right? But let’s say you give a person 12 goals. And by the end of the year, you look back and you say you know what? The 11 of those didn’t matter that much. But this one did. How do you know that the one that mattered is gonna be the one that got done. Right. Right. So the so as a leader, you know, the challenge with this whole approach is your ability to prioritize, and if the leader is down selecting and prioritizing to one goal at a time, it enables each person on their team to prioritize a lot better as well. So otherwise, you’re sort of leaving it up to them to pick where they want to play, and that may end up in being in a place that is is completely irrelevant. And that’s the best that happens way more than we like to think.


Patrick Adams  15:05

Yeah. So, so important. And really what we’re, what we’re kind of hitting on here a little bit is potion right are, when I’m just kind of my mind is is moving to lean and I’m thinking about obviously we’re talking strategy execution and but but Hoshin, making sure that every person in the organization knows how the work that they’re doing is connected and to the overall organizational vision, but also that you’re setting goals for your people and or they’re setting goals for themselves that are in alignment. So that makes sense to me. But you know, what about the the other pieces of fit? And how does that fit with Lean? Right? How do we? How does How do the two connect? Because obviously, you’re a continuous improvement guy. So I want to know, you know, what’s the connection with fit to lean specifically?


Calvin Williams  15:55

Yeah, so and you talk about this in your book, too, is that a lot of companies approach lean, and it ends up turning into a, hey, let’s get people certified, or let’s get people trained. And let’s get them on a project, they do a project, maybe not, maybe they just, you know, give the appearance of doing a project or being engaged. And then And then shortly afterwards, you sort of pull out the lien manager, or the consultant or the trainer, and everything sort of goes right back to normal. Right? We see that all too often. Yeah. And I think the piece that that that, that became, you know, that became, went away or dissolved out of the way companies approach Lean is the piece of continuous improvement aspect, where the true Kaizen Kaizen and culture is everybody improving something important every day. Yeah. And if you’re letting days go by where people just aren’t engaged on active on improving, then whatever great work you might have done with Lean, falls back to the status quo, right. So I think, I think that’s where fit comes in. And fitness is more about, you know, even even the connotation of the word Lean is like, you can get lean. And once you’re there, you’re done, right? Fit is always evolving, meaning, you know, you just your goals, always evolving. There’s never a point where you don’t want to want better or want a better life or want to maybe change directions or do something different. So with that change, let’s say customers change, customers interest change, the market is changing, your level of fitness is changing. So, you know, you got to kind of stay fit, to keep up with the market, right? And the way to stay fit in this context is to keep that iteration cycle, everybody improving something important every day. That’s the that’s the epitome of fitness.


Patrick Adams  17:45

Yeah. And how do you what would be Your suggestion to leaders to ensure that that’s happening? I mean, how do we, obviously we want to be focused, we talked about that. And then iterative pieces is obviously so important, but how do we, as leaders, make sure that that’s happening in for us personally and for our teams?


Calvin Williams  20:20

Yeah, the key to that is, obviously, you gotta have a degree of self discipline, right, especially as a leader, and most leaders do have some degree of, you know, a little more self discipline than the average person. Right? You hope so anyway. So, but be, sometimes it takes more than that. And this is, to me the role of a good coach, because a good coach will not only you know, help you see what your opportunities are, and help you close those gaps to some extent. But they will also show up when you don’t want to show up, and they’re going to hold you accountable to showing up. And yeah, ideally, yeah, a good coach brings that level of accountability and visibility and transparency that that people need to stay the course. Ideally, and this is, this is where I’m 100% alignment with your approach is your approach and Toyota kata and some of the other approaches is that, you know, a person’s immediate manager would be their ideal coach. And because the manager has not only a, a some skin in the game for your success, they also help drive alignment towards the company’s trying to achieve and can help, you know, can help can help mold goals into good relevant goals for the business and for the individual they can, you know, there’s a lot of things that a manager has some skin in the game to make sure goals, right. And if you think of, you know, I grew up in Chicago during the 90s. If you think of the Chicago Bulls during the 90s, yet, you have Michael Jordan, but you also had Phil Jackson, right. And Phil Jackson wasn’t just you know, mailing in place, and saying, Hey, run these 100 plays, and then call me once, once the game is over. He was actually on the court during the play by play. Yeah, observing and seeing what was going on with, you know, the team and the other team and the score. He’s in the mix of, of the action, and helping the team figure out, you know, what’s the next play? Right? And how do we win? What opportunities are there? So I think, in business, you know, leaders or managers should also have that, that level of engagement in the play by play. I like to scrum methodology also from agile, right? And Scrum is like, Hey, you run a play, you call a huddle. Football is similar, run a play called a huddle. Hey, what went well, what didn’t go, well? What are obstacles? What are we going to do next? That dot, and let’s go out and run the next play. But, you know, just like in basketball, the football coach is right there at the 50 yard line right there on the field as well, right, engaging the play by play so. So leaders got to stay engaged to the same extent when it comes to continuous improvement. And you know, the, the overall goal there is to create a more proactive culture. So you’re not just reacting and what they say, a pound of an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. So if you don’t have time to coach and be proactive, you’re going to end up having to make time to cure all the problems that occur because you would not proactive.


Patrick Adams  23:22

That’s so true. So true. And I’m guessing that there’s probably leaders that are listening in right now that are not currently acting as a coach or not in a coaching role. And obviously, you and I both agree with the importance, like you said, of immediate managers or immediate leaders being those coaches, but some, some people that are listening in maybe don’t have that experience, or they don’t know how to be a good coach, or what that should take. And so I’m just I guess, I’m thinking, I’m trying to put myself in their shoes and think, Okay, what does it take? Because I agree with you, they already have the trust, the relationship is already built with their immediate, direct reports. So it makes sense for them to be the coach, right? Right. If you bring in a third party or someone from the outside, obviously, they have to build that relationship. They have to build some level of respect or trust in that relationship. So obviously, that that that makes more sense. But for those that are listening in that say, You know what, I’m in that position right now, but I’m not acting as a coach. Any recommendations for someone that you would say, Well, you know, here are two things you can do or three things you can do to start becoming the coach that you should be


Calvin Williams  24:36

going. Yeah, absolutely. I’m a big fan of teaching someone to swim before you throw them in the pool. Water is wet, right? And you move your arms like this and your feet like this, and eventually you you’ll learn to swim, right? So, you know, I would say, get a coach. You’re in a leadership position and you may A First, take some training, there’s courses online. In fact, we offer a course on Toyota kata that’s, that’s a good one and agile strategy execution, that’s a good one, too. They can give you at least a base level framework of understanding and mindset, right? And then you can evaluate yourself to say, Hey, am I doing these things? Are there things I maybe could do differently that will, that will help get things moving? And give yourself an honest evaluation, right? And you’ll probably see a lot of opportunities, which is, which is great. And the next thing is, you know, try it. Right? Try it. And then and then understand what works and what doesn’t work. And then from there, you’re in a better position to go out and get a coach, right? Because yeah, I’m a kind of a believer of like, you need to do your research, you need to try a few things. And then you need to get help. Once Once you’ve seen that, yeah, this is beyond me. And I know some of the some of the conventional wisdom out there is, you know, start with the coach. But I think I think you don’t, I don’t know if you fully appreciate a coach until you’ve tried it, and maybe had your head had some struggles already. Right? Yeah. And


Patrick Adams  26:10

far too often, leaders are worried, too, that they might not have all the answers or that they, you know, might say something wrong, or whatever it might be. And, you know, I think to your point, I think just getting out there and doing it and be transparent with your team and let them know, like, Hey, I’m, I’m learning just like you guys are. But you know, there’s some, there’s some really great questions that are laid out, you know, with within Toyota kata even, which is a great framework, like you said, and even just start with simple things like, you know, what’s working, what’s not working? What’s happened about that, right? I mean, that’s a great way to start, start being a good coach, have all the answers, that’s what your team’s for. You just have to help initiate the conversation and start, you know, understanding what’s happening, start helping to remove some roadblocks. I mean, whatever it might be, that you can provide from a value perspective,


Calvin Williams  27:08

then the hardest part of it all is showing up every time on time. Yeah, it’s the time management component. So as a leader, if you can, even if you’re not doing it perfectly, if you can start to build the habit of showing up getting to that routine of iterating. Like that’s, you know, that’s where things fall apart, right? It’s not, it’s not the knowledge where things fall apart. Although that knowledge is great. I would say go get it. That’s good, that can help read books, take courses, do what you got to do get certified. Where things that the hard part is always in the doing. Right and doing it on a sustaining basis, because the moment you stopped doing it, the party’s over. Yeah. So you can always improve an existing party. But it’s, it’s, you know, you got to show up, right? Yeah. And that’s, that’s the routine you got to build. So I would say, Yeah, try it, try it on your own, see how far you get, and then continue to educate yourself and continue to improve. And I liked the way you said that I liked the way you put it is that, you know, be transparent about the fact that you’re learning. And part of being a good coach is being honest about hey, I don’t know all the answers. In fact, you and I were gonna learn together, you’re gonna teach me just as much as I’m teaching you probably more. But that’s that’s what we’re trying to do here. Right? It’s like what Katie Anderson says, learning to lead leading to learn, right? It’s, it’s a two way two way street.


Patrick Adams  28:32

Yeah. Well, and that, and that also supports the the culture that you’re trying to create, you know, around removing fear of, of, you know, problems and the red and you know, that there shouldn’t be fear around those things. Like, if we, if we don’t know about the problems, then we can’t solve them. So, you know, if people are scared about being transparent about the problems, or the areas that need to be improved, or the opportunities, then you’ll never, you’ll never improve, you’ll never get better. So, you know, just by you as a leader displaying that behavior, that’s helping to reinforce the culture that you’re trying to create within your organization.


Calvin Williams  29:12

That’s powerful. Absolutely. Almost embrace, embrace the red, right? Absolutely. Embrace it. That’s where your that’s where your opportunities at. Yeah, to do great, but


Patrick Adams  29:22

then get rid of it. Get rid of you got to do to turn it around. You mentioned agile a bit ago, what exactly some people are listening in may have not heard that term before or maybe they have limited experience in that what exactly is agile strategy execution?


Calvin Williams  29:43

Yeah, so agile was a methodology developed in the software to tech industry. And the purpose of it was to to get rid of all the wasted software being written, or at least cut down on it because the opposite of agile This was called waterfall. And in the Lean world waste is, is almost synonymous with waterfall in the Agile world. And waterfall is a methodology where you create these massive budgets and massive plans right up front, a whole bunch of tasks lists, assign the whole team, assign a timeline, create a Gantt chart, you sort of do all that upfront, for you turn the single stone, right, and then you go into execution phase where you implement the whole plan from start to finish. And then at the end of it, you, you turn it on, and then you know, after all the money and all the time is spent, you see if it worked or not, right? That’s, that’s kind of a waterfall methodology. What Agile does, it says, Don’t make such a huge investment, turn the single stone that will produce, turn the 20% that up, produce 80% of the benefit, right? Do one thing, get get get a minimum viable concept, right? Do one thing, see what impact it makes. All right, now let’s do the next thing or the next small group of things, see what impact it makes, you know, and so forth, and so on. So what Agile strategy execution is doing is saying instead of instead of the annual strategy planning process, where you come up with all the projects, and all the tasks and all the owners, and the metrics, and all that up, right, during a one week or two week planning process, and then spend the rest of the year you know, trying to implement that. And then after a year, you find out if the plan was good or bad, right, very expensive, very time consuming, and almost an enormously high I think, 90% failure rate. Instead of doing that, organize goals and sprints, basically, as a leader, you say, Hey, here’s what I want to be in three months, here’s where I want to be in a year. But but but here’s the next thing I’m going to focus on for the next three months, right? Get your team to commit, alright, each of us is going to create a goal, right, and that goal becomes that sprint for that person, right, and then they hopefully the goals or you want to set the goals to align both vertically and horizontally across the team. And then everybody Sprint’s and that simple cascade basically trickles down until you got every single person in the company, you should be able to see, not only is everybody plugged in, but everybody has a goal. And for anybody who has a goal, you should get to see exactly where they are against their goal in real time. Right. And if you can see that, you’ve got just imagine a company that’s that aligned that focus up against a company that is in complete disarray. You know, if it’s, if it’s a foot race is pretty obvious who to bet your money. All right? In this what investors do, right? They they’re picking which, which which ratio to battle, and I would bet on the one that’s focused on the line and accelerated versus the one that’s in chaos, right?


Patrick Adams  32:57

Well, the other benefit to that you get with an agile methodology is the customer is seeing the results iteratively as you go versus on the end, and then going, Yeah, this is wrong, this isn’t what I expected. That’s what you’re able to give feedback along the way. And, you know, then the team can obviously reset or take that learning as they go and make changes so that at the end of the timeframe, they’re delivering a product that the customer is happy.


Calvin Williams  33:29

That’s exactly right. I’m glad you mentioned that that’s a key piece of it is that that that it’s not just iterative changes, but it’s also iterative feedback, too. And the route I guess one of the rules of Agile is there’s no scope of work. And all there is, is a direction, and you just you just iterate in that direction. And if you’re going off track, you make the adjustment, get back on track and go and that might happen in a matter of weeks, as opposed to a yearly a yearly cycle, which, you know, it’s not it’s not nearly as effective.


Patrick Adams  34:00

Right? For sure. Right. So how does this fit then with fit? What’s the relationship then between agile strategy execution and fit where do those two come together?


Calvin Williams  34:11

So, if you think of agile if you think of fit as the the behavior pattern of routine iteration and improvement, right, focus, iterate and track agile strategy execution is the sort of Leader Standard Work of making sure everyone is fit and everyone is exercising, you know, following the Fit process. So that’s where you incorporate the you know the cascading goals driving alignment of goals and the routine coaching pattern and and those things right, because a person just you know, a person can just choose their own goal and exercise focus, iterate and track right as an individual who wants to be fit right. So who wants to go is to continuously improve. But when you when you when you want to do that at enterprise scale, now you got to have cascade and align on goals, you got to drive down those coaching patterns through through leadership and, you know, frontline levels to, to to maintain and accelerate fitness in a sense.


Patrick Adams  35:10

Yeah, that’s good. And I, I’m just thinking, thinking back to my weight loss journey or my staying, you know, my personal fit journey, when I am when I’m working out regularly and you know, I’m weighing myself, usually every day, which how important it is daily to weigh myself, but I’m also tracking like, you know, how much weight in my in my lifting? How far am I running? What am I? What are my times are those getting better? And then obviously, my weight and my my drop in weight, how many calories my team? So there’s a lot of quantifiable metrics that I’m tracking in order to physically fit. So for organization, the last piece of fit the track piece? Can you just walk us through a little bit of that, what that what that might look like for an organization? Again, you know, I know we talked a little bit about the focus, and then in the importance of being iterative, what are what are some thoughts around the track piece for an organization.


Calvin Williams  36:12

So I think most companies understand the importance of maintaining a dashboard. And if you’re a manager, you know, part of your main responsibility is to keep all the cups full, the way I like to describe it, so if any cup draw, you know, leak, if any of those cups leak out and get in the red, like we’ve mentioned, you want to take corrective action, right, that’s, that’s generally good management practice, right. And a lot of times companies have visual management boards and digital dashboards and different tools to manage that. And that’s important as well. What we’re talking about here is, let’s take for an individual person, there is an aspect of sustaining what’s good, yeah, and correcting correcting what is below below standard. And then there’s the, but this thing needs to get way better, right? This thing needs to be managed to a level that perhaps we’ve never seen before, right. So for each individual person, you have your goal, but then the person next to you also has a goal that they’re driving, and they have that you have this single point of accountability. And the next person, you know, you know, the people have goals, too. So. So again, the objective is not to just have one thing and abandoned all others, it’s to focus on the thing you’re going to improve next, and to what extent, right, because you, you feel like within your scope of responsibility, that’s the one that needs to be much better than it is today. And that’s gonna lead you to a much better frustration in life, ultimately, so. Right. So yeah, there’s the I guess, there’s two aspects of tracking, there’s tracking for generally good management practices. And then there’s tracking for alright, but this is the thing I’m on the hook to deliver to my business. Right. And, and we’re going to hit numbers over here that we’ve never seen before. And that’s, that’s where you apply the, you know, agile strategy execution and the fit process.


Patrick Adams  38:06

Yeah, I love that. It made me think about it, an organization that we were working with, and they have a large number of projects that they’re tracking on a regular basis, and they’re trying to figure out how do we get? How do we get the good value add conversations around these on a on a regular basis? So we’re talking about well, you know, do you really need to spend time hearing from the people that were when their projects are on track? You know, do you really need to hear any more than that, if they’re on track, maybe we should focus only on the projects that are off track, and spend more of our time there. So prioritize those in the meetings to talk about those first. So that you don’t spend time, you know, on the other ones, but then they then they came back and said, you know, what, what if we what if we changed the agenda for those projects that are on track, and had a separate time where instead of we’re sort of talking specifically about what happened with the project, since they’re on track? What if we talk about how to improve what what we’re doing with those projects, or what we’ve learned and we just have a conversation for those particular projects. And you man, that’s amazing, because, obviously, that’s the goal is, you know, we don’t, obviously, we want to get those projects that are behind track, we want to get those back on track, but even the ones that are on track, we should be looking at opportunities to continue to improve on those and what are we learning? What can we do better?


Calvin Williams  39:31

Right? It’s almost taking it to the next plateau, right where you use it knows as sort of creating project management best practices, right, that could be applied across everything. Right. So So yeah, to your point, right, even knows if they’re on track that maybe the maybe the goal is a little bit too easy, right? Maybe you need to stretch them a little further. Absolutely. Now, I worked at a I work at a company one I said I had a responsibility for multiple sites in our site in this was in Santiago, Chile, we will go into the site, and all of the metrics will be in green in there and even be a couple of them in gold status. And as much as I appreciate that, you know, they felt they were doing a great job. It made my skin crawl a little bit, because the question now is, like, if everybody thinks you’re doing so great, why would where’s the motivation to do better? You know, and you can’t possibly believe that you can’t do any better. So yeah, you know, it’s not always, you know, it’s not always to your advantage to to paint that kind of picture, but I’m sure they had their reasons. But, you know, that’s a, that was my impression, just as a visitor, you know,


Patrick Adams  40:51

but, yeah, we always say, you know, celebrate the green, but then reset and reset your goals and look for what’s next, you know, always keeping tension on the team, always keeping them excited about what’s next or, you know, just just a healthy discontentment with the status quo, you know, that you got to look for something different.


Calvin Williams  41:12

That’s right. And it can be a healthy discontentment. So you’re absolutely right,


Patrick Adams  41:17

for sure. Yeah. Well, Calvin, this has been great. Great conversation, love, love the the concept, the book, everything that you’re doing for the Lean community, with improver, and all the other work that you do. If anybody’s interested to get a copy of fit. I found it on Amazon. Is there anywhere else that people should be looking or is Amazon the right place to go?


Calvin Williams  41:41

Yeah, yeah, Amazon is working on the audio book coming out this summer as well for you out of your bookcase. But don’t let that stop you from getting a hardcover. I would say. But yeah, it’s there. We got we got a series of courses on our on our online community. It’s that improver, university teaches agile strategy execution. We got stuff for Toyota kata, we got some stuff in the pipeline for due to do like Lean and Six Sigma certifications also. So certifications of completion, and plus more. And yeah, that’s a that’s a great place to find it.


Patrick Adams  42:16

Great. Well, we’ll put put those that link into the show notes and make sure that everybody has access to your website there. And then, yeah, I appreciate you being on and I look forward to having you back. Another time. We’ll we’ll pick another topic and dive into something. Something else as always,


Calvin Williams  42:34

yeah, you’re always welcome. Just let me know. Also, I need to get I need to get you on our podcast. Document the journey. I think we you were on some time ago, maybe a year and a half ago. We need to get back on there. Yeah, let’s do that. 


Patrick Adams  42:46

For sure. For sure. Good. All right. Thanks, Gavin. 


Calvin Williams  42:50

All right. Thanks, Patrick.

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.