Applying 2-Second Lean

Applying 2-Second Lean

by Patrick Adams | Feb 13, 2024

What You’ll Learn:

In this episode, hosts Catherine McDonald and Patrick Adams discuss embracing the philosophy of 2-Second Lean, which empowers organizations to eliminate inefficiencies, fostering perpetual improvement for sustained growth and enhanced productivity.

About the Guest: 

Alex Ramirez is a highly experienced Vice President of Operations at Vallourec Tube Alloy, bringing over a decade of expertise in manufacturing and Lean principles. With a focus on eliminating waste and fostering continuous improvement, he has held key roles such as Industrial Director & Lean Deployment Manager. His leadership at Vallourec includes significant contributions to Lean Process Improvement and Transformation. With a passion for team growth and development, Alex is a dedicated leader with a proven track record of success.


⁠⁠Click here for “2 Second Lean” by Paul A. Akers⁠

⁠⁠Click here for Alex Ramirez’s LinkedIn⁠⁠

⁠⁠⁠Click Here For Catherine McDonald’s LinkedIn⁠⁠

⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Click Here For Patrick Adams LinkedIn⁠⁠


Patrick Adams  00:05

Hello, and welcome to this episode of the lean solutions podcast led by your hosts Catherine MacDonald and myself, Patrick Adams. How’s it going, Catherine?


Catherine McDonald  00:43

Great Patrick. Great, how are you?


Patrick Adams  00:45

I’m doing great enjoying the beautiful sunshine outside today. Let’s let’s dive into our topic I’m excited to have a conversation with with our guests today. Today we’re gonna be talking about two second lean. So embracing the philosophy of two second lean opens the door to a transformative approach in operational excellence. To second lean was introduced by Paul Akers. In his book two second lean the method the methodology has become a guiding light for organizations seeking efficiency and excellence in their processes. Applying to second lien is not just a strategy, it’s a mindset that empowers teams to identify and eliminate even the smallest inefficiencies fostering a culture of perpetual improvement. In this journey towards leaner operations organizations unlock the potential for sustained growth, and enhanced productivity making the application of two second lien a cornerstone for success in today’s dynamic business landscape. Catherine, you want to introduce our guests today?


Catherine McDonald  01:48

Yes, so I’m very excited. Today’s guest is Alex Ramirez. Alex is a highly experienced vice president in the oil and gas industry. And Alex brings over a decade of experience in manufacturing and Lean principles. With a focus on eliminating waste and fostering continuous improvement. He has held key roles in many different places, and in many different industries such as industrial director and lean Deployment Manager. His leadership includes significant contributions to Lean process improvement and transformation. And with a passion for Team growth and development. Alex is a dedicated leader with a proven track record of success. So welcome to the show, Alex.


Alex Ramirez  02:32

Thank you, Catherine. Thank you, Patrick. Absolutely,


Patrick Adams  02:35

we’re excited to have you on the show, Alex. And this is your first time on the lien solutions podcast. So I’ll just kind of maybe turn it to you to introduce a little bit about your background, and maybe your history how you got into the oil and gas industry, just you know, tell our listeners a little bit about yourself. Absolutely.



So I’ve been in the oil and gas business for 23 years with the same company. And I’ve learned a lot of things about Lean. So I thought it was more about the tools, if you know where I’m coming from, it was a lot to do, how to do value stream mapping, and the six sigma, the Puratos. And all of these things that are great, it’s a great start and a great way to understand, you know how to see some of the waste. But there was a very key point that turned my career in my life into a lien. And that was back in 2019. And the pandemic, we were doing what we call the continuous improvement teams. And for some reason, I just didn’t click that I wanted more results than I was obtaining by managing the operations of the company. And it was quite frustrating. And one of my visits to one of our plants in Louisiana. I asked her plan manager. Why is it that we don’t get these kind of results that you know, we are all thriving, and he was a very honest guy. That’s why I put him in that position. But I could trust him. And he frankly just told me right in my face, we’re just you know, doing a pony show. We are just making you happier. Because we want that when you come, you are pleased that what we’re doing is right, we’re playing the formula. And again, we knew a lot about the tools. But I did not know how to unleash the potential of people. I knew how to respect people. I knew how to motivate people, but how to unleash the potential of each individual and the company that was really not taught to me. So I come back and I said, you know, I’m so sorry. Let me think about this. I’ll get back to you. And I just thought about it through several weekends. And I had an engineer that came from Brazil. And I asked him what his role was It’s really about applying all the tools and lean into the company. And each plant normally has this kind of guru for Lean. And he said, Alex, there’s one thing that you might like, but if, if I show you that you’re not gonna even listen to me anymore, so I said, No, no, absolutely. Let’s look at take a look at it. And he presented me to to second lien. The videos from Paul Akers. Right. So my first impression was this Carpenter, it’s probably too, too easy. That’s too simple. We need something, you know, sustainable. I can’t, I probably cannot follow that. And I kept looking at his videos. And I read his book one time. And it kind of shook me and I read it a second time. And I thought, Well, wait a minute. This is kind of interesting. I read it a third time. And looking at his videos, there was one video that mentioned if you want the fast cap experience, which is his company over in Bellingham, Washington, send me a video. And maybe, you know, if you deserve it, and you’re serious, and you’re the leader of a company that wants to really learn about this will invite you over. Of course, it was the pandemic. So it was a little bit difficult, but I sent them the video I said one morning to my engineer, come let’s do a video and see if maybe we get big, who knows what, what is the odds? What do we have to lose? Right? You did the video. You know, Paul Akers, 15 minutes he answered back, he said, You’re the perfect candidate to come and look at what we’re doing, except that the pandemic is not going to let us come and make that visit. Sure. We’ve been in contact ever since. So what is it? I’ve years already born some change. So it’s been an intensive, a daily daily, I would say daily exchanges with him in his community that he has created, which is wonderful. And the rest is history.


Patrick Adams  07:03

Wow, what a great story I love. And I’m excited to hear a little bit more about what that’s looked like, since since you’ve connected with Paul. You know, so I actually had a conversation with Paul, and he brought your name up and said you need to talk to Alex, get him on your show and get him out to your summit because he needs to tell the story of transformation that’s happening within his organization. So I’m excited to to hear a little bit more about that. But I want to back up a little bit. And just for our listeners sake, how did you even get into lean? What was the current the company that you’re in currently in the oil and gas industry? Was that your first exposure to lean? Or, you know, where does your knowledge of the tools come from?



Absolutely. So the company I’ve been with, it’s already 23 years. So we encroach into the lien. And it was very, very positive. We’ve done a lot of great projects, and consultants have come in and taught a lot of tools and do workshops. So that’s been 15 years for that. A very good bush, a very good learning on that. But I always thought about it is tools. And it was interesting. But for me, it wasn’t really motivating. To be honest, it was a little boring. I knew it was important. But it’s it just ended up to be tools. So I left it at that I’m a very technical guy. I manage technical departments worldwide. You know, and I say this humbly. They’re they considered me one of their top experts on a certain process that is important to the company. And so I was very focused on the competitive advantage that a company is going to have is their products and their technology in the process. And it is very important. But boy, was I wrong. It’s not only that it is the people is the most important strategy to any competition. If you develop your people, and you get them to have thinking about Lean mindset, that is incredible. You know, it’s a machine that you cannot stop once everybody is motivated and powered, and just triggering those improvements and have them look at waste. It’s so much powerful that if I give him the best equipment, you can give the best equipment to people. But if they don’t have that mindset, it just degrades or they don’t perform as it should, because there’s not that, that culture. I come from a very technical to now see that the power of a company is the people not that I did not think the people were important. But now that I know how to unleash their potential and develop them and by the way, is the best way If you have a great atmosphere in a company, to s, as Rockefeller used to say is respect is to challenge a person to the peak of their abilities. And when you asked her that, it’s game over. It’s so Alex,


Catherine McDonald  10:18

just to come in there. I love everything you’re saying, you know, I started with you people first organizational behavior, sort of my background, and I did that before lean, and I fully get behind everything you’re saying about focusing on the people part. And I love to hear that, you know, as part of your journey, you realize that, and I think it would be interesting for our listeners to know, what sorts of behaviors Did you stop doing? And what did you maybe start doing differently to implement to second lien? Because you mentioned the tools, and we know we need tools, but we don’t need to focus on tools. So what what did you stop doing? What did you start doing them?



I think that there are several things I would say. But one that comes to my mind is I was out more in the shop floor and doing meetings, I starred in a lot of meetings and tried to solve the problem with my people through meetings and analysis, and graphs and data. So not that meetings are not important, but I really reduced it. So I would be in meetings all day long. So in a 10 hour day journey. Now, I was suspending, you know, maybe eight hours in the shop floor. And so that was completely turned around. And of course, through the pandemic was great, because a lot of the meetings or visits were not happening. So it was a great moment to really launch and see if this thing really worked, right. So that’s one of the things that I would say the behavior that I changed. And when you are in the shop and the gamba, you definitely see things that you don’t see in the office, right, you understand what’s going on. The second I would say is I understood what respecting people really meant. And I mean, one thing is being respectful, having a good education to treat people correctly. That is one thing, but respecting people in the sense of breaking that vicious circle that you don’t want to give the people on the shop, and they don’t want to give back. So this is where I understood that the famous restroom or lunch room conditions are so important is a a dojo or a training ground for everyone to understand where you want to go. So when we started improving our restroom, that was a behavior that broke old paradigms. But it was to change from having a not so nice restaurant just because we did not take care of it. We offered a nice restaurant, but through the years it went down, even though we had janitors cleaning it and so forth. So we got rid of the janitors. We started improving, we started unlocking all the consumables. And every time we would improve something in the restroom because there’s everyday there’s something to improve. If it’s not painting, if it’s improving the lockers, if it was putting music, if it was putting visual management, if it was having some more consumables, it was standardizing the chemicals, everything started getting nicer. And so that circle of trust that we give the operator, we give the team member, a dignified place to eat a dignified place to to have a restroom, then they say well, I’m I’m going to give back to the company. So So is as long as you start breaking that, that circle and opening the trust, you can do marvelous things. And if there’s trust, there’s respect. And if there’s respect, you can do anything because any improvement that has no respect, it will fall down. Right? So we did that that was a big behavior that we start doing is really focusing on having great conditions for our people. I would say exceptional, sometimes maybe provocatively exceptional, where where that’s the intention is to show them that we we truly care and that we want to make a change. And that I was part of the team, cleaning the restroom, and then not understand how our VP of Operations comes here and is cleaning the restaurant with us. And they understood that not everybody has the same responsibilities but we’re on the same page of where we’re going as a company. So those kinds of actions that I have taken, really started bringing everyone on the same porch reframe. Wow.


Patrick Adams  14:55

I love love that Alex I love what you just said in and especially the fact that you, you didn’t say that we, we decided that we were going to improve everything in the entire factory around the entire site at once you you know honed in in one area and use pick the the locker rooms and the restrooms, and then obviously, including yourself, and that is just unheard of right. But obviously has had an, you know, a massive impact on the culture. So that’s exciting. For those that are listening in that don’t know what to sack of Kleenex, I do want to hear more about your story. But I also want to make sure that for those that are listening that have never heard the term to second lien, or, you know, don’t know Paul Akers, can you just give maybe just a real quick snapshot of what is two second lien? What’s the what’s the thought process behind it? How does it work? Exactly? And why to second lien? How does that compare to like the Toyota Production System or lean as, as we know it in the US or in other places in the world? Can you just give a little bit of an overview.



So the two second lien is the name of the book from the author of Labor’s as you know, and what Paul Akers was able to do is figure out what Toyota was doing. And reduced it to a very simple terms, and different routines that he mentioned, says in the book, so we can all understand it. So anyone in the organization from the CEO, to someone, or collaborating, assembling parts on the shop floor can understand this book. And it’s all based on looking at waste. Developing your people to see the waste, respecting people and the whole team, and just doing improvements every day and sharing them. He invites you to just run experiments. It’s so simple as that. That’s it. That’s what in a nutshell, that book really taught us to do. No, I just remember right now, at the time, when we started one big, another big change we did. And I probably started with that was a lien, or not a lien, but it’s a learning club. We call it a learning club. So I remember Paul telling me just get a handful of people. So less than five, that you really trust in your organization where you want to do that change that are positive, that are the 2% givers, as we call in, do a little bit of chat, read the book together. And so we call that we didn’t want to call it a a book club. Because when you started saying a book club, people would roll their eyes like oh my god, here we go again. So we just said learning club, we brought some snacks, and we were just having fun. And it wasn’t Alex peach in which was very important. I understood, it had to be a, say a community of sharing. And that really helped us to put the ground of the culture, we want it just by reading books. We have dozens of books already in our, in our, in our, in our experience here with the learning club, that that really helped us to say, Okay, we read this book, this chapter, this podcast, whatever it was that we were sharing, and we would as a team, say, what do we what can we bring from the how do we apply that in our, in our team. And so that’s how you build a culture of continuous improvement just by by starting from the leadership, you know, because you need to have the same kind of vocabulary, the same mindset to be able to deploy because if you don’t have that, it’s just Alex trying to push some culture and it’s, it’s not going to work. So when you have that culture already embedded in a small team that you can start deploying, then it really made a big difference. That’s that was another big, let’s say, thing that we changed the way we approached Lee,


Catherine McDonald  19:13

literally on the same page of the book, but in in thinking. That’s brilliant. Can I ask another question that Alex so we get the sense of what two second lien is all about, you know, these small incremental changes, but every day all the time. And you mentioned earlier, it sounds simple, but when you dive into I suppose the the nuts and bolts of what has to be in place to make that happen. It’s not so simple, because there’s so much people have to understand about leadership and working with teams. And you know, treating people properly, as you said, building up respect and trust and all of those things. So I mean, is it something it was there’s something else that the group of leaders as a group of leaders did, did you have to engage in any sort of training together, aside from the book club and whatever, there’s not it’s not the book club, aside from the reading books and trying to get on the same page. Was there anything else? Not just you maybe but all the other leaders in the organization? How did you engage all of those still get on that page with you and think the same way? You do?



Very good question. So we definitely started in one company that I had influence on, because I was managing the operation. And that’s where you start. And I very quickly understood two things is that you cannot push this to anyone that this is a pool system, this means they need to come and look at what we’ve done. So we did basically a laboratory of excellence, where people would look at the company and say, this shop really is nice. And when they talk to the people, they understood that this is not normal, this was really unique. People were excited, people wanted to show their improvement. So when they visited the plant, they really wanted to have that as well in their plan. So it’s easy to deploy, when people see something that they like, right, I cannot PowerPoint, my way in to lean. I understood I needed to show an example. And and that is for even the internal team, when they saw that you are involved in you are engaged and you’re in the shop floor. If it’s important to you, as a leader, it’s important to the rest of the organization. That’s as simple as that. But if if they don’t see you, you’re not shoulder to shoulder, you know, doing some improvements and asking the right questions on the shop floor, then it’s not important, then why should they do it? I think that was the key, just an example, that can really drive the need of wanting that. And not everybody is, as a leader is is, is really wanting to do that, right? Especially in a bigger organization, the bigger it gets, there’s a lot of changes. And it’s really hard. Because if that person is not 100% convinced, don’t waste your time, it’s not going to happen. I have learned that. And the second thing is in bigger organizations, there’s a lot of movement of people. So so lean is a long term strategy. It’s not something that’s going to give you results right away, that when it starts giving, it really is amazing. But does need to be a continuous, let’s say culture passed on from one to the other. And sometimes we’re probably not good at that. And when they change, people will the culture kind of fades away.


Patrick Adams  22:57

Yeah, I have a question just based on everything that you’ve been talking about, specifically, in regards to your position in the company. So you are a VP. So you are an Executive leader top management at a fairly large global company. And so my question is, you know, specifically to the time that you’re able to commit to this, I know you kind of hit on this briefly. But, you know, normally executive leaders in companies, a very small percentage of their time, can be dedicated to something like this. And it sounds like you’ve committed quite a bit of your time. And you’ve shown that dedication through actual, you know, actual participation, not just proclamation but actually participating. For for those executive leaders out there that are listening in, I mean, how do you do that at a large company where you have all these other responsibilities and things? How do you take the time and commit it to something like this? You know, again, you’re you’re on the schedule for cleaning the bathroom and rotation. I mean, how do you how do you do that and keep up with all of the other responsibilities that you have at the company.



So today, I’m not any longer VP but I moved on to be a director of a new building a new plant for the group. But it doesn’t matter I can apply lean in the construction That’s amazing. You can do it anywhere. We’ve applied it in r&d, we’ve applied it in sales, and so forth. But to answer the question, which is a very good question, I needed to know that this thing worked. And I understood that I needed to be the head, guiding and pushing this, by example, right. So there was no other alternative than being here every morning at five o’clock in the morning when the first shift started. So I woke up at four. And normally, for an executive, you arrive at a 30 ish, you know, and so that’s something that you have to be willing to do, you need to sacrifice and know where the important time of your day is going to be. And for me was very clear, it wasn’t in meetings, it was on the shop floor. And through a whole year, I was there every morning at five, when we did our morning meeting, which is part of a routine that two Secondly, and also recommends to build the culture. And it’s all about developing the people. And so you have to be there engaged, in case there’s questions in case there’s, you need to see if they’re going at a different deviation. And you cannot see that in an office. And you cannot see that if you arrive at eight o’clock, or change the time of the meeting. But I had to compromise and say, Okay, I’m going to do this. But I can tell you, Patrick, that after three months, I started to see some some difference. And in six months, I was definitely having more time in my hands, to do other things. So I was chasing a rabbit trying to solve problems, but I wasn’t really solving the problem, I was just putting band aids. And when I have everyone on the same page, people that say I don’t have time for this, that’s why you don’t have time, because you don’t have the culture, the mechanism that is helping you get better and better. You’re just trying to solve the next claim that you have, or the same problem or, or the person that just left and it just, you’re chasing a rabbit back and forth. And you have to dedicate the time, if you really want to change, you need to be committed to be out there. And do that with a team that says there’s no other way, it


Catherine McDonald  27:29

reminds me of something I was told once, okay, as managers, we and leaders, we spend most of our time proactive working really, you know, we want to cut out the reactive working, but most of us, you know, are in jobs where it’s all reactive, reactive reactive, there’s a lot of that out there, the only way to stop that is to stop the reactive working and start the proactive working. And that’s how you stop the reactive working so that what you’re doing is that exactly, and you’re just really diving into the proactive piece and looking at the opportunities for improvement. And this is just do it approach. And I love it. It’s amazing. It’s brilliant. It’s so good.



That’s why many of the managers have a hard time, it’s, it’s really hard to understand that you need to stop to go faster, but you need to start to improve. And so that’s something that we have been embedded that you have to run through lunch, for example, right, which you might have to, and they might be valid, but you really need to show the people show the team, that if there’s a problem, fix it, don’t wait too, there’s another problem and then another problem, and that adds up and they never have time. They don’t have time because they leave the problems pending. It’s really hard for really management, sometimes to understand that. But when they get it, they run with it. That’s I think the biggest issue that I have confronted is giving the time and tools to the people to really go ahead and improve just let them let the leash go out and, and let them do what they need to do. They people know what they need to do. But they always do have been worked in a atmosphere of a little bit of fear, I would want to say, you know, if you try something you get slapped, or someone’s going to make fun of me, or, or it might not be a cool thing to do. So here we are developing people where they want to prove they come out of their shell. And they’re not afraid to say I tried it 10 times and this one is the one that works, you know and share it so so yeah, definitely. That is one of the hardest parts to do is to stop and fix. It’s there’s always the sense of there’s no time. We know. I’m


Catherine McDonald  29:50

just so curious, what about then, I don’t know traditional ways of of, you know, doing Lean throughout the years whereby we Stop, and we stopped for so long that we get nothing done, as you mentioned at the start the use of the tools and how it can actually slow you down. What about the whole approach to, let’s say, problems that go deeper that can’t be resolved right there? And then how do you manage that? So do you need another approach to complement to Secondly, in terms of the Plan, Do Study Act and all of that and your collaborative problem solving? Are you blending that with two? Secondly? Absolutely.



I mean, that’s why the tools are there, if they requires a special team with different members of different departments, maybe, okay, but But you see, the thing is, we’ve always improved through these teams with the tools. And we through very smart engineers, and people that know. And they’ll collaborate if people want to help and want to improve. But the thing is that if you go back to that same problem to that same location, six months after, you can see already is going downhill. Why? Because? Because it was just driven by tools, and you can fix stuff like that. But is it sustainable? Is it is it going to stay or even improve? And the best way to keep something from falling is improving every time. So if you have the culture, then you do any tool, and they’re going to even improve whatever you come up with. But if there’s no culture, then we were thinking that by doing all these activities, we’re going to do a culture. And it’s the opposite. First you do the culture, and then you do all these activities. But yeah, we have all the big manual, full of tools, we are using them. But now we are thinking, is it waste? Or do we really need that tool in this in this scenario? And we pick the right tool? Because the tools are great, but which one do you use? And you need to use it?


Patrick Adams  31:52

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And I’ll just kind of piggyback on that, that question. And those those comments, Alex. So with that said, Do you are you guys? Are you using like Leader Standard Work? Or how are you structuring the the activities and the tasks that are creating the culture like, you know, gimble walks and problem solving and coaching and certain types of training and things? I mean, do you have a, do you have a management way that’s kind of laid out as a framework, and then you have Leader Standard Work that’s helping to create the structure? Or what is that whole framework?



So we definitely have a university in the group, and we have development program for everyone in the organization. So we follow that not only we follow, but now we are part of involving the two Secondly, culture into this training. There’s all kinds of training, right? There’s safety, there’s quality, there’s two. Secondly, there’s so many things. So it is structure. But now we have time to let people go and do the training. Right? And, and guess what? Now, the people that go to this training, they’re open to share, and now they’re even re enriching their training, because they’re challenging some things. And they’re, they’re trained to challenge standards. And that standard or that training is not complying with what they think. And so it’s really creating a great dynamic to be able to move on some, some trainings were obsolete. But that’s what you want, you want to progress you want to improve. So there is a structure on that sense of, of training. We also have routines. So we have a routine of the morning meeting, we’d have a routine of going into our gamba walk. And I think that routine is super important is to get everyone out in the shop floor. And, and asking the right questions. You know, the Socratic method is something that I did not know much about. But when you take it into the practice, it is so powerful and so respectful for people. How would you feel if I asked you to do something? Instead of saying, Patrick, what do you think we should do here to be able to increase the safety of this location? But if I say, Patrick, please put your gloves and put the lock over there, then it becomes an order, right? But by having questions, you’re always trying to elevate the thinking of the team into thinking because most likely, I thought of one or two things, but they come up with even more. So they really know all the different possibilities. And boy was I wrong by thinking always as an expert that I had the solution to the problems. And when I asked the questions, you should see this the simplest solutions they come up with. And as engineers we would like to complicate and make everything expensive. So it’s So that definitely, that’s something that sequence, that routine to do gamba walks, we have, obviously the proven time to we give him 30 minutes to improve 30 minutes for the morning meeting, then there’s a structure of different meetings that go on throughout throughout the day and throughout the week. So first is the morning meeting, then there is another one, which is a handful of people that manage a company, right manage a plant, let’s say so so they can fix the problems that were not able to be fixed, or addressed through the day before. And then a more a management meeting, a higher level, if they cannot fix it, it gets elevated. So there’s a structure where you’re giving really the power to the shop, floor to fix. And if they cannot fix, they might need help at a different levels. And so that is going on constantly. And it’s is very, very nice to see how I remember the VP, I really did not get any problems very soon at my level, because they were fixing the problems. I mean, they had the power to take decisions, unless it was a higher thing like an investment needed, or bringing someone from the outside or from corporate, or other plants that can help us to fix the issue. For it, or things of this nature, I would get involved with it. They knew what they needed to do. So those kinds of structures are in place. And they are important, it’s not only to second lien, that’s going to take care of the whole thing. Another big important part was was maintenance, which which the culture from from two, secondly, and helped us because now we have people engaged in doing the preventive maintenance on each machine. So when we give them 30 minutes of improvement time, our operators are our members of our teams that had a equipment of the responsibility, were able to do 15 or 16 Different checklists on their equipment and are able to say there was a problem with my machine, they would open a ticket, and then our capabilities of our equipment and time available went up to the roof. So So having that culture of understanding that by doing these little tasks in their equipment are so important to be part of the whole team. But if there is no Porcher, then maintenance becomes one guy over there and that shop. Right the maintenance theme is like safety, right? We improve safety quite a bit. But we came from the mindset of there’s a there’s a safety expert safety specialists, right, there’s the manager of safety, and she’s the police. So we have to be careful. Instead now with that link poacher, we become well, that is wrong. And I’m going to go and fix it, I’m not going to wait, if I can’t fix it. I’m going to ask for help. And I have my morning meeting and I have dialogue with all the gimble walk managers that come along, I need help with this, I need help with that things weren’t getting done. So so. So it’s really rewarding to see that when you empower, and you give the time to fix all these issues go away from quality safety. And and just productivity comes by itself. For sure.


Catherine McDonald  38:35

Amazing. So, Alex, for people, managers who are in organizations at the moment, who are struggling a little bit with culture, let’s say, and there’s maybe conflict, and it’s unhealthy. And there’s resistance to change through nobody’s fault and everybody’s fault. And it’s just there. And it’s happening. And it’s very hard to you know, embed something like lean or make changes or improvements because of the culture. What would what advice would you give you know, to in the NEC, you made a very quick turnaround, which is so impressive. What advice would you say to those managers who are struggling at the moment, to for the next maybe one to two years? What should they focus on to really turn the culture around?



I think many times we’re waiting for others to change. We’re waiting for upper management to tell us that they’re going to bring the change. And it’s our responsibility to do what we can in our area of control. In it, it really makes an effect like a domino effect if you improve. We even started inside one of the plants. Time I had three or four different plants. And inside the plant where we started here, Houston, we started in a little corner. We then start the whole planet that would have been a chaos, it would have been a riot. And that little area soon started to add another person Another little team, by by the end of three months, we have the whole plant participating in a morning meeting and three essing event every morning. And so you have to start small, my recommendation is to start small, and do the best possible with that small team or that that person or by yourself and show what you can do by improving and by by developing yourself and work


Catherine McDonald  40:26

with the team. Don’t expect them to do with button start small with the team is



absolutely don’t wait for help to come from I don’t know where you can do the change. Don’t wait for others to take control of your life, you have to just just do it. And it doesn’t have to be perfect, but start doing it. And it makes a difference to the rest of the people they will. Again, it’s a pool system, not a push system.


Patrick Adams  40:52

Alex, what would you say? In the last, you know, three years of doing this? What would you say was your greatest challenge in, you know, whether it be cultural change or deploying the tools? Or I don’t know what, what would you say would be your greatest challenge or your top two or whatever it might be some of your challenges.



So in my area of control was really not a problem, because I’m convinced of it. And the team sees that it’s important to you, it’s when you try to deploy and help others enjoy the benefits of lean. That’s where it’s a big challenge in the big challenges. Because let’s be honest, it’s not for everyone. And the mindset needs to be there to be open enough to see something that is good. And make the question, why is it running good. And wanting to do that. But there’s a lot of egos many times that we do not want to see that. And we think that we know better or how to do it. I was the first one that I knew that I made a mistake 20 years, I did not know how to unleash the potential of of my team. And then I had to understand that what I was offering was not working, or not 100% Where we’re now the potential of people are reasonable, and they’re thriving, and they’re happy. So we I think that’s the biggest challenges is having people open to try it, just give it a try. Because when you start to see the results and and the empowerment of of the team thriving and doing great things. It’s It’s overwhelming in a positive way. And you know, Patrick, this is why I always tell everyone find the two percenters, those people that have come to me and say I want that Alex, I will teach him everything that I know. So they don’t make the mistakes I did. And, and those are the teams that have successfully implemented to second. And I understood also that those that just don’t want to don’t even try to push it because it will work. Let it let it be and wait for the right moment for the right person to come along. Because the two percenters need to be the leaders, you cannot have everyone being 2%. That’s not even possible, statistically, right. But you do need leaders that are part of the 2% that understand the value of it and how it works. And that’s just, we call it two presenters, because there’s only 2% of people that see it, really run with it. And so when you detect that talent that really wants it, give them everything you have to for them to run with it, and they’ll be successful. And then just hope that in another place sometime, with so many changes that go on maybe another 2% Or will come and it’s better than nothing, right? So, again, we cannot control everything. But when we do have control, we should help other people because it is very rewarding. And by the way, when you are teaching and giving to others, you learn so much more, and you grow so much more than then doing it for something in return. Right. So yeah.


Patrick Adams  44:28

So I want to bring this full circle around Alex, unless, Catherine, do you have you have any last questions before I ask my last question,


Catherine McDonald  44:38

you go ahead, Patrick, go ahead.


Patrick Adams  44:41

So in the beginning, when you were telling us a little bit about your intro, introduction, your background, you mentioned that you went to visit a facility and the manager of that facility, you know, opened up to you and told you that that they were putting on a shell for you, and you know that it wasn’t, wasn’t real, what you were seeing? How has that changed? Now, when if you were walking in that facility today, what would be the difference that you would experience? And what’s the difference in what’s happening with the people that are working in that facility.



So that definitely, it’s changed. Now that facility has changed management, I’m no longer managing it. The curious part is the people still want to do it. And, and I think management sees it and likes it. But you have to, you have to be there, you have to thrive it, you have to be part of it. So you need to be part of the 2%. But this is just to, to, is a great example, that it’s a lesson to me, because once I have put so many effort and time, you do transform people, now they want it, they don’t want it to go away. So they keep doing this. Secondly, however, at the level that they can. But the key, the big question is, where could it be, if the leaders that come behind, keep growing it to a different level, that’s what kind of hurts because I for sure know, it could be in a different, a different level, that would be amazing. But it’s still good. But it could be better. And that’s I think what we need to thrive is to always try to be better, we should not confirm this, because we’re a lot better than before, we should just keep it at that stage. Right. And I can see that, you know, when when you see a transformation, is when you see that the people that have adopted the methodology, take it home. That’s when I really when they started talking about their improvements at home, and where their wives their kitchen and their garage, and where their kids and how they go to school and this all these improvements, you understood that they have changed their mindset, they’re calibrated differently. And they’re enjoying life, and they’re enjoying their work, and they’re happy. So that’s how it is I think the people are enjoying themselves. And and, and I don’t think they will change lottery sponsor your question exactly how you expected?


Patrick Adams  47:30

Oh, that’s great. I know, I love it, I think that’s a that’s a great representation of knowing that it’s not only has lien then been taught and understood, but it’s been accepted. And actually people are internalizing it, they’re understanding the value in it, not just not just as a show at work, because that’s what my boss told me to do. But they’ve really internalized the fact that this is a these are real tools and techniques that can make life better life, life, work, whatever it may be, these are these this works in every aspect of our lives. And so I think that’s pretty amazing to hear. I love the story. I love the work that that you guys are doing. I’m excited to see and hear about your next transformation as you’ve shifted responsibilities here. But Alex, it’s been great to have you on I love it. You know everything that you’re doing and continuing to do. What I’m going to do is I’m going to drop a link to Paul Akers book two second lean into the show notes. And that way if anyone that’s listening wants to grab the book put together their own learning group and you know, they’ll be able to grab that book right in the in the show notes. Alex, if someone wanted to reach out to you with a question or anything like that, is LinkedIn the best place to connect with you or?



Yes, I’m on LinkedIn and I’ll pass you my my phone number if you want you can put it there and they can contact me WhatsApp is all I use all the time. Okay, drop me a whatsapp or boxer and they can reach me with no problem. Perfect.


Patrick Adams  49:05

Well again Alex has been great to have you on we really appreciate your your dedication to your your group and also to the lien community. So thank you again for being on the show.



Thank you for having me guys. Appreciate it’s been a blast. Thanks

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.