Creating an Improvement Culture Through Life Lessons With Lee Houghton

Creating an Improvement Culture Through Life Lessons With Lee Houghton

by Patrick Adams | Oct 31, 2023

In this episode Lee Houghton and I dive into building a better workplace as well as measuring success in culture improvement.

What You’ll Learn:

1) What’s the most important thing about creating an improvement culture?

2) What are the 2 most important measures companies should measure but don’t?

3) How can the lessons of comedy help you overcome resistance to change?

4) At Get Knowledge you talk about a BEST model, what does that stand for?

5) How did losing your friend in 2018 reshape how you help people and what are the 3 lessons he shared?

About the Guest: Lee is a business improvement coach who prides himself on helping people and teams make today better than yesterday, a lot of people can say these things about themselves though. So what makes Lee different is his random journey to get to where he has with, one pivotal moment in losing his best mate ‘Chris’ after his brave cancer battle that changed Lee’s life forever.Lee’s random journey has included writing 5 children books, owning a bouncy castle business AND DJ, including 18 months Dj’ing dressed as a monkey…. all these things have shaped his career from data input administrator to co-founding Get Knowledge in 2018. BUT, as a shiny object syndrome sufferer, it was losing Chris that has sharpened his focus and desire to help people confidently deliver change.


⁠⁠Click here to connect with Lee Houghton


Patrick Adams  00:00

Hello, and welcome to the Lean solutions podcast. My guest today is Lee Houghton. Lee is a business improvement coach who prides himself on helping people and teams make today better than yesterday. And a lot of people can say this about themselves. But what makes Lee a little bit different is his random journey to get where he is today, which included one pivotal moment where he lost his best mate Chris, after his brave cancer battle that changed Lee’s life forever. Well, before we talk about that, Lee, welcome to the show.


Lee Houghton  01:01

Hey, Patrick, thank you so much for the invite today, I’m really looking forward to this conversation with you.


Patrick Adams  01:06

I’m looking forward to it as well. So Lee, before we kind of dive into your background a little bit, tell it tell our audience where you’re where you’re calling in from.



Yeah, so it might be a little bit difficult because I believe I don’t have an accent. So I am actually in the northwest of England currently. So a slightly different timezone to yourself we are England is where my accent is from in between Manchester. And Liverpool is where I call home.


Patrick Adams  01:32

All right, love it. And for those that don’t know, Lee also has a podcast that’s out there, and does a lot of work on social media as well. So I always love reading your posts and just the conversation discussions that we have. So it’s great to get together here and talk as continuous improvement practitioners and professionals about the topic of creating an improvement culture. But Chris, geez, I’ll cut that out. But, Lee, can you tell me a little bit about your, your backgrounds specific to your best mate Chris?



Yeah, of course I can. So I guess if I just go back to growing up, really. So I’ve you’ve got a friend Patrick, that, that you might not have spent like a week with or a month where but when you get back together, it’s like you’ve never been apart? Have you got any? Yeah, perfect. Perfect. So I’ve got so Chris was our is my friend like that. We grew up on the same street together. We went to different schools to get we went to different schools, but there would be times in our life, I met him when I was one year old, I don’t remember it very well. And, but there were times in our life when we would drift apart and then come back together, drift apart and come back together. And it would it would be like that those those gaps never never existed. We just pick up where we left off. And like you said during the introduction, the the pivotal moment in my life was was was Chris’s pattern on the fifth of July 20 2018. He had three bouts of cancer. And the third one was the one that got him and but the reason why this was so pivotal for me is, is yes, because losing the best friend. But just the amount of reflection that it’s caused me to do. I’ve been in the world of improvement for 18 years now either as an internal or an external change consultant and coach. And it was only really, since losing Chris and Chris sharing with me his reflections on his life. That really changed what I do and how I do it. Do you mind if I overshare just just briefly is that okay? Oh, please


Patrick Adams  03:48

do please do. You got you got me pulled in here.



So when, when I was the first person to see Chris, when the consultant told him that there was nothing else that medical science could do for him, I walked into the into the hospital room as the consultant left. And, and we were talking about and he asked me a question, just just think I’ll know when the time is, is and when I’m going to go and stuff like that. So we had that was a level of conversation that we had. And then it kind of dawned on him that that he was going to die in it his comfort level with death. He became more and more comfortable with it as time went on. But in that moment, he said to me, what what do you want from me, Lee? He said, I’m going to extract the pension from my employer. And I’ll have a little bit of money. You’ve always wanted to be you’re always wanting to own business that let me let me play my part in in setting you up and business and give you a few 1000 pounds to do it. And I was like no, Chris, I don’t want any of your money. Because that’s your boys trust what I what I would love is three lessons through your eyes because I don’t know why I asked for it in that moment. But I recognize that it’s better perspective on life had completely changed. He came around to my house one day. Before I’d asked him the question, and at the bottom of my road, there’s a there’s a junction, and a car caught him up at the junction. And he drove up to my house. And he said, You never guess what happened. I said, what I said that a car’s caught me up and said, and what did you do expect expecting an extravagant story of him following the car to their house or something and, and a bit of road rage, but he said, I did nothing because it didn’t really matter. And that that stuck in my head, because that wasn’t like risk. So Chris would be in high emotion. And he would react in the moment. And he would have he would have historically chest cars, but his perspective on life have changed. And that really resonated with me. So when he was told, and he offered me the money, I was like, No, I don’t want that. I would love you to think about three lessons when you reflect on your life about what’s really important to share, because he’s still got two boys, and a close family that I wanted to share these lessons with. And he was like, blooming. Actually, I wish you’d just asked for the money. That’s far easier for me to give you. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. But I’m so so so grateful for him to that he thought about these things. And he has his own story and reasons for why these things mattered. And I’ll really just quickly tell you what these three lessons are, but then how they have changed me as a person. So I went back to see him in the hospital. And he said, I’ve got the first lesson for you. He said, When him and his ex partner was splitting up, he tried to be somebody that he thought she wanted him to be. He said, It didn’t make him happy, didn’t make her happy. And they still ended up splitting up. So he said, no matter what, just always be yourself. So that was the first lesson. Always be yourself a couple of weeks back, but a great lesson. Absolutely. Absolutely. And there’s so many depths to it as well, which is, which is what I’ve really, really got to grips with over the last few years. And I’ll go into that and what that means in change and leadership. Charlaine, a couple of weeks after that passed, and I went to see him at his house. And he said, Lee, I’ve got the second lesson for you said, he says when you’re not working, you come and see me and he said, and one of our other friends rings him at 12 o’clock every single day when he’s on his lunch hour at work. And he says, second lesson is just make good friends because you never know when you’re going to need them or when they’re going to need you. So that was that was the second lesson. And then, literally, three or four weeks before he passed, we went to watch the Foo Fighters in a concert. We he was in a hospital at the time. We got permission from the hospice to to I always tell people that we brought him out of the hospital. It’s a far grander than they actually was but they knew. So we brought him out of the hospice. We took him to the Manchester City stadium and eight of us watch the Foo Fighters in concert. Chris he’s ex partner and two boys in one area and four of us in another area and on the way back from that Chris asked. Is it too late for him to go to Anfield? Oh, sorry not his youngest boy asked Is it too late for him to if his dad to take him to Anfield because we all support Liverpool Football Club. So we arranged a private tour on the Sunday. And an on the Sunday it was me and my boy and Chris and his two boys we went to Anfield for the most amazing day. We had a private tour of the stadium of the changing rooms, we are discounting the shop, we all bought football kits. We had ice cream outside. And on the way back, Chris was sat next to me in the car. And I saw my boy and Chris’s two boys were sat behind us. And he looked over at me and he said how many times could we have done this? I said loads of time you said well, why did we wait to the time that I have to push you around in a wheelchair? Why did we wait to the time when I couldn’t stand up and sit in and stand in this or sit in the same seats that you did the old stadium seats. He said act no because time is limited. And then fast forward from that moment to the fifth of July 2018. I was called home because he taken a turn for the worst I agree to do the spend the night with him on the Fourth of July. Like dabbing his lips through the night and stuff and attend to eight in the morning. It was my time for to go to like freshen up because my breakfast was due at 10 Eight o’clock, and I’m leaving the bathroom. I looked over at Chris and his chest expanded. And that was it chosen that moment to take his final breath in front of me. I went made a few phone calls, I went and sat outside and sat down on a bench. And it was those three lessons that were just ringing ringing through my ears going Erath broadly, you tell your kids every single morning that can be whatever they want to be and you’re not being what you want to be. And that’s when I decided to to set up a business when I decided to do the podcast. And when I’ve really decided to double down on Chris’s three lessons. Chris had three valuable reasons why those three things were really important to him. And and I wanted to understand them what I’ve spent over the last five years. Notice five years since he’s passed. I’ve tried to understand what they mean to me what that could mean to business leaders what that can mean to to change professionals as well. And I believe that Chris has actually helped me see what’s really important about change. Because



when we think about the three lessons, and we overlay, like a change or a leadership perspective, then always be yourself. How many leaders wear different masks at work than they do at home? How many people sit in meetings, and I’ve got an idea to share, and don’t want to speak up because of the mic. The trust isn’t high enough and in fear that people might laugh at them, or things like that. So I think there’s such an importance about creating safe environments where people can be themselves and are encouraged to be themselves. And then Chris, the second lesson, making good friends, you can only be yourself if you actually take time to get to know people properly on a human level. And, and Chris, Chris used it in the context of friendships. But I think every single opportunity, we get to meet somebody, whether that’s somebody at a checkout in a supermarket, somebody walking down the street, we’ve always got an opportunity to make a better relationship, a stronger connection, a better friend. And I think leaders and their teams, I don’t think we need to have like best friends. But I think we’ve got to know what makes people tick. We’ve got to know what people like what people dislike, how people like to be rewarded. Some people like to stand on stage and receive a certificate and some people just like a quiet, thank you. So I think you can only do that if you’ve got an actual relationship with people. So always make good friends. And then the third one, I think, is probably what I see. A lot of businesses lacking the most actually is actually no, because time is limited. we procrastinate a lot. We don’t take action, we go to meetings, and that the main action that comes out of a meeting is to agree another meeting. And what could we do today, to move forward a tiny little bit to make tomorrow or today better than better than yesterday? Because act no, because time is limited. So Chris had the reasons for his reflections over 39 years of his life. And, and what I’ve tried to do really is understand what they mean to me in the last 18 years of improvement, and do an improvement and leadership coaching, and how I can use those to keep Chris’s message alive. We like to keep living with my best mates here. Because I think selfishly that’s the reason why I prefer to I like to tell the stories, because I don’t want to grieve for him again, gentlemen, he’s helping me and I’m keeping his message alive. But I think there’s such such strength in what he’s saying. And I told the story. And I told the story for days, it’s on the first of July of last year, I stood up at a networking event. And I told the story again to a group of business owners the and this was four days before his fourth anniversary, and a guy called Frank who I’ve never met before in my life came up to me, and he’d written always be yourself, make good friends. And time is limited on on a notebook in front of him and said, he said I don’t know whether there’s anything in this but I’ve circled the first the first word of each of those things, any read something he says always make time. And, and I don’t know whether I’m joining dots and connecting stuff. But four days before Christmas, fourth anniversary, I believe the fourth lesson Frank shared with me and I think we’ve got to as leaders, as change professionals always make time to be ourselves always make time to make friends and always make time to work on the important stuff because time is limited. And, and, and that really is is a summary of the last five years of my license losing my friend, but the impact that that Chris in reflecting on his 39 years as add on me and my life.


Patrick Adams  13:58

Wow. That’s what what an amazing, powerful legacy that Chris has left. And you know, I mean, the ripples of, you know, his life, you know, are not just making an impact on your life that lead but they’re, you know, now those ripples are carrying on and having an impact on so many leaders, you know, when he when he offered you that financial support, I mean, you know, maybe that would have helped your business for you know, to get things off the ground, maybe maybe maybe not, who knows what that would have done but what what he gave you was like this, this, you know, never ending support of your organization now by you know, that that ripple that legacy that he left that you can now use for leaders what I mean, how amazing is that?



Oh, unbelievable. Yes, I mean, I get knowledge I do. I’ve got a business partner called Jason but I genuinely believe that Chris is my silent businessman. Honor, just because of the support and in the forecast that his words have, have provided me. Yeah, that there’s no money could have provided the provided the impact that he has on my life.


Patrick Adams  15:16

Powerful, powerful. Well, hopefully, throughout the rest of our discussion today, we can kind of weave that in, you know, which I think probably will happen, you know, no matter what, anyways, as we start to talk about creating an improvement culture, I think you’ve already laid the foundation of that. But let’s, let’s kind of dive into that. Now. You know, again, not necessarily transitioning off of Chris, but keeping him with us through this conversation. When it comes to creating an improvement culture. I mean, what are the important things, you know, that maybe, again, tie into those three lessons, but, you know, what would you say? What are the important things? And maybe even what’s the most important thing, if you could pick one, one thing?



Yeah, okay, no, perfect. No, thank you. Thank you so much for coming. I, I think the most important thing is belief. That word, it’s, it’s not very many letters, and it means different things to different people. But I think we have to start from a place of belief, if people believe that that change can happen. If people believe that they want change to happen. There’s that say, and isn’t it that people fear, people don’t fear change their fear of being changed. And, and I think you can only people can only be changed or change their habits and be areas if they believe in them. And if they don’t, then you’re going to come up against resistance. And I don’t think enough, enough is done on building belief in people both that they can change themselves. But also, the business, the leaders are committed to those changes, as well, as human beings, we are amazing, amazing people. And, and we’ve got such a capacity taught to, to change. But not everybody sees that. Or not everybody believes we can change. I’m a big, a big advocate that that nobody goes to work to do a bad job. We just don’t, yeah, we don’t, we just don’t necessarily help them do a good job. And I think the reason why we don’t help them do a good job is because they don’t believe and we don’t believe we that we might not believe that they can do a good job. But we don’t create the space and the environment for them to do a good job. And so I think I would absolutely start with belief. And if you can build the belief in people, then then anything is possible, anything is possible. And a lot of change starts with the leaders agreeing that actually we need to move this metric or move this dial by, by this percentage. And the people who do the work might not believe that that’s possible. So why don’t you ask them? What is possible first, and then move it just a little bit and then go that was possible then, and build the belief of a time rather than starting from a place where not people that because people’s guards are up straightaway? So really long? And a number of words to answer your question, but belief, I believe, is the most important thing in driving an improvement culture. So


Patrick Adams  18:37

thank you for that. Very good explanation. And what would you say to maybe a leader who’s listening in who, you know, maybe they did come to there, maybe they came to the the organization that they’re at right now. And maybe they had, you know, just a great outlook, they were excited, they were energized, they believe they could do it. And you know, maybe over time that that organization for whatever reason, beat them down to the point where now they’re, they’re frustrated, they’re upset, they maybe they don’t believe it anymore. Or that would be one scenario, or, you know, leaders coming into an organization maybe they’re they’re brand new there, or maybe they’ve been there for a while, but they just don’t believe it. And and what would you say are the steps like what could they do to get there, you know, without leaving the organization and going somewhere else? How do they generate that level of belief in for themselves personally, because I think they have to have that first before they can try to get others to to believe right? They need to be, you know, number one with themselves. So where would you say they should start?



I would, I would probably say something along the lines of if I was to hold your hand Patrick, and then we were to walk into this location in 12 months time. What would we see different? What we would be here different and Why would we feel different and, and by asking that the see the here in the field, we’re talking about the environment, we’re talking about the emotion. And we’re talking about the words that are being used. And I would want to so I call it I call it forward framing, because I think if you can put people in a place where they can visualize how it could look different, the code, the conversations would sound different, and how it would feel different internally. That’s the starting point. And I’ve done some workshops where I’ve actually printed a certificate off, which has been forward dated 12 months, and and awarded them like an operational excellence certificate well done, you’ve achieved operational excellence, it’s now August 2024, and got the leader to stand up and accept the certificate. And then we’ve got them we’ve got loads of flip charts around the walls and stuff and just done the exact same thing gone. Okay, what would we see? Or what do we see? What do we hear? And how do we feel? And then go rock, I just want us to recognize the great efforts that we’ve put in over the last 12 months, what are the key activities that we’ve delivered over the last 12 months. And then the goal here we have this, we communicated every single week, we introduced a new meeting struct to add meeting struct, all whatever, whatever the actions were, that they did, because you’re getting people then to, to believe that it is possible. And I would make it a manageable timeframe as well. Because if you go, we’re now in the year 2040. What do you see here if it’s too far away into the future. But if you just do it in 12 months time, it’s a manageable and they know a lot of the programs and projects that they might have coming up and how technology is going to change and influence and the roadmap that they’re doing. So that’s what I would do, I would start by getting them to paint a picture of the future. And then they’re defining how big of a stride they’re think they can take in those 12 months. And you might be able to achieve more, more than that. But yeah, that’s that’s what I would do first and foremost, just try to take them to a place where they’re seeing it, where they can hear it, and where they can feel it and then work back from that. And then that’s that’s the plan of activity. That’s the words. And then there are the starting it from that point.


Patrick Adams  22:17

Yeah, yeah. And you kind of you hit on this a little bit earlier, you’re talking about taking small steps towards something more it kind of down that cut that Toyota kata, mindset or kind of improvement kind of mindset. But, you know, for someone that is in that position, I think, you know, trying to accomplish everything at once is going to be super overwhelming, right? So, you know, thinking about it, like how do you how do you eat an elephant one bite at a time? Like, how do we break this down, and go after, you know, one piece at a time and then to your point, celebrate the small things as you go. And that should generate a level of confidence, you know, in in build that belief that we can do this if we’re moving along, you know, one step at a time, right? Yeah,



I agree. I agree completely. I’m not the most athletic of people. And next year, I want to do a little bit more charity work and some of the things that I’ve signed up to require me to have a certain level of fitness that I currently don’t have. So yesterday, I decided to put some running shoes on for the very first time. The last time I went for a run was after the ice cream van. For the kids. That’s the last time I went for a run anyway, I decided to put some running shoes on yesterday for the very first time and I wanted to run about three kilometers it was in total. And I set off and I was thinking about the end destination right right from the often it it felt really, really far. And then what happened something happened in my mind and I just started focusing on the different like different land marks or like the a couple of lampposts just a little bit further ahead. And when I got to that I could just see a little bit further. And then I would start running again. And that did something to me that I can’t I can’t explain it. But every single goal I set was achievable. Can I run from here to the 20 yards? Yes, I can. Can I run from here another 20 yards? Yes, I can. And then actually, I managed to I managed to meet for do the full three care. But at the start, I didn’t think it was possible. Because I was thinking about the end and it was too too far away. So I think it’s so important to just small steps and make something manageable and then you build the momentum as you go.


Patrick Adams  24:32

That’s right. Yeah, powerful. And that’s in that belief will build that you can accomplish it. And then now you’re ready to you know, to start instilling that same belief in your team members in the same way. You know, you prove it out yourself with some some things and then, you know, move on to the team. Great, great advice for sure. Lee how do we measure this like, or you know, I just think about, you know, my advice always is is to make sure that you’re you have some level of measurement in place, you know? Because otherwise, do you how do you really know if you’re getting any better? You know, are there specific things that we should be measuring? When it comes to belief? That’s my first question. But then also, like, just in general, you know, are there are there measures, important measures that maybe companies are using today? Or maybe some that they’re not using that they should be using? You know, how do we how do we define success for this?



Yeah, we love we love a measured doorway, we love to know whether we’re on the right path wherever the dial is moving, and all of our activities and actions are going to help us achieve our goal. And I think there’s loads of traditional measures, there’s loads of, of measures out there that that organizations and businesses are having conversations about every every single day. And I guess I don’t want to pick or share any of those, because I think those are, those are dependent upon the business, we could pick a quality cost delivery, all all of those things, I believe, though, there are two measures that are not measured. In any organization. Yeah, and I might be proven wrong. I mean, you’ve got quite a following Patrick. So if, if anybody knows of any organization measuring these two things, then I’m sure your audience will share and let me know.


Patrick Adams  26:27

Yeah, here’s, here’s a challenge to everyone, listen up.



Now know, the the two most important measures that I believe that no organization measures, first the number of ideas and thoughts in people’s minds. And then the lead time between the thought in somebody’s mind and action taking place. And I like that, because that’s that’s what we’re here to do. Fundamentally, as leaders, whether it’s a leaders of change, or leaders of people, we’re there to help our people think more or extract more ideas more thought about about the important stuff. So how can we gain confidence and clarity that our leadership are increasing the number of thoughts in our people measure number one, and then measure number two, the lead time from people having those thoughts to conversations happening and action taking place. And I think if we can truly show positive movements on those two things, then that is a continuous improvement environment, because our people are thinking more so that they, as long as as long as they’re thinking the right things, and in line with the direction we’re trying to go, then we’re going to get more ideas. And then if you can then understand the lead time between a thought happening, or you can reduce the time from a thought happening to a conversation happening from a conversation happening to an action happening, then every single day, we’re going to be in that rhythm, where I work, people are going to be valued for the thoughts and the mind, not just the hands. I talk a lot about how engaged are our people. And when I when I think about engagement, I think about engaged heads, engaged hands, and engaged hearts. And a lot of organizations really engage the hands of the people in valuable work or in work, we’ll just we’ll just say, work, engage the hands of their people in the work, it’s it’s doing whatever that is they’re doing. A lot of organizations try to engage the hearts of the people, because they’ll create a vision. They’ll create a direction a strategy of an engagement strategy where they want people to buy in love, the reason why they’re coming to work every day. But I think the biggest engagement gap is the head, the thoughts of the people? And do we have leaders that engage the minds of their people? So yeah, when it’s like engagement, engaged heads, hands and hearts. But I think if we’re gonna engage the heads better, then we have more thoughts, and then reduce the time from thought to conversation to action. And it’s as easy as that.


Patrick Adams  29:15

Yeah. Easy. Love. I love everything that you said, there were a couple of things that you said that I want to key in on. You know, first of all, I do I know, there are organizations that measure, you know, number of suggestions, number of suggestions received or number of suggestions implemented, right. I think that’s a normal thing that everybody probably could say, Yeah, I’ve heard of places doing that. But I liked that you didn’t say suggestions or implemented suggestions, you said thoughts? And I want to key in on that because that’s the hard part is getting individuals to not not not just write down their suggestions, but to somehow capture the thoughts that they have about, you know, struggles and and solutions, potential solutions or removal of these things that are causing headaches for me or whatever it might be. And then I loved that you, you mentioned the time from that thought, you know, being discussed to the point where it’s actually there’s action taken, maybe it’s not implemented. But something some kind of action is taken, whether I get feedback from my leaders on that particular idea or thought, or, you know, we’re actually doing something it’s assigned to somebody or there’s action being taken on it to move it forward. I love that measure. I’ve never heard that before. So so thank you for that. The other thing that I wanted to key in on is, you mentioned that the the thoughts should be aligned to, to some, some long term goal or something, right, we, you know, sometimes you hear a true north, right? Yeah, the problem I see a lot of organizations have is they, they just say, Yeah, give me some give me ideas, give me suggestions, give me just whatever it is, and let’s just start working on things. And it’s like this, what we would call in the US the shotgun approach, where you just start trying a whole bunch of things, whether or not they’re moving you closer to your longer term goals or not. And that can be a significant problem for organizations because it can create, you know, waste in spending time doing things that we shouldn’t do. Now, is there a level of here’s the question I have for you, is there a level of do we allow that for a time to generate excitement to generate, you know, if you’re, if you’re in an organization where maybe ideas haven’t been accepted or encouraged? You know, do you allow ideas to just be thought out and and just work to be done on them? Or do they always have to be in alignment with that long term goal in order for us to actually spend time on them?



That’s a great question. To come across. Right? Yeah. Great, great question that partially because my mind has gone in two separate directions with this question, because I think the the my logical brain is saying to me, is saying that the what we want to do is we want to maximize the number of thoughts that we get towards the direction, and then we’re going to get there a lot quicker, but we are human, we are human beings. And, and what we’ve got to do is create an environment where people feel safe to speak out. And, and, and invite. So when I do a workshop, I will encourage everybody to like just real, real quick icebreaker, like watching them and tell me one thing that nobody knows about, or something like that, right. And I’m not awfully bothered about the name and the thing that they’ve not done. What I’m trying to do, though, is get everybody comfortable speaking out in front of everybody else. That’s the first bit of friction that I’m trying to overcome in that workshop. And, and that’s where my that was the thoughts that I had when I when you asked me the question, and then you overlaid the complexity and in terms of actually people aren’t thinking stuff. So I think what you might have to do is you might have to teach people how to have thoughts, and then let them see how safe it is. But when they’re sure those thoughts. And so you might want to go the scattergun stuff to get people to just go actually, it’s not about this, I’m being I’m being rewarded for the efforts of thinking and coming up with anything before you then narrow it down to the, to the to the direction that we’re trying to get to. So and that’s why my mind went in two separate places. The the obvious answer is to go just get people to think about where we’re trying to get to. But I think because we’re dealing with people, and because every person is different, it’s so important to get people feeling comfortable. And that comes down to Chris’s second lesson about making good friends. And also those first lesson about always being themselves and and always being yourself for me is getting people when they have thoughts, getting them to share them and your relationship as a leader with your people is key to getting them sharing this their thoughts. So yes, I know going for scattergun approach making it safe and and just encouraging that first and then all the time, whatever that time be narrowing it down to the direction that you go in.


Patrick Adams  34:17

Yeah, I love that. And I agree with you and I do think it goes back to Chris’s lesson number two, because it’s also about knowing your people too, right? Because if you’re in an organization where there is no fear of failure, there is you know, people have been bringing ideas up that things have been getting accomplished then you know, maybe you can skip some of that and you can go right to let’s align this you know, but if if you know your people well enough to know that there is some fear of you know, putting putting myself out there or experimenting with some things because of past hurts or past issues. Then as a leader you need to realize that and and meet your people where they are. I think that, you know, it’s a great answer. And there’s no wrong answer, obviously, you and I know that. But I think it is important that as leaders, we’re we’re taking the time to think about that, that we’re not just reading a book, and or listening to someone and going, Okay, here’s the three steps to, you know, creating an improvement culture, number one, solicit ideas and put them in place and make sure they’re in alignment with your long term goals. Well, wait a minute, I think we have to as leaders, we have to, you know, ask ourselves, is that really step number one? Or could there be something different depending on where my people are at? Right? Yes,



completely, completely, so powerful. Love it.


Patrick Adams  35:40

You know, one of the other things that I think about when it comes to knowing your people, you know, and making good friends, you know, I see, I see some of your posts out there on LinkedIn. And, and I know that you, you know, have a tendency to use comedy, you know, as as a way of, you know, overcoming resistance to change or, or, you know, again, just kind of lowering that that fear of of failure, or the fear of stepping out or, you know, you use that a little bit, can you tell us a little bit about how those lessons, you know, how you’ve used the lessons of comedy to kind of help overcome some of that resistance that organizations might feel when it comes to change? Yeah, absolutely.



Absolutely. It might not come across in this conversation, but I’ve been on to stand up comedy courses. And the reason why I wanted to learn how to be a little funnier, is because I believe comedians take us on an emotional journey far faster than any other profession that I’ve ever that I’ve, that I’ve ever witnessed. And I want you to see whether actually, there was something something secret in what they did, or whether it was just in just in the art of humor. And and I remember the very first, the very first course, the the comedian tutor, who was it was at the front of seven of us on the course. And he said, What’s the most important thing in comedy? And we all hurled answers at him. And basically, we also things like all the jokes, and he said, No, that’s, that’s the material. That’s the third most important thing in comedy. And then he went in the second most important thing is, well, there’s, there’s two lines in comedy, there’s a setup, and there’s a punch line. And you can be really angry when you’re doing your setup. And you can be really happy when you do in your punch line, because you signpost into the audience when they need to laugh, whether they find it funny or not. So it’s bit like visual management, but audible because you’re signaling to the to the something has changed. So he said, The second most important thing in comedy is performance. And then he went and the most important thing in comedy is, in fact, who’s your favorite comedian? Patrick? Oh,


Patrick Adams  37:54

that’s a good question. I mean, I love Kevin Hart, you know?



Perfect. So if, if we were to go to watch Kevin Hart, and so I live in a town called Charlie in in Lancashire. And if we were to go to the Charlie little theater to watch Kevin Hart, he would never play ever. And we both spent $40 on a ticket for Kevin Hart. We both sat down in the auditorium in the theater is about to come out onto stage. Now. What are you thinking just before he comes out onto stage? What you think and what your thoughts, Kevin Hart’s just about to come out?


Patrick Adams  38:29

I mean, I would say probably excited. Excited to see what he’s gonna say. Probably. Yeah. I mean, that’s how I



feel. Yeah, perfect. Amazing. Amazing, right? So just imagine the see No, we we go to second time, right, me and us back to Charlie little theater, but to one of those comedy nights where you don’t necessarily know the comedian. So we still we’ve paid $40 Each was saying the same seats. You still use that with me? So the same the same person and then the comedian’s that we don’t really know about are about to come out. What are you feeling and thinking?


Patrick Adams  39:02

Ooh, probably some unknowns. Probably a little unsure. Definitely a different level of excitement for sure.



Yeah, perfect. Right and, and that for me all that for that on the common of course, is that’s the most important thing in comedy is the level of connection that that a comedian has. So Kevin Hart, you know, he’s funny, you know, he makes you laugh. You know, some of his material you love it when he does this, that or the other, right? So your level of connection with that comedian is fast, strongest. So that’s that’s built such excitement in your right. So the venue was the same, the price was the same, it was still me that you took and everything else was the same. The only difference was the level of connection that you have got with that comedian. And that’s the most important thing in common. And when we think about change, when we think about leadership, and we overlay these three things, we think about the material, the tools, the techniques, the our processes, that’s the material as a third The most important thing in change is the third most important thing in leadership. When we think about the performance, we love a PowerPoint, slide, and font, whatever, and all of that stuff. And we probably spend hours upon hours making sure that every single slide looks all the same, and it’s all the right stuff. But do we actually vary our performance to the audience? Every person that’s in the audience is different? Do we really make sure that we exaggerate the points that people need to hear or want to add to the key point. So our performance is the second most important thing in leadership and in change as well. But the most important thing is our level of connection. Do we spend time to build relationships with people in the UK? At Christmas? We do nativity plays in schools. Have you been a star of a nativity play in the past, Patrick?


Patrick Adams  40:54

Oh, no, not necessarily. But I’ve definitely watched some Yeah, okay.



Perfect, right. Okay, so a nativity player, let’s overlay these three things with a nativity play right? So the nativity play the material of a nativity play it so it’s, it’s really young children that are generally the stars and and nativity play. So the material is quite basic, the story is that the story is a little bit raw pay, and it’s very, it’s an a very abridged version of different of different activities, so the material is ropey at best, then you think about the performance, you’ve got young children stood in the wrong places singing the wrong words saying the wrong things the right fit, so you can’t tell whether the sheath or whether the clouds and, and so the performance is, is dodger. But then at the end of the the end of the shore, the the teacher stands up and that the encourages the other little islands to do the little bow when you turn around and you look at the audience, and there’s rapturous rounds of applause, floods of tears, people high fiving and weeping, declaring that that was the best ever performance they have. They have ever seen. Absolute nonsense, it was not the best performance I’ve ever seen. It’s just the level of connection that they have had with the little people that are on those benches at the front that outweighs the material. And the outweighs the performance. And if you are a leader of people, or change, if you spend time on the connection with people make good friends, if you make good friends, first and foremost, and people will forget the performance, they will give you an opportunity about the material give you an opportunity with a performance that doesn’t matter. Spend time building connection, spend time making friends. And that’s really how I’ve used the lessons of comedy to again, reaffirm Chris’s Chris’s lessons, it’s just all comes back to the same thing. But that’s why connection is key.


Patrick Adams  42:47

Yeah, love it. Love it. What a great story to you. You you explained it perfectly. Lee, thank you for that. I love that. And I don’t want to I want to, I might have to we might have to come back on the show again, because we’re kind of at the end of our our time right now. And I really want to talk more about your your organization get knowledge and the model that you use the best model, can you before we close up? Can you just tell us what that stands for? And then I’d love to hear just if anyone’s would like to reach out to you how they connect with you. If they can find learn more about your organization get knowledge. You know, can you let us know that? So what’s what’s, what’s your model, best best model? What does it stand for? And then how do people connect with you?



Yeah, perfect. So our best model is, is built upon the theory that 20 years ago, consultants would purely work on the T part of the best model, which is just targets, business targets and results, then about 15 years ago, customer experience became a thing. So the S is customer satisfaction, and people made the link between satisfaction and targets, and you satisfy your customers, you achieve your targets, then probably about five to 10 years ago, employee experience became a thing and employee engagement. So that’s the easy part of it. And people join the dots between happy employees satisfied customers achieving your business targets, but we fundamentally believe that you should start with the B and that is the leadership behavior. Behavior is fundamental. If you get your leadership behaviors, right you get your employees engaged, you achieve customer satisfaction, and then your business targets and results are a given pretty much that’s what the best model is. And so we start at the leadership behavior parts, not other target part. And that’s what that’s why we get knowledge work with the clients and the businesses that we do. And that’s that’s the model that we use.


Patrick Adams  44:44

Powerful. I love that love that I really do want to talk more about that. Let’s have you back on the show. Maybe a few months from now and let’s dive into that model because that that’s amazing. I love the I love everything that you just shared as far as the you know in one Why the bee is before the E and the, you know, and so on. So, Lee, if anyone’s interested to reach out to you, if they’re looking for more information about the best model, or, you know, anything that you’ve talked about on the show today, where would be the best place for them to connect with you?



Yeah, so the best place to connect with me is on LinkedIn. So it’s just Li Han, on LinkedIn, if email li at get, or our website is www dot get at UK but honestly, Patrick, I have thoroughly thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed this conversation with you. Thank you so much for the opportunity to chat to the


Patrick Adams  45:33

Absolutely. Now it’s been greatly and we’ll drop those links into the show notes. So if anyone’s interested, they can go right to the show notes, grab, grab your email or go to your website and learn more. Lee, it’s been great to have you on powerful discussion. I feel like I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster through this, this conversation and some really, really great things that you shared with us and just powerful learnings. So I’m excited to have you back on the show and talk some more.


Lee Houghton  46:02

I’ll look forward to James Patrick. Alright, cheers.


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.