Cultures Of Continuous Improvement With Katie Anderson

Cultures Of Continuous Improvement With Katie Anderson

by Patrick Adams | May 2, 2023

In this episode, Katie Anderson and I discuss a culture of excellence through continuous improvement during a pre-recorded webinar.

What You’ll Learn:

  1. What are the ingredients that make up a culture of excellence?
  2. In cultures of CI, what does it mean to “learn, lead, and care”?
  3. Can you share your favorite story from Mr. Yoshino that exemplifies a culture of CI?
  4. Why do you do the Japan study trip?
  5. What will we see that backs up how the Japanese culture played a part in Toyota’s success?

About the Guest:

Katie Anderson is an internationally recognized leadership and learning coach, consultant, and professional speaker, best known for inspiring individuals and organizations to lead with intention and increase their personal and professional impact. Katie is passionate about helping people around the world learn to lead and lead to learn by connecting purpose, process, and practice to achieve higher levels of performance. Her book Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn: Lessons from Toyota Leader Isao Yoshino on a Lifetime of Continuous Learning is an international #1 Amazon bestseller


Click here to learn more about Katie Anderson

Click here for more information on Katie Anderson’s books

Click here for The Lean Solutions Summit 


Patrick Adams  00:31

Katie, I’m going to introduce you because I don’t know if everybody that’s on today knows you, or anything about your background. So I’m going to take a minute and just introduce you to the group. Yeah, so Katie is a good friend of mine. Katie is the author of the international number one best selling book learning to lead, leading to learn. She’s an internationally recognized leadership and learning coach, consultant and professional speaker, best known for inspiring individuals including myself and organizations to lead with intention and increase their personal and professional impact. Katie is passionate about helping people around the world, learn to lead and lead to learn by connecting purpose, process and practice to achieve higher levels of performance. And Katie, recently, you’ve kicked off your own podcast here, which I’ve noticed, and that’s pretty exciting. 


Katie Anderson  01:25

Yeah. All right. You’ve outed me. It’s been a soft, its soft launch. That’s all I’m starting, I realized, all the author interviews that I’ve been doing on video, people, it’s great that they’re up on YouTube. And we weren’t, you know, write the show notes as well on my blog. But many people want to listen to something on the go. And so we decided to start putting them as audio. And over time, I’m gonna go back and put including your interview, and we’ll do some more to back on the audio, and then maybe we’ll expand it to be even even a broader podcast. So you guys are in the first in the know, because it’s been a very sort of soft launch. 


Patrick Adams  02:02

You can’t say, by me, Katie. I’ve been watching. 


Katie Anderson  02:04

Yeah, leading, leading to learn, though not a surprising, surprising title there. 


Patrick Adams  02:09

Yes. I love it. I love it. 


Katie Anderson  02:12

Well, thank you. Well, why don’t I introduce you to I think, for those of you who don’t know, Patrick, but I’m sure most of you do sense. He’s hosting our show today. You know, Patrick Adams, of course, is a dear friend of mine, and is the author of the newly awarded Shingo prize book a vote avoiding the continuous appearance trap, which I have here in my hands, and the host of the lean solutions podcast. He’s an international speaker, coach and consultant. And he’s been delivering bottom line results through specialized process improvement solutions for over 20 years. Besides being just an overall great guy, Patrick is a proven leader and a highly experienced consultant with specific niche focus on organizational strategy and leadership development, which brings a unique human approach to sound team building practices, creating consensus and enabling empowerment. So there is no question why Patrick and I get along so well, it’s all about the people engagement and empowerment. And then we make process improvement through that. 


Patrick Adams  03:14

So true, so true. Katie, I wanted to kick off the art. Thank you, by the way, for the amazing introduction. Appreciate that. I want to I want to kick off our discussion today. And talk we’re for those of you that are just popping on and didn’t really didn’t know what we were doing today, we’re talking about cultures of continuous improvement. And I think, you know, might be a great way to kick things off, Katie would be for you to just explain maybe a little bit about what you have behind you on the shelf there some of the amazing art artifacts that you have. Can you just tell us what what you have here? Maybe? Yeah, yeah, 


Katie Anderson  03:58

I’ll get my giant one. So this is these are. So for those of you who don’t know, I had the incredible opportunity to live in Japan in 2015 and 16. With my family, which is we’re the genesis of getting to know Sally Yoshino, the 40 YEAR toyota leader who’s a subject of my book started and so we’ll dive into that more. But in that time that I was living in Japan, I became I became aware of these dolls called Daruma dolls there, because one’s pretty big as you can tell, it’s bigger than my head and they’re weighted paper mache figures that serves two purposes. One, when you have a goal, you fill in the dolls, left eye with the pupil, and then it sits there as a visual reminder of your goal. And when you finally started the left eye, when you finally achieve it, you get to fill it in the doors, right? I mean, what’s really special here is they’re all weighted at the bottom and represent the Japanese proverb fall down seven times get up eight. And so it’s really about the perseverance and patience and commitment It takes to achieve a goal that it’s not something that necessarily happens easily, but about how can we get up and learn our way forward. And so what more fitting for continuous improvement lean folks than a visual visualization of a goal, and a reminder that it’s about continuous learning and continuous improvement in service of finally reaching our destinations.


Patrick Adams  05:23

Yeah, I love it. And I love that you tied in the the being able to fall and get up. Because, you know, so many people, you know, they set a goal for themselves. And then, you know, they might have some challenges or some struggles along the way. And a lot of times people just give up on their goal based on, you know, having some of those challenges. And I think that that’s what a great visual reminder, you know, of the the fact that if we want to reach our goals, you know, we have to really be willing beat know that falling is part of the process. And there’s so much value in reflecting on what did we learn from that from those struggles in those challenges so that we can get back up and continue forward toward meeting that goal. 


Katie Anderson  06:07

Absolutely. And I think one of the, one of the sort of false assumptions many of us sort of fall in the trap to is feeling like there shouldn’t be struggle and setbacks in in the achievement of a goal or learning something new. But it’s getting okay with that inevitable struggle, the challenges the setbacks, but what’s important is creating that perseverance to continue to get forward and learn. I think it’s just a beautiful thing. And you can see I have many, many dramas behind me as well. But I’ve just one specially made for me, Japan, and it says she call which means intention, which is my favorite word.


Patrick Adams  06:43

 And are we allowed to ask what the goal is for that drama? 


Katie Anderson  06:48

I haven’t set this one. This one has, has not I have not chosen the goal for this one. The small dot you see here is was a mini pupil that was infused by the monks at the Daruma Temple, which I will be taking you to, to give it special spirit and I just haven’t had a chance. Well, I haven’t decided on a meaningful goal, that worthy goal yet for this one. But I have plenty of room as in the back. And in fact, I have one that I made. Where did it go? Oh, here we go. Last time I was in the town of Takasaki, which I will be taking you to when you join me and made in Japan is this Daruma that I made in January of 2020. And I actually went to the the factory where they make these little guys and I painted this one on. And this one was for a successful Japan study trip in 20, may 2020. And we know what happened there, you weren’t able to come with me. There’s been a lot of setbacks, and I am excited to fill in this dolls I in May, when I finally get to take you and many others back to Japan. 


Patrick Adams  07:51

Oh, I’m so excited. We’re going to talk more about that here in a little bit. But no great way to kick things off. So let’s let’s transition from there to what it means to have a culture of excellence. So you know, you know I’ve talked a lot about creating this, this fire, igniting this, this this flame of continuous improvement and that there are certain ingredients that have to go into that. But you also, you know, in your book, and in some of the masterclasses that you’re doing in different ways, you’ve talked about the steps or the ingredients or the things that are necessary in order to make up a culture of excellence. Can you just help us understand a little bit more about that? And what that might take? 


Katie Anderson  08:40

Sure, I mean, there’s so much that we can dive into here. First and foremost, it’s a connection to purpose and purpose beyond just making profit, but what’s the real the meaning and value that the organization exists for? And then how do people connect their role? And what they do each and every day to croute? To sort of contribute to that purpose? So how do we find purpose and meaning in our work and in our organizations, and then as leaders in organizations, there’s a three point the three part purpose that if we can do these things, we will really create a culture of excellence. One is clear setting direction. So what’s the clear priorities or direction that the challenges the organization needs to achieve the team needs to achieve? So making that clear for people and making the hard choices to have what are we going to do and what are we not going to do, but then to providing the support to their people to gain the capability and confidence to get there and to you know, contribute to problem solving and being empowered and to grow and develop? And then the third part is to start with ourselves develop ourselves because that’s hard to do both of those. And we can focus on getting set the direction providing support and developing ourselves that will create a culture of excellence in what I call this chain of learning that exists across the organization where we’re all kind of contributing together to getting better and moving up that mountain towards the ultimate goals. 


Patrick Adams  10:13

Oh, yeah. Well, and yeah, so yeah, let’s unpack this a little bit. You talked about the last thing that you just mentioned, just get keyed in on just about developing ourselves. And there’s so many times where I work with leaders who are trying to develop others, and they haven’t taken care of themselves, right. And they they’re not. And when I say taking care of themselves, like, taking it all the way back to where, you know, they’re even struggling in their personal life, at home, or with family, or there’s things that are going on, and then they’re coming to work, trying to put on this, this mask of everything’s okay in my personal life, and now I’m going to try to coach someone and how to be a good leader. I mean, we have to take care of ourselves, our emotional being our mental being, we have to, you know, take care of that first number one, and then to your point, like developing our own personal skills, you know, what podcasts? Are you listening to? What books are you reading? You know, how are you developing your own skills and abilities as a leader? And then now let’s transfer that and start coaching and developing others in the same way.


Katie Anderson  11:23

Yes, I totally agree. And also in the serve, while developing ourselves, sometimes we’re not even aware of our blind spots, or how we how the actions we’re taking, maybe aren’t aligned with the impact that we want to have. And I know that was certainly the case for me when I was in past leadership roles. And this is where this concept of good intention is so important to me. When I moved to Japan, I didn’t have business cards at the time, or a logo, and I said, we’ll just put the word intention on my card. And I discovered that the way it was written in Japanese comes from some meaning being heart and spirit, and direction. And it’s like, intention, we need to, we need to actually create, create action to fulfill our intention. So what’s important to us inside our heart, who we want to be, and what are the actions we need to take, and most leaders that I’ve worked with, and this is my, you know, for looking at myself as well. We don’t want to like create a bad environment or takeover, you know, opportunities for people to develop. But our habits that we’ve been developed as independent contributors are rewarded in our earlier career, actually aren’t really good at helping create environments that are allowing other people to spot you know, foster their thinking and contribute. So maybe interrupting or giving all of our ideas are telling people exactly what to do and how to do it. So it’s helpful to have a coach or someone who can also help you see where the things are being really effective. And where are some of those actions that maybe you aren’t aware of? That you could improve on to better align with that impact you want to have? 


Patrick Adams  13:01

Absolutely, yeah. So I think that culture is a result or an output of very specific inputs. And what you’re talking about are those inputs. Because culture, everyone has a culture, the behaviors, the actions, the beliefs of leaders in an organization, not just leaders, but everyone in the organization, those result in something some kind of a culture, which everyone has. And what you’re talking about is that some organizations, those inputs, maybe are negative inputs or the wrong inputs. And, you know, they always ask the question, is it possible to change culture? Well, of course, it is, if you understand what the inputs are. And if you have the wrong inputs, like you said, interrupting, not listening, telling, directing, instead of coaching, right? All of those things, those those inputs are creating some type of a culture, and maybe it’s not the right culture, and definitely not a culture that supports continuous improvement. Right? 


Katie Anderson  14:04

No, I was gonna say, I mean, this is you’re describing your book, exactly. There’s that difference with the continuous appearance trap versus a culture of real continuous improvement. And culture is just the accepted norms of behaviors and habits of individuals. So yes, if we can change change at the individual level, we will change at the cultural level. 


Patrick Adams  14:23

Absolutely. So what would you say? Are some of those inputs then leaders that are listening in, you know, that, you know, we talk about Leader Standard Work, and how can I create some structure around those behaviors or those actions so that I’m very consistent and intentional about them, but what what are those actions? What are those behaviors? What would you say would be a couple that you know, should be built into someone’s Leader Standard Work or should be a consistent habit that they’re doing regularly to create a culture of excellence? 


Katie Anderson  14:55

Oh, absolutely. And so I’ve been you know, thinking about what are some of those key the his key actions if we want to create a culture of continuous improvement, so really closing the gaps and process between where we are today and where we need to be, we also need to close the gaps in our own behavior and action. And the acronym gaps can help us remember what some of those key actions are. The first is go see. So get out of our office, go see, to check in on people, and to check on process and to really understand what the what’s happening at the work level, opposed to making assumptions. And again, it’s really important to be seeing that as going to see not to be punitive, or to assign blame, but with an open mind and an open heart to really seek to understand and to connect in value people as well. So the second, yeah, the second gaps is GA, ask questions openly. And with curiosity. When we do this, we invite other people’s thinking, we can ask questions to help them see angles of things they hadn’t thought of before, and to keep the responsibility with the thinking with the other person, rather than just giving all of our ideas. The P is to pause. We are so used to doing doing doing doing that we are uncomfortable with even like if we ask a question, we just, you know, ask another question or start filling the space with our thinking. If we ask the question, we need to give space for people to think. And also the more we can pause and connect with our own intention or pause and sort of slow down to give some space for thinking and some problem solving, we will achieve so much more. And then the the fourth the S is about study the PDSA the plan, do study adjust cycle, I also call this reflection. So we can build in a habit of reflection, that is where the learning really happens. What happened, what did we expect to happen? You know, what, what are the reasons why what adjustments do we need to make in our culture is terrible about putting time and creating space and a habit around reflection. Again, we’re so in this habit of doo doo doo, that it feels like we’re not being like, productive. But actually, organizations like Toyota. And you’ll see in companies across Japan, they split, they spend a lot more time in that study part. And that is really where so much learning happens. And we get smarter. So gaps, we want to close the gaps. We got to go see ask questions, pause and study reflect.


Patrick Adams  17:34

I love that I love that it actually made me think of a story from an engagement that I had with a client where the this manager was, he was putting out fires all day long. And that’s all he did, you know. And he told me, he said, I can’t even go out on the production floor. Because when I go out there, I’m literally just bombarded with people coming at me with all these different problems. And then I have to go solve all of them. And so he’s like, I can’t go to the gumbo, right, that was his first complaint. So I said, Well, let’s go to the gumbo. And let’s try things a little bit differently. And rather than going and solving their problems for them, rather than running to the fire, and being the sole problem solver, the one person that can do everything, the Superman of the facility, let’s try something a little bit different. Let’s ask the question, what do you think we should do? And so we went out on the floor. Sure enough, this person came up and said, Hey, problem machines down, I need you to come help me. And so we stopped. And we we asked the question, what do you think we should do? Right, which was a little different for? Yeah, that’s not normal. And the person, you know, thought about it, and we paused and we listened. We we allow the person to think through and answer, right. And then eventually they they said, Well, I think the last time this happened, we cleaned off the rails, and then we were able to get started up again. So we said we’ll go try that. And then we’ll come back and we’ll check in with you and see how it went. So we went out we went around and the rest of our Ghemawat and the plant manager while we were walking, he said, That’s not going to work. And I said, Why do you think that’s not going to work? And he said, Well, the problem is, I think the rails are bent, or there was some other issue there. And I said, that’s okay, because it’s going to take this individual, maybe 2030 minutes to figure out something that maybe you could have figured out in three or four minutes. But the only way that you can do that is because you’ve been able to walk through that PDSA cycle, and you’ve learned enough to be able to do that. Well, we don’t want you to be the only one to do that. We want every single individual out here to be able to do that. And so you know, it took a little bit for him to understand that but eventually, the the team members started to solve some of their own problems and the fires started to diminish following that gaps cycle. So it’s amazing. 


Katie Anderson  20:01

It’s amazing. You know, what, when you said, like, we feel like we have this super like superpower, like, Oh, you’re gonna solve problems and put out all the fires, it’s shifting our mindset to realize our superpower is in letting go in us having to have all the answers and to save the day. And seeing that the heroics actually are creating that support enabling. I have one of my clients, Sean, he describes that he’s like, I have the superpower. Now, it’s simple. I just like, give people the, you know, the challenge of what we need to achieve. And then I go out and support them, I show up, I ask questions, I follow up, and we’re achieving so much more. And he’s like, it’s so simple, but it’s so counterintuitive to, you know, how we’ve been trained to what leadership is, and what we’ve been rewarded for in like our, you know, in education for having the right answer, who can put their hand up the fastest, you know, so we have to just shift that in practice each and every day. Because, you know, I’m Katie Anderson, and I have a telling habit, and I have to work every day with such great intention to do those things to slow down to ask more questions to pause. But it’s gotten a lot easier with purpose, purposeful practice. 


Patrick Adams  21:15

Yes, so true. So true. People, people come to work, and they want to do good work, they want to do a good job. Right. And so I think one of the other things that, that we have to understand too, as leaders is that we need to create a system and fix the systems that are in place that are sometimes contributing to why team members aren’t able to be empowered to do some of these things, too. So I think, yes, it one part of it is to obviously empower them. But the other part is, it is for us as leaders to remove the roadblocks to fix the systems because people are coming to work and they want to do these things. Yeah, unfortunately, too many times they’re working in broken systems, right where they can’t be successful. So that’s also our role as leaders. 


Katie Anderson  23:01

Absolutely, you know, I, I’m thinking of the paint story in my book, which is the story I’ve told the most from Mr. Yoshino, but this is really describes that so much like leaders. So providing support isn’t just coaching, but it’s also removing the barriers that inhibit people from doing, you know, being successful in their role for so for those of you who don’t know, this story, it’s it’s one that Mr. Yoshino who worked at for Toyota for 40 years. And he was John Chuck’s boss and was really instrumental in teaching and coaching senior leaders across across Toyota how to use a three thinking and so much more. He’s a subject of my book, but when he had just joined Toyota, so he’s 22 years old, he’s assigned to the paint shop as part of his orientation. And his one simple task for many weeks was to just pour paint and solvent into a big vat. And so as the cars came down the line the paint would get sprayed on. Well, a few weeks into this, that someone from the shop floor came running and saying, the paint was not sticking to the cars and over 100 cars would have to be repainted. And of course, all eyes went on him. Think about like, what would likely happen for you in this situation in like, your organization, would people be very calm? No, most likely people would like to express anger or come over and maybe like yell at you or certainly be very stern and maybe blaming, but that is not what they did. They had trained themselves to have a different response. So they went over to the gamba. They went and saw. They asked questions, they said, you know, his boss included, what was the process you took to put the, you know, the paint in the solvent in the in the vat. And then so he’s sitting there was 22, he’s like this. Well, they pause, they they reflected, they saw what was happening. And it was very clear that the CANS look nearly identical. And there was no clearly labeled space for the cans to be put. And then the amazing part is they reflected, they studied. And they said, you know, thank you for making that mistake. So not only did they not blame, and they said, Thank you for making that mistake, because you showed that we as the leaders did not set you up for be successful as a new person in this environment. So they did some quick problem solving said what would you do differently, and they came up with a better plan. How different of an organization is that? A true culture of continuous improvement, the one of now they wouldn’t have used this term back then we use now of psychological safety, where it’s okay to make mistakes, because you are not going to be blamed. Of course, we want to look at the system. And then how it was leaders do we respond to that? And so that, you know, he even says, like, they’re probably the first response was a human one, like, Oh, my God, but they didn’t act on it. So again, how do we align our actions with the impact we really want to have? I just think it’s, it’s just an amazing, amazing story and a real contrast for most of us in the organizations that we’ve worked in, and probably for our own reaction in a similar situation.


Patrick Adams  26:31

 Absolutely Powerful. Yeah, if people are afraid to, to bring up problems or issues or to admit that they maybe, you know, I hate to use the word fail, but they didn’t, you know, what they thought was going to happen didn’t happen. If people are worried or scared to bring those types of things up, then the problems are hidden. And if problems are hidden, then we can’t solve them. Right? We need to make bring the problems visible, bringing to the surface. So that in the only way to do that is for people to be working in a culture where it’s safe, to show read, where it’s safe to say things didn’t work out the way I expected. And now I’m going to reflect and figure out how I can you know, approach this differently? 


Katie Anderson  27:14

Absolutely. Mr. Yoshino always says, you know, the Toyota leaders mindset is bad news first. But if we are going to invite bad news first, we also have to have our response not be one of blame when we hear the bad news. So if we want to make the problems visible and hear about them, we also have to have a response that rewards people for bringing forward not just problems, but the bad news, and then can try to contribute their thinking to solve the problems. 


Patrick Adams  27:42

So true. Hey, I want to take on a pause just a minute, Katie. And if anyone we’re live right now, both on LinkedIn, Facebook, both of our LinkedIn pages. So if you’re just logging in, Katie and I are discussing cultures of continuous improvement, we’re also going to discuss the upcoming Japan study trip as well. And we’re going to do a book giveaway for those of you that are on on live of both of our books. But if you’re logged on right now, and you haven’t dropped a comment into let us know where you’re from, please do that now. And then also share this out, share this video out to your network to page because there’s some really great stuff that’s being thrown out there around cultures of continuous improvement, challenges and benefits of and even, we’re throwing some nuggets out to on things that Katie and I have experienced with some of the clients that we’ve worked with or organizations that we’ve worked into. So please share this video. Katie, so I want to talk I want to transition here just a little bit, because we’re going to run out of time very quickly. And I want to stay on point here. You brought up Mr. Yoshino. I have the opportunity to meet Mr. Yoshino and I’m going to learn about the Japanese culture. I am going to the gamba, literally, in Japan, in May to learn the importance of the Japanese culture and how it was such an integral part in the success of Toyota. Right. So I want to I want to ask you, why do you do this Japan study trip? I know why. But I want I want our listeners I want one that’s logged on to know like, why do you do this? What how did this start? What where did it come from?


Katie Anderson  29:23

Well, so I’m so excited to be back in Japan and are going back to Japan. I was there in January of this last year. As I mentioned earlier, I lived in Japan for in 2015 and 2016. And you had just developed this rich appreciation for the Japanese culture and as a lean practitioner continuous improvement practitioner, the opportunity to go learn about Toyota and the source and other companies that are practicing, you know philosophies around Kaizen and emotive Nasai, which is customer service and so much more. I just and I develop this relationship with Mr. Yoshino at that time, and little did I know in 2015, when I met him for the first time in Toyota City, and he took me to Toyota, that it would become one of the most important like adult relationships in my life. But I am passionate about going back to Japan, to be able to provide people with the similar experience that I had, of course, in a shortened time, and all the relationships that I was able to develop with different companies and leaders of all different sizes and more different stages of practicing what we call lean, they don’t use that word in Japan itself. But really understanding what is it special that Toyota did? And then what are some things that other companies are doing to bring in these concepts as well. And one of the things I do want to highlight is that not Japanese culture and Toyota culture are not synonymous. So there are some Japanese cultural norms that Toyota really had to overcome to really create a thriving Kaizen culture. But But Japan, sort of the Japanese culture is focused on precision and always going for perfection and continually learning in a deep practice of Ponce or reflection, and a deep commitment to service all really contributes to a lot of the innovation and people engagement in the organizations that are really putting energy towards that type of culture. So yeah, I’m excited to be going back and really put a damper in that. 


Patrick Adams  31:35

Yeah, I can’t wait, it’s going to be it’s going to be a blast. So we go in May, the the trip is completely full, we’ll talk about some other opportunities for those listening in that want to do a trip in the future. But before we do that, what are we going to learn what went when it comes to the Japanese culture in Koyo? Does success give us just a, you know, a feel for you know, what, is it about the culture in Japan that contributed to Toyota success? Or, or, you know, what was the connection there? And can you help help someone?


Katie Anderson  32:10

Yeah, and that’s, you know, there’s so many different elements, and, of course, the Toyota leaders to we’re going to the US, and also, we’re inspired by some of, you know, the principles and practices of successful US companies, and the, you know, the supermarket concept, some of the concepts we’re going to be discovering, when we are in Japan, or going to an elementary school and seeing how the concept of milk tonight, or regret for waste is really instilled in children at an early age, as well as responsibility and respect for your community. So Japanese children across the country are served food, you know, at their lunch, and are expected to have a small portion and leave no waste. But this is not them, for them to overeat. And so you get to experience sort of how that process happens. And then there are no janitors in the schools, the children clean their schools, each and every day, even the elementary schools, and of course, they’re on a learning curve and given different responsibilities, but they’re cleaning the floors wiping the walls, and think about how much respect for your community and respect for your environment happens when you have responsibility for, you know, taking care of your environment. And I think that those are really foundational principles that we are not so good at, at least in the United States. But I think, you know, many, many other countries in the same the same way. So that sense of responsibility and contribution is really there. Something that Toyota did, I think, was a little different than maybe some of some people experience in other companies in Japan is that, well, they have a very clear, you know, hierarchical structure, you know, in Toyota, they’ve managed to flip that truly, to be that the leaders role is to develop their people. So in some other Japanese companies, it’s still you know, you may want wait for the boss to give all the answers. But Toyota really leveraged that structure, to enable the creativity and problem solving and people all levels you see that happening through the, you know, from the team leaders on the floor to supporting and removing barriers for people to get get their job done as the car comes down to putting in continuous improvement Kaizen, you know, ideas each and every day. And there’s so many companies that do this around Japan as well really asking people to make their work better in service of making the outcomes better as well. I love it. That’s it, some of the things we’ll see. And of course, you know, going to see the different Toyota suppliers and how Toyota has invested in their community to teach their suppliers the Toyota way and the Toyota production system because they rely on their supply eras, right. And so you’ll see that connection, both from a pole system for doing the production, but also in how, you know, seeing beyond their walls of teaching and growing, this chain of learning is really how the whole, you know, the whole system is going to create a culture of continuous improvement as well. 


Patrick Adams  35:19

Absolutely. I love it. I’m so excited. I have so many questions. And it’s going to be difficult for me. I’m going to practice listening, though, because I want to, I want to learn as much as I can, so I’m gonna have to listen. But I also have so many questions. So I’m excited. If you’re just logging on, Katie and I are discussing cultures of continuous improvement, we also would like to answer some questions, too. So if you have a question for us, and we’re on the line, so if you’re watching the replay, go ahead and COMMENT replay. But if you’re on live with us right now, feel free to drop a question in the comments. And Katie, and I will try to feel those as best we can over the next 10 minutes as we as we wrap up this morning. But yeah, drop a drop of question. Anything that you want to ask about Katie’s book about my book about cultures and continuous improvement about the Japanese about the trip to study trip to Japan, we’d love to, to answer some of those questions. So looks like Pedro just dropped a question. Why is it so difficult to do this in the Western world? Any thoughts on that? Katie? 


Katie Anderson  36:27

Well, I do. And also, I want to be clear, too, is not easy in Japan, either. So well, Patrick, you’re gonna be going to a lot of companies who have leaders who are really committed to this mindset, this is not like the way it is across across all of Japan. So there are different cultural aspects that all of us are challenged by, but maybe they’re different. But front, why is it so difficult in western world? For me, I think it’s because we are so focused on doing an outcomes. So we reward the outcome and less about the process to get there. And you know, that again, goes back to what we were talking about earlier today that, you know, in school rewarded for having that right answer for coming to it fast. We’re all in this culture of busyness, we just got to keep doing doing doing. And, you know, we do the checking at the end, did we did we achieve it or not achieve it, but then we just keep doing and not spending that time and reflection. So I really think that our habit of doing, which is tied to our habit of telling our habit of doing and our focus on that aspect is really an inhibitor of us really doing the study the reflection, and then the adjustments so that we’re, we’re purposeful, in looking at process. So that’s that’s one that, to me, that is like one of the biggest root causes of why it’s challenging in the Western world.  What do you think, Patrick?


Patrick Adams  37:50

I agree with you totally. I think, you know, one of the other things on top of that, or that maybe complements that a little bit is that I think, just culturally in the Western world, you know, we have a tendency to, as leaders to direct to tell, to be to try to be accountable for everything ourselves to be the one decision maker to don’t be the Superman, as I mentioned earlier, versus, you know, understanding that we, or I guess, maybe it’s understanding but allowing, we’re empowering, and bringing everyone the skills and abilities that they need in order to be successful as a whole as a team, and sharing that accountability, sharing that decision making, sharing the problem solving, for whatever reason, I think it’s it’s just a little bit more difficult. In the Western world, I think just based on history, culture, you know, background, but I think a lot of companies, you know, are flipping the script on that and starting to think about things a little bit differently. And I think I’m excited to see what what happens in the future too. So me too, I it’s, it’s fun to see these chains of learning grow in organizations. And it culture really can change through the commitment of even just a few people to set the tone and to create those aha moments and to to sort of foster that foster that change. Absolutely. I just saw another question come in. From Michael, how do we provide management with the tools and skill sets to empower employees and create a sustainable environment? I’ve seen many managers come in riq, the high performance of employees because they want to do it their way. I want to take this one real quick. Hey, I think, you know, I also see this in a lot of organizations, leaders today, you know, normally don’t stay at an organization or in a position, I guess, longer than, you know, two years at the most. So what’s happening is, leaders are coming into positions. They’re trying to do as much as they can as quick as they can in a two year period, and then leaving and going on somewhere else and so they’re bringing in a lot of organizations allow leaders to come in and bring their own flavor, you know, or or leaders are taking the initiative to just bring their own flavor in. And what happens is people organizations are in complete chaos, because different leaders are coming in and they’re removing certain things and adding in their own and then leaving and then another leader comes in, pull that out, throw something else in, I think the key is that organizations have to have a continuous improvement, or a system of management that leaders have to buy into when they come in. Now, of course, every leader has their own leadership style, they’re gonna bring some of their own stuff, but they have to have a system, that they’re following a management system that’s built around continuous improvement principles that’s built around those inputs, the habits, the behaviors that are going to create a culture of continuous improvement, once we have that system in place, it shouldn’t matter as leaders come and go, that system should be constant, and that should create the stability that we need in order to continue to improve based on that. Do you have anything to add on that katie? 


Katie Anderson  41:06

Well, absolutely. So you know, I was just reflecting on a conversation I had on stage with Larry Culp, who is the CEO of General Electric, we were speaking at the Association for manufacturing excellence, and I was asking him questions about you know, he’s coming to GE, and he’s really trying to create this culture of continuous improvement. But it was important for him not to just come in and like, you know, push his way. But really do those things starting to go see, ask questions, pause, study and reflect. And then bought in lead the way by doing was going to create that culture. But if you just said, this is how we’re going to do it, and like this, you know, pushed out everyone’s way that was not going to have a people are not going to feel bought into that. So we can totally destroy the high performance of our teams, if we just come in and say it has to be our way or the highway, but how are you showing and demonstrating value and truly listening to what people have to say as well. And I agree with you completely, though, that it’s we, you know, this goes back to our being rewarded for the doing so when managers are only in positions for two years, they’re expected to achieve results. And achieving results is often seen as like, the end the end point. And of course, Toyota wants good outcomes, good wants good results. I, Larry COVID GE wants that the same way, but they see the process and the people are the way to get there. And so it’s just really shifting our mindset. But yeah, people can come in and really, really wipe things out. 


Patrick Adams  42:34

Yeah, for sure. Um, Lisa asked if Toyotas leadership style is servant leadership.


Katie Anderson  42:40

You know, I would say you could call it that it’s, you know, it’s clarity on leaders set the clear direction, right. But then within that, they’re trying to enable their people and in service of their people to achieve those goals. Like Mr. Yoshino said, my goal is my role as a manager was to give my direct report a mission or target and then support him, which were men back in the time in the 80s. To him achieve that target. And then I was I was, you know, I had to be aware, I was developing myself at the same time, which is what led me to think that leaders role is to set the direction provide support and develop yourself. Yes, so we need to be in service of developing people to achieve the outcomes that we need. 


Patrick Adams  43:22

Absolutely, I love it. I always like to, to think about leaders that in organizations that have a true culture of continuous improvement, the leaders almost take this like this, this behind the scenes role, where all they’re doing is feeding as much as they can to the the frontline. You know, the value add workers, employees and removing as many roadblocks as they can giving them the skills and the abilities are almost like this hidden person behind the scenes that’s giving them everything they can to be successful. Right. And, and again, whether you call that servant leadership or or you know what the term is, it’s really helping your team to be successful. There’s also a question Katie about sustainment a couple questions. Actually, a management system alone is not enough from Daniel. And then golden asked about sustainment as well. How do you manage? Or how do you sustain a continuous improvement culture over the long haul? Any any thoughts on that?


Katie Anderson  44:25

 All right, so the the management system is sort of the, the way that we are managing interacting and that but that also requires that last part, develop ourselves, how are we practicing each and every day to function in that management system and to be doing the things that we’ve committed to doing and then as as leaders, having that system where people are we’re developing and supporting people to grow into those management roles to know the way of operating you can’t just like say this is our management system. Go forth. It is about behaviors and actions. And so everything other things are tools that support that, you know, Leader Standard Work, you know, Mr. Yoshino had never heard of Leader Standard Work. It’s a tool that we have created to help support the practices and habits that we need. So it’s great use the tools that are going to help you sustain the behaviors that will sustain the management system. 


Patrick Adams  45:16

Yeah, I love the Leader Standard Work. Layered process audits, again, those are tools. But they there’s different aspects of, you know, that that that will help to support that sustainment, for sure, but it’s definitely difficult. It’s not an easy road. And there’s so many other there’s more questions that are coming in. And also on that sustainment one. I know there’s more we could talk about, but I will I want to leave it to all of you that are listening in those of you that are lean coaches, practitioners that are doing this, if you have other ideas, and you know, throw them in the comments, actually look for some of the questions that maybe haven’t been answered during our time today, answer those comment on those. Let’s create a discussion. Even within this, this live, post, and have some some more discussions around some of these questions and answers. We’ll try to help add some some answers in ourselves as well, Katie, we’re going to do a book giveaway. And I want to make sure we have time for that. And then also real quick, can you tell us a little bit about your a three masterclass that you have going on? 


Katie Anderson  46:26

Yes. Well, this is so fitting for this topic. So one of the most important tools at Toyota that supports this culture of continuous improvement is using an A three report. And Mr. Yoshino was one of the continuous improvement coaches at Toyota to help really embed this as a practice across the whole management system. And we are holding a live eighth how to a three master class next week on April 5, it’ll be 7:30am Pacific Time, it’s a two and a half hour class. There’ll be very late for Mr. Yoshino, I think 11:30pm In Japan, and we’re offering it live, if you’re not able to join live, you can also sign up and get the recording and all of the documents but the reason we decided to put together this masterclass was we were both observing people’s confusion around how to use a tree how to create a tree, the different types and purposes and really getting back to the fundamentals about how to successfully create an effective and more powerful a three report and how to help other people do the same. So come learn from one of Toyotas, a three masters he was John Chuck’s manager who taught him how to do a three and was the manager or the the inspiration for John’s book managing to learn the manager character, and so much more. And I’m going to be sharing insights that I’ve gained from being trained by FBI to teach a three thinking as well as working with clients for the last 15 years practicing and creating a threes as well. So we’ll be putting in more information around that. That’s April 5 Next week, on Wednesday, and hope you all can join us for that session. 


Patrick Adams  48:17

Awesome. opportunity to talk with Mr. Yoshino as well. Perfect and again if anyone wants to register use the QR code in the the live here today to register for that. And again, drop drop your questions into the comments. I know Katie and I won’t be able to get to them today. But I love for the CI community come together help answer some of these questions that are dropping into the comments here. katie and I will jump back on after the live try to answer some questions and discussions. 


Katie Anderson  48:46

We may have to have a part to follow up live discussion too, so stay tuned.

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.