Japan Trip Reflections with Katie Anderson

Japan Trip Reflections with Katie Anderson

by Patrick Adams | Sep 26, 2023

In this episode, Katie Anderson and I discuss our trip to Japan, as we immersed ourselves in a profound exploration of lean principles and their practical applications.

What You’ll Learn: Reflections on Japan and our carefully planned itinerary, which included visits to well-known manufacturing facilities and conversations with experienced lean practitioners.

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  00:00

Hello, and welcome to the Lean solutions podcast. My guest today is a regular on the show, Katie Anderson is coming back, specifically to discuss our Japan trip because we’ve been there now together. And so there’s lots to talk about. But if you are new to Katie, Katie 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 is an international number one Amazon bestseller, and currently is a Shingo award winning book as of recent. So congratulations, Katie. And welcome back to the show.


Katie Anderson  01:29

Thank you, Patrick. It’s a pleasure to be here. And it was so great to spend a whole week with you in Japan very recently. And now, our chain of learning is even more strict than with both of our books winning the Shingo publication award, and it’s so it’s fantastic. So I’m looking forward to diving into the conversation. And I don’t know how we’re gonna be able to keep it to podcast legs, because there’s so much to talk about.


Patrick Adams  01:54

That’s true. Very true. Absolutely. Well, I want to start just by talking about your book, because, again, as of recent, you receive the Shingo publication award, and you and I were talking a little bit about it while we were in Japan, that there was some, some talk about it, it was it was had been put up for the award, but you hadn’t really heard yet. And so you heard it, can you can you just tell us a little bit about like, that whole process. And obviously now, you know, what, what’s gonna what to go forward? Because you’re, you’re going to have to go receive the award now, right?


Katie Anderson  02:30

Yeah, well, I get to go receive the awards, though. It’s fantastic. And I know you were at the Shingo award gala recently receiving your Shingo award too. So I’m excited to be following in your footsteps. So yes, I’m really grateful to Sam McPherson for nominating the book and me as the author for the Shingo publication award. And Sam was a former Toyota employee. So even more just really meaningful to me that this the lessons in the book is something that he felt were really that was powerful, too. So he put me in the foot forward for the award. And we found out literally weeks after we came back from our Japan study trip, and had to keep it under wraps for three or four weeks until we made the announcement last week at the time of this recording, which was also the books three year anniversary. So it was a really nice way to honor the impact that the book has made and had, in the time of census put in the three years since its publication. And so I’m really deeply honored that with this award, and I was talking to Mr. Yoshino earlier this week, and he was just he was really glowing with, you know, a words or words or an external validation of the impact. And, you know, the most important thing to me is that, you know, the, the writing and the creation of the book was an important process for the two of us, but but also to know that people are really learning from it and gaining new insights and knowledge. And so, really appreciative of the Shingo Institute for recognizing that impact as well. So very exciting.


Patrick Adams  04:04

Yeah. And so what I mean, what did Mr. Yoshino say when you announced to him that it had been awarded?


Katie Anderson  04:11

Oh, he’s so humbled, you know, from getting to spend time with him in Japan. You know, he always is like, Oh, that’s such a wonderful recognition of your book, you know, he says, to really see the book of my book, and I always say, No, it’s our book. I was the author. You’re the subject. This is such a collaboration. He’s so humbled that you can see the smile on his face. So


Patrick Adams  04:33

that’s amazing. Yeah. Congratulations, Katie. I mean, it’s well deserved. You’ve written an amazing book, and it’s obviously to exactly what you’re saying so many people are being impacted by the book and just the work that you guys put into it. So you know, thank you for blessing the world with with all of that information, and obviously, like you said, it’s definitely being recognized on For good reason, and not just with the Shingo award, but you’ve been traveling all over the world with your book and with, you know, just showcasing some of the things that you do. Tell us a little bit about your travels.


Katie Anderson  05:14

Yes, it’s been an exciting year, you know, the global in person conferences really opened up again. And as a, someone who loves to travel and connect with people around the world, I embrace this. In the last, gosh, even Well, the last year, but really the last nine months have been all around the United States, but also to Poland. Where are they published the book in polish to Colombia, they publish the book in Spanish. You know, I was out in the Netherlands, I was out in Portugal, where the book has come out in Portuguese, most recently was in Brazil, where there are the lien Institute there is releasing the book in Brazilian Portuguese. And I’m excited. So I’ve signed contracts for the book to be coming out soon, and French, Italian and Chinese, and a few others. And so really, really exciting that, that the lessons are also going to be able to have a broader, a broader reach around the world. And, you know, the reflection questions and the learning that comes from it. The learning comes from stories, it’s not just the how to book you know, it’s a really reflection book in the same way that yours, yours is, as well shares, experiences, and then asks you to reflect on them.


Patrick Adams  06:25

Absolutely. No, that’s amazing. And since you brought up Brazil, I saw some of the pictures from the conference. And it looked amazing. I mean, there were a lot of people there, they’re doing a great job to promote lean throughout the country.


Katie Anderson  06:38

Absolutely. I believe I’ve been to some really fabulous conferences in the last year. And I have to say, the lean Institute, Brazil put on just a spectacular conference, and over 1500 people attending live, I was the opening keynote for that event, which was really exciting, talking about the book, and then had an opportunity to do a few breakout sessions as well, which I think we might be talking about, and a workshop in signing books. And it was just the level of the energy at that conference team, excuse me. And the, the way they put it on was really spectacular. So if you haven’t seen it, go check out the Lean Institute, Brazil’s LinkedIn page, they have some really cool video footage of like with the drone entering into the stadium, and then all of this like video footage, it was really cool in that, at the end, they had John shuck there, but not in person, and not on Zoom. He was in a hologram box. And I was sitting in the front row, the stage and it looked really like John Shook was totally there in person. So this is the way of the future of having your, you know, they can’t be there in person, but have it be more than just a zoom call. So it was very cool. And yeah, so thrilled to be on stage in front of 1500 people. So yeah,


Patrick Adams  07:56

right, right. And you brought up the workshop. So I’m interested to learn a little bit more, because, you know, I, you and I talked a little bit, and you told me about how they ran these breakouts, which normally, you would have your own room, and people would separate and they would go into these rooms, and you would, you know, run your workshop in smaller group sections. But that’s not how they did it. And so I want to hear about that. But then let’s talk a little bit about how you learned about it. And what that did for you, too. So tell us tell us about their breakouts.


Katie Anderson  08:29

Yes. And like what I learned from it, and then I learned how to how to how to respond to it. So you know. So the first the main, the event is had 15 people 100 people in one room, and they had a massive stage with LED lights, you know, on the stage and broken into like four massive big screens so that everyone could see. So I was also invited to give two breakout sessions. And I was awkward. And I’m very used to doing concurrent language with translation having been in Poland and, you know, in Brazil, and Portuguese Portugal and in Colombia as well. So that wasn’t the issue. But I made the assumption that breakout session meant like how you had made an assumption to and it was only the week before, before the event, when I had said I’d like to have the I was also teaching a one day workshop. And they had translated a document for me and said, I’d like to have the document also available for the first of my two breakout sessions. And they said, Well, that’s gonna be really hard, because we’re all in the same room. And I was like, What do you mean, we’re all in the same room? Like how is that going to work? Like that’s going to be loud and noisy and confusing. Anyway, it was revealed to me and I think had mentioned something but it didn’t really click to me in the past and in a few of the other international presenters didn’t didn’t click for them either. That they have because they’ve done this in past formats, and it’s been successful for them, but it didn’t quite understand the format. I liken it to a silent disco. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced that where people put on headphones And then you can’t hear outside, but everyone can choose whatever music they want to listen to. So this was the silent disco conferences, where each of the four concurrent speakers, so not necessarily breakout speakers, but concurrent speakers, were segmented on a large portion of the stage like this would have been a normal, if you were at a 200 person conference, you would have this amount of stage. So it was segmented in the fours, and people would have their headphones on, and they would just choose who to tune into. And instead of the speakers, having headsets where the the voice was being projected out, you know, broadly into the audience, it was going into the speaker. So you could it was, I just, I had no idea how this was going to work. Now in practice, it worked out great. But I’m so glad that I at least learned of it a week in advance because I really had to pivot, how I was going to structure my events because I usually do interactive discussions, like turn to a small group and have a discussion on this, and let’s have some interaction, or let’s have a little practice, almost like a mini workshop, hybrid talk workshop thing. And so I couldn’t do that I wouldn’t know who was going to be in my, who was listening to me, not everyone who was in front of me was going to be, you know, tuning into my session. And so we had to had to really pivot and rethink how I was going to do these two talks.


Patrick Adams  11:22

It was a lot. And, and and what you did was, I mean, you, you actually came up with a really innovative way to, to figure out how many people were listening to you, right? Because you didn’t know really, you didn’t know if anybody was listening to you, you had no way to know if one person or 1500 people were listening to you, right? So tell the audience a little bit more about that.


Katie Anderson  11:45

Totally. So I actually so I took a pause. And I was thinking to myself also like how this is this is what happens to leaders and managers, and anyone throughout the day you have something as you thought was going to happen. And the current conditions totally changed. And you have to pivot and rethink how you’re going to respond to it. And how do you get to the outcome that you need or want, but you’re going to have to go there a different route in a different way. So I was like, Alright, this is just how things happen all the time. So where what was the outcome that I wanted for the people joining my session. And so, you know, and what was sort of the theme, I knew I wanted there to be some level of interactivity. I wanted them to have fun, I wanted them to walk away with some tangible insights. I wanted it to be energetic. And so the those elements I had to think about delivering in a really different way. And they did have slideshow, which is, you know, an interactive platform where you can people can like do a poll, and it shows the live results of the poll. And so I say how can I use these different interactive elements. But to get to your first point, I had no visibility of who was going to be tuning into my session. And as a live speaker, you really get energy from the audience by you know, seeing people’s reaction, that to say also all of our virtual presentations and speaking into basically where you don’t see anyone, and how do you bring energy in a totally virtual environment, that that actually has really helped. And I found I was able to leverage that. But I was talking to a friend of mine, who she’s like you, who had a great suggestion. She’s like, you have to leverage the physicality. If it’s going to be silently you have to leverage your physicality. And so I was like, okay, so what are the things that I can do about this, and I was thinking about our Japan study trip, and the the two thumbs up, and the Japanese phrase that says II May, which means it’s awesome, or it’s great, and everyone holding two thumbs up. And I thought, well, this is a great story. And I can talk about bringing the Japan study trip, and also then ask everyone to put their two thumbs up, also showing me and making it visible when of the print, you know, the principles of Lean about how can you make it visible. And so I invited everyone and then I could see that there were hundreds of people tuning in to me, which was, that gave me energy as well. And they too can see who is who is listening to this session. So that was, and then when I thought of the email, I actually was able to connect it back to the topic of my talk, which was about purpose, and about how do we, you know, we get so focused on outcomes and results, and we lose sight of the human purpose of and a lot of successful companies and a lot of the ones we saw in Japan and we can explore this a little bit more really focused on people and learning and then there’s a whole connection of ena about how a housing Japanese companies leverage this building enthusiasm together through putting thumbs up and energy and so I was able to talk about that and share a video from a previous experience in Japan about visiting a restaurant where they do a pre shift meeting and they really bring the energy and use ena as well the two thumbs up That was that was a fun, a fun one fun way to bring in Lean principles, make it visible, and give me some energy in the audience energy to. And then I really leaned into storytelling. And so I’ve actually been on a journey, the last 18 months, I challenged myself at the beginning of 2020, to really up my speaking to, you know, I’m a very comfortable and seasoned facilitator, but to bring in much, much more storytelling, and I’ve really been growing and practicing over the all these opportunities. And so I was like, Alright, this is my challenge, I’m going to bring in as much storytelling and as much like physicality on the stage as I can. And it was a great, it was a great opportunity. And even some of the people in the audience who had seen me say, in Colombia, they’re like, Wow, you’ve really like I can, they could see my growth. And that was really rewarding too, because it’s something I’ve been working on, as well. And then I got so many messages on LinkedIn, and other places, people saying what, one of the most inspiring talks they’ve ever heard, and just really, like, weeks later, they’re thinking about it, and really making changes. And that’s really, that’s energizing to me that even through a one hour talk that you can help inspire someone to see things in a different light and take a different action,


Patrick Adams  16:12

as amazing love hearing that love, love hearing that the work that you know that that’s going on all around the world, and how you’re able to be a part of that with with your story. And it’s, it’s amazing, very cool. And I love that our listeners can can learn a little bit more about what’s happening around the world, outside of their own country. So and you mentioned the visual aspect, I want to transition to our trip to Japan. But you mentioned the visual aspects of ena. And it made me think specifically about every time that we left a visit to one of the you know, one of the companies that we visited there, that how they would you know, stand outside the leaders and Wave to us until you can’t see each other again, and you know, that’s a custom for them. And you know, when you first set it, I was kind of like really, really though, and then sure enough, as soon as we’re driving away, they were waving like crazy, to, you know, just enthusiastically waving to us until you literally couldn’t see each other again. And so that was, that was a lot of fun as well. And just experiencing those little pieces of the Japanese culture, were so much fun for me. And I appreciate the fact that you invited me on the trip. And we had a blast and met a lot of really great people. And I was thinking about this as I was preparing for today’s recording. And I remembered on the first day when we were together, you drew a diagram on the board with like a triangle with three categories, universal, Toyota, and Japanese were the words that you wrote on each of the areas. And this was an exercise that we did. And then you kind of brought it back full circle, towards the end where we had some conversation around this exercise. Can you just kind of talk through this exercise with our listeners and tell them a little bit more about what you were trying to accomplish through that?


Katie Anderson  18:10

Yes, so first of all, acknowledge John Shook, I borrowed this concept from him from actually an article that was written in the Lean global networks newsletter, from a Japan study trip he had led for the representatives of the lean global network. And John is, you know, is the wrote the foreword for my book and was worked directly for Mr. Yoshino. So it really it he spent many, many, many years in Japan as well. And so I thought, this is a really great exercise for us to use as a beginning framework, and then a reflection framework at the end as well. So really asking people to say, how much of all of this is, you know, is it of Lean thinking and practice, or what we consider to be Lean thinking and practice is specific to Toyota culture to Japanese culture? Or that are universal principles actually universal on the top and then ask people just put a, you know, put a rating for themselves and reflect on the reasons why they rated that. And then, as we went through the week, to reflect on that, how much of it is due to success because of being in Japan? Or how much is just universal humanity? And how much is something specific that Toyota did? And was interesting to see on the last day where people had everyone, for the most part shifted, in some ways and people shifted in different ways, but how it really did move more towards that universal side of of not feeling like it was just purely Japanese or purely Toyota. But you know, again, everyone had to sell for eating. How was your What was your experience of that as a as the receiver of that exercise?


Patrick Adams  19:53

Yeah, I thought it was great. definitely made me think a little bit and I think, you know, one The biggest pieces for me that came out of that was that, that I learned so much about the Japanese culture. And I really started to understand how things that I thought were, were very much Toyota specific, were not Toyota specific, they were actually more came more from the Japanese culture. And then they were an enabler to the success of the Toyota Production System. Versus like, being something that Toyota created. For example, like five s, for example, you know, we learned a lot more about the culture and how, you know, kids learned from a very early age to three ask their areas, and, and they literally even used those those terms, like, and so, you know, initially, I, you know, in my mind, I was thinking that was something that came out of Toyota and, and so it’s just little things like that, when we went and visited the school and learned, you know, about how kids, again, are taught at a very early age to take care of their areas to respect, you know, the, the not just their own personal things, but to respect the you know, the areas around them that they’re going to visit that they’re going to, I mean, they don’t have they, they’re taught to put trash in their pockets and bring it home and throw it away. I mean, just little things like that, that, again, I think helped really to enable the success of the Toyota Production System, versus being the reason why Toyota was so successful. Does that make sense?


Katie Anderson  21:27

Absolutely, and I fully, there are influences from the Japanese culture that really have enabled what the Toyota Production System and then what we’ve translated into being lean. And Toyota has also done some things that were helped overcome some cultural challenges from being more Japanese, or traditionally Japanese culture as well and really shaped shaped the best of sort of both both both worlds. So I also would caution people not to think, Well, I only can happen or be successful because of these Japanese cultural elements as well, because there’s some things we had to overcome, and many things which are universal around our humanity. And like that was so much of the focus of the trip to like, very important to see, I wanted to show what are Toyota how to Toyota has influence in their suppliers in that region, some Japanese cultural elements that are really important, and then also exploring some universal things around joy and happiness and learning and a sense of purpose and how, when we can connect on all of that, then that also helps enable everything to happen. Hey, everybody,


Patrick Adams  22:32

Absolutely. And it just made me think about Mr. Yoshino talked about creating a culture of openness. And you know that again, that was something that, you know, we had extensive conversations about the fact that You know, there are companies in the US that we go to that, I would say have a culture of openness, there are Japanese companies, it but there are also companies that don’t have that and how we had some really good discussion around how to create that a culture of openness, a culture where people are willing to share and have discussions among each other without fear of repercussions or whatever it may be. And so, you know, that was another area that I thought was really, really interesting for me. Also leadership, you know, the different leaders at the different companies that we visited, you know, we’re had a huge impact on me, loved hearing from hearing from their hearts. And, you know, again, just back to that culture of openness, and then willing to share the struggles, the challenges, I mean, we had some conversations with one of the leaders of a company that, you know, talked about sales were declining from in from an automotive manufacturing perspective, and that they had to pivot and diversify their their offerings, and then then it was a really difficult time for them. But then, you know, we obviously went down the road of Did you lay people off? And of course, they said, No, we didn’t lay people off, we invested in developing their their skill sets and tried to think differently about, you know, the, their jobs, and, you know, what they, what they how they could contribute in other ways. And so, you know, some really, really great conversations around that, what was your feeling on that piece with just creating a culture of openness?


Katie Anderson  26:33

Absolutely. I mean, that’s one of the key themes of the kind of the companies I want to choose is like, how are they really leading genuinely, with people first, and that, that comes from a place of starting with themselves and being open and transparent and creating that place where people are all able to, you know, it’s goes back to my my book, too. And this simple statement that you achieved, Mr. Yoshino made this, like, leaders set the direction, they provide support, and they develop themselves. And it starts with yourself modeling the ways of the culture that you want to create. So you want this culture of learning that’s people sent her to you? How do you? How do you start with yourself to model that, and so that, I mean, I come away inspired by all of these leaders to some of whom I’ve heard, I don’t know countless times over the last eight years since I first met some of these companies when I was living in Japan. And it is inspiring because they’re, they’re super genuine about leading from the heart, and inspiring the mind, and also achieving the outcomes that they need for their organizations that we talked about how some of in the West in particular, but it also helps the Japanese companies too. A lot of times we get focused on the results and the outcomes. And we see that is the primary like how do we, you know, what are the business results that we need? And then the secondary is, oh, how do we develop people? But these organizations see how do we invest in people as the way to achieve the results. So I think we have it backwards. And we get so focused on the outcome. I think back to the quote that I love in tree ring, the book tree ring management, which is one of the written by the chairman of one of the companies that we visit. And he’s considered the Sensei, for many Toyota executives. And there was this, this quote in the book that really resonated to me when I first read it and said, profit is excrement it is the natural byproduct of a healthy functioning company. And if you really focus on like the people and the heart and the mind, everything else will sort of come from that. You know, Toyota also says, like, we make people so that we can make cars. And so we just, we just, we flip it. And so these leaders are really demonstrating that through that openness, and through the clarity of the challenges we need to overcome. And then providing that environment where people can contribute their ideas and, and feel supported, that they’re gonna get there as well.


Patrick Adams  28:56

Right. It made me think about one of the things that one of the leaders said to me when I asked about going to the gamba, and you know, how often should you go to The Gambia? How often are your leaders going to the gamba? If we were to, if we were to, you know, walk around and follow them? How often would they go to the gemba? And his response to me was in question for him? And he said, How often do you or how much time do you spend with your children? And so his answer was basically saying exactly what you say like the like, this is my family. These are the people that I care about. These are the people that I am invested in, that I pour into, like, I’m seeing them all the time, I’m going there. And I’m, I want to understand their problems. I want to understand their struggles. I want to be able to remove roadblocks, I want to be able to help them so that they can be successful. Like these are my these are my children. So I’m seeing them all the time. You know, and I just thought that was such an interesting way to answer that question and really just goes back to the importance of The people and there was no question of well, you know, I go to the gemba, when there’s a problem with, you know, we’re not hitting our numbers, or we’re not doing this or no, it was like, these are my people. I’m, I’m out there all the time. You know,


Katie Anderson  30:13

totally in a similar I wasn’t on this study trip, but it was the last one I ran before the pandemic, and we were visiting, one of the same companies and people we are on this trip to there are a lot of questions are what are your key performance indicators and KPIs? A similar question was asked, in 2019? Like, what what employee engagement surveys do you use? How do you? How do you tell if people are engaged or learning? And it was a very similar answer, but I think it was a different, different company. And he said, they kind of looked quizzically and said, Well, what do you mean? Like? Do you survey your family? Like, you know, because you’re out there and engaging with them, if they’re happy or feel, like, connected? And so you know, this because of experience? And so if everyone’s doing that, then you have that? You know, that experience? So, yeah, so then all of us they will have How can we do that? It’s because we’re, we need to, we need to strip away to the essence of what what’s really our purpose as leaders? Is it all the tasks? Or is it really supporting people to be able to achieve the chief the big challenges that we need?


Patrick Adams  31:19

That’s right. Katie, what would you say? Is your favorite place to visit when when we went to Japan this last time? Or maybe it’s a company that was earlier? But any any favorites? That you would say is it


Katie Anderson  31:35

it’s so hard, because there’s so many, there’s so many different things that I learned from different organizations. So I’m pausing because that’s like saying, My absolute favorite, I will, I will say that I really value going to, you know, foods, which is the company we’re talking about, what’s the chairman who wrote tree ring management, there are a bit of a journey to get out there in the Japan Alps, which is beautiful. And their, their happiness is their purpose. And they really, really embody that. And I just having that long term view, and the, just the, the uniqueness of that is really inspiring to me. And it’s, and it’s also outside of sort of the beaten path of a lot of, you know, we get outside of just the main manufacturing area of the Nagoya Toyota City region and outside some of the main cities and getting out to see just a different type of company as well. So that’s certainly a favorite of mine. I have I have many other favorites, though. So it’s, really, it’s really hard.


Patrick Adams  32:40

And it’s also hard to say that’s not your favorite, when you stop at the Saki brewery that they own, just before. Yeah, and that was really amazing, too. So


Katie Anderson  32:53

that was an add on. Yeah, that was great. I learned that they had they invested in this. It’s a beautiful story, actually. And it’s nice to also offer some sock a tasting to my my tour participants, the inner foods invested in this sock, a brewery, it’s about half hour, 45 minutes away. And because they wanted to invest in their community, the sock a brewery was having trouble at the time financially. And also, so were the local rice farmers. And ina saw this as an opportunity to invest in their community, because they invest in the stock a brewery, they will be able to then bought purchase rice from the local farmers. And so then their communities surviving and thriving, as well. And now the brewery is like world renowned. It’s winning all these international awards in the community has employment and so it’s just a great, great story and great sakeI too. So yes, yes,


Patrick Adams  33:49

for sure. I actually bought three bottles and brought brought them home for my leadership team. So as gifts to them so and really cool because they have on the on the box itself and the bottle on the label, they have the tree rings, you know, printed on there, which is really neat. The crazy thing is, is you cannot buy that book. It’s crazy expensive. But you know, we had the PDF to be able to read but So for anybody that has it, or it can get their hands on it, what an amazing book, you know, just talking specifically about slow incremental growth of an organization and the importance of, you know, not not buying into, you know, you know, massive growth too quickly, because that can be detrimental to your organization. And so they they’ve focused on this slow incremental growth over time. That has that they’ve kind of said, This is why we’ve been so successful and been able to manage the growth over time because it it didn’t get out of control. Right. Yeah,


Katie Anderson  34:56

totally. You were you were reflecting on that and how you’re taking Some of those principles in to your team as well, when we had recently we had a post trip reflection session because I love reflections. And yeah, it really sounds like it really was impactful for you the key about how, as a leader of a manager in your own your own company, how can you use those principles?


Patrick Adams  35:17

Absolutely, it was it made me think about, like, you know, everyone wants to be successful in the work that they’re doing whatever it may be. And, you know, sometimes we think that success means that we have to grow very quickly or take huge strides. And you know, and that’s not necessarily the case. I mean, like I said, that could be detrimental to your organization, if not done properly, and but slow, incremental growth structured over time. I mean, that makes sense, right? So, yeah, it was good.


Katie Anderson  35:52

I’m gonna turn the question on you, what was your favorite place or experience on the whole trip?


Patrick Adams  35:58

That’s a hard, that’s a tough one to answer to, I have a hard time putting my finger on one. They were all very impactful. And I actually, I have my my notes here from the booklet that you gave us. And, you know, for those that are, that are seeing the video here, you know, these are my notes from every page. So I have just so many notes, from all of the different places that we visited. And it’s so hard to say one was better than the other as you as you struggled with. But I would say, I really loved visiting the elementary school, I think that that was a for me, it was, you know, just seeing the culture, seeing how the culture is, you know, created in Japan, and then understanding how that then ties into the success of the Toyota Production System. I think specifically about the fact that they don’t have janitors in the school. And so then you ask, well, who cleans the school? Right? And the answer is, the kids clean the school, they literally shut down for 15 minutes. And they each have their own areas. And I think they rotate that around, and they all go and they clean for a given period of time. And then again, that that teaches them to take care of their areas that takes and teaches them to be respectful of their areas, because no one wants to, you know, clean up a big mess in the bathroom, they know that they’re going to be the ones cleaning it later on. So they keep it clean on a regular basis. And so then from there, you make the connection to going and visiting, you know, one of the factories where they say, you know, where they’re like, We don’t have maintenance personnel in, you know, on staff here, and then the question is, well, who takes care of the machines? And they’re like, well, the operators take care of the machines. And so you see the connection, like, where it’s like they’re taught from such an early age, to just take care of the things that are, you know, within their, within their area of of ownership. And it’s just a really, really neat connection, you know, so I think that that was probably one of the larger impacts on me was the school visit.


Katie Anderson  38:15

Yeah, I love it too. And also, a lot of people do say that the they were surprised that going to an elementary school was the highlight, they thought, you know, all these Mitnick the company visits, but really, also getting connect with kids and see how they prepare the lunch together and the patience and the respect and the cleaning and the regret for waste, and how, how different it is from most of our experiences in the West. Interestingly, well, also, Japan is one of the clean across the board, like Tokyo and big cities, so clean, it’s because people take care of their space. You mentioned there’s no, you know, like, there are very few trash cans, like in even in big cities, and people take their trash with them. It’s not strewn around the streets. And it’s so safe and clean. And I’ve really always appreciated that because it’s invested in and so, again, go back to like, as leaders, if we want to create a culture, a culture is just the accumulation of, you know, the behaviors that are becoming an accepted norm. We have to teach people that. And we have to model that ourselves. And so we do can create these cultures. It’s not like, oh, well, it’s just Japan, they have to they put intention around that as well as developing their children. And it’s, you know, not saying that employees are children either, but it’s about like, instilling the habits and behaviors that we want, as well and then creating the structures to enable it not just saying, Oh, you have to go off and do it. So I think about all those principles, but how do we adopt these things or lead them in our organizations to what are the structures, what are the principles? What are the behaviors and how do we model it and support it to


Patrick Adams  39:49

go true? I still remember as a young supervisor, walking the plant floor with a leader who I still am in contact with regularly. And I remember I remember her stopping and reaching down and picking up trash on the floor. And she’s an Executive leader at this large company. And, and I was surprised, and she was like, you know, could see that I was surprised that she’s picking up trash. And I actually felt bad. I’m like, Why is she having to pick up trash in our, you know, on our factory floor, my factory floor. And, you know, she said to me that if you, if you just step over this, then you’re, you’re telling everyone around you that that’s okay, that it’s okay to just throw trash on the ground. But when they see you picking it up, immediately, they know that it’s not okay, that it should not be on the floor. And, you know, so that behavior in itself is, is helping to establish the cultural norms that you will have within your organization. You know, absolutely. It’s, it’s pretty amazing. But yeah, I love, love everything that we I mean, you know, we could talk forever about trip, we almost need like five or six episodes, to go through all of the different learnings that we had, you know, in Japan, but I do want to ask you, Katie, in reflecting back on the trip itself, you know, in listening to the people that were that participated and listening to the reflections, you know, for you yourself, I mean, what are some of the things that you are, are saying, you know, went really well, maybe some things, you know, that you’re changing for the next trip? You know, what are some of those learnings that you’ve had, as the facilitator of the Japan trip?


Katie Anderson  41:35

Yeah, so it’s always an opportunity for, you know, PDCA, or do either check it out. So I always appreciate that. And, you know, we had to take a pause for four years in the pandemic. So that was, that was great. So the things that I am really happy about is that people, like, you know, on, on our reflection call last week, people were like, This was life changing. This was life changing. And so to me, that makes me really happy that it was such an impactful experience, because it is an investment of time of money. And, but to have an experience that feels life changing, is is wonderful. And so that’s that that’s a huge positive for me. You know, it’s interesting, I like in the post trip survey, too. And I this happens, as this happened in every trip, people like, oh, when you said it was going to be intense, it really is intense, because then we pack in a lot of things on the agenda. And then some people say, Oh, it was it was they were such long days. And then I’ll ask the question, well, what would you cut out? And they’re like, Well, I wouldn’t cut out anything. That’s that’s the tension. It’s just gonna be it’s a big full week, and we give different times for downtime. But you come to Japan, and you really want to get the most of that, as well. You know, some things that I’m adjusting for, you know, every trip is more I’m like, I’m thinking, how can I do more extra, even more external setup. So I did a bit of that this time. You know, in past in the pre pandemic, we didn’t have so many remote calls, I had maybe one pre trip call, but I brought in, I had Mr. Yoshino do a pre trip, seminar. And we brought in more of that before the trip, I’m going to do even more of that for this time, so that we can really leverage as opposed to having lectures or seminars in a conference room, we can hit the ground running and get out to gamba. Get out to the experiences, use that leverage the time on the buses for discussion. Of course, we do have reflection time later as well. Yeah, so those are a few few of the changes that I just really happy. We also had a question. And I thought that was in our reflection question that some trip participants were getting questions from, you know, they’re their colleagues about, well, what were the technical tools and processes that you learned? And they’re like, oh, you know, we learned a few, but I, you know, that wasn’t the focus. And that really, the what, that’s not the focus of my trip, it’s, you will see and experience, tools and process and you know, like s Med and visual systems and Kanban boards and all of that. But the focus is of the leadership in people principles behind it. And so when everyone’s saying they feel inspired and so much more equipped and more energized, about how to really create transformational change, then that makes me happy. And also the amazing cohorts that get brought together like I love spending time with you and some just all the people on our trip, as well. So yeah, so there’s like I’d say it’s minor tweaks around the edges, but I’m in you know, sometimes we go to I keep some core elements and then you don’t want every trip to be cookie cutter exactly the same. So I’m excited for trying a few new things on this upcoming trip and already planning for May of 2024 and likely a trip in the fall of 20 2014. But we haven’t set dates for that. So reach out to me for those of you who are interested in joining


Patrick Adams  44:48

Yeah, there definitely were some other aspects that we haven’t even touched women and scratched the surface on you know, with you know, some of the tools we the bullet train and you know, the the seven second miracle the changeover of the bullet chain. I mean, that day was super impactful for me to be even though, you know, that’s not an area that that I work in regularly, just hearing the heart of those leaders and hearing about the transformation stories and hearing from the people that are actually there experiencing it. I mean, those were those were transformational stories for me, too. So,


Katie Anderson  45:24

yes, I Well, and this is, this gets back to the the lean and operational excellence and cultures of learning can apply in any industry in any country. You know, it just wasn’t what it will look like and will be different, what the challenges you face are different that the principles still apply. And going back to that leadership that focuses on people first, you will be able to enable the outcomes that you need. And so it’s great to see across it, and it’s, it’s intentional to for the way I curate and construct the agendas is to have a breadth of experiences, you know, from Toyota and its suppliers to going out to different industries to seeing other manufacturing companies to and how they’re trying to learn as well and apply the these concepts. So the whole thing comes together. And also, I really enjoyed a few people like yourself and myself a few, we had a small group of runners and we would go out for a few days, we had a day in Nagoya, and I did a day in Tokyo. And that was super fun to get some exercise and go, then you got to see other things that you wouldn’t have seen on the formal tour. So always great to get up and get a little exercise as well. Yeah,


Patrick Adams  46:35

that was a lot of fun, for sure. And I had a blast with that. And got to, like you said, got to see things that we wouldn’t have otherwise seen by running through the streets, you know, in the different cities that we were in. So that was that was a lot of fun, for sure. And you mentioned you do have a few more trips coming up. You mentioned you have one coming up shortly that not too long from now and then a few more next year plan.


Katie Anderson  47:00

Yes. So my October trip is is totally full. And we’re we’re in the final stages, we just had actually the time that they have are recording our first pre trip call. And then I have open enrollment for my trip in May. So the second week of May of 2024. And then looking at putting dates on for fall of 2024, likely in November this year. But I still haven’t, I need to work on the details of that. But there’s spots still available for May of 2024. So don’t wait because the trips do fill up pretty pretty quickly, as well. So reach out to me, you can go to my website, K BJ anderson.com/japan. Trip. And also Patrick wrote almost daily reflections. So go check out Patrick’s theorem on LinkedIn, right that you were writing a ring LinkedIn articles for each day of his learning. So really great. And Isaac Mitchell also wrote daily reflections, and a few others as well. So if you’re wanting to get more details, go dive into some of Patrick’s reflections. You can learn learn more, and maybe we’ll come back and dive into some of those deeper, focused areas of learning as well in the future. Absolutely.


Patrick Adams  48:10

Yeah. And we’ll put a link to Katie to your website, we’ll put that into the show notes. And we can throw in a couple of those reflection articles and even your blogs, you have a ton of blogs on your website that that layout, the you know the trip itself and learnings from there. And then, you know, I’ll close just by saying that there may be another trip in our future together. Right next year, maybe sometime. There. So anyways, Katie, as always, it’s great to have you on the show. Love, love the Japan trip. It was an amazing trip. definitely life changing for sure recommended. By all means if anybody has questions and they want to talk to me, give me a call. I’ll tell you all about the Japan trip. So yes, thank you, Katie. And again, congratulations on your book learning to lead leading to learn we’ll put a link to that in the show notes as well. Congratulations on your Shingo award. Just amazing things. Super cool. Thanks again for being on the show.


Katie Anderson  49:20

Thanks, Patrick. And I love seeing your Daruma above you too. So from from the trip so thank you so much. You’re an important part of my chain of learning and I encourage people to reach out to me to connect on LinkedIn. Visit my website and let’s continue the learning together.

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.