Lean in The Service Sector with Catherine McDonald

Lean in The Service Sector with Catherine McDonald

by Patrick Adams | Oct 24, 2023

In this episode Catherine McDonald and I shed light on key principles of lean management, share success stories, discuss supporting leaders, and reveal strategies for sustaining effectiveness in the long term.

What You’ll Learn:

1. What do you see as the key principles and practices of Lean management and how can these be effectively applied in different organizational contexts?

2. Can you share some success stories of companies that have implemented Lean principles and practices and achieved significant improvements in operations and practices?

3. Leadership has a huge impact on the success of Lean management and CI. How do you support leaders to develop the skills they need to optimize their team and processes?

4. What strategies and techniques do you employe to engage and motivate people at all levels of an organization to embrace Lean thinking and get involved in CI?

5. How do you measure the effectiveness of Lean and Leadership Development initiatives and ensure they are sustainable in the long term?

About the Guest: 

Catherine is a Lean and Leadership Coach. Her work involves training and coaching executives and teams in organizations of all types and sizes. In 2018, Catherine started her own business- MCD Consulting where she works as a Lean and Leadership Coach. She specializes in Lean deployment in non-manufacturing industries, including food, retail, education, non-profit, health care, event management, hospitality and media. Catherine’s approach is strategic, enthusiastic and empathetic. Through collaborative methods, she facilitates people and organizations to move from short-term reactive working to long-term strategic thinking.


⁠Click here to connect with Catherine McDonald


Patrick Adams  00:00

Hello, and welcome to the Lean solutions podcast. My guest today is Katherine MacDonald. Catherine is a lean and leadership coach. Her work involves training and coaching executives and teams in organizations of all types and sizes. In 2018, Catherine started her own business MCD consulting, where she works as a lean and leadership coach. She specializes in Lean deployment in non manufacturing industries, including food, retail education, nonprofit health care, event management, hospitality, the list goes on. So welcome to the show, Katherine.


Catherine McDonald  01:04

Hi, Patrick, thank you so much. I’m absolutely delighted to be here. Thanks a million.


Patrick Adams  01:09

Well, I’m delighted to have you on Katherine and I mentioned that you are in the non manufacturing industry. Can you expand on that just a little bit. So just so our listeners understand, you know, kind of where your background is, and just maybe give us a give us a little bit of a view into your past? So we understand kind of who we’re talking to?



Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, I do specialize in in non manufacturing. Reason being I spent probably the first five, six years of my career in the hospitality sector, working in hotels, bars, restaurants. And then from there, I spent 13 years in the nonprofit sector. So I suppose I fully understand the need for Lean in those services. And I also enjoy going in and working with those types of industries. Because I have a background, I have knowledge of the industry. And I do think that’s important when it comes to consultancy and coaching and helping businesses. So yeah, absolutely. That’s where I prefer to be.


Patrick Adams  02:06

Absolutely. And obviously, maybe some people can hear the difference in our accents. So you’re not in the US. So can you tell us maybe where you’re, you’re zooming in from today?



Yeah, I’m zooming in from a place called Newbridge, which is in County Kildare in Ireland.


Patrick Adams  02:25

Yes. Love it. Love it. Now Ireland out before we hit record, I was I was telling you, Ireland is one of those countries that I’ve never visited. But it’s on my bucket list. I would love to come to Ireland and visit and I’ve heard from many people that the hospitality there is just amazing. Like you people kind of open their doors. They’re very friendly. Is that tell? Is that really the case?



Yeah, it like people are really friendly. I think we’re very laid back nation. And we like we like fun. We like to chill. And we also work really hard. But yeah, I think the Irish people have a really good balance, you know, between between work and play. So yeah, I think that’s that’s, that’s pretty, pretty accurate. I


Patrick Adams  03:09

love it. Love it. And I also know that in Ireland, I know of many companies that are doing some amazing work from a continuous improvement perspective. I’ve seen lots of amazing Best Practices coming out of organizations in Ireland. So what’s what’s your secret over there? What what, you know, what’s is there? Is there just this lien, or CI, culture that spreading through the country? Or what’s what’s happening?



I think the secret is that we are people, people. So we’re very good at relationships, we’re very good at talking to people, we’re very good listeners. And I think that’s always the key to to effectively in it’s it’s getting to know people getting to know people’s needs before you go in trying to change anything, it’s getting a really good idea of what people are all about what organizations are all about. And I think I think that’s yeah, the Irish are probably very good at that, which absolutely helps.


Patrick Adams  04:07

I love that. And because in I think about in the US with so many organizations that struggle with Lean deployment, because they’re so focused on the tools, and you didn’t you didn’t mention the tools not one time and that explanation of why, you know, organizations are having success in Ireland, and you specifically talked about culture and people. And so I just love that I think that’s something we all need to key in on. And so I guess that leads me into my first question for you, Catherine. You’ve worked in lots of different organizational context. And so I’m curious to hear from you. What do you see as those key principles practices of Lean management, and how can those be effectively applied, you know, within those different organizational contexts?



Yeah. So I mean, like I studied lean, like a lot of other lean consultants and at the time, I would have learned about, you know, when Lean principles being value value streams, pull, elimination of weights, continuous improvement, and all these things are really, really important. You can’t be lean without those things. But at the back of my mind, I suppose I have, I have other principles as well. And I think those principles are involvement of people, not just involvement of people, engagement, empowerment of people, and the provision of autonomy within continuous improvement, and almost the shape this idea of, of sharing at the leadership when it comes to lean of helping people to become masters of their own processes and owners of their own processes. And I think they are the principles that I follow when I go into any organization. And I think that’s then what helps me to be able to deploy lean in any type of organization, because it’s not about you know, a lot of people wouldn’t understand the Lean language. As such, I think you have to get down to where people are at how they work, how they speak, and really get to know them, involve them and make it very simple for people. And I think when you do that, and you draw out their needs, and you draw out where you feel the opportunities for improvement are, and then it’s just so much easier to explain to them and get them to see waste. But I think that’s really important, first and foremost, is to get to know them and bring out the people side of lean.


Patrick Adams  06:23

Yeah. Do you feel that? Is it? Are there challenges that come with? You know, with doing that, are there challenges that come with, you know, the, I guess, for some organizations that I’ve worked with, there’s, there seems to be almost this wall, between the office or leadership and the people that are closest to the value at work, right? This like imaginary wall and trying to break that down? And, you know, understand both sides of that is can sometimes be challenging. And just working with humans in general can be challenging. What do you have examples of maybe some challenges, or, you know, even some success stories of you working with these companies, applying these different principles and practices, anything at all that comes to mind?



Yeah, no, no, definitely. I mean, there are challenges. There’s, there’s so many challenges. And sometimes you go into work with an organization and it doesn’t work out the way that you think it will. And there’s you come up against situations that you really don’t know how you’re going to get around. So yeah, absolutely. I’ll give you an example of an organization I’ve been working with for a couple of years. Now, it didn’t actually didn’t, what we wanted to work didn’t work, really, in the first year, because what happened was, the leadership team wanted to work with me, they wanted to, you know, map out processes with me, they wanted to create standards, and they wanted them to give these to people for people to follow. So, you know, obviously, I see the dangers in that I’m aware of the need to involve people wish, I kind of said, Okay, I’m gonna start from where they’re at, as I kind of work with them, I’ll show them what Lean is all about, I’ll train them. And I couldn’t really I couldn’t, I couldn’t get past this kind of idea that they had, that this was how it’s going to work. So I said, go with it. So what happened was obviously the they sat in their offices, and they learned about lean, and they try to, I suppose, enforce these principles and SOPs on people. And they just got so little such little results from, you know, I didn’t mind them coming back to me and saying this isn’t working, because I was able to highlight a beginning what we need in order to work. So the good news is about a year on in, they’ve completely changed in the service sector, they’re busy, which is why they didn’t, you know, they felt they couldn’t stop people or pull people away from work because you know, the workout to happen. So now they have completely changed their mindset. They tried it, this sort of didn’t work. And now they understand why. So this was learning and all of that as well. So now it’s working really well. We’ve got all the different teams cross departmental teams, just downing tools just for short periods, to map processes and understand what’s working well, and see what could work better and come up with action plans and, and we’ve got systems in place to revisit all of this. And we’ve got, we’ve got things moving and happening. And actually that particular company saved about 100,000 In the last over the last two years, because they have reduced their customer complaints, and they’ve decreased their errors and they’ve made huge changes as a result of the people who are doing the work actually changing their behaviors. And that all all only happens when you involve them in the work and they feel that they have control and ownership of it. So yes, that was a struggle, a real struggle, but I sometimes think you just have to let people do things and see what doesn’t work in order to find what does work. Hmm


Patrick Adams  09:53

Wow, such a That’s a powerful story and obviously a lot of work I’m sure that’s been put in And I would be curious to know, you mentioned that, you know, there’s been some training that’s happened with that team. And also even just the deployment of some of the things that you talked about. What does that look like? So are you or your team or in that leadership team are are there? Are they running people through training classes, specifically on you know, the basics of CI, or, you know, lean deployment? What does that look like? And then even the deployment itself? Are you using daily management? Are you using Kaizen events? Are you is it just a matter of, you know, small, incremental changes over time, you know, continuous effort and experimentation? Like, what did that look like to go from where you started to where they are today?



Yeah, so it took a lot of work. So it really, I suppose it started with some yellow belt training. So just to get the basics, I did come in and do some training face to face with people. But I think the yellow belt just gave people something to go back to, and it gave them all the basics when it comes to to lean. So that was helpful. And then a couple of green belts trained up as well. And they then kind of worked a bit more closely with me when it came to when I was actually in on site doing work. And they learned you know, how to use the tools with me, like process mapping, or how to do Kaizen events and all of that. So then, you know, it was taking the Reliance off me coming in, which is what I always aim to do take the Reliance off me and make the organization responsible and able to to run these things themselves. So that was the way we work the kind of the structure of it. And then when it came to the actual, I suppose, layout of how of how we did it. So yeah, we looked at first of all, following training, we looked at processes, and we created a process inventory. And we looked at the processes in need of most improvement, we then created some cross departmental groups, and we got them involved. And obviously, practically, doing the work in terms of process mapping, where we ran into issues, we would go outside of the cross departmental group, and we go into the workshop, and we would run Kaizen events just to get more information, you know, especially if we ran into barriers, and we just, it just wasn’t working, so that they were kind of as needed. And then we did introduce more structure into the day in terms of meetings and interactions and communication. So daily huddle, was brought in every day without fail, and five minutes, gimble walks were introduced. So a few different members walked around every morning. And as you know, what gimble walks are, they were able to pull out and identify, you know, what was working well, what’s not working well, and just physically see for themselves, you know, what needed to be done. So we brought in structures like that team meetings, monthly meetings, we set KPIs, we figured out what data was important for each processes. And we set up a data collection plan. So with very, very clear responsibilities in terms of who was responsible for collecting the data and monitoring it and communicating it back. So we built these systems, I suppose, which took a long time to put together and but over time, and with continuous, I suppose bringing the team back to the importance of these things, they started to see the benefits of them. And then they just automatically started to do them because they felt this is valuable. And this makes our workday better. And soon, you know, they didn’t actually need to be reminded to do them. They just it became practice. hard in the beginning. But absolutely. We got there in the end.


Patrick Adams  13:29

Yeah, amazing. And everything that you just mentioned, obviously, you know, amazing success story. But also it very, it ties very closely to what you know, I see many manufacturing organizations doing and you’re talking about being in the service industry. And obviously all of us know, you know, the Toyota Production System, again, from a manufacturing standpoint. So, are there sounds like many similarities? Do you have any struggles or challenges in the service industry that maybe are, you know, different than what we would see in like the manufacturing industry, for example, where Lean is very well known prevalent? Any thoughts there?



I think, you know, the service sector is such that it’s hard to get people to, as I said, down to rules, it’s hard to get me and one of the most important parts of Lean is just kind of stopping and thinking and reflecting on what’s happening in order to come up with a better way of doing things. And I think that’s one huge challenge within the service sector. It’s just doesn’t seem so easy to for that to happen. So it is it is a bit of a challenge. In terms of how how else it’s different. I’m not really sure. I don’t think I don’t think it’s different. I think you can bring this into any organization and it can work as long as you know, you’ve got the commitment and people see the benefits of it and you obviously need a huge buy in from senior managers. doesn’t see the senior leadership to make this happen as well, there may be a bit more agility needed. So I would also bring in maybe different sorts of methodologies as well and, and teach people a little bit about, you know, it’s great to be lean, it’s great to, you know, standardize our work. But we also need to change and change really quickly when when needed. So we need to be agile, as well as lean. So perhaps there’s a little bit more of that in some of the sectors I work in as well. So I think that the different methodologies can complement each other as well.


Patrick Adams  15:28

Absolutely. I agree. I agree completely. And you did mention systems that you you put systems in place, and then you talked about the massive amount of leadership commitment that’s necessary in order for success. So would you do with this organization or any organization that you work with? Do you you find challenges in getting leadership to adapt the systems as the new way of managing their organization? You know, obviously, we both know that leadership has a huge impact on the success of these these CI UCI success. So, you know, how do you how do you support leaders specifically around developing the skills that are needed to you know, optimize their operations and create the systems that everybody adopts and becomes the new way of doing things?



Yeah, so I am both a lien coach, and I’m a leadership coach. So a big part of my time is spent doing one to one leadership coaching, or sometimes team coaching. And I think that is really, really important. Because what I’m doing is I’m, I’m coaching leaders to understand the capabilities that they need to develop or work on in order to do things like this, you know, lead on change and improvement in the organization. But by coaching leaders, senior leaders, what I’m doing is I’m teaching leaders, what coaching is all about, and they, they almost learn to coach through going through a coaching program with me, they are picking up on what it is to coach somebody how to ask powerful questions, how to listen, effectively. And that’s a huge part of change. And improvement is those kinds of coaching behaviors. So I’m kind of doing two things there. When I’m bringing leaders through a coaching program, I’m also teaching them to coach other people. And I think that is so key, you know, I know, I know, coaching is just one element of leadership, its own leadership style. But I think for Lean management and change in particular, coaching is so so key,


Patrick Adams  17:28

it is so key. Yeah, and again, you know, in my experience for many leaders that that we work with, you know, they were promoted into these leadership roles, because, you know, for lots of different reasons, but you know, many because they were really good at whatever job they were doing, not necessarily because they were good at leading people, but because they were really good at running a machine or doing whatever the job is that they were hired to do. But they never really received any kind of, you know, leadership development or leadership training. And so they have no idea like what to do, let alone how to coach. So I think that’s a powerful piece of, of what you’re, you know, offering to these leaders, is that, that just the importance of coaching and how to coach because, you know, there’s different coaching styles, and like you said, you mentioned listening, you would say asking questions, versus telling right, is, is another big piece of being a good coach, and allowing that you’re the person that you’re coaching to be the one that actually comes up with a solution or, you know, suggests the, the, you know, the direction that you’re going to head. And any anything else, like how do you from a coaching standpoint, how do you teach leaders to be a good coach? What are the things that you would say are important when it comes to, you know, leaders from a coaching standpoint?



Yeah, so what I do is, in my coaching problems, I actually have these 16 competencies, that it’s a little kind of framework that I developed, which has all 16 different competencies that are important to be able to coach and it has things like, well, emotional intelligence, and there are lots of competencies related to emotional intelligence, things like building rapport, being able to inspire people, motivate people, all these different kinds of things that I think it’s really important and behaviors basically, that are really important to get really good at in order to lead on change and improvement. And so what I do is I bring people in, and actually I get them to self assess themselves. So I get them to look at how I suppose competent, they feel they’re in all of these areas. We talk about examples of why they think that way. We I ask them to go and get feedback from other people because a lot of leaders don’t actually get feedback. They’ll give feedback to a lot of people but they don’t get feedback on their own behaviors. And I think that’s a real gap and leadership at the moment is what I’m seeing. So part of my programs is to really, you know, get people to go go out and ask people, What could I do differently? You know, or bring up a situation say, you know, how did I handle that could I’ve done it better. So I think that’s really important is to get people understanding the important competencies, get feedback, and then be really clear on their strengths. So everybody has strengths, things that they really enjoy doing and things they should do in their day to make work enjoyable. But also, you know, have these development areas at the top of their mind. And so you spend time getting better at at certain elements of leadership, whether that is the ability to plan and schedule, or whether it’s the ability to coach or whatever it is, you know, there are certain things that leaders always need to be working on. And I think it’s really important that they know what they are.


Patrick Adams  20:44

Sure, sure, I love that you say that you allow or ask them to self assess, I think that is an important piece, for sure is for a leader to really be able to think critically about, you know, how they’re, you know, how their leadership is, is, you know, whether they feel that they’re being successful or not successful. And then and then actually comparing that to the feedback that you get from the people that you’re managing. I remember when I was served in the US military, we were we were mandated to get feedback from those that we were leading on our leadership style. And I was young, a young leader at that time. And for me, it was difficult. At that time, I had never, you know, ask someone how to, you know, tell me how I’m doing in my role leading you. And we had to actually, you know, talk to that person. And for me, as a young leader, that was really difficult because I had never sat there and had somebody tell me, here are the things that you need to work on. And so that was very powerful for me and helpful for me, as a leader, so I can see where that would be very beneficial. Out of those different competencies that you that you helped develop, and leaders are there is there any one specifically that you think is the most challenging for leaders to accept and adopt and actually use that in their own leadership? You know, of team members,



it’s going to sound so basic, but time management is probably one of the most important competencies to work on. Because I look, if you don’t have time or time in your day, you won’t have time to do anything, including coaching, or working with people or spending time with people are doing gimble walks. So time management is absolutely key. So it’s part of the coaching that I bring leaders through as well as we need to assess how their own how they’re spending their own time. So what Where are you how much time is going on meetings, how much time, you know, is going into, you know, admin tasks. So we try and I try and break it all down and get people to really look at their time and get them to assess, you know, if you work and spending this much time on these tasks, where would you be best spending your time and then they start talking about how they would like to spend more time with people how they would like to coach people more and work on whatever, you know, individual professional development plans and do all these things that they want to do. They just say they don’t have time to do them. So time management, absolutely, definitely key. And you know, when it comes to some of the other competencies, I think sometimes people struggle with just the basic tasks like planning and scheduling, they just maybe haven’t got good strategies. They haven’t maybe been trained properly so that they’re kind of easier ones to get better at. Because it’s just maybe just simple knowledge and practice. And then there’s kind of harder ones like emotion intelligence and inspiring people. They obviously are not even easy to explain to people, nevermind for people to get better at. So that forms a large part of our program talking about things like self awareness and self management and social awareness and relationship management are all these key pillars of, of just maybe learning more about yourself and working more on yourself in order to be able to help others eat both. So that takes a while for people to get their head around.


Patrick Adams  25:03

Sure. Yeah, absolutely. Just going back to time management, are there any specific tools that you just think about, like Leader Standard Work, for example, when it comes to, you know, where leaders are spending their time? Or how often how much time they’re spending doing certain things? You know, would that be a tool that you would teach to help leaders to become better at managing their time and where they’re spending their time? Are there other strategies specifically, you know, geared towards improving a leaders time management skills that you use?



Yeah, so Leader Standard Work is obviously a great tool. But sometimes I find that it doesn’t stick with people, I think I’ve tried to introduce it, lots of times people find a great they think this is super, I have a plan. Now, I’m going to follow this and everything’s solved. And it never works out that way. Because people just don’t stick to it. So I just I tried to go beyond just the tools. So leader, standard work is great. We put a structure, but then I say talk about habits. So and what score systems do we need? So let’s take let’s look at, okay, so you put meetings into your calendar, why can’t we put all this other stuff into your calendar, because your calendar is linked to your phone, you bring your phone everywhere, you know, you put these things in your phone, remind you when to start when to stop, and things like that are and then also building in flexibility, because I find what Leader Standard Work, people don’t leave enough room to do, I wouldn’t say no thing, but to be flexible, and to deal with whatever, again, back to the agility piece to just deal with things that come up. And really, a lot of people’s time is spent on reactive work, especially leaders, if they seem to be you know, firefighting, a lot reacting a lot. And I always try to get people to not just focus on the standard jobs you have to do, but to build in time to be, you know, innovative, creative work on the business, not in the business, and things like that. So I try and get a good balance in there. Yeah, but obviously, Leader Standard Work, it’s a good tool to start off at and see how it works work for some people, it just won’t work for everybody.


Patrick Adams  27:04

That’s right. I don’t I don’t know the exact quote, but it made me think about Mike Tyson said at one time, that you can have the best plan, but the moment you get punched in the face, you know, everything goes out the window, not the right not not anywhere near exactly what he said. But in the military, they say that, you know, you can have the best plan, but you know, the first enemy contact, you know, again, that that plan goes out the window. So I think about that with leaders, like you can put a really, really great plan together and have this Leader Standard Work set and go yes, these are all the right behaviors, these are this is where I should be spending my time every day, every week, whatever it may be, but then you have you know, your boss, or the customer calls, or this happens, or this fire pops up or whatever. And then it’s like, Okay, now what do I do? And so I don’t know, if you have any, any stories or experience with, you know, a leader that would come to you and say, you know, what do I do when you know, I want to put together this amazing plan, I have this amazing plan, I know what I need to do. But I come into work. And then you know, everything just gets thrown out the window. It’s it’s, you know, the, all these crazy things come into that I didn’t plan on and now I’m trying to react versus being proactive, which is what you know, the Leader Standard Work is supposed to do for me. So what how do you what would your How would you tell them? Or what would be your recommendations on how they deal with that, you know, with with someone that has those challenges or struggles?



Yeah, well, my first thing I always say is Don’t Don’t worry so much we’re on the same boat, you know, this is just work, basically, we’re never going to get through all the things we want to get through in a day. So don’t worry, if you’re carrying over items, or, you know, the the all of the work doesn’t get done, just, you know, maybe make try and make peace with that there’s a certain amount that we have to accept, I think what’s really important is that we know the priorities, and we can get to the priorities in any given day. And there are little tips like I you know, working with a few leaders at the moment to try and build in those habits of taking your 1015 minutes in the morning, look at your day, open your tasks, look at your calendar, and you know, figure out from your list of never ending list. What What would I be happy with, if I can get these one or two things done today, not all of them just one or two, and put those things into your calendar, you know, two to four, I’m going to work on this, you know, half 12 to one, I need to get this done. So if I can just get those two things done, I’d be happy. So I think you know, the type of world we’re living in and the type of environments we’re working in are just not conducive to us getting through everything. It’s just not possible. So I think if we can try to change our mindset on that, I think it will be just better for everybody and better for people’s mental health if we can just think that way. Sure. Sure.


Patrick Adams  29:57

Absolutely. In Utah talked a lot about the strategies and techniques, specifically for leaders, which I think many of those probably apply to the rest of the organization to, you know, individuals that maybe would would not consider themselves in a leadership role, where they’re, they don’t have a team that they’re leading, or whatever it may be, would you have other strategies or techniques that you would, that you would utilize to engage and motivate people, you know, at all levels of the organization, that that, again, maybe are listening in who wouldn’t consider themselves in a leadership role, although many people, you know, I would say most people working in organization, are leaders, but in a lot of the things that you mentioned, probably wouldn’t be similar, you know, of effective tools and techniques, but anything specifically that you would say, you know, outside of leadership strategies, techniques that could help with other people in an organization?



Yeah, well, communication is obviously key, you know, I think some people just take it upon themselves, and they things build up in their heads, and they feel that pressure, you know, to be perfect and get everything done. But I think having just really good communication networks, whether it’s with your manager, or with your colleagues, you know, building those quick check ins everyday like, like the huddle sort of thing. Yep. Quick check in where you talk about what it is I’m going to plan on doing today. What are my priorities? What’s everybody else? Priority else’s priorities? Let’s have a conversation about that. Let’s get it out there, you know, what are the issues, let’s get them on the table. And I think you do that, it just makes you feel better about yourself. And also, it’s more, there’s more transparency in the organization about what’s happening. So I think the quick check ins regularly are really, really important. And then for anybody, I suppose trying to manage themselves a little bit better. And, and obviously, people want to make an impression, especially if they want to move into leadership positions. So I think then it’s really important that if you have a leader who is very good at initiating conversations, and performance reviews and coaching, it’s great, because they’ll kind of build you up and help you that way. But a lot of people don’t have that they don’t have leaders who will initiate these things. So I would say it’s really important to initiate those conversations yourself. And to continuously go to your manager and say, you know, what are your expectations of me? What’s the company’s expectations of me? And also, by the way, I have a few expectations? And, you know, can we have a chat about those? And I think doing that regularly in in those kinds of coaching conversations is really, really important for people’s productivity, people’s development, and just morale in general.


Patrick Adams  32:40

Sure, no, that’s, that’s great feedback, because that was going to be my next question was, you know, when for those people that are listening in that, you know, that don’t have leaders that are, that are, you know, being proactive in that area, and, you know, setting up coaching sessions, or, you know, initiating huddles, or whatever it may be. So, thank you for going in that direction. And I want to just expand on that just a little bit and ask, is there anything else that you know, individual, because there’s so many people that are listening in that are in organizations where, you know, maybe Leadership isn’t fully committed to continuous improvement, or, you know, maybe the leader, there’s a lot of turnover in leadership, and there’s new leaders coming in and people getting promoted, and lots of changes happening, you know, what would be your advice to someone listening that, you know, is like, oh, my gosh, I really, I know that this is the right direction for our organization, I know that, you know, these lean techniques, that that CI is the right way to manage this company. And I want to as I, as I grow in this company, I want to be that kind of leader. Any advice that you would give to someone that is just starting out or in a position like that, where they have those types of challenges?



Yeah, so the first thing to do is to stay calm, because a lot of people in that situation get frustrated. And what happens is they try and communicate a better way of doing things to people coming in the door. But all people hear and see is their emotion and their frustration. They’re not actually getting their message across. So I would say, if you have those ideas and suggestions, you need to get clear on what they are. You need to you know, evidence base, you know, what you’re saying, You need to put your suggestions together in a very clear and concise way, that it’s almost like an argument that you’re putting forward. But obviously then by staying calm, and delivering that message in a professional manner, and also finding the platforms through which you know, the meetings or whatever it is that you know, that you can come in to and deliver that message effectively. All of that is really important as well and just being consistently, I suppose, trying to get that message across. And obviously building good relationships with people who will then be in more light cleated to listen to you. So you know, it’s not about going in all guns blazing, it is about being calm, but also being very professional, respectful and consistent. And I think then you’re more likely to be able to influence that whether it’s your colleagues or upper levels of management.


Patrick Adams  35:17

Yeah. Yeah. And I like that you said, for individuals to be brave enough to say, you know, here are some of the expectations that I have, you know, in for myself and my role, and even the, you know, asking the question, how do you how do you determine success for my role? How do you see me doing well? How do we measure that, you know, so that I know, whether I’m, at the end of my day, at the end of my week, and I have a good day that I have a good week. So, you know, actually taking that, that the initiative to ask those questions. And when it comes to measuring the effectiveness, you know, not just for an individual, but I would say, you know, for Lean for leadership development initiatives, how do you what are some different ways that we can measure effectiveness within an organization or even or as an individual either or, because what the ultimate goal is long term sustainment of these initiatives and long term change and, you know, getting the the organization to move in a positive direction for the long term. So how, how do you measure the effectiveness of lean and leadership? development within organizations?



Yeah, so it’s, for me, it’s about, like I said earlier building in those systems, and just being clear on, let’s say, The Who, wash where, when, why. So bringing it back down to basics. So if there’s something that you know, you’ve introduced, a process change, and you, there’s changes in a process that you’re expecting people to follow and do differently. So for example, it could be picking and packing in in the in the workshop, and you’ve introduced something that actually made the picking process a lot faster, and people have started to do it. But then again, you know, you don’t want it to fall down. So I think it’s really important that, you know, the obviously the data around that is important, we have to find very simple ways that if there’s a change, we’ve got to be able to measure it in some way. So it’s about the team coming up with how they’re going to measure it, I would never go in and say, here’s what you need to do to measure this, I would talk the team with finding a way to figure out if this change has helped them or not. And once the team identify it, they’re much more likely to whether it’s it a checklist, or a whiteboard, or an online forum, or whatever it is a qualitative feedback, sometimes, whatever it is, you tasked the team with being, you know, very clear on who is going to, you know, document this, this this data, and then it’s a case of right when we know now, let’s say we could have 1020 30 different changes over a number of months, it could be small, it could be big, but we need to find ways to measure a lot of these things, we want to know maybe not everything. But we want to know about some of these changes. So we need to figure out, okay, the accountability around this? And who’s going to do watch? Who’s going to measure who’s going to monitor who’s going to analyze, and what are the platforms through which we’re going to feed back this information to inform our continuous improvement approach. And that’s where you’ve got to look at, like the daily systems, the weekly, the monthly, the quarterly annually, and you figure out, you match, you know, where the data fits into each of those platforms. And as long as there’s accountability there, I’m very clear owners of that sort of data analysis and feedback that I think that we’re in a good position.


Patrick Adams  38:44

Yeah, and in making decisions based on data, and the you know, that that’s, you know, obviously, the right approach, so for those organizations, for those individuals that are listening in that, you know, don’t have measures in place. You know, I mean, I think that that’s a great place to start is just asking yourself, How do you determine success for this particular process or for this? And also, I don’t know, you know, what you would say around leading and lagging measures for an organization? Because that’s important, too. Obviously, if you’re only looking at lagging measures, then you’re always being reactive. And so, you know, understanding backing that up a bit and asking yourself, you know, what are the leading leading measures? What are the things that are really going to affect the lagging measures, you know, I think is important to any experience with that, or any suggestions around you know, those again, those organizations that maybe don’t have measures in place, and you know, what, what should they be looking at when it comes to how to determine success?



Yeah, and look, I don’t think you can just pull measures out of the sky and say the same thing. Great. Let’s just use these, you know, I think it’s sort of all the lines. So your lean work, your continuous improvement work will be linked to your strategic goals. Ideally, you know, if you want to, if you have two or three, four strategic goals, your organization, you look at how Lean management can help you with those. And then when it comes down to, you know, you get into Lean management, you start looking at processes, you start figuring out, you know, which are they really important, Key Performance Indicators aligned to maybe some of these more important processes, that we really need to have target session, that we really, in order to support our strategic plan, we really need these, you know, measures, you know, we really need things to change here. So I think that’s where obviously, you know, targets can come in, and they’re, obviously teams can be energized towards working towards targets. And I think maybe that’s a metric that comes in less regularly, but should still be in the background as well, for teams to come back to and compare, and even just learn from saying, Okay, we set out to do this, we thought we could do this, why didn’t why couldn’t we? Why couldn’t we get to this point? And it’s okay, if we didn’t, but, you know, why do we think we could, why are we still ambitious? Hear what got in the way? So I think having those kinds of leading and lagging measures are really important for those kinds of learning and lessons learned conversations as well.


Patrick Adams  41:21

Yeah. And also, I, I’ve worked with organizations where, you know, they have so many measures and so much data, that it almost becomes overwhelming, it’s so it, they’ve, they’ve complexified things so much that, you know, people don’t even know, you know, what direction they need to go in. So, you know, another suggestion would be especially starting out, or I guess, even if you do find yourself in that place where you have so many measures, maybe simplifying things, and making sure that people understand how their work directly affects those long term goals for the organization. And you know, and you can do that just simply by going and asking them, how do you determine success for your day? And, you know, how is that aligned with some of our long term goals as an organization, but sometimes, especially, you know, frontline employees, it needs to be very simple. And they need to know exactly how the work that they’re doing directly connects to the long term work that the organization is doing. So yeah, thank you. I appreciate everything that you’ve laid out today is super helpful. It’s been a great conversation, Catherine, you are also working on launching a website with some really, really great information and some some great content for individuals. Can you tell us just a little bit about that? And kind of, you know, direct as to how listeners can connect with you? And what’s the best way for them to plug in with with the work that you’re doing?



Yeah, sure. So this is something I’ve been working on for a couple of months. I’ve always worked through LinkedIn, and I suppose I’m very active on LinkedIn, and I get a lot of my, my business and my clients through LinkedIn. But I suppose I’ve come to the realization that, yeah, I probably do need a website. And in fairness, it’s it’s lean way to work to have a website so that people can, you know, see, my services can kind of, you know, avail of them online. And I will also be selling online courses through my website as well. And and also people will be able to book coaching sessions with me. So it’s, it’s better for my clients, if I have a website, so I, you know, I realize that, so it probably will be live in what I’m hoping in the next couple of weeks. And if you follow me on LinkedIn, you’ll find me pretty quickly. If you look up Katherine McDonald and MCD coach Consultants is, is where you’ll find me. And I think, you know, in the next few weeks, I will be launching, you know, that website, and if you just keep an eye on that, that’s probably the best way to keep in touch with me.


Patrick Adams  43:52

Sure. And you offer virtual coaching or only in person coaching.



Oh, yeah, virtual, I mean, I will always try and get out to see somebody wants if they are within driving distance, but you know, Ireland’s pretty small, but I do have more international clients as well that I just do virtual coaching with and it works quite well as well. It’s very, I’m very visual in my coaching sessions. And I’ve used a lot of visual tools as well. So it works quite well.


Patrick Adams  44:16

Very nice. Technology is amazing, isn’t it? So good? Yeah, we’re so great. It’s been great to have you on. Obviously, I love the work that you’re doing. And just appreciate you as a leadership coach, as a lien. Coach, thank you for the work that you that you’re doing. And, you know, again, we will drop your contact information into the show notes. So if anyone’s interested to to get in connection with Katherine, you can go right to the show notes and find her contact information there and reach out to her. So Catherine, thank you again for being on the show.


Catherine McDonald  44:51

Thank you, Patrick. It’s been absolutely my pleasure. Thank you so much.


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.