Lean Learning Culture With Tony Hayes

Lean Learning Culture With Tony Hayes

by Patrick Adams | Apr 4, 2023

In this episode, Tony Hayes and I discuss ways to create a lean learning culture through an organizations atmosphere and leadership platforms. 

What You’ll Learn:

  1. What is the definition of a good Lean “Learning Culture?
  2. What are the challenges to creating this type of atmosphere within an organization?
  3. What role does Leadership play in facilitating or creating the platform for learning?
  4. Can you share some examples of how you have done this at your current company or others from your past experiences?
  5. What advice would you give our listeners as the consider creating their own Learning Culture within their organizations?

About the Guest:

Tony is an Executive Lean Leader, responsible for the Wabash Management System, Continuous Improvement and Quality at Wabash, supporting the CEO and the Executive Leadership Team, driving customer value creation. He has extensive experience in delivering profitable growth, improving risk profile, and increasing return on invested capital in the automotive, transportation, aerospace and defense industries. Tony is a seasoned operations and lean expert with extensive experience in strategy and organizational governance. Tony has utilized his lean expertise to assist organizations with their most complex problems in manufacturing, engineering, material planning and logistics, value chain management, and quality.


Click here for Tony Hayes’ LinkedIn


Patrick Adams  00:00

Hello, and welcome to the Lean solutions podcast. My name is Patrick Adams and today’s guest is Tony Hayes. Tony is a returning guest. If you go back to season one, episode 57, Tony and I talked about Lean transformation. But Tony is an executive Lean leader responsible for the Wabash management system continuous improvement and quality. He’s supporting the CEO and executive leadership team driving customer value creation. Tony also serves on the Executive Advisory Board for the Shingo Institute. He has extensive experience in delivering profitable growth, improving risk profile, and increasing returning on return on invested capital in the automotive, transportation, aerospace and defense industries. Welcome to show, Tony. 


Tony Hayes  01:17

Thank you, Patrick. It’s awesome to be invited back again. Thank you. 


Patrick Adams  01:21

Absolutely. We had such a great conversation last time, I wanted to dive back in with you and talk specifically around learning culture. So we’re gonna dive into that. But for those of you that are listening in and can’t see the video right now, I’m just looking at Tony’s background, and it looks like you have quite a few sports memorabilia memorabilia, including MSU. So are you an MSU? alum? 


Tony Hayes  01:45

Yes, I am proud, MSU alum go green, go white and Spartan. Strong. Absolutely. 


Patrick Adams  01:52

And Michigan State was was in the news recently, unfortunately, not for a positive situation, but there was a shooting on campus. And for those that don’t don’t know, that’s obviously you know, right in my backyard and Tony’s backyard. And there was it was a pretty intense situation. An unfortunate situation. Tony, what’s been your experience with the recent shooting there and what’s gone on?


Tony Hayes  02:21

Yes, you know, I, I also have the opportunity and pleasure to serve on the West Michigan Spartans, board, or executive committee, and we’ve been talking a lot, obviously, about the events. And quite honestly just kind of going down memory lane and thinking about our times on campus and walking by those very familiar buildings. And just thinking back to what our experience is like, and how these students are probably now forever affected by those terrible events. And those three students, obviously, their families, you know, having a loss like that has to be tough and challenging. What has been really encouraging though, is just the overall support. And the Spartan community, we have a slogan called Spartan strong, and very much so, you know, all of the Spartans worldwide have really come together to try to embrace you know, the students and the families that had to go through this.


Patrick Adams  03:28

Yeah, that’s amazing. And I don’t want to give anyone a mention the name of the shooter even talk about the shooter, what I really like to do if you’re okay with it is really highlight the the individuals that lost their lives that day, and maybe even, you know, a moment of silence for those three individuals and the many others that have been impacted from from the shooting. Tony, do you do you have the names by any chance of the three individuals that are


Tony Hayes  03:56

the three students, Ariel Anderson, Brian Fraser, and Alexandria Werner? Were the three students that were clearly affected and appreciating your sentiment there in a moment of silence, which would be great if we could do that.


Patrick Adams  04:16

Yeah, let’s do that. Let’s take a few minutes here. prayers and thoughts definitely going out to the families and the students that were involved in. Definitely appreciate the community support that has happened around that. So thank you for for taking a minute just to hit on that. Tony. appreciate, you know, the connection that you have there. And, you know, definitely, you know, my prayers go out to the people that were impacted. And so let’s, let’s, let’s transition here from from that topic, and kind of move over into talking about Lean culture and and, you know, specifically some of your experiences there. You know, one of the things that we talk about a lot when we when we think about Lean deployment into organizations is, you know, that it’s not about the tools that it’s gotta be, we have to understand what’s behind the tools. If we want to be successful, we can’t just go out and say, Well, you know, Toyota, diploid Kanban. So let’s put that in place. And we’ll, we’ll consider that, you know, successful Lean transformation. Right? More that goes into it, and developing what you know, what you and I would consider a learning culture. What would you say is the definition of a good, lean learning culture?


Tony Hayes  05:57

Well, you hit on it perfectly. You know, early on in my career, I, most most like most practitioners thought that lean learning was all about the tools. And if I could just learn how to implement these tools, or, you know, go to one of these, you know, top premier lean organizations and just take these tools back with me, could I implement this and create this Lean culture from this collection of tools? And, you know, we all know, we all know, absolutely, that the tools are very, very important and germane to the transformation. But this Lean learning culture, this culture that we’re trying to define here, is really one that changes the way people think about problem solving. And that culture of trying to make and bring problems to the surface, and making them absolutely transparent. So then you can solve them is a culture that is, is easier said than done. You know, we always talk about where they have a really, really good Lean culture. But what really is the definition of that. And the definition is that people, the skill sets, and the competencies are really centered around this idea of really, really robust problem solving. And to me any of the cultures that I’ve ever been associated with, or have been a part of driving a transformation, that they’re always characterized by this strong problem solving muscle. And, you know, I’ve always heard people say, we just need to create an army of problem solvers. Well, the fact is, is that the more problem solvers you have, the better equipped you are to really, you know, tackle and face to challenges that that come your way. And so that culture then permeates throughout the organization, when everyone from, you know, HR or finance, it, engineering, right, and obviously, operations, like if everyone was thinking that way, wouldn’t that be awesome? Right. And so then that kind of defines your overall culture. And so to me, that’s what, that’s what really defines what that looks like in real life, and then how people actually exhibit that in the day jobs.


Patrick Adams  08:25

Yeah. And one of the things that you mentioned was the the transparency of problems and making problems visible. It’s, it’s always crazy to me how many organizations struggle with that with the and I think that’s, you know, I don’t know, I see it obviously, in the US, I don’t know if that’s a cultural thing to the US. But it’s, it’s, it’s something that I see so often, where individuals are worried about, you know, making problems visible, they don’t want to show any red on on their, you know, transformation charts, they don’t bring up problems because of, you know, a fear of, you know, not being looked at like they’re not doing a job or whatever it might be, what’s been your experience from that perspective? Why do you think it is that it’s so difficult to just make problems visible so that we can then go after them?


Tony Hayes  09:18

Well, I think it goes back to the first the first question you pose, it’s really about the culture. And if you don’t have a strong culture that’s comfortable with the uncomfortable, right are comfortable with facing challenges or failing, you’re also going to have that very same culture that doesn’t want to bring up those problems, because they’re unpopular, or they fear the consequences. So my experience has been, it varies right from organization to organization. But the ones that are strong right there on the top end of this lien continuum, those are the ones that love problems. They love the challenge of Wow, you know, we found 10 problems today or 100 problems this week. And we solved them all, or we put permanent corrective action in place where they won’t come back again, you know, those organizations get better every single day. But the organizations that kind of hang back, and, you know, while if we don’t say anything, maybe maybe they won’t, you know, know that this problem, we kind of swept it under the rug, or we created some work around. And those organizations, they always stay status quo. Or, or even worse, right, they fall away back, you know, from a competitive perspective, because they don’t understand that the more problems they solve, the better they get, it’s better for the shareholders better for the customers better for their employees. And if you if you keep that in mind, you’ll always be ahead. 


Patrick Adams  10:52

So true. Yeah. And, you know, the old age old diagram of the iceberg of ignorance that sort of makes me think of just, you know, the fact that 100% of problems are visible to the frontline team. And then the further that you go away, obviously, the less visibility that you have of problems. And to your point that, you know, the culture also has a big piece in that if you have a fear based culture or a culture of hiding problems, then it’s probably the percentages are probably even worse.


Tony Hayes  11:27

Absolutely. And I can see it on the image. And on your book. Back there. Yeah, it’s very clear. And it does, it reminds me that like what we see on the surface, you know, the organizations that aren’t very mature in this thinking, they only attack what they see on the surface, but they’re not, you know, they’re not doing their very best job to dig below that and understand what’s really driving the issue. They don’t take a look at what’s right in front of them. And, you know, I always think about my days early on, in automotive, and there were a lot of work arounds. And enough, and people were, you know, I’m not saying it was 100%, you know, fear based type, organization, but things that were not popular. People weren’t bringing up as often as they should. Right now, that’s not characteristics ism, every automotive company out there, just some of the ones I’ve been associated with. There were elements of that. Absolutely. And over my career, you know, when I think about, you know, good Lean culture, lean learning culture, it’s the ones that always do really, really good at problem solving.


Patrick Adams  12:43

Yeah. So true. Yeah. And, you know, we problem solving could be a whole nother topic for us. But


Tony Hayes  12:49

maybe that’s visit number three, right?


Patrick Adams  12:53

Yeah, once you identify the problem, you know, that you get to the root cause instead of, you know, again, a lot of organizations I see, they’re just just scratching the surface, and they’re solving symptoms of the root cause, which, again, is a whole nother issue, which, like you said, we could talk about that in a whole nother episode. But the first step is to just make problems visible. And, you know, then, you know, developing that learning culture takes the ability of leadership to support team members in experimenting and helping to solve those problems, you know, after we’ve made them visible.


Tony Hayes  13:32

Yeah, absolutely. And we touched on this, perhaps, in our earlier podcasts that we had done, you know, the companies that do very, very well in this have good process design, whereby they are making problems, transparent and visible. Right. So having some way to make the process sensitive to abnormalities, right. So they come to the surface. That’s right. And that very next capability in our organization is problem solving. Bring problems to the surface than ultimately problem solve, share that knowledge across the organization from a from a learning perspective, right?


Patrick Adams  14:14

Absolutely. So we talked about, you know, fear based leadership as being maybe one example of a challenge to creating a learning culture. What are some other challenges you think that that are out there that you’ve seen or experienced in creating this type of atmosphere within an organization?


Tony Hayes  14:34

Yeah, absolutely. You know, one, one, which people might not think about time is a challenge. As you know, you know, when you’re driving a Lean transformation or creating a culture, you know, these, these things don’t tend to happen overnight. And from a leadership perspective, having the patience to, you know, weather the storm and acknowledge that learning is a process, time sometimes is a challenge, because it’s not a race. But if leadership is in a hurry, right to get to this end game, which we all want to get to this level of world class and robust problem solving, time then becomes a little bit of a challenge, because the organization may be in a little bit of a rush to create this culture. But, you know, as we all know, if you rush that process, the idea of sustaining that over time becomes less and less, right, that probability gets really low. So time ultimately becomes a challenge that you always have to face up against the clock, if you will. So that that becomes somewhat of a issue, when you’re trying to create this type of atmosphere. The other thing is, it could compete with other objectives. When you think about an organization and all the things that it’s made up of, all businesses are out to write generate some level of profit, they want to grow, they want to be innovative. But in that quest to do all of those things, there are times where the learning can take a little bit of a backseat. And so sometimes we don’t prioritize the learning process or what it takes to train and educate and mentor and coach an organization. And so sometimes what I always say is these competing KPIs sometimes get in the way of taking the necessary time to train your workforce, and skill competency and those types of things, learning and training development, right? That’s right. So sometimes that within an organization becomes a little bit of a challenge, the time aspect, competing, you know, KPIs, everybody’s always worried about cost, and we financially, you know, viable, which are all important things. But if you don’t educate the people, which are your most important asset, can you really sustain any of that anyway? Right. So it always makes me think about that. So that’s a great question.


Patrick Adams  17:22

Yeah. And in when you said, time, I thought about to two different topics, the one that you mentioned, you know, I’ve had, I’ve had leaders come out directly and tell me, like, I’m looking for the silver bullet, need it by this date, and I’m just like, I’m not a magician here, like, I’m not, there’s no silver bullet, it’s a, this is a long term play, to transform your culture, to develop a sustainable, you know, a sustainable organization. And that’s going to be here for the long haul. Like, definitely, we can look for low hanging fruit and try to knock off a couple of things here and there. But this is definitely a long term play. And leaders need to be committed to that. 


Tony Hayes  18:06

So I, you know, it’s funny how we probably had the same conversations in different parts of the world and whatnot, with leaders. And, you know, if only I had the four or five things I needed to do to drive and lean transformation, right? It’s all on this piece of paper. And if I can have that by, I don’t know, 2025 or 2026, that would be really nice. Yeah. And, you know, I always tell people, you know, this, this process, and transformations are very dynamic. And more importantly, than that the people within the system are very dynamic. And so depending on the level of competency that you have, drives that timeline, and not vice versa, right? You don’t put the timeline out there and say, oh, we need to be here by x, but then not have the skill and competency that actually pull it off. You got to think about both.


Patrick Adams  19:00

Absolutely. And without dynamics, I mean, you never, you don’t know what you don’t like until you get into it until you start experimenting. And until you start, you know, learning things you don’t know, you’re there’s a there’s a certain threshold of knowledge that we have, and we can see this far, but outside, you don’t know what you’re going to come across. So it’s hard to, you know, to put a plan together to meet, you know, something like that. But the other thing that that I thought of when it came to time that I hear a lot is we don’t have time for that or we don’t like you want us to do a three day kaizen event or a five day kaizen event. I can’t take people off for five days. Like that’s crazy. So any experience with that or what how would you respond to someone that says, aren’t we just don’t have time for this? Like we have too much going on? Can’t do it, You know, let’s figure something else out.


Tony Hayes  19:57

I think I think the first thing Patrick always Think about is, what if we don’t do this? Right? Like, what if we don’t take the three days or five days? You know, that’s such a small commitment of time. And it’s so interesting, even after, you know, two and a half, almost three decades of, of doing this type of work, I still hear that. I still hear that I still, I still heard organizations say in leaders, oddly enough, say, I can’t take folks off the floor. I can’t dedicate a full three or five days to this. And, and my question always back are my statement always back is what else are you doing? Right? Are you telling me and one response that you’re just happy with status quo, you don’t really want to get better? Right? We are trying to take an opportunity to take your smartest folks, right? You’re skilled technicians, your skill players, you’re subject matter experts within this process. And we’re going to all come together and collaborate and try to identify the waste opportunities that we have the flow opportunities that we have to make your process better that that doesn’t sound good to you. I’m, I’m confused, right. And so my experience always with that is, is that in organizations that, say those types of things, or make those types of statements, there’s a lack of trust, I think there’s a trust element that this is not going to help me get better, because we don’t really trust the process. And to me, that also lends itself back and goes right back to culture. Right, the culture of an organization that feeds off of those types of events. When I was working for GE transportation, it was very much that way, in the opposite way, meaning that they were, you know, yearning, yearning for these events, so they could get better. So they could be the best in the industry, the best in the business. And it was very refreshing. You know, because in our jobs, a lot of times we’re doing a lot more pushing, and convincing, that this is the right thing to do. I mean, as an enabler, and this will enable us to meet our growth targets and allow us to be more innovative and creative and solve problems. And not necessarily have the pool, right into into business, right. And so I’ve had experience both ways, as you can imagine, you know, over, you know, a couple of decades, you, you run into all different kinds of scenarios, but the ones that are really, really good are the ones where you’re getting pulled in, and that kind of pushing your way through the door.


Patrick Adams  23:53

And you meant and we’re talking about Kaizen events as well which for those that are listening in and maybe are new to lean, or, or continuous improvement, you know, a Kaizen event would be a focused improvement event where you’re you’re bringing a whole bunch of maybe something that continued improvement that might happen over three to four months, and you’re squeezing it down into three days or five days. It’s a very focused event, very focused. We also, you know, look at daily Kaizen, which is just small improvements, you know, little things you can be doing every single day. So, I just, I don’t want people to get the wrong impression that Kaizen events, you know, means lean, there’s so much more. Right? Yeah, helping a culture a learning culture than, you know, a focused improvement event.


Tony Hayes  24:47

Absolutely. And I’m glad you made that distinction. You know, I had a very interesting dialogue with one of my colleagues. And the question was asked, Why do we actually call them Kaizen and events. And I said, you know, elaborate on that a little bit more. And he said, Well, event feels like it has some finality to it. And if the Kaizen process if it is rapid improvement, that cycle really never ends, right? So it doesn’t end on the Friday, or the Wednesday when you’re done with the event, it actually carries on. Sure, you’re right, you’re right. Kaizen is a mindset. Yeah. And so just because you block off some time on the calendar to get everybody together, it’s really, you know, just a way to get people in a room and in a specified time, but it doesn’t mean the work ends. You know, one of the things I always tell people at the end of a Kaizen week is the week you’re actually in the Kaizen and doing the work, that’s actually the easiest time for you, when it really gets hard, is when you go back to your day job on the Monday, following the Kaizen is where you truly behave and act differently than you did before we had the Kaizen, like, that’s the learning, right? And if you’re not actually thinking and focusing and looking at problems and waste in a different way, than we didn’t spend our time very well during that week, right? So the real work starts after the guys on that journey. 


Patrick Adams  26:23

Oh, I love that. That’s such a great point. And Tony, I appreciate that very much. Now, what would you say when talking about Kaizen, you know, daily Kaizen Kaizen events, but, you know, just a learning culture as a whole? What would you say? What role does leadership play in facilitating, creating that platform for learning?


Tony Hayes  26:43

Yeah, we touched on a little bit of this, I mean, it goes without saying that leadership has to support at the highest level, they have to show a high level of interest and engagement in creating this learning culture, but the best way I actually know is for them to participate in the learning process. If not, then they’re not really embodying the values, and the importance around this learning culture. Like if they’re not educating themselves, on the benefits of lean and what a Lean culture really looks like, and more importantly, have their own Leader Standard Work, that begins to outline how they’re moving about their day. Right, they have to be an example. Right. And so that’s, that, to me, that’s the most critical role leadership can play is to not be a spectator and watch the transformation, but be in the transformation. Right. And so by being in it, they they themselves and are creating this culture by which the organization needs to, to move towards. So that’s what that’s what I’ve seen, in my experience, that is, that has worked really, really well. When your leaders are actually living the principles and the culture and creating this learning atmosphere, for sure. 


Patrick Adams  28:13

They have to be have to be invested in I’ve actually worked with leaders on both sides of the spectrum. I’ve worked with leaders that have said, hey, just give me a report, you know, once a quarter and let me know how things are going. Yeah, and that’s it. Right. And you know, on the other side of it, like you said leaders that have Leader Standard, their own Leader Standard Work, they’re involved in LPs are layered process audits, they’re out on the production floor, conducting gimble walks, coaching, you know, or, you know, again, we’re talking manufacturing, but any, at the gamble, wherever you might be whatever industry that you’re, you’re working in, they’re out there, you know, really being there and coaching and helping to lead the learning culture. I just thought of an example. Just the other day, I was talking to an Executive leader at an organization who went to a, they call them process improvement events. And he said, I went to a process improvement event and he said, I brought pie, like apple pie to celebrate the completion of the event. And he said, That’s why we call them process improvement events.Yeah, so he was, you know, trying to make fun and get excited, get excited and shared some


Tony Hayes  29:35

awesome ways. And everybody likes everybody likes pie. Right? Right. So that’s good. You know, it reminds me to just recently I had a similar experience. But more so just a one on one gimble walk with our CEO and the power behind walk mean the floor with with your CEO, looking and observing, talking and engaging with, you know, our production leaders and our team team members. That goes such a long way, and really begins to highlight the importance of the work, right, and how important the idea of creating this learning culture is right. And so everybody can see that, right, we’ve got 6000 employees, you know, at our company, and for them to be able to see that kind of in real time, helps them to understand how important the work is. And it also helps to facilitate the culture we’re trying to create. It’s time.


Patrick Adams  30:49

What what, so take us on a journey with you on this gimble walk with the CEO? What were some of the questions that he or she asked? And what were some of the conversations that the two of you had together in what you’re seeing on this gimbal lock?


Tony Hayes  31:05

Well, he very much wanted to see, you know, obviously, in real time, let’s go to the place where the actual work is getting done some of the continuous improvement work that had been done over the last several months. So first and foremost, it was validation, you know, seeing the home, right, getting on the floor and actually seeing the work. So the questions were more towards how is this work being received from not only just the leadership, but the grassroots? are they connecting to the work? Are they providing, you know, ideas for improvement? Are they engaged, right? Are they kind of hanging back feeling as if they can’t contribute to the overall improvement, he was really, really concerned about that, that overall connection. And one of the things we talked a lot about my conversation was is, we historically have not done a great job of literally just preparing and doing the pre work in advance of an event. And we have this mantra, it’s called 414. And really what that entails is four weeks, pre work one week, where the actual event takes place, and then another four weeks of follow up, then it goes back to the earlier discussion we had about time well, we’re not just trying to put, you know, 27, Kaizen ons on the board and on the calendar just to say we did them, I’m more concerned with the quality of the event and not the quantity of harmony we have. That’s right, well, we’ve talked a lot about the real preparation, it takes in advance of an event and make it a successful one. So when we come out of the back end of it, and we’re doing a follow up on that the results are actually sustained. So we talked a lot about the sustainment piece, what do we do to prepare for it? Or the you know, the grassroots folks are they engaged in it, are they actually in the Kaizen event, what a novel idea to actually have the folks that got the product in the Kaizen. So we talked a lot about that he understands very, you know, closely how those things need to work together to make a successful event. So it was an awesome walk had a full two hours, to have some really good engaging conversation was really good.


Patrick Adams  33:38

That’s powerful. Powerful, it’s so so important. And for those that are listening in to this to, to have the CEO out doing a gimbal walk. I mean, that’s, that’s transformative in itself. So it should be happening on a regular basis. Unfortunately, it does not many organizations.


Tony Hayes  33:56

So literally, and as you can imagine, he has his own standard work, too. So love it.


Patrick Adams  34:02

That’s great. So that’s a that’s a powerful example of how you guys are developing a lean learning culture. Current company, what other examples do you have a maybe at your current company or even could be at, you know, past experiences that other companies have, you know, just helping to, you know, support and develop a learning culture?


Tony Hayes  34:24

Yeah. So, you know, I have to go back to a little bit earlier in the career when I thought tools were the answer. And scalability of the tools was the way to permeate Lean thinking across an organization. But now that I’m a little bit older, a little bit wiser. I understand that you really have the skill thinking and how I’ve done that in the last couple of companies in my current companies we’ve created you know, what we would call a lean Learning Academy or management system Lean Management System. University, whereby we teach very deliberately the principles of Lean, how to identify waste, we have a change management component, heavy, heavy problem solving, 83 thinking. But really the promise of this learning is bringing in, you know, real life examples of problems that this cohort needs to solve using the tools, right, so then it becomes an atmosphere, where they’re learning a concept and, or a principle, and they’re there, they are applying that learning to the actual problem, right? So they’re flexing that muscle during the week. And so, you know, we’ve created a place a safe place where people can learn these tools and apply them and being taught by, you know, lean professionals and practitioners that have done this right in real time. So, you know, our current company, we’ve had six cohorts now that have gone through this management system University, learning these tools, and then when they come out of the back end of it, you know, they’re they’re deemed a management system champion, if you will not, that obviously, doesn’t mean they’re a lean Sensei, there is only so much you can pick up in a week, right. But they have a very high awareness now of how to recognize waste, how to see waste, how to use problem solving in a very methodical way back in their home function, right? You know, so if, you know, we had a finance colleague go through, and she came immediately out of that, and did a process map a Value Stream Map of a process that she or problems she was trying to solve. And it just, it just validated the concept of what are you going to do Monday, now that you have this, this this suite of training now, to do Monday, in your in your own job on your day job, right? So so that, you know, Patrick, is a way to begin to scale this thinking. And so if we’ve had six cohorts, now, it’s 160 people, plus or minus a few that now can problem solve in a different way, see waste in a different way, understand Lean principles, they aren’t scary, they are overwhelming or intimidating, then you can actually solve some real problems in real time. And you can scale that right, like, now we can go across every level of the organization and get people into this learning, environment, this culture, and begin to create that and then they become an extension, right of the KPI. Oh, right. So now it’s just not, you know, my team of experts driving the change. Now you got 160 more people, this army are problem solvers out there doing all these kinds of things within the organization, right. And that’s how you scale


Patrick Adams  38:15

that’s massive. And the other thing, too, that happens is, when they go through those classes together, or the same class, you know, different. When you get two and a three activity or you’re doing any kind of problem solving, you’re speaking the same language. So things are so much more efficient, even in your in your problem solving.


Tony Hayes  38:35

That’s right, that’s right, that comes out loud and clear when we get the feedback from the classes is. Now you know, interestingly enough, we have a common vernacular, we have a common language by which we talk about problem solving. And it isn’t just about the tools, it’s about how we actually engage in this process now. And I get that all the time. I was just at the NTA truck show in India, I mentioned on an earlier discussion. And one of the gentlemen that is signed up for the next cohort said, you know, a couple of folks from my team have gone to the university training. And they’re using all of this language, and I know some of it, but I don’t know all of it. And I’m so excited to go to the next session. So we can all kinds of collaborate together and I can understand, when they say a three, this is what they mean or a Kaizen charter, or whatever it is. That’s powerful stuff. That’s powerful.


Patrick Adams  39:43

That’s great. That’s amazing. Very, very cool to hear that and just it’ll be interesting that you said 160 have gone through, you know, a year from now, it’ll be interesting to, for us to jump back on and talk again this year about how that is transforming the organization.


Tony Hayes  40:00

Absolutely, absolutely. It’s a you know, it’s one of those things that, you know, again, early in the career, it was more about, you know, how many Kies ons that we do and a little bit more objective type things. But this really is rewarding to begin to see people think and address things and solve problems in a different way. Right, that aren’t, you know, formally weighing trained. It’s really awesome. Yeah.


Patrick Adams  40:30

It made me think of a quote, while you were talking about that. I don’t know exactly how it goes. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s something like two executives were talking and they were like, one of the one of the executives like, man, we’re going to invest all this training, or the all this time in training these people like what happens if we, they go through our training, and then they leave and they go to a competitor company or another company, executive looks, looks at him and says, Well, what if we don’t train him and they stay?


Tony Hayes  41:00

That’s right. That’s right. That’s right. I’ve heard I’ve heard that several times. And it’s absolutely true.


Patrick Adams  41:06

Yeah. It’s, it’s like why you have to it’s for all the reasons that we talked about.


Tony Hayes  41:14

Yeah. And it’s awesome. If it can be a transferable skill. I mean, and why not take that risk? Right. You know, you’re you’re upskilling and upgrading the competency level of your, your, your greatest asset in the organization, which is your people. And why wouldn’t you want to do that? Right.


Patrick Adams  41:34

Absolutely. And, Tony, amen. I’ll just mention one other thing is, it’s actually a question. But so, again, some people are probably listening in and going, well, you know, a week of people off the floor, sitting in a classroom, that, you know, is it justified you and I would agree that it is for many different reasons. But what I will say too, though, is in this is a question, I guess, not not me saying, I have a question. Are there other ways to train people? Do they have to be pulled off the floor and put into a classroom? Is that a necessary part? Is there other any other ways to you know, maybe, maybe, if people are listening in and they’re just thinking like, Okay, we don’t do any training today, from a continuous improvement perspective? Where do we are, we can’t drop off the floor next week? Is there anything else we can do to start developing some of those skill sets? Do you have any,


Tony Hayes  42:32

you know, my recommendations are always this, right, you, you know, you can learn quite a bit from others. There’s so many different venues where you can get information, I mean, these podcasts, you know, quite, you know, quite obviously, are a way for people to start to listen and hear some of the experiences of other folks, right. So it doesn’t necessarily have to take you off the floor, it could be on the drive home, it can be whatever, right? There’s so many different ways to learn now. But it doesn’t always have to be, it doesn’t always have to be something where you get pulled off the floor, and you’re in this closed room and, and whatnot. You know, we have a learning system, whereby folks can go on their own time and get, you know, these bite sized versions of these concepts and principles, right. And so they can learn at their own pace, like self paced type thing. And so then when they do jump into an event, they are well more equipped to be able to bring that learning and that knowledge, right, so when somebody says, I junk, or something like that, or con bond that they may not be familiar with, because they’ve gone through this overview. Sure, right, they definitely can get a better connection to some of that information. I mean, there’s books, there’s all kinds of things, right? Yeah. But one of the, that always I ask people to do is, you know, sometimes get out of the four walls of the organization that you live in. Right? Sometimes good doesn’t exist within the four walls. And so sometimes you have to do a little bit of a benchmarking and understanding what or other organizations are doing to get that knowledge. That’s, that’s so


Patrick Adams  44:18

true. You know, and I’m part of the lean Users Group here in West Michigan, for this exact reason. I mean, I’m a lifetime learner, you know, so I’m always looking, going into other companies to see how they’re applying the tools and techniques and what their culture looks like and challenges and all these things are so, so much benefit from that. And I was gonna mention one other thing too is if you can’t do the classroom stuff, too, I mean, you have if you have individuals internally that can go out and coach you know, right at the at the at the gamba, you know, go out chat, build that into your Leader Standard Work that you’re out there every day teaching in coaching, you know, at the gamba.


Tony Hayes  44:58

Yeah, yeah. To me To me, you know, it’s a great point immersion, right? Following along with with someone that that is, you know a little bit more versed and experienced with how to walk again but how to walk the floor how to engage with folks right and and kind of being a shadow of that person as a way to do it. And it’s almost like a coaching you know, coaching kata improvement kata type scenario, where you have that kind of relationship between the learner and the, you know, the coach, if you will. 


Patrick Adams  45:32

so true. And as we kind of wrap up here, Tony, I can’t close up without asking you to speak specifically to our listeners, about, you know, your advice, your recommendations, for anyone that’s considering creating a learning culture within their organization. Now, there’s listeners, you know, all over the world that are at different places in their journey. Some are much further along, you know, in their Lean journey, others are just starting, or maybe even hearing lean for the first time. You’re talking to a large range of individuals, but what advice would you give them if they’re considering creating their own learning culture within their organization?


Tony Hayes  46:13

Yeah, I think my main advice is, don’t worry about the clock. You know, time time really is your friend culture is not a race. It’s a very, very hard thing to do. It’s not about the tools, it’s more about the behaviors. And, you know, focusing on the sustainability of that learning, is my advice. Not necessarily the the process of learning or creating the platform as much. But what’s the end game? What’s your expected outcome? Right? You talked about it a little bit earlier, right? We have 160, folks now that have a better understanding common vernacular. But what’s our what’s our end goal? And what are we trying to get to? Right? Well, I want three to 5% of the organization to be advanced lean thinkers, right. And so an organization of 6000. That’s a lot of folks. Right? That would be thinking and acting and problem solving in a different way. So don’t be so worried about the clock and how quickly you do this. It’s more about the sustainability. It’s more about creating a true environment where people can learn in a safe environment, right? It’s gotta be safe. And it’s got to be a place where they think, you know, what, if I make a mistake, it’s okay. And I don’t want to fear the consequences, because I’m bringing problems out. Right. That’s, that’s how you create this learning culture. So that would, that would be my advice. 


Patrick Adams  47:51

Good advice. Tony, it’s been great. Obviously, we can talk forever, we got to have you back again. And maybe we’ll dive into structured problem solving or a three thinking or something. Absolutely. But Tony, if anybody wants to get a hold of you, if they have a question, or where would they contact you?


Tony Hayes  48:12

Yeah, there’s various ways folks can reach out. I think one I could, you know, provide an email, D. Hayes 339 six@gmail.com. They can send me any questions that they may have, if they want to dive deeper into it. I’m on LinkedIn. I think that’s probably probably first and foremost a great way to link up or have a question, they can reach out to me there, but then also see some of the things that you know I’ve been connected with or doing that may help them out in their journey. So either of those two


Patrick Adams  48:46

ways, perfect. And we’ll throw both of those links in the show notes. So if anybody want to reach out, you can go right to the show notes. And you can find links to contact with Tony. Tony has been great to have you on once again. appreciate your insight and your advice, your recommendations, your examples, everything that you’ve given us today, ton of value here. Thanks again for being on the show. Really appreciate it.


Tony Hayes  49:09

Thank you, Patrick has been a pleasure. As always.

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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.