Lean Mindset With Mike Leigh

Lean Mindset With Mike Leigh

by Patrick Adams | May 16, 2023

In this episode, Mike Leigh and I discuss the application of lean as well as the implementation of a lean mindset within organizations.

What You’ll Learn:

1. Can you describe your Lean journey so far?

2. How has your attitude toward the application of Lean changed?

3. What is your approach to helping companies move forward on their Lean journey?

4. You’re not a big fan of Six Sigma. Why is that?

5. What advice would you give to Lean practitioners who want to make a difference in their organizations?

About the Guest: 

Mike Leigh is the President of OpX Solutions, a performance improvement company that helps manufacturers remove the barriers that prevent them from achieving their goals by developing leaders and improving processes.  Prior to starting his company, Mike had a 13-year manufacturing career where he held a variety of operational supply chain leadership roles.  Prior to that, he served in the US Navy as a surface warfare officer where he specialized in nuclear propulsion, and later retired as a Commander in the reserves.


Click here to connect with Mike Leigh

Click Here to learn more about Opx Solutions

Click here for the OpX Solutions YouTube page

Click here for The Lean Solutions Summit 


Patrick Adams  00:00

Hello, and welcome to the Lean solutions podcast. Today’s guest is Mike Lee. Mike is the president of optic solutions, a performance improvement company that helps manufacturers remove the barriers that prevent them from achieving their goals by developing leaders and improving processes. Prior to starting his company, Mike had a 13 year manufacturing career where he held a variety of operational supply chain leadership roles. And prior to that, which I’d love to kick today off with. He served in the US Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer. So welcome to the show, Mike. 

Mike Leigh  01:06

Thanks for having me, Patrick.

Patrick Adams  01:08

Absolutely. Well, welcome back, I should say because you were with us back in season one, episode 42. We talked about Kaizen events, which is actually a super powerful episode. For anyone that hasn’t heard it, you should go back and check out episode 42. But before we kind of dive in today, Mike, tell us a little bit about your background in the Navy, we’d love to hear a little bit about that.

Mike Leigh  01:31

Yeah, I spent 10 years active duty right out of college, I was a surface officer but specialized in nuclear propulsion. So the Navy trained me on running nuclear reactors and nuclear power plants, which the Navy now powers their submarines and aircraft carriers back then I was on a cruiser. But I also spent some time in a frigate. And yeah, it was a great time. 10 years after that I spent 10 more years in the reserves, including a brief stint back on active duty after 911 for Homeland Security. But the Navy is a what’s interesting about my navy background is that I really saw firsthand a good leader versus a not so good leader and how a strong leader could really impact an organization. Um, you may have heard the book turning the ship around. I literally had a captain that could have almost written the same book, like he was on a ship that literally turned around within weeks, it was that big of an impact. But what I really got out of the Navy was their the way they they standardize, and they do preventive maintenance. And it’s really how they communicate the way they you know, standard work the Navy, if you really understand standard work in the military, you’d find a lot of similarities.

Patrick Adams  02:56

We could probably we could make a whole show out of this one, because I would love to hear more about this. Because obviously you and I know you know me being a Marine Corps veteran, you’ve been a Navy veteran, we know the importance of standardization, standard work in the military, because, well, in any place, standard work helps us to remove some of the chaos helps us to stabilize things. And obviously you can’t win a war you can’t be you know, as good as the Marine Corps, the Navy is without having stability, right and being able to improve on top of that. So maybe tell us a little bit, maybe give us an example. Maybe it’s preventative maintenance, maybe standard operating procedures, whatever it may be, you remember any kind of good stories from the Navy or things that you saw that you said, you know, this is amazing. This is some probably before you knew anything about Lean, right? You didn’t?

Mike Leigh  03:49

Correct I didn’t really know anything. It’s more after the fact that I realized, boy, the Navy did that really well. One of my colleagues in the leadership development industry, I was on a call with her recently. And she started using the phonetic alphabet. She started going Charlie asked, Oh, Tango, and I said, Whoa, I’m like, you know, the phonetic alphabet. You weren’t in the military. And if it’s a long story, but basically, that’s an example of I knew, you almost know immediately who was in the military because they start spouting off the phonetic alphabet. And that’s just a small example of where a standard procedure how you communicate to avoid miscommunicating is extremely common. Right. So that you know just little things like that and, you know, the preventive maintenance work, you know, when you take a look at TPM, and equipment reliability, you realize there are some industries that have a high level of it if you know like the airline industry and and the military is one of those and you take a look at how they did preventive maintenance, and it’s so much much more in depth and complete than almost any company I’ve ever come across. And so it’s things like that, then you realize, wow, they really did some things well, and they did some things that closely aligned with Toyota Production System.

Patrick Adams  05:13

Yeah, they sure did. And you mentioned also when you were in the military, that you worked for some some really good leaders, and maybe some leaders that you know, maybe needed a little bit of improvement. Any any good stories around your leadership development that came out of the Navy, maybe something that you’ve been able to take from there and apply to what you do now?

Mike Leigh  05:34

Yeah, I, one of my captains, and I’ll give them credit here, his name is Captain Doug Kyler. He was he was a captain on a frigate that I was on in on the west coast on the USS Wadsworth back in the late 90s. He came on board a ship, and we were kind of average, but he came on board the ship. And he said, and this goes along the lines of the principle of respect for people, which I’m a firm believer in, you know, coming out of Toyota Production System. And he said, he said, guys, I have two rules. That’s it, one, do your job, essentially, do your standard work, right, and do your job and to take care of the person next to you. And I said, as long if they’re out in town, if they’re having trouble, if they’re having trouble in their role, take care of the person next to you, if you do those two things, we’re going to have a great show. I tell you, Patrick, that the ship literally turned around, like we became the best ship in a squadron, he got rid of all these curfews, he got rid of all these rules, and just simply trusted everybody to do their job, do it well, and take care of each other. And that was it.

Patrick Adams  06:44

It makes such a difference. When you when you put people into a position where they where they feel respected, where they feel trusted, where, you know, they know that you appreciate what they do, right? People are smart. I mean, that’s, that’s amazing. I love it.

Mike Leigh  07:01

Now, I’m, I mean, even in my business, I have a small team, I don’t have a vacation policy, I don’t have a you know, it’s basically unlimited time off, just take time when you need to, and how much you need to and, and but I trust you to get the job done. And and it’s worked out fine. I’ve never had a problem. You know? I mean, clearly, sometimes, you know, there’s always exceptions, right? Nothing’s perfect. But you know, I’m a firm believer and you respect people, you take care of them. And they’re gonna do the same for you and for your organization.

Patrick Adams  07:35

So true. So true. So let’s transition from the Navy to your, maybe your manufacturing career and forward. How would you describe your Lean journey so far?

Mike Leigh  07:48

So my Lean journey really began as a manufacturing manager for GE. I was reporting to a new job at a new factory day one. I had not really been exposed to lean before I’d heard of it, but I’d never been exposed to it. And the guy who’s whose job I was turning over with, he met me at the front door, and he said, glad you’re here, let’s put down your bag. We’re kicking off a Kaizen event right now. And literally, I walked in the door to the kickoff of a Kaizen event that was and less than an hour of arriving. So I spent my very first week at this factory in the middle of a Kaizen event with the with a Sensei, from jujitsu from Japan. And, you know, that was my first introduction to lean as a production manager, then we, you know, I learned a little bit picked up a little bit, but then it was a couple years later, I had the opportunity to transition to a full time lean role for GE, and helping other sites. And so that that led to five years of being a lien advisor, internally to GE and managing Kaizen events, which is why we did a podcast about that earlier, I I’ve done so many of these as either as a Sensei, but most of them learning from a sensei from Shinya jitsu. Sure, and that’s, and so that’s where I really learned lean, I became a huge proponent, Toyota Production System. And and then I carried that forward to my own business. I started my own business 10 years ago, primarily supporting organizations in Lean, as well as leadership development because one thing I learned during those years was that the the leadership and the culture in an organization has an overwhelming impact on your success and continuous improvement. More so than almost anything I could teach or train. And so that had to be a core part of what I offered organizations. If they really wanted to continuously get better at

Patrick Adams  10:00

Yeah, absolutely. I’m curious to hear. And again, we may have talked about this on the last podcast, but I’d love to hear about that first week at GE, maybe. I don’t know if you can bring yourself back to that week and and think about the feelings or emotions or the experience that you had that week just being engulfed in this kaizen event. I mean, was it? Was it challenging? Was it exciting? Was it difficult? Do you remember what that looked like for you? To be

Mike Leigh  10:33

perfectly honest, what I remember most was, I’m reporting to what was a big job for me and a promotion. And I was stuck in this Kaizen home for a week, and I was losing time learning about everything I had to learn in my new job, it’s kind of like, it’s so I actually didn’t even have the right frame of mind, to be honest, all I remember is, I need to meet my new supervisors, I need to you know, and they did not give me a ton of responsibility, that first event because they knew I was just showing up. So I was mostly an observer and a team member. But I mean, I, I remember enjoying it, I remember being intrigued by it. But more than anything, Patrick, I literally wanted to get going on my new job. And, and I didn’t, I probably wasn’t able to absorb or enjoy as much of it as I could have, or as I did in later events.

Patrick Adams  11:30

Sure, sure, I can understand that, for sure. And obviously, I know, what things look like for you going forward. And you know, just based on what we talked about back in episode 42. But I mean, your attitude from then until now, and just over the years, you know, I’m sure you’ve learned so much through reflection through teaching through facilitation. I mean, how has your attitude maybe, maybe even shifted over the years, toward the application of lean in different ways, different industries, you know, from a leadership perspective, whatever it may be.

Mike Leigh  12:08

i Yeah, it has changed quite a bit, actually. You know, during those years, I was a Lean leader. It it, one of the things I was able to experience is the different ways organizations were were working toward applying lean, improving, you know, working on their Lean journey, right, where to start, how to start what to do first, so forth, and so on a lot of trial and error. And, and even after, then, my my GE career and starting my business, I was promoting myself, as a, you know, as a lean consultant, lean advisor, helping organizations on their Lean journey. Sure. Okay. Since then, though, I have learned that I really don’t even I don’t even use the label lean. I don’t even present our market, myself or my business now, as a lean training business or a lean support or, you know, it’s it’s now been focusing on what performance improvement overall for manufacturers. And because what I’ve learned, Patrick is that most decision makers, most senior leaders, to be to be really blunt, don’t care about Lean, they really don’t. I mean, they may, they may be a lean proponent, and they love lean, and they love the principles. But it isn’t, because it’s lean itself, it’s, they recognize that it will help the organization, what they really want is the organization to get better. That’s what they really want. Right? Lean, and the principles of Lean help you get there. But that’s not really a starting point. So over the years, as you’re probably aware, you’ll get a lot of questions about where do we start? How do we start? What should we do first, and so forth. And in the past, it might have been, well, let’s let’s find an area that’s more receptive to change. Let’s identify one sell or product line that we could make a model line let’s, you know, those were the type of discussions I would have. Now it’s, it’s it’s changed, it’s it’s more of well, what are you trying to do as an organization? What goal are you trying to hit this year? What are your pain points? You know what, what right now is the one thing you would like to change in your operations to get better what what obstacles are keeping you from, from you know, your goals for this year? It’s completely starting with the issue, the problem the challenge, and oh, by the way, you know, this principle could help have you here or this, this idea could help you here. It’s not about starting a Lean journey. It’s more about starting a continuous improvement and problem solving journey. And oh, by the way, we know a lot about the Toyota Production System. And and this is what how we would propose you do that. So it’s it’s not even about the application of lean at the front end. It’s more of it’s one of those things that’s just supporting what we do underneath. Yeah, that makes sense. I don’t,

Patrick Adams  15:34

yes, absolutely. I mean, meeting you want to meet your client or meet your customer where they are, as well. And I think that, you know, I mean, even for me, I’ve worked with, with companies that they don’t want to use any of the terms that came out of the Toyota Production System, or any, you know, specific names of tools are things and, you know, sometimes as a good trainer, a good facilitator, you have to know your client well enough to know your customer well enough to know how to adjust. But also, I mean, you and I both know that the term Lean itself didn’t even come out until the you know, the 90s in the book, The Machine that Changed the World. To Yoda Toyota that, you know, they didn’t call it lean, that wasn’t a term back then. So, you know, I mean, I think I’m in agreement with you there. And I might upset some people here, but it is what it is, right? I mean, call it whatever you want. At the end of the day, to your point, you’re improving the performance of an organization, by removing waste by reducing variation by you know, whatever it may be. And, you know, I’m with you there, Mike. I mean, call it what you want, at the end of the day.

Mike Leigh  16:45

And actually, Patrick, I almost so I almost what you can call it whatever you want. But I’ve almost I’m really to a point where there is no it. In other words, it it’s not a separate thing, it’s not a separate program, it’s not even a separate initiative, it’s there is no it it, it’s kind of like organization a wants to get better. For instance, let me give you a quick example, a company will often say Mike, do you do Lean training? We’re looking for Lean training? And I’ll say, sure, but let’s let me ask, let’s back up a second. Why do you want to do Lean training? Like what what is it that you feel lean training is going to do for you? Because I’m not a lean trainer? That’s not what I do. Yes, I do Lean training as a service. But what I do is, I want to help you achieve something like what is it you’re trying to do? And why do you think lean training is going to help you? And if I can’t connect those dots, then I’m going to back up and say, Are you sure you need lean training? In other words, it’s not a separate thing. It’s not an it really, it’s more of this, this these principles that apply as you’re improving an organization and it’s it’s not really separate. And so I guess that’s how my views changed, if, you know, regarding lean, or whatever we call it, right?

Patrick Adams  18:10

Absolutely. I’m with you, 100%, for sure that the principles are key. But yeah, the way that I would say it is it’s should be the way that you do business in again, it also depends on what problem you’re trying to solve. Right? Which is why you would ask them why why do you think you need lean training? I mean, what is behind that is because, you know, some leader went to a conference and met met someone who said they should do Lean training, you know? Or is there really something specific that you’re trying to solve or, or a goal that you have as an organization? So I’m with you. So you talked about the approach, you know, is, is has maybe changed? What would you say, you know, for those that are listening in that are wondering, you know, what is the first step? What is what should we be doing? What would you say? Is your approach to helping companies move forward on their Lean journey?

Mike Leigh  19:06

Yeah. So I, first and foremost, I really want and I will, and this is for anybody, but this is also what I’ll do with our with our clients is really wanting to understand, where do you want to be in the next three years, or one year or five years? Right? Like, where are you now? And where is it you want to where is it you want to be? Because anything we do on this journey, it should be first and foremost guided by what the vision and goals are of the organization. So, so the Lean journey, if we want to call it that, and again, I don’t even I’m actually getting away from even calling something a Lean journey. It’s more of the company’s journey. rather than this separate journey, I know that sounds like maybe I’m parsing words, but it’s, it’s to help think in terms of it’s not the separate thing. But it really starts out with, you know, where is it you want to be. Now, you might call it a continuous improvement journey or an operational or becoming, you know, an organization that’s high on operational excellence. But generally, it starts with a goals, it starts with the obstacles to get to those goals, and then concentrating on a few principles. So one of those principles is having good stable operations. You know, that’s, that’s like the hosted Toyota, right, that foundation is stable ops. If you’ve worked with enough companies, you realize, so many companies out there simply aren’t stable. And even in the world of Six Sigma, or lean, right, it’s all about reducing variation. And so, so starting that Lean journey, I often ask people, What are your biggest pain points? Where do you have a lot of variation? Let’s focus on on improving right there. And that alone will often lead to plenty of opportunity. Other principles, respect for people, and all its different forms, making sure you’re ensuring quality at the source, right and improving flow because you improve flow you reduce lead time cycle times customer lead times, that’s going to reduce your inventory that’s going to be better for the customer. It’s a growth strategy. Those principles is to me part of the on called the Lean journey. It’s and concentrating on those principles moving forward.

Patrick Adams  22:20

I love it. That’s, that’s good. And would you say from a sustainment perspective, when organizations do, you know, come head down this path is anything that you can give the the audience on opportunities to sustain? You know, as they’re moving forward? Some of the different improvements that they make? 

Mike Leigh  23:32

you know, the sustaining has been a is, as you know, you’ve been doing this long enough to know it is one that’s another common challenge organizations have, right, how do we sustain these efforts? So I would, there are two things I would highlight to help with sustainment or when you’re having challenges with sustainment, one of them is, is this concept, which is I think it’s the first principle and Lakers 14 management plan. I can’t remember which principle it is, but having the long term vision versus the short term. Yeah. So I teach this in some of my lean trainings as well, some of my leadership trainings, and that is, organizations often look lean and lean to get a certain result. Okay, but, and actually, this is a big a big proponent, a big component of our my leadership training that I do is that underlying, you know, we get results from our behaviors and we get our and our behaviors come from our attitudes and our habits and the way we think about things and our conditioning. Those things do not change overnight. But your attitudes and your beliefs and your actions is what makes up your culture. And cultures do not change overnight. And so, one of the reasons efforts are not sustained is that there’s too much emphasis on the result and not enough emphasis in the development of the culture itself which they longer term. I’m vision for the company, if you don’t change in people’s attitudes and the way they think about things and the habits that they have, then your results and your efforts are simply not going to be sustained because the underlying culture you need does not exist yet. So that’s one, the other is going back to what decision makers really want. They want results. And, and although I just talked about results, I’m not talking about short term results, I’m talking about just overall business results. If if, if your relief efforts are moving the needle on what’s important for an organization, then they’re going to want to do more of it. It’s simple as that. Generally, they’re going to want to do more of it. So it’s important, I think that all efforts and trainings show tangible results. But simultaneously, you can’t skip the culture development portion. You can’t skip the leadership development portion, the coaching, the mentoring, the messaging, it has to be over and over and over to start changing people’s habits and attitudes of thought, so that they will continue on this journey.

Patrick Adams  26:13

Absolutely love it, though. Those are great. Two really great points. So hopefully, hopefully, everyone’s taken notes back home, because those those were great. So, Mike, I want to talk to you about something that I you and I may differ just a tad bit on? Possibly, I don’t know, let’s let’s dive into this a little bit. But you came out of GE, which we both know, you know, Jack Welch took and used six sigma as kind of the the management methodology. And I think he established that every manager would be a green belt level six sigma, and I don’t know some other things that happen there. So you came out of that environment. And you’re also not a huge fan of Six Sigma. So I want to hear a little bit more about that and understand that kind of your your stance on six sigma and why

Mike Leigh  27:11

Yeah, I. So I, my view of Six Sigma overall is that it can be a useful methodology and a useful if you want to call, you know, set of tools for certain applications. So it’s not like I’m against it. It’s However, with that being said, You’re right, I worked for GE during their heyday, during Jack Welch years. Not my whole time wasn’t Jack Welch. But I started during Jack Welch years. And during that heyday, spent years practicing six sigma. So I’m very familiar with the Six Sigma, methodology and tools. However, it was through that experience. And then also with GE, the experience of lean that I realized that I formed the opinion of, because like I said, some people may not agree with this, that I really feel Six Sigma is fairly, first of all, it’s fairly limited in the application. So when a company says, ask me, Hey, we’re thinking of getting some people trained in Six Sigma, get their Green Belt certification, I’ll usually say great. But for organizations that really want everybody to be six sigma trained, or like GE tried to do or really put all their most of their eggs in that basket, I just don’t think it’s, it’s worth their time. Because even at GE, which you can argue, maybe they applied it wrong, or they could have done it better, it was an all in effort, no doubt about it. And yet, I distinctly remember an all employee call in the Division I was in, during the heyday, after years of Six Sigma and the quality leader for this division. So he’s a corporate quality leader, who told all the employees along the lines, and we’ve been practicing Six Sigma for five years, but our customers are telling us they don’t see an impact. Our cost of quality has not gone down. Right. And this is from a company that was all in Sure. And so you wonder, well, how did that happen? And if you’ve been in the Six Sigma world long enough, you realize that a lot of what’s called Six Sigma simply is not Six Sigma. It’s not even a good application of Six Sigma. Sure. And so it’s in so my opinion has formed in that I think it’s great if a company wants to have a couple of people that know it, and for certain applications, use those tools. But by and large for every application of good application of Six Sigma, I’ll show you 500 With the Toyota Production System, you know, it’s, I’ve seen lean and Toyota Production System B fairly transformational. I’ve never seen six sigma be transformational. So that’s, that’s, that’s where I formed that opinion. And then, you know, then, you know, the world of Lean Six Sigma developed. And and again, it’s my opinion only, but I really feel it took away from what Toyota Production System is it, it developed a mindset of projects developed a mindset of certifications, it developed the mindset of having certain experts and belts were, that is not the Toyota Production System mentality. And, and I really felt like it actually almost hurt. What Toyota Production System is, so for that reason, I’m not against six sigma, it’s just I can I can use Toyota Production System to have a much greater impact than on an organization help them then I could ever was six sigma?

Patrick Adams  30:55

Sure, sure. Yeah, I think we’re, we’re pretty fairly aligned. You know, so, definitely, good to hear your perspective. Absolutely. I definitely believe that they both complement each other very well. But to your point, you’re absolutely right, that, you know, you can’t just have a project mindset, and think that you’re going to have transformational results, you know, with projects only, or, you know, measure the number of green belts or yellow belts in an organization and you’re gonna have transformational results. Right? It’s not about the number of belts, it’s not about the it’s not even about the tools that people know, it’s, it’s really something completely different. And that I think you and I both are aligned in with, you know, the daily management, the daily Kaizen that the, you know, measuring results, versus measuring number of belts, you know, having transformational metrics in place, that you’re, that you’re making decisions by versus right, those, what we would call vanity metrics, right? Yeah.

Mike Leigh  32:01

Yeah. And, and, and I don’t, you know, some companies really tried to quit project counts, whether it’s lean or Kaizen events. And, and I understand why they do that. But I’m not I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in Toyota Production System, I’m sure there’s a lot I don’t know about it. But the some that I’ve learned is there such an emphasis on the mentoring and coaching and problem solving, and just how you look at problems themselves. And, and if that becomes part of your DNA, you’re not even thinking in terms of projects, you’re just doing it, you know, and, and I think if you can do and I think when sometimes you put certain metrics in it, it can drive the wrong behavior, right. And so you have to be really careful with Project counts. And, and, you know, I mean, put it this way, if I’m running a business, I don’t care how many projects somebody does, Patrick, what I care about is, this is where you’re at today, this is where I want you to get it a year from now, are we getting there? Right? And is the trajectory? Correct? And how are you getting there? That’s what I want to understand. And I want to mentor people in doing that. I don’t care how many projects they do, if they do one big effort that is transformational, you know, and it’s better than four little things that they did to call it a project? Well, I’ll take that transformation on one every time. So it’s, and plus, on top of that is, you know, part of the culture is it’s okay to make mistakes, right? You want people to try to experiment to learn. And sometimes these project counts and the results of these projects start over, you know, it drives wrong behavior. I’ll just leave it at that we you know, you’ve probably experienced it and other people who are watching listening, have experienced same thing.

Patrick Adams  33:49

Absolutely. Yeah, for sure. So for for those that are, you know, listening in many are lean practitioners, some consultants, some new to lean or continuous improvement, you know, maybe some operations people listening in, maybe not just manufacturing probably from other industries, healthcare, maybe even state local government, what advice would you give to the vast majority of people out there that are practicing Lean principles, continuous improvement principles, who want to make a difference in their organization?

Mike Leigh  34:25

I, first and foremost, I would recommend that whether you are you know, trying to move the needle internally at your company or your consultant or you’re an ops, you know, you’re in operations. It all starts with going back to what I mentioned earlier, what Okay, let me let me I’m jumping around here. If I ask somebody, what is the one thing you would like to change here and you know that this organization is going to get better? What would it be? And start there? i It’s like you start with The obstacles start with whatever’s holding the organization back. If you don’t think anything’s specifically holding them back, then what’s the goal for the organization and, and then work to change it and work toward that improvement. Don’t even call it lean, but, but if you apply some of the principles and moving the needle, the leaders are going to be happy, because you helped move the needle, and now that you’ve moved it, they may still see what you did. It’s like, well, this is a principle and Toyota Production System, you know, we apply this, but it has to be first and foremost, you have to be making an impact for the company. And, and without that, it really doesn’t matter. And so, you know, to really, where do you start? Or how do you want to make a difference? It’s all about really understanding what the decision makers and the senior leaders need from you and from your department and from your organization. And working to make that happen. Yeah. And oh, by the way, those principles of Lean are a great way to do it usually, right. But it’s got to start not, I’m going to do Lean, it’s got to start, I’m going to reduce cycle time here, or I’m going to you improve our inventory turns or cash flow or our labor productivity, right? It needs to start with that.

Patrick Adams  36:20

Sure, sure. Now, what advice would you give to somebody maybe that’s in an organization where they don’t have maybe leadership approval or leadership direction to, to do any, they don’t feel like they they’re empowered to make change? You know, could I talk to a lot of people that are in that position where they’re, it’s almost like they, they just, they want to get started, but they just, they feel like they’re not they don’t have the tools or they haven’t been given the the go ahead to do that. Any any thoughts around that, Mike? Well,

Mike Leigh  36:56

I think, yeah, my first thought would be if somebody has that feeling, right, that they they’re not, they don’t have the opportunity to make change? Well, first, I think you have to be clear and ask that you want to do something. Leaders can’t always read your mind. And sometimes there’s miscommunication there. So I think it’s important that if you have an idea, if there’s something you want to try, making sure that it’s something that’s important to the organization. And if you don’t know what’s important to the organization, ask, you know, what’s one thing if there was one thing I could work on to help you right now? What would it be and, and work on that and propose something, propose an idea? Now, with all that being said, if if they don’t, if, if there are leaders that are really attached to the status quo, and are risk adverse and don’t want to make change? I’ll be honest, I don’t know what you can do, Patrick. I mean, it’s, I don’t know if there’s any advice I can give on something like that I was in an organization not that long ago, and it was in the feedback I was getting from a lot of employees was, you know, it’s going to be done this way all the time. Like, we this is proven, we’re not going to, you know, and, and oh, by the way, they have high turnover, and you wonder why, right? So it’s, it’s, that’s a really hard one. But first, make sure that’s truly the case. You know, come up beat propose something, propose ideas, say you want to try something, so you want to make a difference? And if you’re still turned down, I’ll be honest, I don’t know what you would do, Patrick, I mean, wait for a new leader to show up.

Patrick Adams  38:44

I will say Mike, I actually worked with an organization that was in that similar spot like that. And I remember this one lady. You know, she was she was really frustrated, because she felt like that. And she ended up we had some conversation, and I asked her, what, what is with what’s in within your own control that you could do that that’s possible for you to you know, and it took us a little bit to get there. But she said, Well, you know, at the end of my line, there’s, I’m always really, really scrunched up. There’s not a whole lot of room there. And I always have to pick my boxes up and move them down to this other area to load them onto this pallet. And she said, you know, it’d be really nice if the pallet was closer to me. And, you know, if this this other, there was something behind her if that was out of the way. And I said well, do you need approval to move the pallet closer to you to move that, you know, whatever that was out from behind you? And she said, Yeah, I probably not. And I said, Well, you know, sometimes for things like this, it’s better to, you know, ask for forgiveness. And I said, Let’s just move that pallet and so her and I moved the pallet closer, and we push whatever it was out of the way And she was just tickled pink just so excited about, you know, this new little area that she had set up and and we celebrated that and I might have dropped a little hint to leadership that they should go check it out and have her show them the improvements that she she made to her area no matter how small right Paul Akers says two second improvements matter, right? So, you know, again, it is hard when you’re in an organism and you’re somewhere where Leadership isn’t, isn’t part of the, you know, isn’t driving the change or supporting it? But that’s I guess, I don’t know, I’m with you. It’s difficult. It’s difficult, but I just think if there’s anything, even something small within your control that you can improve, start there. Yes,

Mike Leigh  40:43

that’s great advice. That’s great advice, Patrick. And, you know, one of the things I try to encourage in all employees I work with all leaders I work with is no matter. You can only control what you can control, right? But never, don’t let outside circumstances, squash, your desire for improvement. Just keep trying, just keep trying. Don’t let it don’t let it beat you down. Don’t get too depressed, just keep trying. Because the alternative is not very pleasant, right, is to just not do anything and to give up. So, you know, never give up. i One of the things I always tell employees when I’m training them is, you know, it’s okay to try and make a mistake, it’s not okay to not try. So you got to just keep trying. And, and of course, then when I see that unfortunate that in my position, I can I can be very blunt to leaders and say, you know, where I see that happening, and they’re not really supporting that, that ability for employees to to make a change. So yeah, that’s, I mean, I think that’s great advice. Just do do something you can control. And hopefully your actions will will be louder than your words, and it’ll encourage your leader to do some additional things. Yeah, that’s

Patrick Adams  42:03

right. That’s right. Well, Mike, if anyone’s interested to, you know, to maybe continue the conversation with you want to reach out to you are interested in some of the stuff that you guys are doing at AIPAC solutions? What’s the best way to get a hold of you?

Mike Leigh  42:18

Sure, I would say if anybody would like to have a conversation or reach out to me, you know, connect with me on LinkedIn. That’d be great. And so you can you can find me I have a, you know, you know, not a huge following, but I have a lot of connections on LinkedIn, I love I will connect with essentially anybody that wants to connect there and send me a message. If you want to know more about my business, or even reach me through the business. The website is old PBX solutions llc.com. We also have a YouTube channel and some of your viewers might be interested. Several months ago, I started a video series called The Slight Edge, which is geared toward helping folks improve their leadership productivity, and personal success through a lot of small changes that can have huge impacts. And so I have a series of videos on slight edges that leaders and other folks can do to help in those areas. So feel free through that through LinkedIn, through the website. All those ways, I will I will get the message.

Patrick Adams  43:24

Perfect. And we’ll drop each one of those links into the show notes. So if anyone’s interested, they can go to the show notes, find those links and connect with you there, Mike. Like it’s been great to have you on. Thanks again for coming back. And again, if anyone’s interested to go back to season one, episode 42, where we talked about Kaizen events, feel free to do that as well. But Mike again, thanks. Thanks for coming on. Appreciate you being on the show.

Mike Leigh  43:49

Well, thanks, Patrick. And maybe the next time we’ll have to talk about the military and how the military’s influenced us and so forth. So but anyway, thank you very much, Patrick. I

Patrick Adams  43:59

appreciate it. Take care of Mike. 

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.