Managing Lean Culture in a Large Global Company with Dan Davis

Managing Lean Culture in a Large Global Company with Dan Davis

by Patrick Adams | Jun 21, 2022

In this episode, Dan Davis and I discuss what its like to manage a continuous improvement culture in a large global company.  We talk about both successes and challenges of being in this role. Dan also provides the listeners with some tips and tricks to help other leaders develop their own CI culture.

 

What You’ll Learn This Episode:

  •  What it’s like to manage The Center of Excellence for Continuous Improvement for a large publicly traded company?
  • What is the key in opening the door to CI culture?
  • How are you generating small improvements?
  • What’s Dan’s favorite topic to train people on in CI?
  • What’s Dan’s favorite quote and why?

About the Guest: 

Dan Davis has dedicated over 25 years of his career to supporting lean initiatives and developing CI culture at various companies.  He is extremely passionate in teaching and simplifying concepts to help companies shift their culture to make it a place that it is everyone’s responsibility to improve.

Mr. Davis rejoined Xylem in 2021 and leads up the Continuous Improvement, Center of Excellence and  is responsible for driving CI utilizing the Xylem Production System.

His key focus areas include driving the vision and roadmap for the Company’s CI  culture while overseeing initiatives, implementing robust tools and measurement methodologies such as Lean and Six Sigma, and leading Xylem toward best-in-class status in operations, commercial and transactional activities.

Prior to his current role Mr. Davis was responsible for the CI program at Watts Water Technology.   He held several leadership roles at FMC Technologies, including CI Leader & Plant Manager. Prior to that, he served in a series of increasingly responsible leadership roles in the industrial businesses for the Stanley Black & Decker, Global CI  Leader and Plant Manager Responsibility. At Tractor Supply Company, Mr. Davis was responsible for launching their CI Program \(Tractor Value System\).

Mr. Davis earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineer from Milwaukee School of Engineering.

Important Links:

Email: dan.davis@xylem.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dandavisleantransformation/

Full Episode Transcripts: 

 

Patrick Adams 

Welcome to the Lean solutions podcast where we discuss business solutions to help listeners develop and implement action plans for true Lean process improvement. I am your host, Patrick Adams. Hello, everybody. And welcome to the Lean solutions podcast. Our guest today is Dan Davis. Dan has dedicated over 25 years of his career to supporting lean initiatives and developing CI culture at various companies. He’s extremely passionate in teaching and simplifying concepts to help companies shift their culture to make it a place that is everyone’s responsibility to improve, Dan rejoined xylem, in 2021, and leads up to continuous improvement center of excellence and is responsible for driving CI utilization for the xylem production system. Welcome to the show, Dan.

 

Dan Davis 

Hey, thanks, Patrick. Thanks for having me on. Absolutely. I’m excited that to have you on we, we recently wrapped up a book study with your team. And I had some really, really great discussions around around the book. But I’m excited to have you on the podcast I’ve been trying to get you on as a guest for quite a while to talk about some of your experiences at xylem. You guys have an amazing culture of continuous improvement there. And obviously, much of that, you know, due to the team that you have there. But I’m curious, just as kind of start out the conversation, if you could maybe just give us a little bit of background and how you ended up where you are in charge of the the Center of Excellence for you know, largely a large, publicly traded company. How did you how did you get there? What’s your story? Yeah, it’s been a lot of trial and error. industrial engineer by trade, I started out in distribution. And my first job was doing engineering labor standards and distribution center. So I was chasing forklifts with a data writer, so look like this remote control with numbers and he had codes and, and he would follow people and see what they were doing. And so you’d have to write the standard work or standard operating procedures, you’d, you know, Chase forklifts, you would look at methods, you would come up with best practices, you’d have observation sheets. And it was really one of my first exposures to lean not knowing about Lean and continuous improvement on just processes and methods. And so I did that for a while and then got into the retail distribution space. And so I worked for Barnes and Noble, put in engineering labor standards for them and put in warehouse management systems and then went to work for Tractor Supply Company. And the Tractor Supply Company was responsible for distribution. And it was it was interesting there, the VP of ops said, Hey, Dan, go out and find out about this thing called Lean. And so I started asking buyers, and it says, Hey, who’s doing Lean? And so I found out that MTD, who creates Cub Cadet mowers was a kind of a lean house and, you know, went, went out there and participate in my first kaizen event, Shelbyville, Ohio, there’s about a foot of snow on the ground. And the two ops leaders were doing a five s event and I was doing my first combine event making cards and putting the T hooks into the board so that they could hang them in there. And it was, it was phenomenal. And I remember coming back to Mike, and Mike, you know, said, Hey, Dan, what do you think about this lean stuff? And being a young, arrogant engineer, I said, Well, Mike, this is industrial engineering 101. Why? Why am I so excited about this Lean stuff? And then he changed something, he told me something that changed my life forever. He’s like, Dan, do I want one or two really smart industrial engineers going around the company and trying to fix the problems? Or do I want everybody thinking like, industrial engineers, and solving their own problems, and boom, my mind was blown. And, and that really propelled me in to this long life of learning. And in trying to figure it out and talking to a lot of smart people around the world to be a part of their experience and see how things were going for them.

 

Patrick Adams 

Very nice. That’s great. And obviously, you’ve you’ve had a ton of experience over the years since then. And now landing at xylem. In 2021, you rejoined xylem, correct?

 

Dan Davis 

Yeah, yeah. And yeah, it’s, yeah, coming back. I mean, the advice I give anybody out there is if you choose to do different career paths, always leave on a good positive note. You know, there’s always you know, things that come up and different opportunities and things that happen and I was just had an opportunity that I wanted to go after and it didn’t work out the way I thought it was going to and little thing called COVID kind of came in. And so, you know, I left his Xylem on great terms and was able to come back and, you know, I always tell everybody, I’m the luckiest guy in the world because I get to do what I love and teach and guide and educate everybody, you know, in xylem and just I’m just so blessed to be a part of it.

 

Patrick Adams 

Very nice. Dan, tell us a little bit about xylem. For those those that don’t know what xylem is, or, or you know what the company does?

 

Dan Davis 

Yeah, so we’re a water technology provider. So we do a lot of solutions to our tagline is, let’s solve water. And so we do things from residential to commercial solutions in the space. And so it’s a great company, and really enjoy the time I get to spend at at xylem.

 

Patrick Adams 

Very nice. And what is, from a lean perspective, what is the what is the org structure look like? Or the hierarchy, you know, in the company, how’s how’s it set up there?

 

Dan Davis 

Yeah, so I’m responsible for the Continuous Improvement Center of Excellence. So I set up more of the policy procedures, training material, the corporate work with a senior leadership on the corporate strategy. And then each one of our regions has a vice president. And so they have a team within the region, all our VPS report into the regional presidents, and then dotted line over into the center of excellence. And so we have a really tight connection. If you look at our strategy, continuous improvements there, Patrick Decker, you know, believes in continuous improvement, our leaders who believe in continuous improvement, and they’re part of the journey. And so we talked about how do we simplify the business and, and drive that, but each of our sites have CI leaders, and haven’t sometimes we’ll have multiple folks in as we’re having development, kind of the farm system where we bring folks in and train them up. And then they, you know, rapidly progress within the company. And then we have transactional teams that will help with the transactional process. And we have sales and service as well, that we have teams out there that are supporting that part of the business.

 

Patrick Adams 

Nice. And what is the training look like at xylem, for someone that, you know, he’s in one of those positions, or one of those roles, or even, you know, someone even outside of the operational excellence team?

 

Dan Davis 

Yeah. So, you know, training is an interesting thing. Our vision for CI xylem is everyday people solving everyday problems through a passionate mindset of continuous improvement. And so when somebody comes on board, we have a eight minute video, this is Hey, welcome to welcome to xylem. We’ve got a CI program as part of our core strategy, and talk about some of the examples that people are aware of continuous improvement, we then have a white belt training program. Again, it’s more of an awareness training. It’s It’s interesting when you get talking to Ci professionals, and, you know, talking about training the eight ways to like, well, I need six hours to train the ways I’m like, you know, it took me eight years to figure out the ways and truly understand it in a deep level, and you expect a three hour training. So we developed the white belt training to be 30 minutes, go on high level of, hey, we have eight ways we have value added versus non value added, and how to do a quick Kaizen or quick improvement for our business. And that’s the training, they’re great. We have more advanced training, we’ve got green belt training, Black Belt training, we have a program called leading for continuous improvement. And so that’s for our senior leaders. It’s a training program that we take them through to teach them on how the behaviors need to be to thrive in a continuous improvement culture. Love it, love it. That’s great. And you also have a very, very nice social platform to to share best practices and just continue keeping conversations open throughout the company. Correct? Yeah, we, we use a platform called workday. It’s basically Facebook for work. I think the medic Corporation actually owns that. And we have different chat groups. And so we have a CI channel. And then of course, we have watermark channel and we’ve got xylem around the world. And so basically, if you’ve got an interest, you can join a group and then post and have discussion. So one of my favorite one is the dad joke one. So I’ll hop on there and read some different dad jokes. So it’s not all serious, but it helps create a community because we’ve got 17,000 employees roughly around the world we’re in multiple countries and it’s truly a global company.

 

Patrick Adams 

Yes, it’s it’s amazing what you guys are able to do you know with with such a large company, and obviously with you being in charge of the the Center of Excellence for continuous improvement for a very large publicly traded company. I’m sure that it comes with its its own challenges. But what tell us what what is it like to be in your position at the company you’re at?

 

Dan Davis 

You know, leadership matters. Whenever you’re doing these the these transformations and and I’m blessed because I’ve got leaders that believe in the program and believe in what you do. And so for me, my job is my job is kind of fun, you know, I, I do a lot of advertising in my role, get people excited about continuous improvement we do, we do a living lean webcast where we talk about some of the projects that are done around the company. And so I get on, you know, in front of everybody on Zoom, and we do these internal communications, and we celebrate wins and everything on that. So I’ve got, I’ve got the best job, we’re gonna go, I’m finally going to get out and be able to travel more. Now let’s pandemics going. So I’ll go visit the factories, see how they’re doing in their journey, we’ve got a design and production system, which we have an assessments that we can go in and see how the how our maturity level is in different categories, from safety, quality, procurement, and CI, and so we’re raising up the maturity around the world, because some sites are better than other sites, and then the sites that aren’t as good can see what the other sites are doing. And so really creating transparency around the world. And that’s tough when you’re in a large corporation, because it’s, you get caught in one factory, and you think that’s your, your paradigm in your world, but in reality, it’s a global, global competition and global, you know, global facility. So it’s, it’s definitely a fun, fun position to be in.

 

Patrick Adams 

And you mentioned the Lean journey assessments in within that process. There’s, I’ve been at a couple of companies that had really nice, Lean journey assessment processes in place as well. And so I’m just curious, do each of the sites have objectives that they tie those, you know, the Lean journey results to and, you know, establish some kind of 90 Day plans or one, you know, six month plans or something to that effect? What does that whole process look like at xylem?

 

Dan Davis 

Yeah, so we’ve got key metrics that are tied to the business. And so as we go in, we have different pillars within our system. So we’ll have a safety pillar with a safety assessment, and then that’s tied to a safety metric. And then the sites will self assess where they’re at. So each of the pillars has a playbook to go with it that says, This is what good looks like. And then we let them self self assess of where they’re at. The leaders of the sites typically will have a strategic session, and then they will look at the strategic session along with the assessment and create the plan for the next year. We know we’re on a journey. And a lot of times these assessments, it’s not about the score, I always tell people, you know, it’s more about the learnings and setting up your one, you know, like one of the key things in your one is, if you’re new to it, set up a model area, so you can test and it’s kind of like a playground that you test tools and, and teach people and be able to see. And it just allows them to build their CI program certain in one area versus trying to do a whole facility. And so as we’re going through the the assessments, they’ll self assess, and then we have a small team that will go out and do peer assessments. And so we’ll go visit the factoryand walk through and evaluate on the different pillars of how they’re doing. And then have discussions with management team, talk about their their updates, and how they’re doing and being able to, you know, help them progress. We also do interim trainings. So every month, we’ll have a CI call with the sites that are part of it and have them share best practices as well so that they can see what’s what’s happening in the in the business.

 

Patrick Adams 

Love it. Love it. And then obviously, that creates some, some really great excitement for the team members to be able to show off and showcase, you know, some of the work that they’ve done and put in so that’s always fun. Well, you know, obviously, we’ve talked about a number of things so far, and I appreciate you sharing so much about what you guys are doing and the amazing work that’s happening to develop a powerful CI culture. What would you say is the key in opening the door to a CI culture?

 

Dan Davis 

Yeah, you know, the biggest thing that I see from a culture standpoint is making sure that the leadership understands what they’re getting themselves into, you know, everybody wants to get a part of the, hey, let’s do CI. You know, Mike Tyson says, you know, everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. I think a lot of times you get into Ci and it’s like you start to change if somebody gets clocked and next thing you know, it’s world war three. If you’re not really ready for it. I mean, it’s not easy, right? This whole change management’s not easy and it takes a lot of courage and The belief in the program and then fortitude, you know, sticking with it, like when things get really rough, you say, No, we’re gonna make it through and we’re gonna get through this thing and, and then and then putting things in place to allow you to teach new folks that come into the organization. You know, this is our culture, this is where we want to go, this is how we want to do it. So that they’re now saying, okay, I get that I have all this past experience, I can bring a little bit to that. But here’s the new model that I need to work within. And those are some key on the on the culture, because so many times if you don’t have that thing in place, new people come in, and they just bring their baggage with them good, bad and ugly. And it can change and morph what you’re trying to get accomplished if you don’t have that in place. But you know, culture is what what you do and no one’s looking. And so it’s tough to get it’s hard to build a good one. And it’s really easy to tear down a good culture with some some bad bad leaders that come in. So absolutely.

 

Patrick Adams 

Hello, everybody. I hate to interrupt this episode of the lean solutions podcast. But I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to my book, avoiding the continuous appearance trap, and instead of you hearing from me, I’d like for you to hear from Paul Akers, author of two second lean, and his thoughts around the book Lean is for 2% of the people in the world. There are an awful lot of posers out there. People that do Lean because they’re mandated to do it, they think it will work. But there are very few people that embrace lean with their full heart had an emotion to create a true Lean culture, one that is not full of posers and posturing, but full of authentically when they have total participation from everyone in the organization. Patrick’s book uncovers the essence of what those organizations look like, and what the posers look like caution. Are you in the fake zone, or the reels? Thanks so much, Paul, if you’d like to get your copy of avoiding the continuous appearance trap, you can go to Amazon or you can go to avoid continuous appearance.com. Grab your copy there.

 

Patrick Adams 

Now, back to the show.

 

Patrick Adams 

What would you say? xylem? I mean, what what is the main contributor to sustaining a good culture? Do you have any anything?

 

Dan Davis 

Yeah, it would be you know, Patrick Decker’s unwavering leadership in the topic is, is key. And then when he brings in new leaders, you know, they’re committed, you know, as part of, you know, because part of your DNA works, right, we’re nowhere near a super mature company. You know, we’ve gotten a lot of opportunities and continue to get better, but the leadership team is committed to it. And then as we bring in new folks, the program, like I said, before, leading for continuous improvement, so that people get it, you know, the white ball training, you know, Patrick, you know, it’s a leader led training. And So Patrick, you know, lead the white belt training with his staff, and then his staff is cascaded. And we’re cascading it through the organization. And as new people come in, and we train their supervisor, we’ll train them on the white belt. So it’s not a CI, you know, initiative, quote, unquote, to train but it’s a leader lead. So it becomes, you know, part of what we do. And that’s really where you want to get it to be as these, these habits to take care of our customer and really drive in the most efficient manner. Right, right. Now, you are also a trainer yourself, and you have, obviously multiple topics that you guys train on.

 

Patrick Adams 

We’ve already talked about a few. What would you say is your favorite topic to train people in CI?

 

Dan Davis 

Yeah, so I’ve got a slide that people always say, you know, if you’re on a deserted island, and can only take one lean slide with the architects improvement slide with it, this would be the one and so it’s basically a circle with forwards on it. And it’s, you know, when you’re thinking of a good process and operational excellence, there’s four things to keep in mind. The first thing is you got to have simple flows. So I’ve got, I got three daughters, and they all have long hair. And there’s a point where they say, Dad, this thing’s clogged again, and so I get that long snake. And I go in, and I pull out that big clump of hair, right? And that hair gets in processes. And so you want it so you turn on the faucet, the water flows. And so a lot of times that hair gets into what we’re trying to do at work. So how do we find out what’s stopping the flow? So you need to have simple flows. The second thing they need is standard work is the easiest, safest and fastest way to complete the task. And so a lot of times you go and you say hey, do we have a documented process in there? then they’ll say, Yeah, and I say, show me. And then they’re like, Oh, well, I guess I don’t have it or, yeah, here it is. And then I said, Okay, when’s the last time it’s been updated? Are you following it? And so you can do a lot of series of questions. Because if people don’t have a standard way of doing it, you know, you’re gonna see a lot of variation that happens. The third thing is taking actions. So, you know, can you give somebody what they need when they need it? And they can ask you a question. So can you send an email, and they know exactly what to do with it? Can you drop a product off to the next station, they know exactly what to do with it. And when you have that you have what we call a tight connection. And the last thing, in a great process is having transparency, creating an environment where everyone knows, everyone sees and everybody understands. And so if you can have the simple flow, standard work, tight connections and transparency, you’re gonna have a pretty kick ass process. And that’s right. I love it.

 

Patrick Adams 

That’s great. You’re gonna have to share that slide with me. I’d love to see that the slide at some point?

 

Dan Davis 

Yeah, we’ve, I’ve made cards for it as well. Oh, nice, that people can post and set up and along with the eight ways. Yeah, that’s great. Have a handout. So I’ll I’ll share that slide.

 

 

Very.

 

Patrick Adams 

That’s great. And also, you know, as you talk about, you know, culture and developing people toward being part of a continuous improvement culture, it’s also important that we think about, you know, how improvements are made at an organization and, you know, prod, long term projects are one way to establish, you know, significant advancements or improvements in processes, but also, small improvements are also important. I don’t know if you can speak around that. What is their what is one more important than the other? Are they both important and an organization? Do you think,you know, organizations should be focused on one or the other? What are your thoughts on that?

 

Dan Davis 

Yeah, you know, I think you got to have a full program. You know, as far as big and small programs, but I’m very passionate about point cousins and quick cousins, which are basically just do it’s their small improvements. And it’s interesting, because we have a lot of debate on point, cousins and like, are they valuable? And so I’m a grandfather, so my oldest daughter, you know, recently had a baby now, she just turned three. So I’m saying reasonable timeframe. And so it’s quick. And I was thinking about this, I remember, Lizabeth was at our house when she was first are starting to learn how to walk. And so as my mission as a granddad, like, I’m going to be the one that gets gets her to start walking. And so I’ve got her, I got a video of me. And Elizabeth, I’m like, come on, you can do it, you can do stuff, you can take a step and sticks her first step, she takes her second step, and then she falls on her butt. And then, you know, kind of gets up. And, you know, we’re all excited because she’s taking her first steps. And she’s doing awesome. And, you know, it’s that joy of seeing it in point Kaizen is, and quick horizons are kind of like that, where somebody’s never really done continuous improvement. And so it could be, hey, I moved the trash can, you know, a foot away from me, so I don’t have to move a different step. It could be, hey, I put a naming convention in for my files that I could find things a little bit easier. It could be, you know, a lot of these little things and people like, oh, well, that’s not a big deal. And because you can take walking, and you’re like walk us out of the big deal, but you had to take the first steps to get as good as you need to be. And so we’re encouraging everybody to do point, Kaizen is within Oregon organization, we want to have, you know, 80% of our employees do an endpoint Kaizen every quarter. And then once we get to that, we’ll start tightening up, you know, how often we do it. But, you know, q1, I think we had 13,000, quit Kaizen around the world. That’s great. And so, you know, Dan, how so that’s for those who are listening that maybe have never heard that term point Kaizen or quit kaizen? Can you just real quick, just give a quick definition of what that is? Yeah. So what it is, is it’s a small improvement that’s documented, so you have a before photo. So you take a before photo what happened and a couple of descriptions on what was before and then you take an after photo, what the fix was, and then some of the key learnings and so you know, hey, I improved the safety of this and so we category we have a little category on there that if it’s safety, quality, delivery costs, and then we have the eight wastes because I want them to tie back and start thinking about the eight waste, hey, I reduce motion or reduce defects or overproduction. So that they got that we’ve got a software that calculates it puts it all in there so they just grab a quick mobile device before after, type it in and then it goes into a database, which then others can search around the company to see Hey, you know, dock, dock doors, anybody do anything on dock doors and they can find if somebody didn’t and be able to share around the world?

 

Patrick Adams 

That’s great. Now, what is the process for someone that wants to if they see an opportunity to make an improvement? Is there? Is there some form of change control that has to happen before they can move ahead with an improvement? Is there a suggestion system? Are they allowed to just move ahead and make an improvement? What’s What’s your process there?

 

Dan Davis 

Yeah, so for the most part, people can make the changes. So we try to give time, in certain instances, you know, line line, folks, we have scheduled a little bit more of when they can do their process improvement, if it’s, if it’s minor, and it’s not going to affect the quality of the products, then they can make the changes right away. So if they see a safety hazard, or, you know, a small improvement, that’s not necessarily impacting the product itself, those are fairly quick, if they do have something that’s a little bit bigger, that they want to change, you know, something that engineering will have our teams come out a bigger team that would come out and do a quick evaluation to make make the changes, but a lot of them are just just do it, you know, kind of fixing what bugs them in their day to day operation. You know, it could be hey, I need to get the shadow board fixed, or I need this tool or this is starting to wear out I need a new one of these. And it’s just capturing the mindset of it’s not only my job to do my job, but it’s to make small incremental improvements, make it a little bit better.

 

Patrick Adams 

Love it, love it. What would you say let’s talk about successes and challenges in in your role. You know, in the past, however many years, you know, 25 years of your career, do you have a favorite success story? Or maybe you have a few favorites, but maybe you could just pick one success story that you say, you know, this is one that just kind of stands out from the rest that I think was was a really good story that I want to share?

 

Dan Davis 

Yeah, you know, I’m just trying to think that got me on that one’s got to kind of, you know, I, you know, one of my favorite stories was early in my days a Tractor Supply. And, you know, we there was a receiving person on the dock who had a lot of potential, and we promoted her to a senior specialist. And I worked with her on just development and skills and, and how to be a CI person, you know, I always say there’s three keys to a CI you know, professional, one year leader, you know, people need to look up to you, people need to respect you, you need to be a person that can, can influence and drive the change and be a part of the solution. So being a leader is number one, too, you got to help find and see and, and help guide opportunities within the business, you got to keep your ears open, you got to see what customers are saying, how do I help fix any of the issues within the business, there’s problems everywhere, like if somebody comes up to us it, hey, we have problems, we’re perfect, you’re gonna be like, no, no, no, that’s not true. Because every company has challenges and the speed of which we change causes new problems that occur, even if the old condition, you didn’t have any that are happening. So you gotta be able to see the opportunity. And then the third, you need to be teaching and educating people, you know, as a teacher, and an educator, and those are the three key responsibilities of a CI leader, that I always teach when somebody new comes in. Now, depending on your level, you may be at different phases of that. And there’s, you know, if you’re just a specialist, you’re going to be learning the new tools and how to be a leader and see that and so, this, you know, team lead now, specialist, starts to learn the tools and the leadership blooms. And next thing, you know, she’s promoted to a supervisor. Next thing, you know, she’s promoted to, you know, a manager and next thing, you know, she’s running the facility. And to me, you know, developing people watching them grow through the process, you know, going from somebody on the floor, or the team leader to actually running the show is is something that comes out, you know, as the as a big success early in my career, and, you know, I always want to see people grow up, I’m seeing people, you know, get promoted and do better, you know, the better, the better everybody is.

 

Patrick Adams 

Yeah, that’s such a great story. And definitely, exactly the reason why we do what we do, right? I mean, you’ve been able to see people enjoy their jobs and you know, remove things that bug them and just come to work and have a great day. And then you know, just again, just enjoy what they’re doing is is definitely a huge benefit of what you and I do. Dan, I want to I want to flip it, flip the question and go the other direction and ask you about maybe your greatest challenge, you know, something that just really was, you know, a difficult change for you or a difficult, you know, transition or something to that effect, maybe a difficult group of people or I don’t know, whatever you you comes to mind when you think about a challenge, what would that be?

 

Dan Davis 

Well, my worst kaizen event ever. So I was a manager and, and having the team and we strain in another person. And we went through the proper protocol, we had the, you know, we follow what we call the three weeks of prep one week for the Kaizen three weeks of follow up. And so we’re going through our checklist, and we’re meeting with the process owner, and we’re talking with the executive sponsor, and textbook wise, we nailed it, like the checklist was good, and everything else, so we get into the event. And so we do first day is, is the day of kind of finding current states and training sometimes in that one, day two is, is really, you know, kind of figuring out what the future state is going to be to get ready for day three, which is the day of change. And each day, you have to report out where folks are supposed to attend. And I was noticing that our executive sponsor wasn’t showing up. And so the executive sponsor wasn’t showing up. And I didn’t really think too much of it, I didn’t push on it, I didn’t go and try to find where the executive sponsor was. And so we get into day three of the change. And so we hit day three of the change. And we make all these changes, the team’s all pumped up, everything’s great. And the executive sponsor shows up day three, and as pest. And they’re in so team leaves, she’s tearing me up, and my, you know, specialist up and down, you know, like a sailor, I mean, it was it was bad. My specialist ran out crying. I mean, it was just, it was, it was horrible. And, and it wasn’t, it wasn’t a critical event, you know, it was a very minor event, in the grand scheme of things, it was more, they wanted to do it to do an event to be a part of it, but they really didn’t, weren’t committed to the change. And I remember going to my boss at the time, and like, just frustrated, like, come on, you gotta do something. And he was a senior leader, and there was another senior leader, and he’s like, I’m not going to talk to the other senior leader about this, because this is so minor in the grand scheme of things I need to do. And I’m like, but this culture, and it’s the events and it’s like, like, what are you doing? Like, what do you mean, you can’t do this? And it was it was like, it was so horrible. But now, you know, I we got through the event, we made the changes, we had to tweak, put some things back, the team still celebrated. We had the certificates. The team didn’t see all the drama behind the scenes. But it made me think of when we’re going to do events, does it tie back to strategy? Is it important? Is the executive sponsor truly engaged? Do they want it to happen? Do they realize what’s going to happen once the change is going to occur? These are all things that are so critical. You can go through the checklist. Yes, yes. Yes, yes. But if you don’t have that commitment from the leadership, you’re you’re in trouble. And so that was probably the one of the most painful experience I had. But it was the best lesson early in my career. Because now I’m like, Alright, are you sure you know what you’re getting into? Do you know what’s going to happen? And so I was able to take that learnings and you know, really challenge people, when they’re starting to surf these events? Did you have the conversation? Do you know as an executive sponsor and the executive, the executive sponsor doesn’t show up? I’m on the phone, like, Hey, you signed up for this? What are you doing, you know, having the manager courage to really speak up and say, you want this, you better show up make it happen? Because it’s, you’re busting their butts, to make it. So? You know, that was probably one of the tougher experiences I had.

 

Patrick Adams 

Yeah, but such a great learning example to like you said, I mean, that I had a similar experience in where the executive sponsor was actually the owner of a small company, and came in and after the event, basically said, you know, you can’t spend that that money anymore. Something to that. I don’t remember what it was exactly. But it made me think about establishing boundaries ahead of time and making sure that we know going into an improvement event or activity, you know, first and foremost, like you said, that the executive sponsor is in support and engaged but also even establishing what are the boundaries for that, you know, do we have a certain amount of spend, are there certain resources that we can or can’t have what’s in scope, what’s out of scope, you know, all of those types of things established upfront or have, you know, the executive sponsor, the decision maker be part of it, you know, part of the event so that they can be there to have those conversations. So, absolutely. What a great lesson, you know, good example. You know, definitely something for people to take away and really, you know, understand that the value of that.

 

Dan Davis 

Yeah, and one of the other things I had another experience that I had is we, one day I was doing a lessons learned at the end of the day, and going around asking the folks in the room what what they learned each day. And it was a union shop, and you know, one of the union stewards were there. And you know, he had more of a chip on his shoulder like it was day one or day two. And I think it was weird as day one because we figured out some of the current conditions. And I’m like, you know, hey, what, you know, what did you learn? And he’s like, I didn’t learn a thing today. And I’m like, What do you mean, you haven’t learned anything today? Nope, I didn’t learn anything. I knew everything that came out of this. And so I was sitting there trying to argue with them of like, Hey, you learned you knew it was 5783 steps from here to here? Yep. Then so I spent probably three or four minutes, you know, trying to get him to say, Yes, I learned something. And I was so pissed off. And, you know, we finished it up, and I called my sensei, and I said, Hey, this just happened. And he’s like, why did you spend the time on it? He’s sure that you should have said, I’m sorry, you didn’t learn anything? Yeah, hopefully you learn something tomorrow. And I’m like, you know, kind of get yourself on the head and say, you know, you’re right, you know, you shouldn’t put the energy into some of that. And so that was a another lesson that I learned, you know, of, of, you know, I always think to myself, you know, it’s about trying to get to right, not necessarily being right, early, my career was like trying to like, Oh, I know this stuff, and you should be learning stuff, you should be doing this. And, and so I think there’s some some learnings, as you go through some of these experiences, that you’re not always gonna get it, right. And sometimes you’re gonna make mistakes. And yet, you gotta ask people, you know, hey, how else can I handle that situation? And, and you learn from it. And, you know, since then, I think I’ve had to use that line, maybe two or three times. But, you know, it’s not, you know, confrontational. And there’s other ways of getting around it.

 

Patrick Adams 

Absolutely. And just maybe think about the, I know, listeners can’t see, but there’s a thumbs up and a thumbs down, right. And so, you know, in in any improvement, activity to move forward, you know, a lot of Lean practitioners think that they got to have the thumbs up from everybody in the room, you know, get get them from a thumbs down to a thumbs up. But in reality, if you can just get the majority of the group to, you know, a thumbs sideways, like, I’m okay, I’m not gonna go thumbs up on this, but I’m willing to go thumbs sideways, and then move forward as a as a team as a group united, you know, and that’s what we always push for is like, I’m not going to spend the time to try to get everybody to a thumbs up, because you’re never, you’re never going to get everybody on the same page with a, you know, 100%. Excited engaged, let’s go. But as long as I can get them outside of the I hate this, I’m not going to do it. I won’t move forward. If I can just get them to Okay, I’ll try it. You know, I’m going to, I’m going to try this. I’ll give it a give it a trials. We’ll see where it goes. And then at least you can move ahead.

 

Dan Davis 

Yep. Absolutely.

 

Patrick Adams 

Dan, as we as we wrap up today, I’d like to just maybe hit you with anotheroff the wall question here. But I’m wondering in your, again, 25 years of being in, in lean methodology. You know, you’ve seen I’m sure tons of quotes over the years, I’d be curious to hear, what’s your favorite quote that that, you know, keeps you going that drives you forward that helps you in your, in your career, maybe you use it in your trainings, or your PowerPoints? Any anything at all? What would you say is your favorite quote of all time?

 

Dan Davis 

Yes, this one has been resonating with me probably more in the last three or four years. And it’s Confucius quote. Life is, life is really simple. We just don’t insist on making it complicated. And really, trying to make things as simple as possible. You know, how do we how do we take stuff away, to reduce and still have the powerful message going through? That was the challenge to the, you know, the team that when we built the white belt training, yeah, I’m like, less is more. Like, just I know, you want to add more. I know there’s more to do that. But, you know, think of a glass that’s already full and as you try to pour too much into it, it’s just gonna overflow. And so it’s Same thing with information, you know, how do we simplify? How do we simplify? How do we simplify? And it’s human nature? Just to add, add, and you’ve got to find it, you got to have eyes for it that says, Do we really need this? You know, do we really need to do this particular thing and, and so that’s been something that I’ve been keeping in the back of my head, you know, is that Confucius quote is, you know, life’s really simple, we insist on making a complicated, a lot of great, great way to wrap up today.

 

Patrick Adams 

you can’t, you couldn’t have explained it better. Because there’s so many times that, you know, people feel like they can’t move ahead with continuous improvement because they feel like or they think for some reason, maybe some, maybe a consultant or something happened in their past that caused them to feel like Lean or Six Sigma is too complex to move ahead with. We can’t do it here, we, you know, it’s I don’t understand it, or whatever it might be. But if you can just bring it back to the simplicity to the basics of what it you know, what it should be, and understand that that lien can be driven forward, you know, at any organization in any industry with any team. And to your point, just keeping it simple. Is is key, right? Yeah, yeah, I think, you know, smart people can’t believe how simple this can be. And I think you just got to keep it. Keep it simple, keep it practical, keep it real, and, you know, people will join in this fantastic journey. That’s right. Well, Dan, it’s been great to talk with you today and appreciate you know, you and the company, the culture that you guys have created. If anybody’s interested to reach out with any questions that came out today, what would be the best way for them to get in contact with you?

 

Dan Davis 

Yeah, you can drop me an email at dm.davis@xylem.com is the best way to send me a note to talk about we’d be more than happy to discuss anything that I can and give you some pointers on if you have questions. I love the topic. My you know, just think it’s you know, a great way to develop people and help businesses and make things a little bit a little bit simpler.

 

Patrick Adams 

Perfect. And we’ll make sure that we drop your email in the show notes as well. So if anyone’s interested to to reach out to Dan you can find his email in the show notes. But Dan has been great thank you again so much for being on on the lien solutions podcast. Appreciate your time today and and I look forward to chatting with you in the future. Thanks batters lien blessings. All right, YouTube, take care.

 

Patrick Adams 

Thanks so much for tuning in to this episode of the lien solutions podcast. If you haven’t done so already, please be sure to subscribe. This way you’ll get updates as new episodes become available. If you feel so inclined. Please give us a review. 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.

1 Comment

  1. Faisal Ziauddin

    Hi Patrick,
    A wonderful session with Dan on CI per se and khowing about his wide and varied experience. I like his simple examples of girl hairs and your questions to seek a meaningful value adding session.
    Wishing you well upcoming sessions.

    Reply

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