In this episode, Dr. William Harvey and I discuss the most important skills he was able to transfer from his time in the United States Marine Corps to his corporate career in lean management. We discussed everything from goal setting to leadership skills and kaizen.
Dr. William Harvey’s leadership journey started in the U.S. Marine Corps. Following military service, William discovered a passion for manufacturing and continuous improvement over the last 14 years. William’s fascination with people development and a chance encounter with Toyota Kata prompted his doctoral dissertation on Toyota Kata’s best practices. William currently works in manufacturing as Plant Manager at Michelman and started his sixth year of teaching business, finance, and marketing at the University of Cincinnati in August 2022.
Patrick Adams 00:01
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 and welcome to the Lean solutions podcast. Our guest today is Dr. William Harvey Williams leadership journey started in the United States Marine Corps Semper Fi William Patrick. All right following his military service, William discovered a passion for manufacturing and continuous improvement over the last 14 years. Williams fascination with people development in a chance encounter with Toyota kata prompted his doctoral dissertation on Toyota kata as best practices. William currently works in manufacturing as a plant manager at Michelman. We’ll talk a little bit about that. But he started his sixth year of teaching business, finance and marketing at the University of Cincinnati in August of 2022. Welcome to the show, William.
Dr William Harvey 00:58
Thank you so much, Patrick, for inviting me on this week, I get the opportunity to connect and talk some really cool stuff, not only from my 14 year leadership journey, but also from the perspective of similarities between you and me in terms of our continuous improvement journey.
Patrick Adams 01:12
Absolutely. Now, yeah, before we hit record, William and I were discussing my book and you, you actually just finished the book. And we were just talking about some of the similarities and some of the companies that we’ve worked with in the in the past, William, can you just fill in maybe our listeners on some of your experiences in the last 14 years
Dr William Harvey 01:32
or so I’ve been fortunate enough to work at some companies that were at different stages in their GDS, a permit journey. What I think is probably most interesting, though, is the difference in experience between organizations that already have a continuous improvement program established, and those that are Greenfield, where you’re starting from zero. And I’ve been fortunate to have a couple of those Greenfield experiences, because the challenges faced are not the same challenges I faced, you know, 10 to 12 years in a journey. And from an organizational perspective, it’s been on the manufacturing side, but in various areas from printing, and packaging, to steel drum shipping and chemicals for the last five and a half years.
Patrick Adams 02:14
What’s been you would you say is your head has been your biggest learning over the years in the different industries in places that you’ve been.
Dr William Harvey 02:23
So the biggest lesson learned is that it applies anywhere and everywhere. And one of the really cool things that I’ve been able to experience is something called a 90 day challenge. So they partnered with some local business consultants in the Cincinnati area. They were formerly Definity university, but have moved on to Mark Schaefer Hekate business advisors, which is a large accounting firm. And through that 90 day practice, what’s been really cool about it is observing the practice and action. So it blends the leadership aspect with the continuous improvement aspect. And it’s been something that’s been incredible to see particularly as you start to go outside of the traditional manufacturing areas. Yeah, and how quickly people just jump on board and say this works really, really well for us. And then obviously, that’s the springboard and I think that launches it everywhere.
Patrick Adams 03:08
Yeah, I love that. How much of your experience or how much of your success in manufacturing and lean Do you think came out of your time spent in the Marine Corps?
Dr William Harvey 03:20
I think there’s a tremendous amount of lessons that apply in both places. Yeah, I mean, most notably, just from goal setting, setting really high standards, things that seem to work everywhere. And you know, when I when I think about one of the comments in your book around red being a good thing, I had a chat with a gentleman recently, and we were discussing the you know, the called the annual review concept, right? Sure, you know, if imagine everything is green every year, I said, that’s not really good, because it doesn’t give people a purpose to come back to work the next day and strive for something more. So there’s some percentage of my goals that, you know, obviously, I want to hit them all, but I realized if I’m sitting high enough, I’m probably not going to hit them all. Personally, if I’m doing really, really well. And that really invites a good discussion around purpose, and what it is we’re trying to do every day.
Patrick Adams 04:06
Yeah, no, that’s a that’s a really good point. And that’s the thing that I always struggle with, when I go into organizations and I see, you know, their KPI charts, or whatever it is gold charts or anything, you know, and they’re all green. And immediately, I’m asking myself, and asking them, you know, why are they all green? What were you know, are you not challenging yourself enough? Or, you know, what, what would be the reason why and you know, sometimes it does come out that it is a fear based organization where they might be missing their goals, but they’re missing their there’s no way that they’re going to put up there that they are in the red, right because of what that the repercussions of what that could create. And I know probably you experienced some of this in the Marine Corps as well, like I did. I mean, the Marine Corps does some in some areas. Definitely. You We’d call it a fear based culture where you don’t want to mess up, or you don’t want to admit that you did something wrong. I experienced that with many leaders in the Marine Corps and coming out of the Marine Corps, working with leaders in organizations, I started to see that same thing. And in it, it was very, it took me a little bit to realize that, that that type of culture does not work in you know, out in the corporate world, because if you can’t see your problems, if you don’t make them obvious or visible, then you can’t go after them. You can’t fix them. Right.
Dr William Harvey 05:32
Agreed. And that’s the point. I think, you know, when I say like, red is beautiful, right? Because it’s a problem. That’s opportunity. Because I think about the word repercussions that you use. The fascinating pieces, the repercussion, we actually want is to help, but we’re afraid to say it, and then I just got to convince people, it’s okay, I got your back, I’ll take the blame falls, right. But at the end of the day, I’ve been able to say realize quickly that most people that I work with at every organization so far, really want to see the business succeed. So by highlighting the problem, we’re actually gonna get the help we need rather than the help that we think we are trying to avoid. And like, that doesn’t make sense. Because we can’t get what we’re after. And we can’t get to where we’re headed as a collective, unless we have a discussion when we get read. Right,
Patrick Adams 06:13
exactly. So obviously, you have some experience with goal setting. And I’m curious to hear what what actually influenced you at an early age, you know, early in your career at at setting those, you know, and challenging yourself on personal goals.
Dr William Harvey 06:30
So there’s, there’s two things I want to talk about the first of which is very familiar for those that were in the military, at least in the Marine Corps, outside the barracks, or within the barracks, but outside the restroom area in the Marine Corps, there were a set of pull up bars. Every time we went to the restroom, the requirement was you had to go do pull ups. And there was a lot of water drinking by design, so we can stay hydrated for all the activities we’re going through, right. So quite often, we were doing pull ups, you know, maybe 1012, sometimes 15 times a day. And I recall one day, dropping down after you know, maybe a month and a half, two months into boot camp. And I just wasn’t as doing as many as my fellow recruits at the time. And I recall asking my drill instructor, his name is Sergeant marusic asked Mr. Sir, what is the goal? And he said, 20. And I was like, Cool. What’s the minimum? And he said, 20. Doesn’t make any sense. So I don’t understand how can the Gobi 20 of the minimum be 20? In the state? Or the question you asked me is one that really springboards into life everywhere, which is, if I told you to go any lower, what would you aim for? And that, to me, was a very powerful question. And really set the bar really, really high. And then the second piece that I want to share is the concept of going to the moon, I recall reading some stuff around NASA, and they had like 50 different KPIs or goals. And JFK came out and said, you know, our goal is just to get to the moon by the end of the decade. And I thought, well, that’s really important. So similar, you know, if I tie those two together, it’s we’ll set them high, but certainly specific. Because if you don’t focus your efforts, you’re going to be everywhere. And to me, that’s been the most valuable thing from a personal goal setting perspective, are those two things I should say, Sure, influence a lot of my decision making.
Patrick Adams 08:12
That’s powerful. And, you know, we talk a lot about true north in the Lean world and having it an ideal state, you know, for Toyota, it was, you know, zero defects, it was zero safety incidents, it’s 100% value, add, it’s one piece flow, these things that are, you know, almost, or they are not attainable. In reality, they’re it’s perfection, right, seeking perfection. And there is a, some thoughts in the in, in the Lean world around, you know, should we be seeking perfection? Or should we be seeking excellence, and I’ve had this conversation with many people. And in my, in my mind, it’s both, right, I mean, we need to have that stretch goal, we need to have that, that ideal state that gives us direction, but we also need to set those those smaller, or those shorter target state or milestone type of goals. And that’s kind of what you’re talking about, right? It’s like, okay, 20 in the Marine Corps. 20 was the goal. And that’s, I think that’s a perfect score correct. In the Marine Corps, if I remember right, 20 Pull Ups, or it was, yeah, it was,
Dr William Harvey 09:20
it’s been a while. But yeah, that’s the idea. 2020 pull ups, and you get 100 points for that physical fitness test score, which led to a lot of opportunities for promotion and training, right. So it’s important to do those bolts not just simply to show that you could, right,
Patrick Adams 09:35
so in my mind, I’d be thinking, okay, you know, going into boot camp, if I was able to do, you know, two pull ups or three pull ups, you know, I might, I definitely have this this long term goal, or this, this, this ideal set of 20. You know, that’s my ideal, but I might say, Okay, I want to get to five, right. And that’s in alignment. It’s in direction to my 20 I want to get to five and then I want to get to 10 and then want to get to 15. And it’s like these iterative, you know, milestones that you’re you’re setting for yourself these iterative target states that are driving you closer and closer towards perfection. I think is that is the right approach, right? What are your thoughts on that?
Dr William Harvey 10:17
I agree with you in the concept of the true north. And when I think about the ideal state, the ideal state should be perfect. And whether or not we can achieve it doesn’t mean the ideal state changes. Sure. I think when it comes to ideal state, so many times I see people trying to solve problems by not starting with that. And I think that’s a mess. So I agree in the concept of, you know, hey, I’m thinking about the other week, I mean, for five pull ups, rather than, say, 50. But at the same time, I’m like, Well, 50 is the gold and figure out how to get the 50, you know, incrementally. But whatever that Max goal is when the ideal state to me shouldn’t change, because then I start, I think the complacency sets in. Yeah. And then at some point, you really don’t have that purpose. And at least with the, it’s a more recent research coming out as people want to have purpose. Yeah. And particularly with younger people, it seems to be the most important thing about where do they work, so that I’m saying, Well, if we don’t give people purpose by basically allowing some red metrics, people don’t get a chance to come to work and strike for something that is valuable to them.
Patrick Adams 11:14
Yeah, absolutely. Such a such a powerful point. And I appreciate you bringing that up. And I want to I want to go off topic here just a minute since you mentioned the Marine Corps. And obviously, both of us are Marines. I got to ask you a question. If you if you could go back and do boot camp all over again. Would you do it?
Dr William Harvey 11:35
I would love to do boot camp again.
Patrick Adams 11:38
You know, that’s it’s one of those things that I think about boot camp B being one of those things that I say, you know, I’m really happy that I did it. But I could not go back and do it again. Man, those three months were just killer for me. But no, I am with you though. There are some things that I would love to go back and change about that. And that knowing what I know now, but man, that was a that was a tough, tough couple of months for sure.
Dr William Harvey 12:07
Yeah, a freeze. But funny story was, when I finished my time at Parris Island, I went up and asked me to go and sugar. I was like, well, when do I come back? And he said, Well, I don’t know that you do. So and I asked him, so where would I go? He goes, What’s your job, and I was like, I’m a Marine, I don’t know what you’re talking about. So somewhere in that recruiting phase, I completely missed that there was his normal job. After boot camp. I actually thought I signed up for boot camp style stuff for four years, not realizing that I was gonna have the benefit of some free weekends, sometime in the future. So I was like, well, this worked out really, really well for
Patrick Adams 12:38
- Wow. Okay, that’s good. So what was your your MOS or your job when you were in the Marine Corps? So I
Dr William Harvey 12:45
worked as an ammunition technician for the first three years. And then the last year, I spent time in the shop that was responsible for training and development and operations, okay, spent more time on the training and development side, military people may know it as the s3, but most people would know it as like a subset of HR in the corporate world.
Patrick Adams 13:02
Okay. All right. So that that will lead me to another question, you know, when it comes to teamwork, right, I mean, obviously, the Marine Corps that the ultimate team, and I’m just curious, what you would say, you know, as far as your view is, on the topic of creating an environment for increased teamwork, right, both in, you know, what, from the military, were you able to transfer over into the civilian world? And, you know, just in your experience over the last 14 years of being in manufacturing and continuous improvement, you know, what are some of the things that you’ve seen that helped to increase teamwork within it within an organization?
Dr William Harvey 13:42
So the Marine Corps, I think, has that, you know, I’d say probably executed better than anyone, right. And it’s from the beginning, that that’s how you’re trained. But one of the things I noticed quickly about boot camp was that all of the expectations for what you needed to do couldn’t be done alone in the time that the drill instructors allowed. So I’m not sure about your drill instructors, Patrick, but mine didn’t know how to count down very well. So it sounded something like 2010 for one and get back online. That’s right. And there was no there was no way to get there, because numbers changed every time. But what I started to realize is that when everybody was working individually, the countdown went faster. And when the team started to work together, or people started to work together in teams, all of a sudden, we got back on line with whatever it is that our drill instructors needed us to bring. And at that point, I was like, Wait a second, there’s a lesson here. And what I was learning very quickly was the more we work together, the more be rewarded by the drill instructors, because that was the whole mission they were trying to teach, at least in that moment. It wasn’t about whatever the thing was, it was how we were doing the thing. And for me, that was one of those moments where I said this is important and how does it relate to the rest of the world? It’s really around goal setting when I think about something known as policy deployment or Hoshin Planning, depending upon the question Connery people We’ll view it differently. But one of the challenges I’ve seen, at least as it’s executed, the places I’ve worked, we struggled to align horizontally. So while they may have been cascaded really well, we ended up creating some competition unintentionally. And as I reflect on those two different experiences, it’s really important to horizontally align as well as vertically. And I think for most organizations, the biggest opportunity is set goals that cannot be accomplished alone. And if I do that, I’m going to get much further, let’s say along toward my journey toward my strategy, whatever it may be considered at that business.
Patrick Adams 15:33
Yeah, I like that. And that’s a that’s a great point. In your experience, did you come across any any conflict? Horizontally? Sounds like you’ve experienced some of that, can you give us maybe an example of where that did happen? And maybe how you were able to work through that.
Dr William Harvey 15:55
So I think the biggest opportunity comes in, at least the first answer comes to my mind, I should say, is a time when I was working in a factory in Milwaukee, okay, and the factory made blown film. And it was a really exciting opportunity for me, because I’d never been in one side anyway, inside one of these facilities. But it’s also my first chance to lead rapid change over a single minute exchange of dies event. And I came into it with a lot of vigor, but also as a backup. So there was somebody who did a bunch of the work upfront. And then I come in at the last minute, didn’t understand exactly what I was working on. But I understood the tool well enough to go execute it. So running into the factory, really excited to do the work. And as we’re going through the process, did a, I’d say a reasonable job with the rapid changeover event. And then after we’re done, we’re having our post mortem. And at this point, I’m getting all the data funneled in. And then I found out that we spent more hours doing the rapid changeover event itself than we took in hours of change over time in a year. And I just couldn’t help but question the plant manager at the time, I still wasn’t part of the planning team. So but can you help me understand how this came about? And I’ll never forget, because it made me laugh and get a little bit frustrated, because I’m like, we could have done something more valuable this week for you. But he said, I have to do so many Kaizen events a year with different people. And this is the one I picked. Mm hmm. And as you can imagine, right, when it’s not aligned to business strategy, it’s just a theory behind somebody’s you know, KPI sheet. And I find that really, it wasn’t very valuable. We didn’t drive both to the customer value, it didn’t really benefit the business. And one could even argue it probably hurt the business, right? Because it was a capacity constraint or anything that would really drive us toward that thinking.
Patrick Adams 17:43
That’s a that’s a great example. And I bet there’s a ton of listeners out there that that that story resonates with, you know, I think of one organization in particular, that had a KPI or a measurable for number of belts in the organization. Right? I mean, it’s it said, it’s an arbitrary number that just for everybody, it doesn’t mean anything, right for the business for the value that it brings to the customer to the end customer. I mean, maybe, of course, you would think, okay, more belts are going to potentially allow for more project completion, maybe, you know, but what value to those bring. So, I mean, I think that’s a really great example of, you know, making sure that the the whatever activities that you’re doing it within your organization, that they are helping you to get closer to whatever that you know, TrueNorth is or to add more value to the end customer. And you have to ask yourself, Is this something that’s taking me farther away from that? Or is it bringing us closer to that? Because if it’s just something you’re doing, because someone you know, up above said you should do Kaizen events? Well, that’s the wrong reason.
Dr William Harvey 18:57
I agree. 100%. And the the voices I hear in my head right now are Tracy and Ernie Richardson, who wrote the Twitter engagement equation. And as I chat with them quite a few hours, outside of the trading sessions, we talked about the importance of involving everyone every day. And at least to my experiences, belts do the opposite of involving everyone every day, makes it an elitist component. And to me whether or not it’s valuable is up for debate. But what isn’t really up for debate for me is the fact that when you have a belt, you have fewer people working on projects, because other people see it as something they can they can’t do or they’re not supposed to do just because I see the culture that underlines what adult program means in some organizations.
Patrick Adams 19:41
Yeah, and I think that’s the key in some organizations, right? Because there are definitely organizations that are doing it, right. And they’ve, you know, they’ve they see the value in the training because they know that the tool sets that are being given to these individuals, but to your point, if you’re not if it’s just one person who’s As the one sole problem solver for the organization, that’s definitely the wrong approach. Right? It’s that that one person who has those tool sets should be working together with the majority going to the gamba, the place where the work is done, involving the people in that process. Right. And so you know that that actually leads me to another question. What What would you say, you know, are the key benefits that are recognized by individuals, whether they are a green belt, a yellow belt, a lean practitioner, a Lean Expert, a lean consultant, whoever it is that a plant manager and Operations Manager, align site employee, whoever it is, by going to the gamba, by by observing the gamba? What are the benefits that you gain? By doing that? What would you say?
Dr William Harvey 20:51
So I’m a huge proponent of like the manufacturing 4.0 piece, right? Connecting things that could or should be connected. The one thing that it doesn’t do, though, is give me any sense of reality. And a case in point is, when I look at some of the gauges in the data that are transferred, relative to what’s actually happening, we get a false sense of what’s happening in reality. And one specific example comes to mind which is walking through a factory in training mode. And this was my first formal exposure towards Toyota kata. And I was watching a well intentioned superintendent and a well intentioned Maintenance Manager work together on solving some pm downtime. And fortunately, before that, I was able to walk the line and I asked a bunch of questions about the process, because I’ve never seen a fiber drum meet before. And one of the things that caught me by surprise was how long this conveyor was, and we’ll call it between process point A and B. I asked a bunch of questions about why that conveyor so long. And essentially operators told me that a long time ago, this is something they needed to do to make the product work to the customer. Like, okay, cool. But it doesn’t, it’s not necessary now. So as I heard the to discuss the maintenance manager in the plant superintendent, they were trying to improve their pm system for conveyors. And then after listening and observing the session, I asked the question, like, how long would it take to process point A to process by b and eliminate the conveyor since we don’t need it anymore? It was like a light bulb went off for that team. Because what was accounted for they said it was spinning roughly like 20 hours a week on maintenance to this really long conveyor. Oh, wow. So as I shared the main, it’s been addressed. You know, in our previous discussions, you said you needed more people. So seems like this one effort gets you a half a person that in terms of technical work, that is probably more valuable than fixing this broken conveyor that we don’t need. So it really gave me the insight to look at root cause problem solving from an elimination before improvement perspective. And so often I see people try and randomly improve things before they go through the problem solving method and say, well, let’s eliminate it. And then I’d say the second beauty is the opportunity to try store. And if it doesn’t work, have a discussion and figure out what might work.
Patrick Adams 22:59
Absolutely. And all of that is really, you know, a lot of that is only the, it’s only learned by going to the place where the work is and actually watching with an eye for waste, right? And seeing that, you know, that there’s so many organizations that I walk into that have that exact same issue where they have all this conveyor. And it’s like, what, why? Why do you have so much conveyor and it’s like, well, that’s the way the machine manufacturer built it, or, you know, we needed to go around this corner, or we need we had a problem. And we added it in because of this, you know, or whatever it might be. So, but again, you don’t know until you go and see until you go out there and actually watch and ask those questions really seek to understand.
Dr William Harvey 23:46
Absolutely, I love the phrase seek to understand that’s one of my favorite phrases in the entire world at this point. Because it wasn’t something I learned until a little bit later in life. But once I did, it gave a lot, you know, a lot more perspective in terms of how do I help people get closer to a goal by listening first, rather than trying to say, well, I know this continuous agreement stuff, you can just do what I say I promise you’ll get there. And while that may have been true, it’s definitely not the best approach. But people so that seek to understand has been a beautiful message people share with me over the years.
Patrick Adams 24:17
Yeah, it is. It is powerful. And I will say though, that it’s not it’s easy to say it, it’s a lot harder to really go do it as a leader and go out there and really, you know, ask questions with the mentality of okay, I maybe think I know the answer, but I want to take that out of my mind altogether. And I really want to listen to what these people say, so that I can really understand what’s going on. And that’s not a that’s not an easy thing to do. You know,
Dr William Harvey 24:48
it’s not but I think the, again, giving grace to ourselves, right, was just chatting with my wife about this morning. So you know, we have some personal goals that we’re both working on. So you know, some days we may not meet No, that’s okay. Yeah. But if we got 90% I go, Let’s applaud that we did 90% of it for the day, even though he missed that 10%. And I think that’s a very valuable piece, right? Because as leaders, if you set the goal perfection, I agree. But when you don’t make it like, well take it as a chance to reflect and figure out what you can do differently. And one of those key pieces that I picked up on with what you’re sharing, Patrick is, what is your intent when you visit, right? If your intent to go is to go share knowledge? And I’d say shame on me, right? Because I’m not actually going out to actually try to learn anything simultaneously to sharing my knowledge, right. And I’ll never forget, I shared or actually, Tracy already came from a previous organization, and they did their two day training on root cause problem solving. And I remember going into the session, I thought to myself, I’ll go and see what I can pick up. But I already know its way the business practices. Maybe I did, but at least eight steps, right? Yeah. And then afterwards, or at the end of the session, so you know, what’s something you’re taking away. And I shared in front of the larger team, I started becoming a teacher, you know, right. And I think about my professorship and the ability to get in front of groups and train people, I had really lost my spirit of being that lifelong learner. And to me, it was one of those flips. And I said, Well, I gotta switch this quickly. Because if I don’t, I’m, you know, I’m in danger, my cell phone stagnating. So it became one of those things, right. So I don’t know this, I’m gonna make sure everybody knows, I don’t know this, and I’m gonna go learn that. Yeah, at the same time, I’m trying to share knowledge where it’s requested, or it needs to be there to help solve a business problem.
Patrick Adams 26:28
That’s such a powerful point, I have to be completely transparent. You know, one of the reasons why I do the Lean solutions podcast is because it started out with conversations with, you know, other like minded individuals like yourself, and I was learning things I, you know, I’m having these conversations with people. And, you know, and now, you know, fast forward to today, I still love to have these conversations, because I’m learning things, you know, that I need to, I need to continue to keep that open mind, you know, even as you know, a lean consultant, you know, and I say that with quotation marks consultant, right. You know, I’m a lifelong learner, I’m learning all the time, even with the teams that I’m going in and working with, and, you know, helping to coach I’m also walking away with with something every single time, that’s such a powerful point. If you can’t, at the end of your day, look back on an every single day, if you can’t look back and ask yourself, What’s one thing that I learned today, then you need to you got to you have to rethink that? Because you should be learning something every day?
Dr William Harvey 27:39
Absolutely. And I think that’s the, I’d say, the crux of what I fell into, right? I started to bleed my own pipe, simultaneous this story I’m sharing, I really want on a mission and say, like, how can I crush my ego in a good way? Right? Let me just remove it, and recognize that maybe I’m really good at one or two things in the world, but everybody else is gonna be good at one or two things that I’m probably not very good at, and maybe even experts, right? So it’s like, well, here’s my chance to go learn from them. And I work at an organization now that has some brilliant, brilliant people. And even think that I’ve been doing those pieces where I so I know how this all works. I’m just fooling myself. Right? So, you know, as I meet with my manager, and some of my coaches personally, it’s like, you know, maybe my Catia is around learning how our products work interacted a basic chemistry level. But my hope is, in 10 years, that effort that I’m putting in now pays off with being able to solve a business problem, take care of a customer in a new way, just because I intentionally went and solve this information here. 10 years prior.
Patrick Adams 28:37
Yeah, so true. So true. Let’s go back to the leadership discussion. I was I was really enjoying our conversation about the Marine Corps and leadership. What about practicing Kaizen, and for those listeners that are that are maybe listening to this for the first time and are hearing that word Kaizen for the first time? Maybe let’s start out with a quick definition of kaizen. And then, you know, what, what leadership lessons has Kaizen taught us? And, you know, again, if you can think of a Marine Corps example, I love the Marine Corps examples, but otherwise, a corporate example will work perfectly to.
Dr William Harvey 29:15
Yeah, so I think it’ll apply to both honestly, much, but I’ll start with a Marine Corps example. Okay. And I think the the way that I summarize kinds in is continuous improvement. And I say that has two areas, right? Continuous improvement of the process, but probably more importantly, continues to primitive the person. And what Kaizen does for me or has done for me, I should say, it enables me to try storm which really just means you come up with a reasonable plan. And then you go execute it, and then you reflect on it. And if it works, you adopt it. If it doesn’t, then you change something new, and try again, you keep doing this until you get to whatever that goal is that you set out for originally. But what I found in the manufacturing role that apply just the same the Marine Corps I was leading from the front. And there’s a gentleman who has since passed, due to being killed in action when he was in Afghanistan, but he was my series, gunnery sergeant. And what a series Gunnery Sergeant would be be the club like a senior manager or department manager, okay. I had my immediate supervisors, which were my drill instructors, and then their manager is the person I’m referencing. Yeah, yeah. And I remember whenever this gentleman would come in, his name is Luke. So I’ll share that piece of it. But his name was Luke. And whenever Luke would enter, he had a different presence about him. And from a Marine Corps perspective, there was always a desire to look and also be the best, and it was the best at everything. So just imagine 180,000 people trying to be the best of the best of the best. In my experience, Luke was one of those best of the best of the best. Yeah. And he obviously had a great career, and unfortunately, passed away in his convoy when he was in Afghanistan. But what is really impressive about this gentleman’s leadership life, right as he led from the front. So when we would go run, he’d be in the front, we’re at the rifle range, he was teaching us how to shoot better than anybody else out there. And no matter what the task was, he was there. And the beautiful part is I was recently at the virtual lean Summit. And I got to hear from Rick to Shingo, who was she gave us she knows son. And Mr. Shingo shared something that I thought was beautiful and relates in the Marine Corps, we say lead from the front. But the phrase rich to Shingo use was show your back. And maybe the message came at the right time. But that was really, really impactful, because it’s really, I would say, a testament to going to gamba, working with the team and helping solve those problems that’s important. And whether I’m talking to Luke or Ritsuko, it was one of those things, I say, You know what this needs to be in everybody’s playbook all the time, if we’re going to stay connected to our people, if we’re really going to understand what drives customer value, and not for all the you know, Japanese reason, but because it’s really effective leadership.
Patrick Adams 32:03
Powerful, powerful. And actually, I was just thinking about the term Kaizen, you know, in just how it’s broken up, chi is changed, Zen is for the better. So change for the better. And actually, the two words can even be broken down even further, I don’t know if you’ve heard this before. But chi actually gets broken down even further into two characters, that that mean, something to the effect of whipping yourself, like whipping your back, whipping yourself. And then Zen, you know, can be broken down into sacrifice of a lamb. And so when you put when you put it all together, it actually, you know, it’s changed for the better. But it’s, it’s not something that I’m going to do to you, as a leader, I can’t make you change, you have to you have to whip yourself, and it’s going to be a sacrifice, you have to do it yourself, you have to be able to you have to be willing to change yourself. And so it’s kind of an interesting, interesting thought. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that before, not that whole breakdown.
Dr William Harvey 33:09
I have heard the five portion of it, but that does that. And so that’s new. So thank you for sharing, yes, it’s
Patrick Adams 33:14
pretty interesting. You know, just to hear that breakdown, and think about it like that, you know that. Because change is difficult. And it’s not something that anybody can force you to do. It’s definitely something you have to work at yourself. And it is it does sometimes take sacrifice. So yeah, so thank you for sharing those examples. And I want to talk a little bit more about the team aspect, as we talk about change, and sacrifice, you know, sacrificing for the betterment of the team. You know, sometimes, you know, that takes a little bit of work to to get there and to create an environment where teamwork is happening to create an environment where people feel safe to work together with our other people where the trust is built. And you know, that that, you know, often takes collaboration within that team, right. And collaboration can often be listed as a corporate value at times, but what does collaboration mean to you? And how do you help create an environment where collaboration can happen?
Dr William Harvey 34:25
So I’m actually going to step outside the military and corporate America for a moment to the baseball diamond for a moment. And in my youth, I had the opportunity to play on one of the world’s worst baseball teams for two years. So I got an awesome opportunity to sit and think while we were getting our butts.
Patrick Adams 34:44
Okay, there’s humility there right now. We’re
Dr William Harvey 34:48
like that seven run rule. I was thankful that we only had to go three innings sometimes. Maybe some day I can hit something in the strike zone. I was like, if it’s out of it, man, I can hit it like so. I figured Golf was gonna be awesome for me and that turned out to not be Do the best sport either. So to pick up something a little bit different, that doesn’t involve a ball on a stick. But the short story here is I think about baseball being an awesome example. Because as your practice baseball and you’re trained in baseball, you have one of your nine positions. And in those nine positions, if you were to leave your position, because you wanted to help somebody else, because you thought that maybe they needed it, but you didn’t first take care of your responsibility, you did end up losing the game. So that to me was, again, another valuable teamwork collaboration moment, because it was like, Yeah, I could go help that pitcher. But I’m gonna first base. And that’s a pretty important position to play when anybody’s batting. So I need to make sure I am where I’m supposed to be. But also, if the ball would hit too far, I may, I may have to go in between wherever the person was trying to throw the ball to and call it the midway point. So we can get the ball back in the play and perhaps prevent a run beings for sure. And to me, that was really, really helpful. Because it did a couple of things. Right? One, it helped me learn my position. But it also helped me learn the importance of figuring out where do I go when something bad is happening to our team from a defensive perspective, and then obviously, winning and losing together, right. So if I didn’t do it, or I went out on my place, I could be in a really, really bad position. And as I’ve learned in corporate America, there are lots of ways to get to the same goal. So it’s really about valuing that different point of view, and then going out and trying something together. Rather than spending a lot of time to beat again, there’s necessary evils of planning and some conflict that comes with that. But at the end of the day, let’s go try it and see what happens. If it doesn’t work. We can come back. And then most importantly, right. If it does work, I’ve now learned something that I didn’t think would work before, if it were a different view than mine.
Patrick Adams 36:46
Right, right. No, that’s really good. Good point. Absolutely. And what what would you say? I mean, is there work that has to be put in to develop that that level of collaboration that’s needed within teams? Does it just happen overnight? Is it you know, or what would you say in your experience, you know, needs to be done in order to develop the level of collaboration needed to, you know, really have a successful continuous improvement culture.
Dr William Harvey 37:16
So I’m gonna go back to some words we’ve used TrueNorth is the the first and most important piece for me, so we have to have a common goal. And then those that aren’t familiar with Toyota kata, and those that are, there’s a concept called deliberate practice. And the idea is that you can’t haphazardly go do stuff, you got to be focusing your efforts. And to me, that collaboration requires deliberate practice. So if you’re not intentionally going out and building relationships, when things are good, it’s going to be very difficult, in my opinion, to go when things are bad. And ask others when you haven’t been providing in that time. So I think those two are the most, I would say, foundational elements, perhaps they’re more but those are the two that come to my mind.
Patrick Adams 37:57
It’s It’s so true. That’s it’s such a great point to that. You know, so many leaders don’t take that into consideration. Like, are you only going out? When you need something? Are you only going to the gamba when you need something or where you need to ask the team to do something like work a weekend? Or, you know, or are you out there all the time, celebrating successes, removing roadblocks, constantly empowering them to, you know, come up with new and innovative ways of doing things? Right. There’s a there’s a big difference there.
Dr William Harvey 38:31
I completely agree. And one of the things that came on my mind as I’m hearing you speak, because it’s a phrase that we share with me, but it’s very simple. Complete, don’t compete. So when we have an opportunity, because maybe I want to show off that I’m maybe no more than you, Patrick, or vice versa, do we help fill in the blanks? Are we trying to basically push somebody over the edge and say, I know more than you. And I think if we have those relationships that are well founded, you get a lot less, a lot fewer mixed messages, if you will, in terms of where where’s my energy coming from? Am I trying to put Patrick down? Or am I really trying to complete him as a peer? Or an industry call the same? You know, let’s do this together? Maybe we both don’t know the answer, but we go learn together.
Patrick Adams 39:11
Absolutely. Agree. Well, William, this has been a great conversation. And I also wanted to just thank you for your service in to the United States, and just appreciate the time that you spent in the Marine Corps. Appreciate you for that and loved your stories, love, love the stories of of how you’ve been able to take things that you’ve learned in the in the Marine Corps and transfer those into the corporate world and just the value that you’re bringing to the teams that you’re working with, you know with with kaizen. So thank you very much for your time today.
Dr William Harvey 39:45
Thank you, Patrick. And as a person who reads a lot of books, you want to give a plug in to share with you, Patrick, I appreciate the way in which you wrote and the way you differentiated between the crowd that for 10 companies and those that are doing really really well. Yeah. Please take a look at Patrick’s book because I think you’ll find some. It’s many people call it like fake lean and real lean. So there’s some real value in there. And I appreciate you reading that book because you can help supervisors, leaders and managers all around the world. Take that one step take a little bit better.
Patrick Adams 40:15
Well, I appreciate that. Appreciate the plug. William, if someone wants to get a hold of you, how would they connect with you what would be the best way for them to to get a hold of
Dr William Harvey 40:25
you? The best and easiest way is to find me on LinkedIn. You’ll find me under William Harvey, and you’ll see it as Mike Coleman which is spelled Mi c H, E l, ma N. Feel free to connect love to engage in see how I can learn and equally see if there’s some places that I might be able to help.
Patrick Adams 40:45
Perfect and we’ll drop your link to your LinkedIn into the show notes. So if you’re interested to reach out and connect with William, you can do that by just going right to the show notes and find it find it there. William it’s been great again, we’d love to have you back on again. I’d love to talk more about maybe even Toyota kata I know that’s a huge area that you are very familiar with and using very regularly. Maybe we can have eon here in the next few months to dive into that topic.
Dr William Harvey 41:18
Sounds like a plan I’d love to because I’m learning everyday weapon.
Patrick Adams 41:22
All right, well, thanks again. William. Have an amazing week. You as well. 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.