Problem Solving and Lean Training with Craig Johnson

Problem Solving and Lean Training with Craig Johnson

by Patrick Adams | Oct 11, 2022

In this episode, Craig Johnson and I discuss the importance of structured problem solving and the power of a robust training program.

What You’ll Learn This Episode:

  • Why should organizations adopt a structured problem solving process?
  • Some of Craig’s favorite problem solving tools.
  • Why should people pursue lean training?
  • What does good lean training look like?
  • What does the future of lean training look like?

About the Guest: 

Craig Johnson is a leadership professional with a diverse background in engineering, manufacturing, and talent development. He is passionate about bringing attainable, available, applicable, and affordable Lean Six Sigma training and certification to the entire world.  He founded the Utah Lean Six Sigma Training Center and is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. Craig is now the Director of the Lean Solutions Academy and Community.

Important Links:


Full Episode Transcript:

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. Welcome, everybody. Our guest today is Craig Johnson. Craig is a leadership professional with a diverse background in engineering, manufacturing, and talent development. But here’s what makes Craig special. Craig is passionate about bringing attainable available, applicable and affordable Lean and Six Sigma training and certification to people all over the world. He founded the Utah Lean Six Sigma Training Center, and is now our new director of our Lean Solutions Academy. Welcome to the show, Craig. Awesome. Thank you, Patrick. That was a flattering introduction. Thank you. Oh, absolutely. Well, we’re excited to have you. I mean, I’m not only welcoming you to the show, but I’m welcoming you to our team. Right. You started with us, just over a month ago? How has your experience been with the Lean Solutions team?


Craig Johnson  01:03

Wow. Yeah, it’s there’s, you know, as any onboarding goes with, I think, with any professional level, or anybody really, it’s, you know, there’s an amount of drinking from the firehose, and there’s been, it’s been like that, somewhat. And, but, you know, there’s so much that we have in store and so much in the plants, I’m so excited for what we’re going to be doing here with, with Lean Solutions Academy. And the, the really cool thing about my experience with the whole lean Solutions team, is that I have felt so empowered to do my work. You know, in other experiences I’ve had, I always felt like I kind of had to get permission for this or, or run by, you know, run approvals by somebody else before actually doing my work. And I felt so empowered to just get my stuff done, I felt trusted, and engaged. And it’s, it’s just been super, it’s really, really good. I’m, I’m eager for everybody to see what we’re putting together. Well, I’m excited for everybody to hear. And obviously, we can’t share everything right now on this podcast. But we’re out and then on this episode, but we’re definitely going to be sharing quite a bit in the next few months about the plans that we have for the Lean Solutions Academy, as well as the Lean solutions community. So I’m excited for all of our listeners to be able to not only understand and know that the benefits that can come from the Academy in the community in the future for them. Right, but but also to be engaged involved in that process as well. So, and again, we can’t disclose too much, but, but definitely excited about some some pretty big announcements that will be coming down the pipeline. Craig, for those those will go ahead. Yeah, no spoilers here. But we have some cool things coming down the pipeline, folks. Absolutely. Craig, for those that are meeting you for the first time. Can you give us just a little bit of your background on your lean experience? Yeah, sure. Um, so I have a degree in manufacturing, engineering, and my whole career, almost my whole career has been in some form of manufacturing, whether it’s been, I always joke that the, you know, my, my engineering, emphasis is in plastics and composites. So naturally, most of my career has been in metals. And so I, I, you know, started in my uncle sheet metal shop, he he took pity on a kid that was going nowhere. And, but that was my first introduction into manufacturing. And that led me to the short version of the story as to my engineering degree, and really becoming passionate about engineering. I like to, I like to make stuff in being passionate about manufacturing, I should say, Sure, I call myself a manufacturing nerd. Part of that part of that journey was me learning about this thing called Lean. And I was a relatively young engineer at the time. And a buddy of mine said, Hey, Craig, I’m gonna go take this class on lean up at the University of Utah, and you want to come with me? Yeah, sure. And we convinced our employer to to pay for it because it cost a small fortune. So we’ll talk about that later. But and but I was hooked. I was like, Man, this this was really really cool and, and we were able to start implementing it throughout our business and so I was naturally intrigued and wanted to learn more and Stuart started developing my own lean library, then reading books, like learning to see and and The toiled away some of those those early books that I read and, and, you know more recently avoiding the continuous appearance trap.


Patrick Adams  05:09

Appreciate the shameless plug. Thank you.


Craig Johnson  05:13

That’s where I am shameless sometimes. So, but my career took a little diversion once upon a time, I was working as a continuous improvement specialist for one of my mentors, his name is Tripp worthy. And we worked together at a company called mountain of packaging. He worked at the headquarters down in Jacksonville, Florida. And I was located in the Clearfield Utah plant. And I was a learning and continuous improvement specialist. It was my job to lead all the continuous improvement activities in the Clearfield plant plus, overseeing some of the corporate initiatives, the higher level initiatives, and I’ve worked with colleagues and the other two plants. And Tripp called me out of the blue one day and said, Hey, Craig, I’ve been reassigned. I’m not your boss anymore. He was reassigned to develop the the learning and development program for the entire corporation. Okay, and and he said, so that’s the bad news. The good news is you want to come join me? I said, Nice. Yeah, I’d follow trip. anywhere he asked me to go. And so if he said he had a sweet gig digging ditches, I would have followed him there. Sure. And one of those dollars. Yeah, yeah, tremendous human being in an amazing professional. It’s so trip. And I started developing the V learning and development program for all of Malmo if we call it mountain of university. And so I spent a few years of my career just immersing myself in Professional Education and Instructional Design, and what it means to be a good educator, because there are people such as ourselves, who have long background and professional application of, of, of whatever our profession is, but that doesn’t make them a good educator. And it doesn’t mean that the curriculum that they’re providing is a robust and rigorous curriculum. And so those two things are separate, are separate skill sets, right? So I spent a few years of my career, you know, understanding what those things are. And, and so a few years ago, when, when I had the opportunity to kind of survey the, the training options, here in Utah, I just recognized that there was a gap in here a, at least out here in Utah. And I’ll never bad mouth, any other training providers out here, because they’re, they’re great, and they do a good job. But my observation was, that the training was outrageously expensive. It was really pigeon holed into one. One, kind of level of the or, what’s the word, I’m looking for the one segment of the Lean Six Sigma body of knowledge, which was six sigma, which is, which is fine. It wasn’t really readily available throughout the year. And it was really only available in one or two places in Salt Lake City, which is fine if you’re in Salt Lake City. Sure. And so as you said, in the introduction, I dedicated myself given my background and my my education background, I dedicated myself to creating Lean Six Sigma training that, as you said, was affordable, applicable, attainable and available, I wanted it to be affordable for pretty much any individual or organization wanted to be available throughout the state and throughout the year, attainable in a relatively short amount of time, and applicable to whether I wanted a lean bias body of knowledge, or a Six Sigma body of knowledge or a balanced body of knowledge, I wanted to be able to customize and maybe not customize as the perfect word. But I wanted to be able to choose the education that was going to be applicable to my career and my background and what I needed. So that led me to creating Utah Lean Six Sigma Training Center and led me to where we are today as the director of the lean Solutions Academy.


Patrick Adams  09:22

Well, we’re excited to have you Craig, I mean, I’m sure as listeners are just hearing you talk they can feel the passion that you have for training individuals and making sure that the training is applicable to their jobs that that they are able to take the learnings and actually apply them so that they can realize the benefits for their corporation. And that’s really, you know, our goal with with Lean Solutions Academy and and, again, we’re not going to we’re not going to talk about the future of the lean Solutions Academy necessarily, but we are going to talk extensively about what good training looks like and the future of Lean training, as we see it. But before we do that, let’s let’s dive into a topic that I think many of our listeners will find interesting. Let’s talk for a minute about problem solving. Often, what do you think is the benefit for organizations who decide to adopt a problem solving a structured problem solving methodology?


Craig Johnson  10:26

Yeah, yeah. I think the opposite of structured problem solving is accidental problem solving. And something I’ve been pondering a lot recently, actually, is, when we don’t have purposeful actions, we get accidental results, right? And structured problem solving is just that it’s purposeful, problem solving, and so I’m getting results that I expect, right, or I have greater control over the results that I’m going to get. Without a structured problem solving process. Activities are focused on areas that don’t have a great impact on an organization, their activities can be misaligned with the overall KPIs of the organization. Now, you might have improvement activities that actually negatively impact adjacent activities, you know, and so, you know, your, your your laser cutter, is cranking out work faster than it ever has before, congratulations, but you are absolutely burying the press brake department, for example, you know, and so that you’re actually degrading the overall performance of the organization. So it’s important to look at our structure, our problem solving process, from a strategic perspective. And part of that is, you know, understanding where the problems are, what we’re going to do to face them and and then, and then working through those problems in a structured, logical, sensible way.


Patrick Adams  12:09

Right? Absolutely. And what in my experience, what I’ve seen is some organizations that don’t have a structured, you know, problem solving process in place, they think that they don’t have time, right to to spend the right, the right time upfront defining the problem, and actually walking through a structured process, they don’t think they have time, because they’re so busy. So they ended up, you know, putting in these short term fixes or band aids, right, and they think that they fixed it, or maybe they’ve fixed a symptom, but not actually got to the root cause. And what actually ends up happening is those problems come back time and time again, or they never actually fix it. So they end up spending more time than they would have in wasting more time and causing more downtime than they would have. If they would it rather than just taking the time up front to actually, you know, approach it with a structured process and get to the root cause, get a solution in place and solve the problem at the core so that they never have to deal with it again. And what’s been your experience?


Craig Johnson  13:13

No, you’re spot on, in, I’ve always called it, they, they’re there. They’re so busy, they see a problem. And they before they really even understand what the problem is they just skip right to the solution. And because of that their problem isn’t solved, because the chances are, they probably didn’t understand the problem in the first place. Right? They they didn’t go through that critical step of defining what the problem is, and creating a problem statement and scoping out the project and understand what are all the inputs and outputs and suppliers and customers right through that classic site POC exercise, then they don’t go through any root cause analysis, they just act on their, on their, their the causes that they think like, Oh, I’ve seen this before I know exactly what it is that just go just go do this, fix this. And because of that, they get superficial fixes to systemic problems. And so all they ever do is put out one little tiny fire or, or an old boss of mine used to call it Whack a Mole. All they do is they just knock down the one of the moles. Meanwhile, five more pop up.


Patrick Adams  14:22

Right. Yeah, I’ve seen that too often as well. In your experience, do you have any examples maybe of organizations that have that do have a structured problem solving process in place, and maybe what you’ve seen with those teams and how they’ve been able to approach those problems differently, then an organization that maybe doesn’t have one in place. Do you have any specific examples of that?


Craig Johnson  14:50

Yeah. And so I, I may or may not use the names of the organizations if I don’t want to embarrass anybody But, you know, early on in my career, one of the things that I really love and I find very important is root cause analysis. And the whole in the aerospace world, and probably in other industries, they have this whole capa process corrective action preventive action process. And I learned a lot from working with some of those aerospace primes early in my career from, from working with Boeing and Lockheed and Northrop and kind of they helped mold, what I think is an ideal root cause analysis, corrective and preventive action process. And so it’s rigorous, and it’s methodical, but it gets it done. And so I think those those companies are successful for a reason. And so when I, when I’m able to, or when I’ve in my career have been required to go through that process, or lead that kind of a process, I use, what I learned, not only from my own studies, but from what I experienced from Boeing, and Northrop and Lockheed and, and use kind of what I found were best practices from all three of those. So I’ve also seen organizations, excuse me, that we’re not entirely good at it, but they recognize that. And so that’s, that’s the whole reason I was involved in so whether I was a full time employee, I’ve served as the Director of Quality and continuous improvement for an organization in the past. And it was my job to develop those those those systems. And so those those organizations would would often put in place quick fixes to problems that they faced, but really, it one of two things happen. Number one, they would they would fix a problem for it. And it was a good robust solution. But, you know, and then it wouldn’t last it was short lived, because they had no control measures in place or sustainment measures in place. You know, the other. The other alternative is, as we talked about previously, that it would the solution wouldn’t actually solve the problem, they would just see it actually recur over and over. Right. So. But yeah, I’ve seen it. I’ve seen both versions of it. And part of the reason that I do what I do is I want people to have the good version of that, right and help people see because a lot a lot of times, Patrick, people just don’t see that there’s an issue with our problem solving process. Right? They, they, they just think that, you know, these issues pop up, and I put them to bed and they were their busyness as a a not their business, but their busyness as as a badge of honor. Right? Man, I, you know, I’ve been so busy today, I’ve had to put out fires all day, you know, I put in 65 hours at work this week, man, I’m so important at work. And that last bit, that last bit I’m so important that work is absolutely spot on. People are really important at work. That first bit of it about being really, really busy and putting out fires, and you’re bragging about the wrong things. Let’s, let’s remove let’s remove that pain. And so when we, when we can stop and we can prevent leaders and employees and people from constantly putting out there fires. We can pay them in and allow them to do the things that we hired them to do. We don’t hire firefighters unless you’re an actual firefighting department in some municipality, and you’re hiring legitimate actual firefighting professionals. You know, I’m not hiring firefighters. I’m not I’m not hiring searchers for documents. I’m not hiring fixers of machines that broke down, you know, before they were because I didn’t maintain them. I’m not hiring. You know, Expeditors have have lost raw material. I’m, I’m hiring laser cutting operators. I’m hiring welders, I’m hiring accounting professionals, not not professional searchers.


Patrick Adams  19:29

So hey, great points. Craig, what would you say? You mentioned some problem solving tools as as we were kind of talking through that a little bit, but what would you say are your go to problem solving tools?


Craig Johnson  19:43

Oh, that’s a great question. Um, my, my favorite. There’s a few I think number one, go to gamba, right? Go and see it that great quote from Fujio Cho It was go see ask why show respect? Yeah, right. I love that. I absolutely love that. In fact, I love it so much. It’s on my luggage tag. So the the, there’s a LinkedIn connection that I have his name is Brian Hurley, awesome, awesome guy he’s really involved in Lean from a sustainability perspective, ecological green initiatives and things like that. I’ve actually


Patrick Adams  20:25

had Brian on the podcast. Yeah, yeah, really good.


Craig Johnson  20:29

And he, one day he was asking on LinkedIn, you know, hey, we’re producing all these luggage tags with go see ask why show respect on them if you want one, you know, pm me. So I got on there immediately. So I have one of those on my luggage dice. So but it’s the reason I love about love going to gamba is is because you go up, obviously, you go out there, and you see what’s actually going on in the process. But my favorite part of that is you’re creating relationships and developing relationships with the people who are actually doing the work. And and when you do that, it creates this collaborative environment where we can, with with process experts, because I don’t, I don’t know all the details of how to run these different machines. I don’t know anything about accounting. No. And so when I go and engage with these these folks out in their area of expertise, then we can really start solving problems that and that’s a big deal. I love process mapping. It’s, it’s just so simple and effective. And so visual, and, and, and it’s fun to do, I might maybe I’m weird in that, but I enjoy process mapping, I love those aha moments that come from just mapping out a process. I don’t, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a in a process mapping exercise with a with a group of people. And there wasn’t that aha moment for that. Or that realization that our process doesn’t work, like we think it does, you know, and whether that’s person one saying I do this, I do this, I do this, and then I hand it off to person two, and they do this, this this? And person two goes, No, I don’t. I don’t do that. So and so does that. Or I asked person number two. Okay, so what? What is the trigger for you to start doing that work? I don’t know, they usually just somebody tells me what happens if somebody doesn’t tell you. I don’t know, you know, eventually, somebody will come looking for it. You know, he’s like, wow, we have these opportunities to build in triggers into our system, right, you know, and so I really, really love process mapping. And, and, but with with any tool that I use, if I ever, if I ever write my own book, maybe we can work on this together, Patrick, I’m gonna call it, I’m gonna call it pragmatic, lean. All right. And so, because I’m really an advocate for using the tools associated with lean, and Six Sigma, in ways that are applicable to your business. And so, for example, in just about every piece of literature I’ve ever read, about process mapping, it says, and accurately so that a decision point is a diamond, right? And I always make the joke when I’m teaching process mapping class, and tell them that, you know, they buy the square, post it notes for their for their operation steps, but I’m willing to sell them the diamond ones. They just have to go to my website, and I’ll sell them the diamond notes. Anyway, the the every piece of literature or training I’ve ever been inaccurately says a decision point is a diamond. Right? That’s correct. And that part that I this is a little bit of a the the, you know, lean gospel, according to Craig, but that I’ve read that decision point has to be a yes, no question. And the only two exits out of that decision point are yes and no. And I kind of disagree with that. So have a get recognizing that I’m not an expert, and I’m not the authority, I should say, I’m uncomfortable with calling myself an expert, but there are probably aspects of it that I’m not familiar with or something. But I’ve had experiences in my past where I’m creating a process map, for example, it’s a non conforming product process that I created. And, you know, the the first step was, you know, like a defect occurs or something like that. So, the decision point is, what are we going to do with it? Rework, re remake or use as is. Those aren’t yes, no questions, and there’s three options, right and in that process, Matt Brown wrenched out into three different branches. And it was great. It worked great. So anyway. So yeah, we’re off the top of my head, go to gamba. Always, always, always go to gamba. I love process mapping. And in and just be pragmatic, with with the tools. So


Patrick Adams  25:22

great advice, and two very powerful problem solving tools. So thank you for sharing that. Craig, let’s, let’s transition back into training. I know this is a huge passion of yours. What what in, you know, in your experience? In your is your you think about the future of Lean training? Why why do you think that people should pursue Lean Six Sigma? Process improvement training of any sort? Why why is it important for people to pursue that training?


Craig Johnson  26:00

Yeah, great question. The, you know, ideally, we would all have professional mentors that we can work with, on a full time basis. And we learned those things as we’re applying them, right? And what a world it would be. But the fact of the matter is, we don’t, when I started my Lean Six Sigma education, that wasn’t an option. My only option was a class because nobody in my organization knew anything about Lean, except this other colleague that I mentioned earlier. And he only knew that he didn’t know anything about it and heard it might be cool. And so, but So, applied education in from from a knowledgeable source is super important. And why because I don’t have to learn it, or figure it out for myself. You know, it’s an interesting observation that I’ve had recently that the younger generations right now, really subscribe to the notion of YouTube University. Right? And, and there’s, there’s, and rightfully, rightfully so there’s so much available on there, you know, but the, when I when I use articles, books, YouTube videos, as the basis of my knowledge on any topic, I’m really only getting pieces in bytes of, of a much larger, broader subject matter. And nothing, typically, is tying those all those things together. And so I found, again, related to what we talked about little bit earlier today was, you know, I might go and take a value stream mapping class, right, or watching the value stream mapping YouTube video or something like that. And so I know a little bit about value stream mapping, but I don’t know enough to do it. Right. And and I don’t know enough to do it, right? Because I don’t know what I don’t know. So I didn’t know what the what the search term was to put into YouTube or Google in order to make me know, the things that I don’t know. And so and even on top of that, learning tools is easy. I can go in there, I guarantee there, there are videos out on YouTube and, and articles to read about process mapping or sight box charts or, you know, DOE and things like that. But what’s it we mentioned this earlier, but learning to have a strategic perspective doesn’t easily come from those sources. And if we, if we don’t have that, focus on the, on the overall strategy of our organizations, again, we have the opportunity to do some real damage to individual activities, and therefore the overall organization. So you know, and one of the things that I think about a lot is the articles that you might read and the the YouTube videos that you might watch are really good at teaching those individual tools, and they will, oftentimes what I’ve seen is they’ll describe lean as a business strategy and, and I think, obviously, there’s a lot of business reasons to implement lean and but I, I kind of I’ve really been pondering this lately and I believe that Lean is a people strategy and it when we, when we’re working together in a collaborative way with our colleagues and and in we’re doing that doing our work in order to provide value to our customers and support our communities. I think the dollar signs will follow So as a as a result of that, and so I just I think you don’t get that, that message from too many places. They it’s all about meeting the bottom line and, and earning more money and making the company more profitable. And and that’s not to say that that message isn’t out there, you know, they’re, you know, Jeffrey liker is really big proponent of that type of a message of, for one example. But it’s not, it’s not common, and I think that message needs to be common. So, but when you attend a, a structured and Lean and Six Sigma training, you get that message from from a good from a good instructor and good educator, you’re gonna get that message,


Patrick Adams  30:47

right? Yeah, and when you talk about a good instructor or a good trainer, you know, we’re very careful about choosing our trainers. Because we, we know that it takes a certain type of person to be to understand adult education and how people learn. And you know, that’s one piece of it. But I also would not want someone teaching me that has zero experience either. So it has to be a good combination of someone that has the experience that can bring good examples to the training, have actual case studies, or actual experiences that they’ve had, where they’ve tried something and failed, and what did they learn? And how do they reflect and what did you know, having those conversations within the training is so powerful, and you have to be careful, because there’s a lot of training out there where you know, you it’s, you go out and buy a pre recorded video, and it’s a, you know, animated someone talking through something, but there’s never the real experiences or the discussions or the questions or the conversations that happen when you’re talking with, you know, an inexperienced lean, or Six Sigma trainer, like yourself, who can bring those powerful experiences to the table and have some, you know, conversations that weren’t, weren’t part of the part of the training or weren’t planned for it. But you know, and I think that for me, I know, that makes for a really good training now, nothing against the pre recorded elearning type, because we also offer that too, but it’s a compliment to replace. Absolutely, absolutely. It’s a compliment to some of the other training. And I know we’re gonna, I want to kind of transition to talk a little bit about what good training looks like. But, you know, complementing that training experience with coaching is also important to us at lean solutions. But so let’s actually, let’s make that transition. What What would you say does make for good training? What is good training look like?


Craig Johnson  32:54

Yeah, good. Being that that root super relative word, right, right. But, you know, this conversation, it makes me think of my little brother, who is an exceptionally talented flight instructor. And so in my family is an airplane family. And I’ve grown up around airplanes my whole life. Everybody in my family is a pilot, pretty much except for me, I’m the black sheep, I became the engineer, and the, but my little brother is an exceptional flight instructor, he is in extremely high demand. And one of those reasons is because he has so many stories to tell from a lifetime of experiences, you know, and if he’s sitting in a cockpit with one of his instructors, and he tells them, you know, make sure you’re, you’re buckled in your lap belt, your shoulder harness, make sure you’re completely tied in. Why, why, why we’re just going up for a simple little flight, when my brother can tell him about a time that he was inverted in an airplane in his lap belt wasn’t secured tightly, you know, that. That’s not a pleasant situation. And in the aviation community, we like to say when things go bad like that, oftentimes you fall for the rest of your life. And you don’t want that to happen. Now. Fortunately, in Lean Six Sigma, we don’t have those dire consequences often. And, and, and thank goodness for that. But there’s so what does good training look like? I think world class educators, they need to bring their A game. So I’m kind of a naturally a high energy person, right? But when when I’m, when I’m training when I’m when I’m instructing or educating. I’m performing and it’s I don’t consider it any different than an actor on stage or a dancer or whatever. And because I need to bring the energy and I need to be good and kind of entertaining in one But I do. So my wife used to always tease me, I would come home after a day of training and I’d be wiped out, man, I’d be exhausted. And it’s because I’ve been on my A game for a solid day, it is. So good training, it looks like an educator, as you said, is knowledgeable and experienced and is energetic and just brings their A game. But I think, in general, you want an education to be flexible, to offer those multiple styles of learning, as you mentioned, right, so that people can go through a classroom environment and learn some of the concepts, but then there’s coaching that follows it up. So I can apply the things that I’ve learned, and I’m not doing it without any guidance, so that, you know, unintentional consequences occur, but I’ve got that experienced person kind of guiding me and making sure I don’t run the ship into the shore. And then, but also, then maybe down the road, have those e learnings or those video lessons where I can go in and just brush up on one concept that, you know, here or there that I need to. I think, as I said earlier, I think it should be affordable. And that’s, that’s a nebulous term in itself, a relative term in itself, but it gets real expensive, real fast for organizations to train 20 people, you know, and so, it’s up to folks like you and me, Patrick, to do what we can to make it affordable. You know, every business is in the business of making money at the end of the day, we do so by serving people, but we have to make money, but we don’t need to make outrageous sums of money and make the training unaffordable for organizations and plus, you know, a we have resources and partnerships that that we can put to, to use to make it affordable for for individuals and organizations. So I think good training needs to follow a rigorous instructional design concepts and, and methods. And so from the instructional design world that means, you know, using concepts such as Bloom’s taxonomy to understand what are the cognitive levels that I want my students to, to be able to take away from this particular training on any given subject? I think my instructional design needs to go through the ADDIE process. So in Lean Six Sigma, we have DMAIC, right, define, measure, analyze, improve control. In the instructional design world, we have Addie, analyze, design, develop, implement and evaluate. Right. sounds really familiar. Right? But also using the Kirkpatrick models of evaluation to understand, are my students enjoying class? are they learning something? Are they able to apply what they’re learning? And are they actually moving the needle of the organization? And then the as I guess, I’ve already mentioned, you know, having that post classroom support is super, super important. And whether it’s just as, hey, I’m an educator, I’m available to you please call text email, if you have any questions, or it’s actually on site coaching to guide you through your application, you know, you just can’t beat that that kind of mentoring that comes with a robust and rigorous training provider.


Patrick Adams  38:30

Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more with you, Craig, I think that that’s one of the things that I would say sets us apart. And for anyone that’s listening to think about as you’re choosing your training provider, or developing your own internal training program, that you are coupling every single course or every training opportunity with coaching. In I’ve been involved with too many organizations where, you know, you get a send an email with a link and you’re supposed to watch this video and, you know, people just fast forward through it to the end take their their, you know, five question, completely common sense question, you’re right, exactly, and then pass it and move on to their next. And it’s like, you know, that’s the complete wrong mentality. And I don’t think people are doing it intentionally, they just, they’re busy, or whatever it might be. But the point of that is to take something away, that you can actually apply to your job, that’s going to make your job easier. And it’s going to have a positive impact on the overall company, you know, metrics or, or the direction of the company or whatever it may be. And so if that’s really the goal, then we need to take our training seriously, and understanding that when I if I sit in a classroom, or if I do watch an eLearning video of some sort, or I’m on an online training, you know, everybody’s in a different place when they’re sitting in in this practice. sippin seat are the learner seat. And they’re, they’re hearing different things than what the person next to them is hearing or taking, you know, depending on again, where they’re at, you know, that day. So to follow that up with a coach who’s meeting with that person, one on one, and having conversations about, you know, what their takeaways were, how they can apply them to their job, because their job is different than the person sitting next to them to so how can you apply? You know, these three things are these five things that you took away? How can you apply those to the work that you do, that’s going to be different than the person next to them. So those one on one coaching opportunities are so key to follow up and complement the training itself. So that was one thing that you mentioned, that was super important. So I just wanted to reiterate that. And then this, the second thing that you mentioned was the affordability of training. And you know that if you are seeking out a training provider, or looking to develop your own training, internally, looking for opportunities to reduce cost for the organization, because the training is necessary, it’s not one of those things, that’s an option, it must be necessary to develop the skill sets, you have to develop your people to keep to keep them at your organization and to develop the you know, future capabilities of your organization. It’s a necessity. So looking asking your your training provider, if they provide any type of workforce development grants or looking at your state to see if your state offers any workforce development grants is definitely an important piece. And we do that, you know, we work with our clients to make sure that they, you know, are able to afford the training, whether we’re connecting them with a partner, like here in Michigan, we have the West Michigan Works, which helps to connect people with those workforce grants and different things. So any anything on those kind of those two topics?


Craig Johnson  41:59

Yeah, you know, I always love the the old proverb of the CEO and the CFO talking one day, and they’re going over all the the financials of the organization at the end of the year. And the CFO holds up a report to the CEO and says, holy smokes, look at look at how much money we spent on training our staff this year. What, you know, this is a huge risk, what happens if we spend all this money training them, and they leave us and go to our competitors? And the CEO simply says, What if we don’t spend money training them and they stay? So, right. And so then training is it is necessary that it’s not, it’s not what we do to, you know, because our employees want it. And, and because some HR person said, we need to do it, it, we do it because it creates a competitive advantage over us, or over our competitors or for us over our competitors. And so not only in capability, am I a better producer of whatever widget I produce. But I also have a competitive advantage in these days in today’s market, I can’t just go out and hire somebody to do the things that I want them to do. But if if I’m training a workforce, then typically, I am also retaining that workforce. And that is a massive competitive advantage right now.


Patrick Adams  43:30

Absolutely. Great points. Great points. Craig, what do you think, as we think about the future, you know, with everything that’s happened over these past few years, I mean, there’s been a ton of changes, you know, technology is, is changing. The supply chain is changing. I mean, companies are changing. There’s so much that has happened with remote work and in office work. And, you know, just, there’s so many things we can talk about, but what do you think, for the future of Lean training? What does that look like? In your experience?


Craig Johnson  44:04

Yeah, the it is interesting. I, I was talking with someone the other day, and was explaining how I’m really interested here in about 20 years to to have the perspective on on business and the economy and on the culture from as a result of COVID. Right, because it was it, illnesses and vaccines, all that stuff aside, we’ve seen a massive shift in the way we live and the way we do business. And, and so that’ll be really interesting to see how, what that looks like. But as you mentioned, we already have seen a massive shift where people are simply more comfortable working in a virtual world. I will still at this point, say it’s not the ideal thing to you know, be having long meetings over zoom and such, but it’s a perfectly viable solution. And I love the concept of hybrid working where I come into the office, if I need to come into the office to otherwise, hey, you guys can reach me on Zoom. And now instead of wasting the time of the of my colleagues, my peers, my, my co workers, by requiring them to make an hour long commute into the office for no other reason than I like them to be there. You know, I’m allowing them to, you know, be more engaged in their work at home and be more engaged in their home while they’re at work. And so, so we’re seeing already, we’re already transitioning into a very comfortable virtual world. I think the, the, the generation that’s about the age of our kids, is, is exceptionally comfortable working in that world. But I think we’re also we’re going to see a transition into augmented and virtual reality as a means for meeting and a means for training. Tooling you, which is a division of Society of Manufacturing Engineers is already using using virtual and augmented reality, or manufacturing training. I think that’s super, super cool. And I’m gonna purposely be really, really concise, because this is like a two hour long podcast topic on its own. But I think that for the, the future of Lean Six Sigma training is a, a certification structure that makes sense, right? And, and so aligned with competencies, instead of terminology, that doesn’t really make sense or mean anything. So that’s it, that’s all I’m saying about that. Story, it can do it?


Patrick Adams  46:53

Well, the listeners will hear more in the future about that, ya know, we definitely appreciate that good training that actually makes sense for an organization and, you know, in just to expand on that, a minute, the, you know, what you said about, you know, people making that one hour commute. I heard this term, actually a few weeks ago, and I thought it was really, really good. They said, We should be managing for performance, not for presents. And I thought that was really interesting. So, you know, for those that are that are thinking, you know, how’s this going to work going forward? What is what are your expectations of your employees, if they’re meeting the expectations? And why does it matter where they’re working from, or how they’re working? Now, obviously, there are some jobs that you have to be present for. But you know, that’s part of the role, but if, if presence is in the machine from home, right, right. But if presence in a in an office seat isn’t something that is affecting their performance, then, you know, measure them to performance. So give them goals. And if they’re meeting their goals, like you said that you’re going to, you’re going to reduce a whole lot of waste and inefficiencies going that route.


Craig Johnson  48:12

I think that’s a just another illustration of respect for people, right? Far too often, we view workers as, as resources, right? As if I was ordering a sheet of metal. And I don’t care that it takes the metal, you know, 100 miles and six hours to get to me, I just, I just want it to get to me. And when we treat people like machines, they tend to treat us like that, too. So if we really want to engage people, we engage them where they are. And so I have friends who work from home, and they absolutely love it. They’ve been more more productive than they’ve been in years and more satisfied than they’ve been in years. I have friends who have that option. But they really love going into the office. Yeah. And great. Great. Do that. Do what works for you. Yeah, I was. Let me share a little bit of a personal story, if I may. I know I’ve already talked for like an hour and a half already. But once once upon a time, I was driving out to the national championship air races with my cousin. And, and we were driving along. And my cousin is six months younger than me, his name is owl and owl. I don’t know if you’ll ever even hear this. This this podcast. Um, but so the owl is six months younger than me and he has an older brother, who is six months younger than my older brother. And so we were kind of the Four Musketeers growing up, you know, and my older brother and Al’s older brother and I all grew up, went to college, got married, yada yada, yada, all the traditional debt definitions of success, right? And an owl lives in his dad’s basement and works. Chucking boxes, that’s his term, not mine for FedEx, and, and plays video games when he’s not at work. And so for years and years, man, we, we’ve tried to get out how you need to, you don’t need to go out on some dates you need to go, maybe get some professional education or some, some college or whatever. And I had this opportunity to drive out to the races with owl and, and it’s about a six hour drive from where we live. And during that drive, I learned something really, really important. And my cousin owl taught me one of the most important life lessons I’ve ever learned. And the thing that I learned was, I was happy. I was happy, and he didn’t have my definition of happiness. But how was happy. And so it completely changed my perspective, not only have al who I love dearly, always have and always will. But it changed my perspective of how I view people in general. And I tried to never inflict my version of happiness on other people now. And so again, if you’re happy working from home, and that works for you, it meets the needs of the organization, right, we can just forget that, then great. But if you want to come into work, because that makes you happy, and it meets the needs of the organization, then great,


Patrick Adams  51:28

absolutely. No, that’s a great story, Craig. And I love what you said there at the end, because there definitely has to be a balance because you are, you’re developing a certain culture. And if people are working solo all the time, then you may lose some of what you’re trying to develop. However, and I’ve seen many companies that are working remote that have have been very intentional, to create to still maintain that culture in different they get creative about how they do it, you know, remote wise, or in the office. And so, you know, definitely something you have to consider. If if if you’re if you have a hybrid or a remote work environment, you still have to maintain that that culture, that inclusive culture, and that that engagement as as a team, so you have to get creative about how to make that happen, you know, given the changes that that, you know, have happened. So


Craig Johnson  52:26

yeah, absolutely, absolutely.


Patrick Adams  52:28

Well, Craig, this has been great, lots of lots of good conversation, we can obviously talk all day, I’m going to drop in the show notes. If you’re okay, I’m going to drop in, you know, maybe a link to our academy page. So people can learn a little bit more about the Lean Solutions Academy also dropped your LinkedIn link to your LinkedIn page. So if people want to reach out, they can connect with you there.


Craig Johnson  52:53

Everyone, there you go.


Patrick Adams  52:56

And if anybody is interested to learn more about what Craig is doing with the Lean Solutions Academy, and just what any offerings are, or you know, anything that’s available for your organization, absolutely feel free to reach out to him. And on LinkedIn, or I’ll throw your email in there as well. I’m just going to throw everything in there. If you’re alright with


Craig Johnson  53:17

that. Yeah, you know, it’s funny in the especially in the LinkedIn world, I one of the things that drives me really bonkers about LinkedIn is you go and look at somebody’s profile, and then they get the stalker notification. You know, that’s what I call it so and so looked at your profile. I hate that. So I just want to put the disclaimer out there right now, folks, if you’re listening to this, and you need to go check out my profile, go do it. You’re not going to weird me out, I’m not going to think that you’re being you know, stalkerish or whatever. And so, and legitimately send me a connection request. I’d love to connect with anybody who’s listening because your perspective is going to make me a better person.


Patrick Adams  53:56

All right. Thanks, Craig. Have an amazing week. Thanks you too. 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. Ralf Sablowski

    Hi, everyone

    great insights into what you do.

    Greets from Basel Switzerland

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