Strategy Deployment and Execution with Karen Martin

Strategy Deployment and Execution with Karen Martin

by Patrick Adams | Oct 17, 2023

In this episode Karen Martin and I discuss Hoshin Kanri’s vital role in organizational alignment, true north establishment, troubleshooting, and long-term sustainability.

What You’ll Learn:

  1. What is Hoshin Kanri?
  2. Why is it so important for organizations to have complete alignment?
  3. How do organizations determine their true north?
  4. What are some examples of organizational noise or breakdowns in organizational Hoshin and what can we do about it?
  5. How do organizations sustain their Hoshin?

About the Guest: 

Karen Martin, President of the global consulting firm TKMG, Inc. and President and Founder of TKMG Academy, Inc., is a leading authority on business performance improvement, problem solving, and Lean management systems. Known for her keen diagnostic skills and rapid-results approach, Karen and her team have worked with clients such as Adventist Health, AT&T, Chevron, Epson, GlaxoSmithKline, International Monetary Fund, Lenovo, Mayo Clinic, Prudential Insurance, Qualcomm, and the United States Department of Defense to develop more efficient work systems, grow market share, solve business problems, and accelerate performance. An in-demand speaker, she’s the three-time Award-winning author of Clarity First, The Outstanding Organization, and Value Stream Mapping.


⁠Click here to connect with Karen Martin

⁠Click here for more information on TKMG Academy

Click here to take a look at Karen Martin’s books


Patrick Adams  00:00

Hello and welcome to the Lean solutions podcast. My guest today is Karen Martin and Karen is a returning guests. She was with us back in season one when we talked about her book, clarity first, Karen spent three decades honing her experience in operations design, business performance improvement, and leadership development. She is the president of both TK mg Inc. and tk IMG Academy Inc. She’s also the author of several award winning books, including clarity first, the outstanding organization and Value Stream Mapping. She has worked with organizations such as such as AT and T Chevron, the US Department of Homeland Security, Goodwill Mayo Clinic, the US Navy, so many more. So she has a wealth of knowledge to share with all of us today, Karen, welcome to the show.


Karen  Martin  01:15

Hi, thank you so much for having me, Patrick, thank you.


Patrick Adams  01:18

Absolutely, it’s good to have you back and catch up. Obviously, love the work that you are doing, you know, both as a consultant coach, and through your academy and training and developing leaders. So thank you for what you do. Today, like I mentioned, you are a returning guest. So we talk specifically around clarity. First your your one of your books. And today, I wanted to talk a little bit about strategic deployment execution. Just really kind of pick your brain and get some ideas for some of our listeners around how to how to lead organizations, maybe dive into some ocean. Yeah, sounds good.


Karen  Martin  02:05

Sounds great. I love ocean. Perfect. So


Patrick Adams  02:07

let’s just start out with there’s some of our listeners are probably new to this concept, or maybe have never heard the term Hoshin Kanri. Can you just give us maybe a general overview of Hoshidan strategic deployment execution, just kind of an introduction to what that is?



Sure, thanks. So it’s pretty much developed in Japan. But you know, sometimes us ideas seep into Japan, and then they take them and run with them. And then they re import them back to the US and or we grab them or whatever. But it seems to have more Japanese roots than not, thus the term Hoshin Kanri. And it is a method for aligning an organization toward what really matters, aligning the leadership team around what they believe matters, and then executing based on that type of direction. That’s the big picture part of it. You mentioned strategy, deployment, that is another term for it, strategy deployment. And you also hear the term policy deployment mainly in the manufacturing world. But that’s another term for it, we tend to go with strategy deployment, because it’s English. And the problem with using strategy deployment, it actually comes with a little bit of baggage. So when you say strategy deployment, most senior leadership teams will say, Yes, we have a strategy. And yes, we deploy. And there’s a whole lot more to strategy deployment. It’s a very structured, methodical method for going about this. So it’s, you know, it’s there’s a lot more to it than what most organizations do. And it’s why organizations often struggle with it, to really, you know, have it become the new way of operating. So alignment, focus, clarity, discipline, and fully engaging all levels of the organization and achieving whatever the strategy is.


Patrick Adams  03:56

Karen, what do you think is, you know, seems like a basic question, but I think like you said, there’s, there’s so much complexity with this, but what why do you think it’s so important for organizations to have complete alignment? Like, what are some of the the downsides of organizations not putting a focus in this area? You know, in your experience, you know, what, what has been? What are some examples of, you know, what happens when organizations don’t have that complete alignment?



Yeah. So, Mike, the outstanding organization, which you mentioned, focus, it’s all about chaos reduction. And so chaos is what ensues when you don’t have clarity around what really matters. And you don’t have alignment across a leadership team about what really matters. And you don’t have alignment or even knowledge going down into the organization about what really matters. So that’s why it’s so methodical and such a proven method to being able to get all those things to line up so that you can get results. That’s the, you know, the whole goal is to get actual results. And so chaos is is where you have multiple priorities, shifting priorities, you know, this functional area thinks this is the most important thing to accomplish or problem to solve. And this one thinks it’s this, this and you have leaders and you know, especially because we are a functional based, you know, current state, or most organizations are still functionally based, there are very few that have actually done value stream alignment. And those functions, you know, are operating in a bit of a vacuum, and are, what matters to them may not matter upstream, downstream, and it certainly may not matter to the customer. And so it’s just critical to break all those functions down and and take a very disciplined and focused look at what the current state really is what’s in an organization’s way from achieving whatever their strategy is assuming they have a clear strategy, which work place to start. And, yeah, so it’s just a way to, you know, align everyone and get get that critical mass of people caring all about the same thing. So you can get results.


Patrick Adams  06:02

Right? And what would you say to those people that are listening in that maybe the organization doesn’t have a clear strategy, or they haven’t established, you know, their their long term vision for the organization? You know, some, some would say, you know, true north, haven’t haven’t established that true north or whatever it may be. I mean, what would be, what would be the the first few steps and making that happen for an organization?



Well, if an organization doesn’t have a very, very skilled strategist on staff, who’s also extremely objective, and an excellent facilitator at bringing leaders with varying perspectives together, and getting consensus around that strategy, they need to find someone and that’s someone’s not me, by the way, we don’t do the upfront strategy work, because I really believe that in order to get a very clear strategy, you need someone who really understands the industry that the company is in, what the market constraints are, you know, where the opportunities lie, you know, strategies, things like the I love Roger Martin’s work, what’s it called? Oh, shoot, I forget the name of the title of the book, but it’s about picking your sandbox you’re gonna play in. And that’s a great analogy. It’s like we’re gonna play in this sandbox, not that sandbox. So what products are you going to offer, you’re going to vertically integrate or stick with a specialty area, which markets you’re going to go after, you know, those big decisions, that that’s not our wheelhouse. Our wheelhouse is executing the strategy once it is clear, and leaders align on it. So they need to find expertise in order to get that level of clarity at the strategy definition level.


Patrick Adams  07:45

Sure. Yeah, that makes sense. Absolutely. So so. Okay, so now, let’s just imagine that organizations have identified their their strategy, their long term strategy, you know, whether that’s in already done, or they’ve found someone to help them through that process. Now, it’s time to execute. And, you know, this is something that, you know, I go into organizations, and I see strategies on the wall. And I’m like, Oh, that looks like a really, really great strategy. You know, what is what’s behind it? How are you guys actually achieving that? And they’re like, blank stares. Or I go talk to someone in the organization like, hey, how does your work aligned to your long term strategy? And they’re like, what long term strategy? You know? So, you know, I’m guessing that you’ve had some some similar experiences? What would what would you say? Are some of the breakdowns that happen? Why why do organizations struggle to move from establishing that clear direction? To actually executing it?



Yeah, it’s a great question, and is a very, very large problem. So you know, in my little years in, in, in the business world, with many, many hundreds of clients at this point now and my own pre pre consulting, working with for companies, I was fortunate that I had two stellar CEOs were two companies I worked for, that were phenomenal at execution and making sure everyone else was phenomenal execution. I thought every company worked that way, until I got out into consulting. And I was like, wow. And so you know, it starts it starts with having someone understand how strong their execution muscles are in the organization. And if they aren’t strong than working on execution in and of itself, in addition to executing whatever the plan says that they should be doing. So So most organizations when we walk in, execution isn’t their strong skill. And that’s what’s beautiful about motion planning or strategy deployment is done right. The plan that results from the conversations about what is usually done on a fiscal year, it doesn’t have to be, but it’s often done on a fiscal year because it actually should precede budgeting. You should know what you want to work on before you figure out how much capital you need to do it. And so you know, that’s a whole nother conversation we can be having about the order in which most organizations operate. But once you get a clear plan, then there’s the management of that plan. And that’s where the real teeth come in. And, and the meat of, of strategy deployment comes in is, like you saying, you see, you can see clear strategy on a wall, but it’s not being executed, you can also see an amazing plan that’s not executed. So the management of that plan becomes critical. And so you know, what we do is we suggest that early on after the plan is created, we’re skipping a lot of stuffs in the middle there. But let’s fast forward to the plan is created. And everyone agrees with it, or at least there’s consensus around it, which isn’t necessarily agreement, but consensus that these commitment that these are the priorities, then you have to have very regular sessions to review where the organization is on it. And the main thing that you’re dealing with there is pushing away all the distractions that come up throughout the year, that then rob resources that aren’t able to focus on what those those line items are on a plan, we, there’s a thing called an X matrix that a lot of people use, this is a one sheet plan with like a clockwise view of all the things that matter, measurement and priorities, and all those all those things, we don’t actually use the x matrix, we linearize it. So ours was, you know, just a line item, plan. But it’s it’s managing that plan that’s critical, and keeping everyone aligned. And when something really truly out of left field comes along, like COVID, like 911, you know, those big things that really do require a business to pivot, then you know, you you discuss it and you pivot together, rather than, you know, one leader kind of going off plan going rogue as I call and another leader going off, you have to keep everyone together. So it takes strong leadership to to keep everyone focused on the plan.


Patrick Adams  11:59

Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. And, and we can talk a little bit more about that specifically. But you mentioned earlier consensus and commitment. What what kind of strategies do you see organizations using or that you guys would coach organizations through in helping them to get a certain level of commitment to that plan?



Well, I’ll tell you a little story about a real story about a consultant or consulting engagement, a client that we were working with, and so I knew the CEO from a previous engagement. And she brought me into this engagement, and we were doing strategy deployment for the first time with them. And I was facilitating it. So we had about eight senior leaders in the room. And when it got down to the final list of what the priorities are going to be, in order to help them execute their strategy for the next fiscal year, there was one senior leader that was lobbying hard for a specific project, and everybody else was against him. And so you know, I, as a facilitator had to, you know, basically mediate that discussion, and get him to finally realize that this is, you know, we’re all for one, one cause here, and you’re gonna have to wait till the next fiscal year for this, and, and, you know, get him to really understand his colleagues, you have, you know, I thought, very good reasons for the priorities they were proposing. And he finally said, that he committed to it and said, he was all in and a plan gets finalized, they start rolling out the plan. And I usually say a little bit involved in the beginning to make sure everyone’s still sticking to the plan, and they’ve got their muscles for the management of the plan everything. And then I got a call from the CEO, about three months later saying, we’ve got a problem. So and so has gone rogue, and I just learned that he started working on that project, and he’s robbing resources of the other, the other line items, and, you know, I’ve had a one on one with them. And he’s pretty resolute. And I said, Well, you know, you have to make a choice as a CEO, what do you do with that? And what kind of message do you want to send to the rest of the team? You know, you know, if you can’t convince them, you know, I think you know, what you have to do. And sure enough, and he was a longtime employee there. But sure enough, she decided to make that an example of how critical motion is for the organization. And, and he was no longer there. And so it’s it’s really sad when leaders, you know, and I don’t know whether he really agreed that during those two days that we were doing the final thing, and then he changed his mind or whether he never really agreed I don’t I don’t know what was going on in his mind. But that’s not playing fair with your colleagues. And with the organization. It’s a bit it’s a bit, you know, it’s going rogue. And so that’s the kind of thing where, you know, the management of the plan becomes critical. And, you know, there’s a lot of strong leaders out there that I’ve seen very successful with how Certain types of have if not directly Hoshin Kanri. But things are very structured like it like Elmer Lolly at Ford, Larry Culp Danaher analogy II, you know, they are just masters at keeping people sticking to a plan unless something really truly emergency that comes out of left field.


Patrick Adams  15:20

Sure. What What kind of, you know, how are they communicating that plan throughout the organization? Like what is the how do they keep that plan at the forefront of everyone’s minds throughout the entire year? Let’s say that they’re working on a, you know, an annual plan at some sort?



Well, I don’t know how Larry and Alan Allen’s retired now, but how they did it, but I know what our clients do. And there’s first of all, you know, catch ball is a really critical part of developing the plan. And so catch ball was, you know, the, the metaphor is your cut your throat, tossing a ball and catching the ball and tossing it back and forth. That’s exactly what it is only this conversation. And so done. Well, you do catch ball all the way through to the bottom to the frontlines. So you start at the top and play catch ball back and forth with the couple levels of leadership and get consensus around priorities, and then you have another conversation. So it’s not the old style of cascading goals. Here’s the goal, you tell me what you’re going to do to support this. That’s what I grew up with. That’s not what ocean is. This is, here’s what we think the priorities are, what do you think the priorities are, is listening to what other people believe, all the way down the front lines who are closest to the customer. And, and if you’re not changing the plan at all the priorities, and before you finalize the plan, all the way up and down that catch ball, something’s wrong, because someone will have a better idea because they’re closer to a problem, or the customer or something like that. And if the plan never changes from the first draft, to the final draft, it’s it’s they’re probably not really playing catch ball, or they’re playing catch ball and not really listening.


Patrick Adams  16:59

Right? Right, that makes sense. And when it as it does, can cascade down through the organization. You know, I’m guessing that Once the plan is set, and that as you’re executing the plan, that some individuals, departments, or areas of the organization are going to have conflicting priorities as things come up. What’s your recommendation on how to deal with that when, you know, you’ve been given this clear plan, clear priorities, and then all of a sudden, something, you know, falls into your lap that you didn’t expect, or, you know, and then I’m not talking like COVID, for example, I’m talking like, the customer calls or there’s a, you know, there’s a customer complaint or so and so, you know, from another department needs resources, or whatever it may be, you know, this fire that pops up any recommendations on how to, you know, continue executing, but also have to manage the day to day, the real, the real stuff that drops in on a regular basis?



Yeah, so the first thing is recognizing what’s truly urgent and what’s not, you know, a lot of times you have to break a lot of organizational add habits, organizational Attention Deficit Disorder, where it’s like shiny new objects on it, oh, we got to do this, we got to do that we’re gonna do this. And it’s like, you know, a little moss floating around. And so part of it is, you know, saying that there’s a, there’s a valid reason to say not yet, you know, and not just do do do do more, because you won’t ever execute the plan if you do that. Now, when you’re managing the plan, we recommend that people start out with every two weeks, and they may be able to get to once a month, most organizations are first year can never get to once a month because it’s too long, between the sessions. And part of the standing agenda is what’s new, what’s what’s what’s entered our orbit, you know, incoming, what is now entering our orbit that we have to make a decision about. And the cross functional leadership team makes that decision together again, with consensus, and either they have to unplug something you can’t just keep piling on. That’s what most organizations do. You have to unplug something temporarily, to find the resources to put in this truly urgent situation, which most aren’t this truly urgent situation, and then plugged back in, you know, and it’s it’s a little difficult to swallow that because that’s introducing stop start, you know, when you unplug and then plug back in. But you know, there are finite resources in an organization. And, you know, if something is truly that urgent, then you often would have to do that. But the key is, is having a very, very tough look and high bar for what gets approved to be added into the plan once the plan is finalized.


Patrick Adams  19:45

Sure, sure. Now and what about what about when those when breakdowns do happen like you gave the example of the the, you know, executive who went rogue? Yeah, I’m sure there’s other breakdowns at hand. happen where things pop in, stuff happens and the plan gets lost. And you show up for your you know, every two week meeting, and you’re like, this happened. And this is no longer a priority or this is or I don’t know, whatever the breakdown is any examples, in your experience when that has happened? And what are organizations doing? Or what are you suggesting they do to respond to that, that and you did mention also, the plan sometimes does have to change. You know, again, just any examples around some of that?



Yeah. So what really helps is upfront that catch ball and getting all that commitment upfront, because the people are less likely to look at all the other things coming in, when it’s so clear that this is the plan. And then when when the plan is being managed, it’s not just the leadership team getting together, if people talking about it all the time. So I’m going to take a little sidestep to tear puddles, you know, if you have an organization that has strong tiered huddles, that plan is center, to all of the discussions that they’re having about their own priorities at a departmental level or a work team level. And so, you know, and managers, you know, middle managers and supervisors have to become as skilled as senior leaders are of challenging whether something can and should rob resources, and then move you off with the plan, that they’re whatever part they’re working on. If it’s if it’s not, you know, our urgent to do it. So you’re I mean, you’re changing a lot of mindsets and a lot of behaviors with emotion. And everyone people think it’s just like, you know, you make a list and you check off the boxes. It’s, oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, we are changing, sometimes decades and decades of organizational behavior in order to become a really strong execution minded organization, and get the results that come along with that. So, you know, there’s, there’s all things you can do. I mean, it’s really conversations upon conversations upon conversations. And reminding people, I remember my my one CEO, in the beginning, and this is before motion was written about or anything like that, he may have known about it because it existed from I think, the 50s. But he carried a card in his suit jacket, then everyone wore a suit jacket. And he would come around and and take it out and talk about the plan to people and remind them what was important. And you know, it like people follow leaders, and they follow whatever leaders do. And so if a leader is resolute and focused, everyone else is going to be resolute and focused. And so that’s, you know, it’s no pressure senior leaders. To you, it all comes down to you, it really does. So,


Patrick Adams  22:57

what What is your thought on tying some of these these goals and action items to personal objectives? Or, you know, that it is it important to have this type of stuff tied to someone’s objectives? And then, obviously, whether or not they meet those is, you know, how they, you know, get a raise at that organization, or wherever it may be? What are your thoughts on that?



Yeah, so, I’m gonna take a step back and answer a different question first, because it ties into this. So that would be where do you start in the organization? I think that’s a reasonable question for any organization to ask themselves. If the organization has commitment at the top, that’s ideal, and the ocean plan starts up there and it cascades down, then, you know, each division or business unit can have their own ocean plan, which is indeed in support of the larger plan, but it’s not the cascade the old cascading way, it was developed in concert through cast catch ball. So it’s a much better connected, cascading of the work effort that has to go on to support the higher level goals. So once you get all that in place, then you can break it even into work team level and they can have their you know, priorities when it comes to personal performance. You know, I have I have more misgivings than feeling good about performance reviews and raises being directly tied to specific results on specific projects. I’m much more interested in how someone collectively is approaching work working with colleagues and you know, other cross functional people and whether they’re thinking holistically and thinking through thinking through problems from a work system perspective, and how fun they are to work with frankly, you know, it just you know, you don’t I mean works not all bunch of you know, giggles and, and popcorn, but you know If someone’s just awful to work with, no one’s gonna want to work with that person. So, to me rewards come more about work values and behaviors that are more general than it does specific results. But I’m sure many people that are listening to the podcast will say, No, you got it all wrong care and marketing? And maybe I do.


Patrick Adams  25:20

Well, there’s, there’s, you know, there’s, that’s why I ask the question, because there are conflicting views on that. And I think it’s a great topic of discussion and consideration on, you know, when we think about how do we make sure that the plan is actually executed? And how do we sustain this going forward and make sure that you know, that the plan is carried out and not not just that, but you know, year over year that we’ve developed some system, something that is going to move the organization closer to their TrueNorth objectives, or, you know, for that whatever they’ve established as their long term vision for the organization. And you talked about leader leadership commitment, you know, so there’s lots of other strategies that maybe can be utilized to help sustain this, but anything specifically that you would say, you know, you mentioned systems, you know, maybe we talk about systems, specifically, how do we make this a system? And that’s in how do we ensure that this is sustainable going forward, that it actually is making an impact for the organization for the long term?



Well, again, I think it comes back to leadership. So no matter what level leader is that, you know, it’s their job to support what they agreed to. And part of that support isn’t just delegating it to teams and walking away, you know, I mean, leaders need to manage the work. And when you manage the work, the need to manage people, so intensely kind of starts melting away, because it’s about getting work done, it’s about getting results. And it’s also about developing people, so they become the best versions of themselves, so they can get you results. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s a two way a two way road. And so it’s, I think the things I see happening that are the more problematic once you get to middle management and lower with a hosting plan is that they do over delegate, and they never look to see if the person is actually, you know, meeting the deadlines of a project plan. Because remember, this is macro to micro. So there can be projects that are being that are needed to be done and problems that need to be solved at a micro level that needs their own planning document, and their own owner and their own, you know, cross functional team executing them. And so it’s a leaders job to make sure that all that work that’s in support of the bigger plan is being done, and it’s being done well. And if people aren’t meeting their deadlines, they need to be talking with those people to find out what’s in their way. And what can they do together to remove those obstacles. And it may be that someone has told people that they need to start shifting to a different priority. And it’s that leaders job to say, no, no, no, no, who, you know, who told you that? And then go talk to that person and say, No, we have to stick to the plan, you know, this is we made a commitment to the CEO or the GM, or, you know, whoever it might be. And so it’s, it’s that that management of the work is what really gives it it’s like the oil wheeling in the machine. It’s important.


Patrick Adams  28:22

Yeah. And we say inspect what you expect. And if you’ve laid out some level of expectations, then and you talked about tear meetings, you know, leaders need to be involved in that, you know, at every level of the organization, and be committed to, like you said, being being available to help remove roadblocks to help provide resources that where resources are needed. I mean, that’s such a key part of ensuring that the plan is actually carried out and executed properly.



Yeah, you know, I think this is a great time to bring up something that just is such a problem globally, but especially in the West, and it’s how many direct reports any one person has. You know, Toyota does it by design, that in most parts of the organization, no one has more than six direct reports. And I personally have found throughout my career, and now in the position I’m in with two companies that I’m running, I start crumbling it for humbling, I mean, not being available to my people the way I need to be to keep developing them and growing them and, and helping them feel really good about the work and not have them be stalled and things like that, like six is the maps, you know, that anyone can reasonably handle if you’re really engaged with those people, and helping remove obstacles to their success and getting worked on. And again, it’s about results. And so, you know, these people that like I just heard something the other day and I just was like, no, no, I can’t be 30 direct reports. And I’m like, How do you even talk to your people? You can’t have one on ones with 30 people. And so, you know, organizations and I think do the, the people sometimes think, well, if you’re gonna do that everyone else expect reports, it’s gonna be so hierarchical. No, it doesn’t need to be hierarchical. That’s, that’s mental. You know, it’s just a matter of what you need to do in order to develop people and keep them engaged. And that’s what is the glue with keeping a plan on on task also on track?


Patrick Adams  30:31

Sure. Yeah. And I’m, I mean, I’m guessing that there’s a large number of listeners that are listening to this right now. And they probably have 10 to 20 direct reports. What would be your recommendation to somebody that? I mean, maybe they’re in a leadership position with, again, 20 direct reports. But how do you change something like that? I mean, you know, if they if they’re not the executive director, if they’re not the CEO of the company, you know, what would you suggest that would they should do in that situation? Well, and



I, someone pretty high up has to be the person to say, you know, this is crazy. We have to change this. And then the minute people start with them, we can’t we can’t we can’t, we can’t we can’t they have to be how could we? How could we? How could we? How could we? How could we mean, you know, we’re innovative beings. And there’s many ways and so it’s just really looking at the gap, you know, it’s a problem to be solved, it’s a gap to be closed, the gap is people have 20, direct reports, we need to get them down to six. Okay, what is it going to take to make that happen? And, you know, HR needs to be involved. But again, I do think it has to start at the leadership level. And, you know, remember that if you have a command and control leadership team at the top, they’re going to be very used to having an army beneath people, that people tell what to do. And so the need for six direct reports isn’t anywhere near as important in that person’s mind, because they’re not spending the time developing people and moving removing obstacles and creating the, you know, humane, wonderfully fulfilling and work environment that happens when you do it the way Toyota does it. And so, you know, that’s, you know, it’s, it’s a losing battle, if the person at the very top is like, No, I don’t want to operate that way. Yeah. And there are plenty of people at the top that don’t want to operate that way.


Patrick Adams  32:28

That’s very true. And there’s been many examples, like you said, you mentioned Toyota, you know, but there’s many other examples of organizations that are doing it that can show the proof of, you know, the benefits that come with, you know, smaller group of direct reports for for a leader, I mean, I would say, probably the majority of companies that that I work with, somewhere in the company, there’s, you know, 10, to 15 to 20, direct reports to one leader, and it’s just not manageable, not sustainable.



It’s not meant for agree, it is just not. And, you know, when you talk to those people that have have that many direct reports, and start asking them questions about how well they know how that person is actually even doing, you know, if they can’t even do performance reviews, because they don’t really know how the people are performing. And so it’s just, it’s kind of, it’s just so silly, with the things that we do to make life more difficult than it needs to be and less fulfilling for sure.


Patrick Adams  33:28

Right. Yeah. And so circling back, obviously, that, you know, having six direct reports, you the culture is different, the, the understanding of how to problem solve, how to, you know, understanding as a leader, what your roadblocks are, and what resources are needed is a lot easier to, to see and understand. But circling back to Hoshidan, you know, being able to execute the plan, you know, with, with a smaller in a smaller group like that, being able to really have some open conversations and, you know, play some catch ball and really determine what are the right, what is the right plan that is in alignment with our organizational goals, and then be able to have constant conversations around getting there is easier.



Yeah, and one more thing about the catch ball is so I talked about kind of the beginning to create the plan that catch balls needed all throughout the year. And actually, I think catch ball is good for anything, problem solving, you know, meetings, you know, it’s really a respectful way to test an idea and to hear what other people’s perspectives are, and then adjust based on you know, listening carefully to those perspectives and maybe doing some, you know, some validation to make sure that their perspective is reality and those types of things, but the catch for the ocean plan is executed far more effectively, or strategy deployment plan. If there’s an ocean I mean, there’s catch ball going on during plan execution. So for example, if someone’s a middle manager, and their team’s like, ah, we’ve got this situation we’ve got to deal with, then that middle manager has to say, you know, I do think this is pretty urgent, or maybe they talk them off the ledge and say that we can we can wait on this, you know, but if it is really urgent, and that needs to go up, back up the chain, to the people that are meeting on the regular basis, about the plan to say, you know, Houston, we’ve got a problem, we really need to address this. And so the resources are already committed, what are we going to do about it? And it’s, it’s a conversation.


Patrick Adams  35:39

Exactly, yeah. And just kind of going back to one of the the topics that are one of the pieces of this that you talked about earlier, the timeline for starting the plan? And how you talked about doing having everything done and complete before budgets are complete? What does that timeline look like? Like, when should they start it? And then how does that cascade through? And when should you know from from the top all the way through to the frontline employees being involved in some of that catch ball? I mean, what does that timeline look like?



Yeah, so for the first year, if it’s a middle, well, if it’s a large organization, we have to just admit that the first year is not going to have catch up all the way to the frontlines. In fact, we figure only one level the first year for a very, very large organization, because it’s just, there’s just too many, you know, 1000s of people 10s of 1000s of people, you know, to, to, to get into this whole thing, it may take four or five years to get cash flow working efficiently enough that you can go all the way to frontlines. But let’s say you’re a midsize company with you know, two 3000 employees or something like that, you know, I would say first year start July 1, so it’s the 19. So get going. I don’t know what date this podcast is brought is gonna be broadcast, it’s time to chop, chop. And it’s because we didn’t talk about the one step before you even start once those strategies clear. And you know, where you want to go, and you have the TrueNorth metrics identified. So that’s all part of that strategy setting. The next thing that I strongly recommend for new organizations is what I call extra effort inventory. And so it’s a step where you take a step back, and you look at all the extra effort that’s not part of daily operations of giving value to customers, that is currently going on or is in queue in an organization, or has been started and stopped. And it’s stalled for some reason. And it’s, it takes sometimes several months, to get the level of clarity on everything that’s going on in the organization above delivering value to customers on a daily basis. That is a very sobering step for most organizations. And the point of making them do it and all leadership teams will complain about it at the beginning. And they all love it when they get there, even though they’re really depressed, is because you have to prove to them that you can’t just put a plan together and expect it to get executed when your resources are already fully committed. Sure. So you have to unplug some things. And you have to delay the start of some some projects and some problems to be solved for the higher priority ones that you get clarity on when you’re creating the plan and getting clear about strategy. And so there’s, you know, a whole vetting process of categorizing things into the now yes, we have to continue this this is high priority. Not yet. It can wait till next year, or no, why were we doing this, you know, that type of thing. And so that whole thing can take two months, it can get done in a month in a small company. But most midsize, it takes two months, and I’ve seen it go as long as three months to get that done, then you can start putting the plan together. Because then you have your metrics, you have your strategy, you know what the noise in the, you know, organizational noise already is. And then you’re considering all of that current noise with the new discoveries that you know, and it is sobering. I mean, most leaders at some point in the process early on will be like, oh, there’s not enough hours in the day. We don’t have enough people. And I’m like, Yeah, but we have to stop doing some things. That’s that’s what this is about. And so it’s it’s hard, but it’s fun. It’s liberating when they get through it, it’s very liberating, because everyone knows what’s going on and why they know why that project or that problem is the most important one to solve this fiscal year.


Patrick Adams  39:28

Yes, for sure. And you know, I think a lot of this cannot be done successfully without a certain level of education and training. And I know that TK IMG Academy offers a lot of really amazing training and development opportunities. What let’s just talk about that a little bit. You know, TK IMG Academy I mean, what was your What was your thought behind all that? You know, when why why did you To launch the academy,



and you know, it’s funny, people asked for it for a long time before I did it, because it just sounded like a lot of work. It is a lot of work. And it was mainly people from different corners of the globe saying we don’t have access to workshops and conferences the way you guys do. And, yes, we have some books, but they’re not always in our native language and, you know, things like that. So it’s just a big ask, coming in. And at the same time, I wanted to be able to spread the learning more quickly to more people. And you know, we’re a small, firm, and there’s only so many people to get out there. And so I really wanted to kind of codify a lot of what we do as consultants on site with clients and give them a fighting chance to be able to do it themselves, without necessarily having a consulting group in doing it. So that’s what that’s what formed it. We have 21 courses. Now, the way we decided to do it, it’s, it’s meant for the busy professional on the go, there are one to two hours max, we’re only a few of them are two hours, we aim for an hour, they’re packed with content, but it’s not convoluted content, we spent three months developing it and getting it into a proper sequence with proper supporting documents that people can download. And, and we have micro learning modules that are little five to 10 minute pieces of people don’t have to sit for a full hour, if they don’t have an hour, it’s more likely that people will learn if they are given things in smaller chunks. And so we’ve spent a lot of time with it, we put a lot of quality into the graphics and the we record in a professional studio with sound guys and all that stuff. So that it’s a as few distractions as possible for a learner, so they can learn. And and I have a master’s in adult learning, a lot of people don’t know that I’m, in addition to all my operations stuff, and so I get pretty anal about the quality of the experience the learner has, so they get more sticky, you know, the content can stick and they can retain it more easily.


Patrick Adams  42:06

Love it, love it. And obviously those are available on your website. So if you want to go there, they can find the academy there.



Yes, it’s T KMG, and TKM. She’s the new name for what used to be the Karen Martin group. And now we’re like a real company. And I’m not the only one. So TK IMG, then is the consulting arm that we’ve had for 30 years.


Patrick Adams  42:30

Love it. So I will make sure that we drop those links into the show notes. So if anyone’s interested to reach out and connect with you, they can do that right in the show notes and also connect all your amazing courses through the academy there. Is there any other way, LinkedIn or any other way that people can reach out to you if they’re interested to with questions?



Yeah, LinkedIn, we have both companies have a LinkedIn page. And then I have a personal page mine is Karen Martin off X for operational excellence. So Karen marked off x is the personal one. And then TMG hyphen Academy, and tk mg. I think just to Kim G on the other one. And so yeah, we could we’re all over LinkedIn. So it’s good.


Patrick Adams  43:13

And so your books there on your website, assuming on Amazon,



yes, Amazon, Barnes Noble, all the major bookstores, we have a book page on our academy site also. But you know, when you click Buy book, you go to Amazon, basically. So it’s just to get people to be able to buy whatever they want. We have one book on the site.


Patrick Adams  43:34

Okay. Got it. Well, perfect. It’s been great to have you on back on the show, Karen. It’s great to connect again with you, we were able to meet in person in Texas at the AME and in Dallas, not that long ago. So it was great to hear a little bit more about TMG Academy and the work that you’re doing there. And so obviously, now being able to do do a deep dive there. It’s just fun to see all the stuff that’s happening, and just really appreciate the work that you’re doing to help develop the Lean community. So thank


Karen  Martin  44:07

you so much are you going to be there this year in Cleveland,


Patrick Adams  44:09

I am going to be there. And



um, we were I’m giving a workshop this year of Value Stream Mapping I gave a half day last year this year, it’s gonna be a full day. So you can go a little deeper into value stream mapping. And then we’ll be there exhibiting all week also. So we’ll get to see you. Perfect. We’ll see you there. All right. All right. Thanks, Karen. And great questions that Hoshin is so important, I hope strategy deployment, whatever you want to call it, I hope people will really look into it. And we have a course on that. I feel like we got an app for that. We got a net. We got a course on that.


Patrick Adams  44:39

All right, well, thanks again. Pairen.


Karen  Martin  44:41

See a thank you for having me. Have a good day.

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.