The Importance Of Standard Work In The Digital Age With Tom Hughes

The Importance Of Standard Work In The Digital Age With Tom Hughes

by Patrick Adams | Mar 14, 2023

In this episode, Tom Hughes and I discuss the extensive experience Tom has gained helping hundreds of organizations across the world do standard work / digital work instructions better with his software product GembaDocs.

What You’ll Learn:

1. How did the whole GembaDocs thing happen?

2. How can you say it’s a Game Changer? That’s a pretty big claim!

3. Why is OWNERSHIP so important with Standards?

4. Why / how can we implement standards in a more intelligent way?

5. Improvement Starts With I ; GembaDocs – how do people access them?

About the Guest:

Tom Hughes is an Ireland-based entrepreneur and the author of “Improvement Starts With I.” He is the creator of GembaDocs, a software company that assists businesses in creating quick, simple, and digital standard work practices. Tom is currently a partner in Lumen Electronics, an Irish business that develops and manufactures products.


Click here for more information on Tom Hughes 

Click here for more information on GembaDocs

Click here for The Lean Solutions Summit 

Full Transcript:

Patrick Adams: Hello Everybody and Welcome to the Lean Solutions podcast. Today’s guest is Tom Hughes, Tom is an Ireland based entrepreneur and the author of improvement starts with I.  He is the creator of Gemba. Docs is a software company that assists businesses in creating quick simple and digital standard work practices. Today, we’re going to talk about the extensive experience that Tom has gained in helping hundreds of organizations across the world implement great standard work and I’d love to get a little bit into the book as well. Tom, Hey, welcome to the show.

Tom Hughes: Super, thanks for having me Patrick much appreciated.

Patrick Adams: Absolutely. So you and I’ve been connected on LinkedIn for a while but we actually were able to meet in person at AME Not too long ago. It was great to meet you in person and catch up and be able to chat about a couple things. And now it’s great to have you on the show.

Tom Hughes: There it’s been great like you know after all the whole covid thing and…

Patrick Adams: Catch up.

Tom Hughes: You know that kind of phenomenon of everyone knowing each other virtually and I’m having a good day getting to zoom in. Actually you know I’m a very warm person…

Patrick Adams:  Right.

Tom Hughes: but I’d like to get nice to give you a good hug Patrick when we finally got something.

Patrick Adams: Right. Hey, I’m with you, Tom, I love being impersonated.

Tom Hughes:  Yeah.

Patrick Adams: I was so glad that AME decided to go in person. Same thing with Michigan, the Michigan Lien Consortium did their annual meeting this last year and that was in person and they had record numbers. So, it definitely is something that people, you know, people are ready for.

Tom Hughes: Can’t be replaced.

Patrick Adams: Yeah, and it’s, it’s it. People are relational. I mean, we want to see each other, what we want to, you know, be able to, you know, talk and connect.

Tom Hughes: Connect social animals and nothing replaces, you know, the physical relationship building and, you know, you lose so much on the zoom, you…

Patrick Adams: Yeah.

Tom Hughes: you get your body language a bit but,…

Patrick Adams:  Right.

Tom Hughes: You know, you lose so much in the communication and the connection and that runs up, you know, going for a coffee. It’s great.

Patrick Adams: Absolutely. Yeah. Well, it’s great to have you on that, you’re obviously on the other side of the world. So, at this point, it’s actually great that we have, you know, the technology to be able to have a conversation like this.

Tom Hughes:  Yeah.

Patrick Adams: And I was excited to learn a little bit about gemba docs. We’ll talk more about that. I’m sure as as the show goes on, but when we were at ME you and I were talking about the importance of standard work and how you know why we need to have standards and and you know what value that that brings to an organization and and obviously then we we tapped into the conversation around gambodox but I wanted to get you on the show so that we can have this conversation with with all of our listeners out there around the importance of standard work. Right? You know there’s a quote around standards that you know you can’t improve chaos,…

Tom Hughes: Yeah.

Patrick Adams: right? I mean

Tom Hughes: Without standards. They convey no improvement.

Patrick Adams: Yes. There are so many organizations out there that are struggling.

Tom Hughes: It’s my favorite quote. Yeah.

Patrick Adams: They’re living in this world of chaos and sometimes it’s just as simple as establishing standards, right? And definitely the beginning, you know, the basis for good continuous improvement. So I want to ask you because there’s probably listeners out there that are maybe new to learning. Maybe I have never heard the term standard work. I mean, how would you define standard work? What is it?

Tom Hughes: Well, it can be that. I, the question can be best answered by describing how gambinox actually happened because of what was happening. We were launching a new product and production and living electronics. The actual company that I 50% own and my business partner asked me to document the process for assembly and test. So,…

Patrick Adams: Mmm.

Tom Hughes: You know, we need a standard because how do we train to it? How do we say, how that thing should be done? How do we get consistency between one person and another? And you know, that tells me a lot about what a standard is. We’re not relying on tribal knowledge, to make sure this happens correctly. Like in this particular example, With our previous history, we would have done a wall of text that only a technician could have understood. And pretty much only the person who wrote it could understand and that was our past record. So he wanted me to raise the bar and do this with a more visual aid approach with photographs and detailed process step descriptions. And, and I did that with the traditional tools I’ve used dozens of times in my career,…

Patrick Adams: And sure.

Tom Hughes: like, literally over 30 years, I’ve been doing this kind of thing from being a quality manager, in my early twenties, And I was getting my phone out and I was taking pictures and emailing them to myself and Excel and PowerPoint and all that stuff, it’s been a whole afternoon, documenting about a tenth of the process. Show it to him, anyone. How long did that take you?


Patrick Adams: Not. Oh, man. Yeah.

Tom Hughes: Right here, the next step. You want to hear the next step?

Patrick Adams:  I do want to hear the next step and share it.

Tom Hughes: Well, the next question was like, Were you going to a software company? And like it’s not unbelievable. Like, I’ve been doing this at least. Doing this process for about the last three or four years in different settings, and it never occurred to me that there could be. I could develop a software solution to solve that problem because this is why I want to answer that question in this…

Patrick Adams: Something.

Tom Hughes: It’s because the traditional way of doing standards leads to most of them being a waste of time. And that’s a controversial thing to say.

Patrick Adams:  You. Sure.

Tom Hughes: Because there’s so much friction. To develop the standard and they’re not, they’re so hard to keep up to date when you improve that. It’s so easy for them to become obsolete. They’re just wallpaper and they might satisfy an auditor, but that’s about all they’re useful for. So that is…

Patrick Adams: Sure.

Tom Hughes: why I wanted to satisfy that because that’s why standards get such a bad rap. You know, in large organizations where I’ve worked in automotive and you know, multinational global conglomerates where our quality systems require a standard and…

Patrick Adams:  Right.

Tom Hughes: We have to do it. You know, that they’re rarely super useful. And this is that…

Patrick Adams:  Mmm.

Tom Hughes: what I want to get to the knob of how we can do things differently with a good tool? Because when you can have that whole activity, I was describing, you know, taking the photographs and handwritten notes and going back to my desk and talking to the technicians and the operators. All very iterative. and I often ask people who own that process when I’ve documented it. 

Tom Hughes: Well, I would say it’s the power of the pan that the person that’s that’s doing the pan and…

Patrick Adams:  Oh sure.

Tom Hughes: holding that. Owns the process. Not the people at the front line, actually out in value. They don’t feel any ownership of the process,…

Patrick Adams:  Right.

Tom Hughes: it’s a management thing, and in many settings,…

Patrick Adams:  Mmm.

Tom Hughes: It’s a pair of handcuffs. so, standards are often used as a stick to beat people with Because you didn’t comply with the standard and you need a lot of auditing to the standard. I’m going to use words like compliance and all these words that are real words and most corporate settings. And I’m a realistic person. I come from that world and how we can make that difference is really old-fashioned and it’s heart. So we had good fashion working with a guy named Mark one. I know him through the two second Link community. Have you ever heard about me? It began training with an industry.

Patrick Adams: Yeah, I’ve heard the name before but not familiar with this.

Tom Hughes: And Mike Semi retired right now. So he’s just helping people with the goodwill of his heart but he helped us with some of the Gamma Dogs development and he gave us some of the old twi cards that you’re probably familiar with.

Patrick Adams: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Tom Hughes: And one of them was how to do a job breakdown. Right job.

Patrick Adams:  Right.

Tom Hughes: Breaking what would you could? Do I get annoyed with them? How can I put it? The pedantic nature of what’s the standard work? And what’s an SOP? And what’s the work instruction? Honestly, I don’t care.

Patrick Adams:  Hmm.

Tom Hughes: That’s the truth of that. When we’re talking about standards here, we’re talking about a process that requires step by step instructions that can be used to train another individual. And that can be used to say, Are we doing it as we should be doing it? So, in this certainly Mark,…

Patrick Adams: Right.

Tom Hughes: gave us this card about how to do a job right now, I think it comes from the 50s. Step one is,…

Patrick Adams:  Hmm.

Tom Hughes: The job breakdown must be written where the work is done.

Patrick Adams:  That’s and that’s missed by so many organizations. Hmm. That’s right.

Tom Hughes: Yeah, yeah. Well, the tools don’t allow you to, when you think about it, you can use, but you can use super expensive tools, like, Suzuki and stuff. The people are looking at them, I’m a great tool. And if you can afford it, get it. But it’s not an everyday tool and it’s a big investment,…

Patrick Adams:  Sure.

Tom Hughes: And it’s not. Let’s just try that type of technical adoption. But anyway, yeah, you put the power, the tool, where the work is done. And traditionally, if you’re using your PC and everything else, you’re not doing it. When the work is done, That’s statement was designed. When people were writing standards by hand, Like, I’m old enough.

Patrick Adams:  Hmm.

Tom Hughes: And the early 90s with Toyota, we were doing that as a first-year supplier,…

Patrick Adams: right at the place,…

Tom Hughes: the guy was writing them by hand sketching them out. So at the place…


Patrick Adams: where the value,

Tom Hughes: where the work is done, absolutely, but that wasn’t happening in the last 20 or 30 years, as far as I’ve seen it anywhere. Any other organization I subsequently saw. So, step one where the work is done, Beautiful, give yourself a tool that lets you easily do that.

Patrick Adams:  Mmm.

Tom Hughes: We could have some big names. You can gamut ox for that as well as SMEs and all kinds of settings, mostly manufacturing, but landscape and gardening events management dentists. Hospitality honestly, it goes on. Step Two: The attention.

Patrick Adams: Hmm. Yeah, right.

Tom Hughes: Step Two was doing as a team. So again,…

Patrick Adams:  Yeah.

Tom Hughes: like I’ll share another war story with you. I was lucky enough. I touched on that in my first 10 years as an automotive major. and my very first task, as I was still a student at the time, Was helping out with ISO and ISO was just in its infancy. It was still called Bs-5750 and showed my gray hair. Is there? No team. So, I was writing the procedures for the quality manual on some of the detailed processes and when I first started doing it I would do it at my desk and I would just write them out and Take them out to the shop floor and show them to the guys. And guess what they did.

Patrick Adams: Mmm. Now, tell you it’s not right or or ask you why you didn’t work with them to do it.

Tom Hughes: Outside, you’re lucky, you guys are in America, very polite, compared to the Midlands, Birmingham automotive, where I come from. It wasn’t quite that, that nice. So, two words and one of the men with off. So hmm,…

Patrick Adams:  And yeah.

Tom Hughes: So from there I don’t really quickly. Think about it, I needed to involve the guys. And what I,…

Patrick Adams:  That’s right.

Tom Hughes: What I did was I just documented as best. I could. What current practice was? Then I came back and referred to the standard. And so what we needed to tweak, Then went out to the guys, right? This is what we needed to, you know, does everybody understand why we have to do this and especially if there’s any additional burden, which is a bad thing to do. When you’re documenting standards and developing a new process, you want the burden. You want to be simple and this burden is light as you can do it anyway. That let the guys go. Yeah, okay. Tommy understands. Yeah, we need to do it like that. Everybody could buy it. So again.

Patrick Adams: Sure.

Tom Hughes: That team approach, How many times are people doing that at their desk by themselves, and then they go out and they, Yeah, that’s alright, man. Yeah, they don’t know that. With.

Patrick Adams: Not even, you…

Tom Hughes:  Yeah.

Patrick Adams: visual to the operators, the ones that are actually doing the work. so, Why,…

Tom Hughes:  It’s like Yeah, where’s the sorry?

Patrick Adams: why do you think that that team base, that team piece of it? Why do you think that, that that’s so important? And and, you know, because you’re talking about ownership, right? And by involving the people that are closest to the value at work.

Tom Hughes: Definitely.

Patrick Adams: So why do you think that ownership is so important when it comes to standards?

Tom Hughes:  I love that question. It’s like Do you like being told what to do? Pottery

Patrick Adams:  Not necessarily.

Tom Hughes: No, I don’t think anybody likes being told what to do but that’s the simple answer to that question and…

Patrick Adams:  Right.

Tom Hughes: a lot of this is simple human nature. So, tell me what to do. And I resent you frankly.

Tom Hughes: Help me understand what needs to be done. And I’ll be with you. So it’s like are we in this together?

Patrick Adams:  Mmm.

Tom Hughes: Or are you somehow imposing your will on me? And not really respecting me in a great way and…

Patrick Adams:  Right.

Tom Hughes: Just that’s the simple answer to that question. And I kind of always like it for just as we pass in this like improvement starts with is all about this stuff.

Patrick Adams:  that’s,

Tom Hughes: Really really understanding that book is written around taking ownership yourself when you start this lean process and…

Patrick Adams:  Mmm.

Tom Hughes: So many people expect other people to change and not themselves. But I’m just not the basic value of respect in someone else’s sovereignty. And I really mean that people use language like this and learn, but I really believe that what we do is that other people have their own sovereignty, their own well and we should respect that. And when we can talk to it and make them understand and help them understand why we need to do things in a particular way. Then a lot of the words, I don’t like by compliance and auditing and all those things can be a lot less. Because now you’re not given them handcuffs,…


Patrick Adams: Sure.

Tom Hughes: you’re providing them with a useful tool that if they go on vacation or we got a new start and they’re a team leader. For example, it’s the best example, it comes to me right now. I got a great starter, that’s current. It’s living and breathing. I’ve got a new guy starting right. Well, take them in here. The time to onboard and get that person up to speed depends on the environment, you’re working in how regulated it is. Can be so much faster than if. There isn’t an appropriate standard in place, and you can also give them a crutch if you like To help them. If you want to move away a little bit, which is another TWA thing. When you’re withdrawing your supervision that you’re able to do it in a more control way, and a faster way, because they have a tool to refer to, if they get stuck, it doesn’t involve it in the and on button so much so it can make it easier for supervises to onboard new people. So,

Patrick Adams: You.

Tom Hughes: To me,…

Patrick Adams:  They have.

Tom Hughes: That’s a useful tool. You turn it into something useful rather than an imposition.

Patrick Adams:  That’s right, that’s right. And there’s so many companies that are struggling right now to retain or or, you know, get people in and, you know. So once they’re, once they get in, if they don’t have standards in place, if they’re people are doing things differently, depending on who you know, who teaches you, you’re learning a different way. I mean, that can be very detrimental to an organization especially right now. All, you know, you’re talking about the way in which we create the standard work and being able to, you know, simplify that. But also, you know, those organizations I don’t have standard work in place at all. I mean really need to take inventory and figure out, you know, how do we get some standards in place and what’s the reason behind it and and to your point making sure that you involve the people that are closest to the work when you’re creating it and created at the gambo, right? Those are all such important points.

Tom Hughes: Like, for me Lane is all about putting the powers close to where the value is out of this possible. And it’s not about. KPIs and Graphs. They’re a small part so I’m being controversial when I say that but the thrust of it should be about putting knowledge, wisdom training and power tools to support where the value is because that’s our job as a supervisor, as a manager and as a CI facilitator. That’s what the focus needs to be. It’s not measurement and control which often it is.

Patrick Adams: That’s right.

Tom Hughes: And then we wonder why people don’t buy into it. We’re here to support and…

Patrick Adams:  Yeah. Right.

Tom Hughes: help and that’s and that’s why standards can be so brilliant too. Like And in my organization and…

Patrick Adams:  Absolutely.

Tom Hughes: In many others that are using gambino’s, I literally don’t ask our team to produce a standard. I actually don’t apart from maybe the first few weeks when we were playing with it, I don’t remember because when we get a new product and we’re not super heavily regulated but we’re making OEM stuff. Like electrical and electronic stuff. Our guys just naturally want to document it and it’s so easy. It’s not a burden to do it. And then as they’re learning the process, like the typical thing, any manufacturing company will go through right with the new product coming in. So we built the prototype. We can document building the prototype. Oh, now we’re doing the five or…

Patrick Adams: Sure.

Tom Hughes: ten off the belt. We can refer to how we build the prototype because we documented then not the. What did we do last time? Lots, and…

Patrick Adams:  Right.

Tom Hughes: all that I had scratching that goes on and then as you develop the process. So simple that adding it, developing it and updating it’s just become a natural way of doing things and isn’t that cool? Like it’s such a bottom up. approach rather than a top-time push and…

Patrick Adams: Yeah. Well,…

Tom Hughes: for me,

Patrick Adams: if things are difficult, if they’re complex for and you’re asking someone to do it, the moment that they run into an issue, they’re not going to do it, they’re they’re going to throw it out or they’re gonna go figure out a way around it or whatever it might be, so it has to be simple. Right. It has

Tom Hughes: Simplicity and simplicity attracts complexity repels as they say.

Patrick Adams: That’s right.

Tom Hughes: But yeah,…

Patrick Adams: And what?

Tom Hughes: I want to come back to the point about your onboarding person. As I have a huge amount of experience in love and…

Patrick Adams:  Yeah, please.

Tom Hughes: all my career and you know that again depending on how Well, regulated or how well run your company is I’ve seen that from what I call microwave training. Guy gets his PPE. Signs the safety shake and gets put on by the machine supervisor says here. So press this button. Put that thing there. You know, tell me when you’ve got an issue and run away, I’ve actually seen that. Right. So and…


Patrick Adams: oh yeah, I have to

Tom Hughes: Then you’ve got automotive where like back in my time you wouldn’t have been allowed to leave a person on supervision for over a week before they would be allowed to run a production job. So you got those kinds of From there to there going on and…

Patrick Adams: Right.

Patrick Adams:  Yeah.

Tom Hughes: that you think about why we get such churn with new starts. Because that first situation, which is most recent for me, The term was unbelievable. It was like a revolving door and only the strongest survived. And we ask ourselves.

Patrick Adams:  Right.

Tom Hughes: Oh, why have we got such a problem recruiting and retaining labor? It’s so stressful for everybody involved that a new start comes in.

Patrick Adams:  Yeah.

Tom Hughes: The machine makes a noise that it’s not supposed to make or anything and he’s like, Oh my life, what I do. And he calls That’s the and the team leader is busy with 10 other things. Nobody comes near me standing there stress and…

Patrick Adams:  Yeah.

Tom Hughes: out. Then maybe hit the button anyway and create some scrap. Then it gets shouted out for that. You know,…

Patrick Adams:  Right.

Tom Hughes: That’s just so bad the standard. Like and I’ve seen that even and not a specific example. I had to start the old fashioned way there, that they’re like an afternoon to do a single start up or shut down of a machine. But even there, they were of decent use. So you’re taking the stress away from the new start or reducing it, at least. The team leader has an easier crutch.

Patrick Adams: Right.

Tom Hughes: To give to someone, you know, even if he has to run away and when you look at it, if you can reduce that churn and in that first comedy, we did 26% productivity improvement in five months and…

Patrick Adams:  Mmm.

Tom Hughes: I would genuinely say that reducing churn of new starts away. It wasn’t only standards we did it through pay as well. And a couple of other methods that were the single biggest contributor to that productivity improvement because of the experience people were getting so tied up with that constant revolving door that they weren’t able to be productive.

Patrick Adams: oh, Huge. Yeah, it’s such an important concept for sure and I love you just kind of going back to Gamba docs, I mean, just the use of technology, right? I mean you know, I

Tom Hughes: Uh-huh.

Tom Hughes:  Yeah. Oh

Tom Hughes: oh,

Tom Hughes:  Yeah, hundred percent. Uh-huh.

Patrick Adams: Is to upload and update things so quickly. I mean, that that’s huge. So, you know, why do you think we should be utilizing technology or even thinking about things in more of an intelligent way? You know, not just standard work. And we talk about standard work obviously,…

Tom Hughes: Well.

Patrick Adams: But just everything in general as we continue to improve the way that we do things in our business, you know, utilizing technology, thinking about things, thinking about things in a more intelligent way, you know, why is that important? As we specifically talk through standards

Tom Hughes: Patrick, thank you. Ask the vast question is, dude, you really do it like I was at an industry 4.0 show in Liverpool in the UK in November. We were showing gambodox there,…

Patrick Adams: Okay.

Tom Hughes: It was really cool and Anyway, I went all over the show. Looking at all the different technology solutions and honestly as super impressed, Like because I have a lot of experience with technology adoption too,…

Patrick Adams:  Hmm.

Tom Hughes: especially ERP systems and things like that and how huge and how most of them fail. Well, documented, most large technology adoptions don’t work like anybody that’s been around industry knows that they take years.

Patrick Adams: Hmm. Yeah.

Tom Hughes: The thunder said, it would take three or six months and three years later you thank you there, and you spend a point sport, you should have and all that stuff. So that’s the first problem. People tend to use very large technology solutions. That requires implementation consultancy, customization for you. Very, very high friction. And a huge organization change and…

Patrick Adams:  Right.

Tom Hughes: a lot of money. And even within standards,…

Patrick Adams:  Yeah. Yeah.

Tom Hughes: I can say that that’s the typical method without naming names. That’s the method.

Patrick Adams:  Sure.

Tom Hughes: You need to be spending 30 or 40 grand a year minimum. And if you’re doing less, they’re not interested in their large tech answers with all of the things I just mentioned. So that’s the first problem. The second problem is the spirit in which they approached and that’s what I saw in the industry. 4.0 Vast majority of solutions were around a better dashboard. A better method of surveillance, better control, better. Hey, you can sit at your desk in New York and know what’s happening in Singapore. And if that machine isn’t running, you’re gonna know all about it. Honestly.


Tom Hughes: Seriously honestly, is that how you’re running your company? Like when we talk about putting the valve, where the value is added is where it’s important. It’s not important.

Patrick Adams: That’s right.

Tom Hughes: If you’re 5,000 miles away and your ivory tower, it might be a nice comfort blanket for you to wear, but it’s not helping your organization’s value. So put the power…

Patrick Adams:  Right.

Tom Hughes: where the value is focused there. Not at your office, so we call the gambinox and honestly not the title, it came up and about five minutes, what? We call this thing. Well, you know, it’s all happened there. Don’t get it. It was that kind of conversation. Well, some again and we don’t have to move, but it’s all happening there. That’s my documented stuff gambino So,…

Patrick Adams:  Nice.

Tom Hughes: and to finish with that industry for 4.0 show, I was so happy to have a little old gamadox. Versus this huge technology solution that someone is going to have to put their career on the block. To go with, right? I equated gamut off to being like in the supermarket. In other ways, they have the sweets in their jackets.

Patrick Adams: Yeah, right. Okay.

Tom Hughes: That was Gambinox. So like, Oh, how much is $200 to 1500 a year? It depends how many users you want. It’s got all this functionality. You know? It’s so simple. Anybody can use it all. You got these. Try it Out yourself. There’s some basic standards,…

Patrick Adams: Yeah.

Tom Hughes: and let it pull into your organization. It’s easy, we’re not sap or…

Patrick Adams:  Yeah. Right.

Tom Hughes: Anything like it, You know, what’s up? Hopefully, that gives you a flavor, for how I see that question: technology, its challenges. Let’s don’t,…

Patrick Adams:  Now.

Tom Hughes: Well, what’s not so well, and if we focus on helping people create value where it is, We’re gonna do a good thing.

Patrick Adams: That’s right. One of the things that you said to Tom I think is so important, you know about where your leaders spend their time and you know thinking about technology pulling people away from the gemba or allowing them to not be at the gemba you know that that sure technology can do that.

Tom Hughes:  Yeah.

Patrick Adams: But you know, I always talk about, you know, hour by hour boards for example and that there is value in putting pen to paper for someone you know,…

Tom Hughes:  I love it.

Patrick Adams: the red green and and write it, you know, have to write it myself and there’s something that happens in our minds when we’re doing that. And you know, been part of organizations that have completely

Patrick Adams: Dated that totally automated everything to where the operators have to even think. And I think that that’s just going way too far to your point. Removing people from the real work that’s happening and that’s one of the things that I really like about what you’re saying is with gembodox,…

Tom Hughes: Here.

Patrick Adams: you’re still involving the people that are closest to value at work. In fact, they’re the ones that are actually doing it, you know, along with obviously leadership and, and they’re all involved in that. But I like that. You didn’t do that, that you don’t, you don’t completely remove everyone from the process that they still have to think they still are involved. They’re still, you know, some actions that have to take place in order to make it happen versus it all being automated and removed from the situation, right? Would you agree with that?

Tom Hughes: Yeah. Patrick. Oh, 100%. I read that in your book. You were talking about the power of that marker in your book and I totally 100% agree. Now, if you can hybridize that and somehow I get the data to be recorded and collected, that’s fantastic. I think that’s the best solution. So it’s, it’s getting you’ve got reference without additional burden on anyone brilliant.

Patrick Adams: Right. Right.

Tom Hughes: But as soon as you take again, brilliant example. Hopefully from my early career, right. But again, one of my very early jobs was to collect the component scrap off the production lines, take what was on the reject tags,…

Patrick Adams:  Hmm.

Tom Hughes: and develop the scrap charts for each production line, right? And I did all of that, right? And it was typically I did it on Sunday night. when all my bodies would have been done at the pub, but the quiz And Cinderella, here was home. There are crafts for Monday morning. And I used to really hit, I was only 21 22 when I was doing that and I did that for like six months, right? And I used to put up like there were about 16 graphs and I put them up there. Nobody looked at them.


Patrick Adams:  Mmm.

Tom Hughes: Accept, maybe the quality mileage to say, Oh, nice graphs, Tom, and one morning, he did that. And I was particularly annoyed that I missed a drink with my mates. I used to be a big drink around, not anymore, and I, I blew off on it. I said, Nobody’s looking at these damn things. I do these every weekend. Nobody cares. And this is the thing. Who owned the damn chart again? Sorry, for the day word, you can bleep it out if you need to. But who owns the chart? The guys on the production line didn’t care. Less And they’d been doing it and…

Patrick Adams:  Right.

Tom Hughes: That’s what I’ve seen time and time in my career, the dirty old chart with the marker that the one of the guys asked to up and go. Sorry. I was about Chef and explained why. It’s just accountability. I don’t want to beat anybody up for anything. The vast majority of my experience of productivity problems are done about tools and bad lack of clarity. It’s not…

Patrick Adams:  Right.

Tom Hughes: because the guys were motivated and again, We, as leaders should start our position of the people already motivated. We don’t need to do that. That’s a lot more powerful.

Patrick Adams:  Right.

Tom Hughes: But yeah, you’re totally on the page ownership and as close to where the values are, and when you move it, whether by digitization or you can even do it just by an engineer, creating the chart in his office and then putting it up with a computer chart. You know what is printed out of an Excel sheet? It says Sheet. Now not the lion’s shape and…

Patrick Adams:  You. Right.

Tom Hughes: That’s like college. Yeah, I loved serving and Frankly speaking. What’s the word I’m looking for? I don’t want to say manipulation, that’s really not it. but, Optimizing and engaging within the best possible and that’s all done with connection with the people you’re working with not being adversarial and not thinking badly of them.

Patrick Adams: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I agree. And it’s a balance, right? I mean you, you want to involve the people that are close to the value at work, obviously supervisors, leaders need to be involved as well. But figuring out that balance and not completely eliminating it. You don’t, you don’t want to add unnecessary work to people like in your example, you know, having to fill out all these charts, you know, on your off time, print them out. Make sure they look pretty and then nobody looks at them. That’s a complete waste. Any time I see that I’m always telling people if there’s, if you’re doing that kind of stuff, you need to get rid of it. If it’s not valuable, you need to get rid of it,…

Tom Hughes: A hundred percent.

Patrick Adams: or you need to ask yourself, you know, why? Why is this information important and how do I actually get people that, you know, are gonna use that to make the decision? How do we get it into their hands or how do we make it? How do we deliver it to them in a way that they, that it does interest them or they do get excited about or they, you know? So, obviously, that’s that’s the key and, and, you know, there’s a balance we gotta find

Patrick Adams:  Figure out what it is, the in-between I guess, right?

Tom Hughes: Like the key thing for me, Patrick and with that quality background is what are you going to do with it? If you know so…

Patrick Adams:  Yeah.

Tom Hughes: if it’s an, if you’re gonna be able to act, That’s great, great information. And if it’s typically acted upon , that’s valuable information. If it’s oh, you know, that’s good, nice to know. And, and my own experience. Again it’s I’m like a real critical 52 year old man right now. But most data is not bracketed in, on a light in places where people are doing it. You know, that’s good to know. I need to know that that’s control based information and it’s very,…

Patrick Adams: You.

Tom Hughes: very much too far in the rear view, mirror the analogy,…

Patrick Adams:  Right.

Tom Hughes: I use what I’m coaching people, how much of your time and spend looking where you’re going on the road and how much of a spam looking in the rearview mirror because Have successful. Do you think you’re going to be with your business if you spend most of your time looking in the rear view mirror? so, not being very good could be a bit dangerous.

Patrick Adams: Hmm, that’s right. Not very

Patrick Adams: That’s right. Absolutely Tom. So we talked about improvement starting with I. We talked about gamba docs, how do people access them if they’re interested? You know, they want to grab your book or they want to learn more about Gemma Docs.

Tom Hughes: Huh. Well you can go to improve starts with for the book.

Patrick Adams: Where do they go?

Tom Hughes: It’s available for free and all formats. You can get it as you can pdf it, you can listen to it on YouTube. You can listen to it on the Lean Play app. That’s my biggest recommendation if you want to get the book Downplay and search for the Lean Play App. It’s free. It’s Got all Paul Acres Books on There. My books on there, Norman Bodak Tiono Henry Ford, You Know, On Me Obviously. So Lean Play and…

Patrick Adams: You love it? Yeah.

Tom Hughes: You can also get on Amazon If you search improvement starts with, I And then and all my contact details on there. If anybody wants to reach out to me, ask me any questions about any stuff, my phone numbers there, everything, don’t send me emails. That’s my only request. Next thing on gambodox you’ve got.


Patrick Adams: Yeah.

Tom Hughes: Now if we listen to this podcast and you don’t know what gamba is we’re in trouble, so because other people do Prince Jamba,…

Patrick Adams:  Yeah.

Tom Hughes: What is that thing? So for us lay people, it’s gambodox gemba, And you can download. You can go there and sign up for the Free 30-day trial. And you get all the functionality for 30 days for free, or you can just search gambinox in your App Store and you can download the app. It works as an app and as a desktop accessible tool, although the mobile app is really where the phone is in my opinion, but that’s me biased. My business partner is always beating me up for saying, but I’m going to keep saying anyway…

Patrick Adams: Sure.

Tom Hughes: because that’s what I think. So

Patrick Adams: Yeah, and Tom I don’t know that we didn’t necessarily get deep into what Gamma Docs actually is. So just real quick and…

Tom Hughes:  Uh-huh. All right, let’s do that.

Patrick Adams: you give a quick overview of what Gamma docs is and and what you guys do

Tom Hughes:  So basically Gambitus is focused on creating step by step SOPs. And if we take our physical process you can do that really simply take say I’m going to create a process. I’ll do all your document control stuff for your ISO completely automatically. It’ll always be in one place. Then you’re into taking a Photograph or 30 second video per step. Process description from 120 characters to 400 per step. Repeat until you are finished.

Tom Hughes: Then you can either print it which we’re not recommending these days except for a specific use cases like a cleaning rotor, for example, but you can then share it as a QR code or access it as a URL or access it within the app, step by step, which is our, the way we’re recommending. So it’s really, really easy to create and you can, I think , make a point I really want to make if you’re a continuous improvement facilitator, this is your dream. Because if you’re the,…

Patrick Adams: Mmm. Yeah.

Tom Hughes: if you’re the bottleneck in creating these processes and updating them, this really is going to take everything away from there. And the next thing it does well is editing and…

Patrick Adams:  Yeah.

Tom Hughes: updating you can do that in seconds. It has an approval process if you need it for your ISO and your regulation. So it’ll go to the relevant people before it goes lie and then not deployment piece is the other thing that it does really. Well it We incidentally solved kanban cards why we were doing this. And they won’t be for everyone. But literally thousands and thousands of combine guards created botox again because of the same use case problem. How do I do a home? How do I do that part rack of 500 parts without taking forever? Photograph, Basic Information,…

Patrick Adams:  Yeah.

Tom Hughes: countdown card so you can do it in a second.

Patrick Adams: Using them and training, you know, just putting a QR code right on a piece of equipment with a scan that goes right in a gammadox or…

Tom Hughes: Oh, that’s a lot and…

Patrick Adams: rate to training video so simple.

Tom Hughes: I want to bring up something but some people are using video QR codes. A pure video.

Patrick Adams:  Yeah.

Tom Hughes: I’m not a fan at all. And because of what happened with the video I’ve seen again, my early days of two, second lean, these are all over the place. My question is to have a half thumbs up and update and the answer is never. So the advantage of gambodoss, we even introduced video steps. You can also end up uploading a video and have a pure video QR code but it’s not the thing. The other beautiful thing is you can update it and gamma docs that standard and that QR code will always be the latest version. You don’t have to worry about version control, same with the URLs. If you have them as shortcuts on a PC, for example, that you’re using the view.

Tom Hughes: You don’t have to worry about all the things you talked about, print, finding them, taking them back, reprinting them, laminating them and all that stuff. It’s all there. And we have companies that are using a lot of people,…

Patrick Adams:  It’s perfect.

Tom Hughes: Not many, frankly, a lot of people just using mobile phones, but we have people, you know, multiple ipads, all of its sharp multiple PCs all of the shop, but you don’t have to do that. You really don’t depend on your circumstances, your environment.

Patrick Adams: Sure, well, Tom we, we’re gonna put all of the links to gemba docs to your book, improvement starts with. I, your LinkedIn will put all that into the show notes. So if anyone’s interested, they’d go right to the show notes, click on that and get direct access to Tom,…

Tom Hughes: Huh.

Patrick Adams: if you want to ask them some questions, but Tom’s been great to have. Do you love conversation? I think, you know, this is one topic that you and I could probably spend time with, you…

Tom Hughes:  H. I’d love to.

Patrick Adams: A couple more hours on but there’s many more topics. We got to have you back. We’ll talk about something else and, and have some other really good conversations.


Tom Hughes:  Patrick. It’s been an absolute blast and I was great to finally do it and thanks for having me on. Okay. Cheers. Patrick.

Patrick Adams:  Absolutely, take care of Tom.

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.