In this episode of The Lean Solutions Podcast, host Patrick Adams engages in a comprehensive exploration of a culture centered around continuous improvement, the implementation of visual management techniques, and the establishment of clear performance expectations.
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. Patrick is an Author of the best selling book, Avoiding the Continuous Appearance Trap.
We’re extremely pleased to welcome Patrick Adams. As you may know, the state of Illinois has a wonderful relationship with NASA, the National Association of State chief administrators. And we saw a wonderful keynote presentation delivered by Patrick at their operational excellence conference last year. And so we were very glad when he agreed to do a keynote here at this summit. So we would like to welcome him. 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 nonprofit, government and manufacturing, ranging from small business to billion dollar corporations. Patrick is an author of the best selling book, avoiding the continuous appearance trap. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Patrick Adams. All right.
Patrick Adams 01:45
Thank you, John, I appreciate the amazing introduction. Excited to be part of the rapid results Summit. And I love the work that you guys are doing at the office of operational excellence for the state of Illinois. Amazing work and appreciate the opportunity to come here and speak with all of you today. It’s been a I’m sure a an amazing day filled with lots of great insights, lots of great tools, techniques, different opportunities that you can bring back and utilize at your office. And my hope is that over the next 60 to 90 minutes here that we’ll be able to that I’ll be able to give you just a little bit more that you might be able to, you know, take back and start utilizing right away. So as you know, all of you know, being part of the state of Illinois, the rapid rapid results is the flagship initiative of the Office of operational excellence for the state of Illinois. And unlike traditional top down improvement initiatives, which many of us have experienced, I know, I have rapid results leverages the skills and the knowledge of frontline state employees to identify opportunities for improvement and develop effective solutions. And the two basic principles that I love that come out of the the office of operational excellence, our respect for people, and continuous improvement. I mean, it doesn’t get any simpler than that. And I’m going to talk about the value of simplicity today. But just that those, those two basic principles, respect for people and continuous improvement, if you walk away with nothing else today, that’s just a just a great two great points to remember and really apply to your business. Absolutely love the theme of this year’s summit, make improvement business as usual. However, in order to do that, we need to get back to the basics and not allow complexity to get in the way of progress. And I’m going to again, I’m going to talk about a little bit of that today. But now for the greatest challenge, as I help wrap up the day and all the amazing work that’s been laid out already from the speakers prior to me, the greatest challenge today is how do you ensure that your time the concepts, the tools, the techniques, everything that’s been talked about today? How do you ensure that that doesn’t go to waste? Right? You’ve spent an entire day dedicating yourself to development. Ask yourself, what is what are the minimum what is the one or two things that you’re going to take away and apply right away. You don’t want this day to be wasted and there’s been so much value that’s been laid out for you take one or two things, write them down and make sure that you commit to applying those concepts, those tools, those techniques, whatever it may be. So, right away. So that’s my challenge to all of you is think about that. And whether it’s something that you took away from today already prior to me or something that comes out of the next session. I would love to hear what it what are the things that you’re going to be applying today, and you can use the chat for that. I’m going to ask you to use the chat. So please open up the chat. And feel free to drop questions into the chat. And also comments as I’m going through over the next 60 to 90 minutes here. So use the chat and think about that, what is the one or two things that you’re going to apply right away, when you get back to the office coming out of this event? So think about that. That’s my challenge to you. Let’s dive in here. So John mentioned my book avoiding the continuous appearance trap, which is an interesting name. And a lot of people ask me, Where did the name come from? Right? What does it mean, the continuous appearance trap, right, so I’ll just hit on this briefly. Earlier in my career, I worked for two companies. And if you were to walk into either of these companies, they would look very similar. Both had visual management, similar KPIs, safety, cost, quality delivery, both had very similar org structures. And if you were to walk through either of these companies, it would be really difficult to determine differences in their approach to business solutions, both would say, you know, we’re on our Lean journey, right. So the difference, though, was that one of these companies had a true culture of continuous improvement, while the other one had what I call a culture of continuous appearance. Right? So underneath all of the floor tape, the pretty scorecards, the lean posters, you know, all of these things that you would see at the surface level that I would call artifacts, underneath all of that, at one of these companies, was a very toxic culture, where people hated to work. The company had high turnover, no stability, it was a difficult place to be the accompany the company appeared to have it all together at the surface, right. But underneath, there was no sustainment of any of the activities that was happening, a lot of what we call flavor of the month activity, some of you know what I’m talking about, because either you’re experiencing it right now, or you have experienced it at some time in your career. In the book, I use questions rather than chapters. And I’ve also had that question come to me as Why did you use questions versus, versus chapter titles? So the answer to that is, my hope is that I will generate some critical thinking from the readers to come up with their own roadmap, because if I give you the roadmap, which people have asked for, like you’ve worked at a company where they had a true culture of continuous improvement, just give me the roadmap, tell me the 10 steps to develop a true culture of continuous improvement? Well, that’s difficult. Because if you were to take that same roadmap from that company, you would surely fail. They’re in a different industry. It’s a different time, a different culture, maybe a different place in the world. There’s so many differences. So you know, for many organizations that try to take, for example, what Toyota did, which was amazing. And we’ve learned so much from Toyota. But Toyota cannot be a cookie cutter model. You can’t take what Toyota did and try to apply those tools to your organization and think you’re going to be successful. You have to use critical thinking, scientific thinking, to develop through experimentation, the roadmap that will work for your organization. So why questions? This is a really, really great quote from John shuck. For those of you that don’t know John John was the first American employee at Toyotas World Headquarters starting in 1983. And he helped Toyota transfer Production Engineering Management from Japan to new me and other operations around the world. But John said Lean management is very much about asking the right questions and trying things, or encouraging others to try things. Right. That’s where the experimentation comes in. Lean management itself is not much about providing the right answers. But it’s very much about asking the right questions. Right. So as I said, if I was to give you a roadmap of what I experienced, your first inclination would be to go and implement it, right? You’ll want to implement the solutions that I give you, you know, right away in hopes that you’ll create this culture of continuous improvement. However, as I said, it will be done incremental to your organization, trying to implement this road of success from another organization just isn’t going to work. So rather, you have to ask yourself, ask your organization, the right questions. And by asking the right questions, it becomes more of an evolutionary process of learning, rather than an implementation process of correcting. So this becomes, as I said, the beginning of scientific thinking for your organization. Right? The goal is to think about where you need to be where you need to go, where you are today. And then understand the gap and begin experimenting towards moving in the direction of where you want to be eventually, right. So that is the challenge. Again, ask yourself the right questions or ask your team the right questions. So when we think about who were who we’re working with, in our offices, right, and I say, you know, ask them the right questions have take time to experiment, allow them the opportunity to learn the roadmap, right? A lot of times we get pushed back, because we’re dealing with human beings. And many times human beings have a hard time with change. Right? However, I would argue, in my experience, that it’s not about the people. It’s really sorry, it’s not the people, it’s the system. Right. So it’s not the people that are pushing back or causing the issues. It’s the system, it’s the broken system, it’s people that are working good people that want to do a good job, that are working in a broken system. So usually, people don’t change because they’re working in this broken system, and they just don’t have the ability to change. And I want to show you the results of a McKinsey study that was done a few years back where a number of individuals within an organization were asked the question, how what would we need to do in order to get you to change? What What would the organization what would the enterprise need to do or show you in order to get you to get on board and change with the organization? So here’s the results of that study. I will change if I understand what’s being asked asked of me. And it makes sense. Right, I understand what’s being asked to me. And it makes sense. They have clear expectations. And it makes sense to them as far as why they have a belief that’s connected to their actions. And the why inspires them to behave in support of change. The second thing that we found is that I will change if I see my leaders, colleagues and staff behaving differently, right, people mimic individuals and groups that surround them. Right, sometimes it’s conscious, sometimes it’s unconscious, but leaders have to lead the way. They can’t say one thing and do another. If they’re if they lay out clear expectations, and they and they help their team members understand the why they also have to stand behind that and take action, in accordance with what they’ve laid out. The third one was I will change if I have the skills and the opportunities to behave in a new way, right? Many times I work with leaders who don’t understand why the team won’t change, but they’re not. They’re not giving them the skills, the training, the tools that are necessary in order for them to be successful in the change. So people are scared to step out and try something new, because they haven’t been given the skills they haven’t been trained, they haven’t, they don’t have the tools to be successful. So as leaders, we have to make sure that we’re giving our team members the skills that they need to be successful. With lean, you can teach an old dog new tricks. So so don’t hold back when it comes to developing your employees. Right. The third, the fourth one, the final one was I will change if I see are structures, processes and systems support the changes that I’m being asked to make, right? This is the system piece. Right? So many organizations are reinforcing the wrong behavior. I’ll say that, again. So many organizations are reinforcing the wrong behavior. People are coming to work, they want to do a good job, but they’re forced to work in a broken system. And so then the behavior that’s enforced, is behavior that’s matched with a broken system. We have to fix the systems and we have to reinforce the right behaviors, both in our leadership teams and in our staff. So I thought this was a really great study, and it really led me into My understanding three very simple points that that I would say when I think about those two organizations that I worked with those two companies, that at the surface level, they looked very similar. But underneath one had a toxic culture and one had a true culture of continuous improvement. I tried to put myself into a place where I can say, what are the differences between the two? Can I identify three simple ways that are three simple points that make them very different from each other. And these are the three, the organization that set clear the only organization that had a true culture of continuous improvement, they set clear expectations, they enabled action, and they sustained results. Simple as that. Now, one of the things that I want to say is that at company continuous appearance, which is what I call the company that had the surface level artifacts with a toxic culture, I did see pockets of some of these, these three areas. So sometimes I would see where they would set clear expectations, a leader would come in, they would set clear expectations, they would enable action that would give their team members time to work on certain improvement activities and projects. But they didn’t have any true sustainment plan in place to sustain those initiatives. And what I found is that change was never sustained in these organizations that this is where we saw the flavor of the month activities happening or in the in these different business units within this organization. The other thing that would happen is I would see leaders where they would enable action. And they would have a sustainment plan in place, some some type of audit or, or reinforcement of the right behaviors, but they never set clear expectations up front, the team members didn’t really know what they should be working on. And they kind of took this shotgun approach where they were like, just work on anything that you want to work on, right. And what happened here is there was a lack of organizational alignment, right, people were working on all different things, which may or may not have been moving them closer to their TrueNorth. The last thing that I saw was that sometimes they would set clear expectations, and they would have sustainment in place. But they didn’t enable any action, they said, We’re too busy to do this stuff, we’re too busy to work on that we can’t give you time for that we don’t have any money in the budget, right? All these things would come up. So they couldn’t, they didn’t enable any kind of action. And when this happened, they had mediocre results, right little pockets of of results, but nothing, no no great exponential improvements in their metrics. Now, the difference was in company continuous improvement, which was the company that had the true culture of continuous improvement. They did all three of these very consistently. And very intentionally at every site around the globe. They set clear expectations, they enabled action in their team members, their frontline workers, and they had great sustainment of the of the the initiatives that were worked on at each of these sites. And the result of that was a true culture of continuous improvement. So it might sound very simplistic to say that, Oh, these three things are what you you focused on. But I will tell you that simplicity is the key. And we’re going to talk about that here in just a minute. Simplicity is the key. So there are three other areas. And I don’t want to I don’t want to confuse anyone. But the three areas that I’m going to talk about tonight today are simple, visual, and continuous. And the reason why that’s important is because within each of these three areas that we talked about here, it’s important that we keep things simple. And we’ll talk about why that is here in just a minute. The other thing that’s important within these three areas is that we keep things visual, that we understand the importance of visual management within each of these three areas. And then lastly, this isn’t a this isn’t a once one one time thing, this isn’t a one once a month, once a quarter, we need to continue to improve daily within our offices within our organizations. So these three areas are what we’re going to focus on over the next 60 minutes. And I’m with you today for those of you that are note takers. This is what you should set up your your, your notepad life. Within each of these three areas, simple visual continuous, I’m going to hit on three points within each of these three areas. So for those of you that are note takers, be ready. This is what it’s going to look like. Alright, so let me just tell you a little bit of a story when I was a young Production Supervisor. I was a third shift supervisor at this time. And I was walking through that was new to this plant and I was walking through the plant and I had this this lady came up to me because she had heard that I was you know, empowering and and motive aiding employees to try things to experiment with things. And so this older lady came to me as I was walking through the plant. And she said, Hey, come on over here, I have an idea. Have an idea come over here. So I went over, of course, and she said, Okay, listen, so we’re assembling this part. And on this, this, this, these tables here, I feel like I have to walk a long ways to deliver my parts to the next person. If only I could turn the table, 90 degrees, just turn it a little bit to the side, then I wouldn’t have to walk around the corner and deliver my parts. But I could just turn to the left. And I could just deliver the parts if you really, really easy to do. And I think it would save us a lot of time. And of course, I’m looking at her and I’m thinking to myself, yeah, let’s do it. Right. Let’s do it. Of course, yes. Go ahead, move your table. And she’s like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute, wait a minute, we can’t do that. We can’t just go moving tables around here. And I’m like, What do you mean? And she’s like, we can’t just move tables there. There’s a change control process that we have to follow. And we have to, we have to make sure that we follow the change control process in order to make changes like this, because that’s important that we keep, you know, following the process that we were trained on, and I said, Okay, well, okay, let’s do it, then show me the change control process. And she walked me over to the table where there were some, some standard work, some work instructions laid out. And she said, here’s the change control process. And she showed me something that looks something like this. Can anyone relate to this? I mean, wow, I looked at this. And I’m like, Are you serious? Like, we were looking to turn a table 90 degrees, and this is your change control process. And you wonder why this organization struggled to achieve a true culture of continuous improvement. Right? You can empower people all day long. But if the system doesn’t allow them to be able to try things and experiment regularly, within control, right, but not this type of control. I mean, this is a little bit overboard. Right? Can anyone relate? So what I want to say in this particular scenario is Simplicity is key, we’re going to talk about what it means to keep it simple. One of the biggest reasons that people fail to maintain a robust, lean system is their desire for complexity. Right, the desired seems to be human nature. I mean, we begin simple enough, and then we just add more complexity, and then more complexity, and then someone else comes in and add some more complexity. Until eventually we have this system, that’s far too hard to maintain. Right? When we’re working with human beings, we have to keep things as simple as possible, or they’ll fall apart. So we’re going to talk about three areas under keep it simple. Let’s get into the first one, the first point under keep it simple. So the North Country Trail and the Manistee trail loop here in Michigan, is approximately 20 miles long, and it’s my favorite backpacking trail. And it’s located right in northern Michigan here. But the first time and I packed packed this trail to three times a year. But the first time that I took my daughter with me, I think she was maybe 12 or 13. At the time, I printed her a map of the trail. And I had brought it with me, because again, I had hiked the trail many times, but I wanted to ensure that she kind of knew where we were going was able to make some decisions about you know, because there’s a couple of different trails that that kick off the main trail and there’s some really nice things to see. So I wanted to give her the opportunity. So this is the the map that I brought along with us of the Manistee river trail along the Manistee river. And I pulled this map out and I laid it in front of her and I said okay, Taylor, her name’s Taylor. Where do you want to go? And she looked at me and she’s like, Dad, I don’t care where we go. And so I was in AI at the time. I know this is weird, but being a process improvement person. I couldn’t help but think about the scene from Alice in Wonderland, where Alice Meech meets chess Shire, the cat. I think I said that right. Chess Shire? Anyways, anyone know what I’m talking about? So Alice asks the cat, which way she ought to go, she’s lost. And she asked the cat which way she ought to go. And he asks Alice, where do you want to get to? And she responds by saying, well, it doesn’t really matter as long as and then he interrupts her to say, well, then it doesn’t really matter which way you go. Right. So the point here is that you have to have direction, right? You have to know where you’re going before you set out, so that you have direction. While standing next to the car with my daughter, we had our backpacks lying next to us. And I, I did explain to her the importance of charting, and communicating your course prior to setting out. If we don’t set our set our course prior, we don’t set the course prior to setting out then then we’re walking with no end in mind. Right. And if we don’t communicate it, then no one else in the group would know where we’re heading. Right. So how would we ever know when we’ve arrived? Right? If we don’t know where we’re going, we could also miss very important things along the way. And how do we know if we’re getting any closer to where we’re going? If we don’t know where we’re going, if we haven’t set that as a goal, right? So some of you have heard the term true north, right. And when reading a compass, you can always determine which way is north and by knowing that you can determine if you’re on path or off path. Right now for Toyota. Their true north and true north is perfection. So for them, they would say 100% on time delivery 100%. shipped on time, zero accidents, 00 safety accidents, zero defects, right 100% value added activities, this would be their true north. Now, is that possible? Is it possible to achieve perfection? Well, the answer is no. It’s not possible. But what that did for them was it gave direction, they knew where they were heading by establishing a true north. Right now, I didn’t explain all that to my daughter. Okay. But we did spend some time talking about the map and the importance of charting the course. And she pointed at the map. And she said that she wanted to go to the suspension bridge, which was at the top of the the point where we were starting and about 11 miles from where we were. And the great thing about this particular story is that we actually achieved our true north we, we pointed where to where we wanted to go, we headed in that direction, and we were able to arrive there. And if we didn’t set our course prior to heading out, we may have never been able to have this amazing moment together. And this amazing picture. And while most organizations again will never reach their true north, because it is perfection, it’s meant to be perfection. We were lucky enough to get there, right. But the point here is to give yourself a vision of where you want to go write a simple vision, communicate a simple vision. This is important. It has to be a simple vision, something that everyone can understand. And everyone can get on board with and everyone understands why, and they know the direction that they’re heading. So number one, under keep it simple is communicate a simple vision. When I was serving in the Marine Corps, I served eight years in the Marine Corps, I was taught a very valuable lesson about communicating strategy at all levels of the organization. And this particular lesson came to be known as Napoleon’s Corporal. Some of you may be familiar with it, it’s taught and all services in the US military. But Napoleon was recognized by he he recognized how vital it was to ensure that communication from the top was disseminated all the way to the bottom. And that everyone understood and was clear on what the goals of the regiment work. So while creating battle plans and strategies with with all of the the generals Napoleon would actually invite a corporal, a young enlisted soldier into the room to listen while they were putting together their plans. And Napoleon at the end of the conversation with the generals, he would turn to the corporal and he would ask the corporal, do you understand the plan? Does it make sense to you? Do you know why we’re doing it? Do you? Does it make sense to you how it’s being communicated? And if the corporal said, I’m still a little fuzzy here, I don’t really understand it, then they would go back to the planning board and they would continue to plan and talk and discuss the plan until it was simple enough that this soldier understood it and that it could be communicated all the way through the ranks to the frontline soldiers. And once the corporal said Yes, I understand it. Then Napoleon would send them to him or him off and and then they would communicate the vision out to the to the rest of the soldiers in the organization. Another concept that the military uses is kiss which is an acronym for kit, keep it simple, stupid. So we heard that one a lot as well in the military, but when communicating our expectations to teams, they need to be communicated in a simple manner that everyone can understand. This is an important piece. And it’s a huge breakdown for many organizations that tried to create these complex methods of communicating or they don’t have any communication plan at all to bring the vision all the way through the organization to the frontline employees. So the the second point under keep it simple, is provide simple communication, simple communication. All right, the third point, so simple, simple, doesn’t necessarily mean easy. Right? Sometimes people think it means easy, it’s not easy. Thomas Edison once said that opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like hard work. And we can’t talk about simplicity and hard work together without talking about Paul Akers. If you’re not familiar with Paul Akers go out on YouTube search Paul Akers, you’ll see he’s got lots of videos out there. He wrote the book to second lien. But Paul Akers is the founder of He’s the founder and CEO of FastCap. In Seattle, Washington. And Paul would say that simple does not mean easy. And if you’re going to follow in Paul’s footsteps, you really, you really need to understand what he would do as a CEO at his organization. He, he, he was a relentless maniac, like this maniac cheerleader for his team. He would be at the office every day in the morning, he would go around the entire factory. And he would ask people about their two second daily improvements. And he would have his phone out and he would record them. And he would get usually more excited than they were about these little simple improvements that they were making. Like I made a cup holder out of cardboard, to our sorry, a cup out of cardboard to put my ink pens and pencils in and he would just go crazy. Like this is amazing. Now you know where your pencils are. Sounds really simple. But what he was doing as the CEO of the organization was creating a culture where people were continuously improving even the little things, right, but it was hard work. He would celebrate loudly, visibly, every single improvement no matter how small every single day. And he would be super excited about those improvements. How many of us are willing to make that type of commitment? Right? So if you’re listening to this drop in the chat simple does not mean easy. type that out in the chat simple does not mean easy, right? Because that’s the third one simple does not mean easy. So these are the three under keep it simple. Communicate a simple vision. Number two, simple communication. And number three, simple does not mean easy. Alright, let’s move to visual. Let’s move to visual. What happens when we don’t make things visual? How many of you have been to a major league baseball game? Right? Think about it. I remember I’ve been to. I’m not a big baseball fan. But I have been out to see Detroit play many times just being you know, right here. So Detroit, you know, it’s fun to watch. I’ve been there a couple times. You know, I’m sure some of you have have also been out to see some of your teams. But who is your favorite team? And let’s drop that in the chat. Who’s if you are a baseball fan, who’s your favorite team? Let’s drop that in the chat. So imagine that you’re at a baseball game, I want you to put yourself at a baseball games. Some of you maybe are not baseball fans. So you’ve maybe seen it on TV. You know what it looks like? I want you to envision yourself at a baseball game for a moment. Now imagine for a moment that you look to the scoreboard and there is no scoreboard. Right? Imagine that the umpire is not keeping track of strikes and balls. And there’s no score. Do you think that people would still watch the game? I mean, think about it, if we didn’t keep score when people still watch the game. Right? Why is it that every everyone repeatedly looks at the scoreboard? When all the action is out on the field? Why are they looking at the scoreboard? Because the scoreboard shows all the statistics, and it tells us how our team is doing in relation to the goal. Right the goal which is to win the game, and it tells us what’s being measured. How we’re doing. The scoreboard also gives us real time information about the game right how many walks how many strikes, what’s the score, right and it gives The same information to everyone. Right everyone, the players, the owners, the spectators, everyone knows where the teams are in relation to the goal, which is to win the game. And more importantly, it keeps us focused on the game. And it tells us what we need to do in order to win the game. How do we close the gap? Right? And by analogy, Visual Management shares real time information about what’s going on in your organization in your office. Right. What are your goals? What are your KPIs? How are you performing towards those goals? What’s the gap? What do we need to do to win the day? What do we need to do to win the week? The month? Right, that’s important for us to know. So let’s talk about the importance of keeping it visual. All right, keeping it visual. Tell me this. Can you understand? What is on the left? All right, what’s on the left ear?Anybody know Arabic? Who can tell me what that says? Huh? What about Dutch? Anybody know what that says? Chinese Maybe? Who Kevin’s got it? Russian? Anybody know? Russian?Japanese. Alright, what about English? Okay, it does mean no smoking. The problem here, though, is all of us cannot read all of this. So if we’re using visuals, and we’re using words, I have to be very careful about the words that we use and ensure that they make sense to everyone. What if instead of words, what if we use pictures? What about this picture? What everyone, whether they’re Arabic, Dutch, Chinese, Russian, Japanese English, would everyone be able to understand this picture? Absolutely. Now, you do have to be careful with this because I was working with a team at one time. And we were making we were building a Kanban, a signal board for for replenishing parts. And we had a trigger point, which was the trigger point was between green and red. And we ended up running out of parts. And I went to the operator to ask him what had happened. And I found out that he was actually colorblind. So you have to know your people. And you have to understand that whatever visuals that you’re using, they have to be understood and recognized by everyone. Right? So the first point here is under keep it visual, is that we have to make sure that the visuals are understood by everyone. Someone put that in the chat. Everyone can understand them. Right, everyone can understand them. So that’s the first point. The second point under keep it visual, is I want to just point I want to talk about Taiichi Ohno here for just a minute. Taiichi Ohno for some of you that know him he he’s known as the father of the Toyota Production System. And Taiichi, ohno said, having no problem is the biggest problem of all, having no problem is the biggest problem of all. Wow, you know how many leaders that I work with that tell me that things are fine. Oh, we’re fine. We don’t need any help. We’re good. We don’t need, we don’t need to worry about that. We don’t have any, we don’t have any issues. No problems here. Everything’s good. That’s a pretty big problem, right? Because every organization, every team has problems. And the point here is how do we make those problems visible to the whole organization? Right? So many organizations live in a fear based culture, where team members are scared to talk about their problems are scared to bring up their problems are scared to put red on a chart somewhere. Right? Who’s familiar with the iceberg of ignorance? What’s what you’re looking at here, so organizations miss a golden opportunity, when they fail to ask their frontline workers, their frontline staff members about ideas that they have to solve specific problems, to help encourage them to make their problems visual, and come up with ideas to solve those problems. Instead, they rely solely on management and these high level experts, right let’s call him the the black belt and let’s have the black belt solve this. Executives and supervisors. They may have they don’t have the up close perspective that a frontline person has someone that’s at the gamba. gamba is the place where value add work is being done. Executives and supervisors just don’t have that up close perspective that inside knowledge like employees have who are experiencing the problems firsthand. Right? Employees may know how to fix the problem. They may even they may even know a cheaper way to fix the problem. If they were asked, right. It’s a win win approach, when we when we encourage and engage team members to be part of the process of identifying problems and solving them. Right. Instead, many organizations expect their their managers to tell and direct all employee decisions. Right? They’re making decisions, unfortunately, based on only 13% knowledge, who has 100% of the people that are that are working at the gamba. This is a serious problem. And it’s something that needs to be addressed. So we this is just a picture of a an assessment that we do on a regular basis. And what we do in what what I’m challenging, all of you need to do is to sit down with your team members, and ask them three questions. So these are the three questions that we ask the first question that we ask when I sit down one on one with somebody at an organization is, what is one? One thing that’s really, really good about working at your company, working at your office, working with your team? What’s one thing that’s really really good? Tell me just one thing, and then I write it down on a post, and I throw it up on the board here? And then I asked the the individual another question, what’s really bad? What’s something that is a problem? What’s something that needs to be fixed? It’s an issue. It’s a headache. It creates serious challenges within your team? What’s one thing that you would say? And I write it down on a poster, and I throw it up on the board? And then the last thing that I asked them is, do you have any ideas for improvement? Do you have any ideas to make things better? What about that one? One read post it that you said was bad? Do you have any ideas on how we can fix that? And I write it down? And I throw it up on the opportunity side? The really nice thing about this? Is that it for one, it engages all of the team members that are closest to the work, right? And then secondly, because I’m talking to the employees, one on one, separate from each other. And I’m gathering these answers, what I then do is I take the answers on these posts, and I cluster them together based on the answers that were the same. So now what I’ve done is I’ve taken these answers that were you know, maybe, maybe some of them were emotional answers. Maybe some of them were complaining answers, or whatever it might be. But I take all of these different answers. And I create, and I make it I make data out of it, right? Because we make decisions based on data, right? Not feelings, not emotions, but data. So I need data to drive my decisions. So once I start to see clusters, where someone says, you know, the same thing, even though they were in they were in a separate interview, but they say the same thing. And I start having multiple people saying the same thing, I start to get this big cluster. And those are the things that I want to focus in on. Because now I have data that’s driving my decisions. Let me show you what I’m talking about. This was an organization that we worked with, where we asked these questions. And this was what came out of the what did we do really good, right? So we had great people relationships, teamwork, a huge cluster, we also had their safety program was was really great. They had true ownership, decision making authority, voice and they had a voice and group decisions when it came to safety. In the in the the great people, the relationships, the teamwork, was within shifts. So we met with three different shifts. And each of the shifts talked about trust in their team, right? Not necessarily across shifts, but within their shift. Right. So the challenge was how did we how do we develop the same level of trust between shifts, not just in that one shift? So this is what came out of the the question, What did what do you do really good with your team? Now we asked them, what do we not do really good? What’s What’s something that we do bad, right? And this is what came out of that. A big cluster around communication between shifts need better communication between shifts, we don’t pass in philon. Very good. Changes are never communicated well between shifts, right communication between setups, communication between the floor, just really really bad communication. That was a huge cluster. The other one that was really interesting was this leadership cluster leadership. breakdown, miscommunication, distrust, slow decision making favoritism. This is scary. Now, the key of this because the leadership team, when they saw this could respond in a couple different ways. They could get upset, and throw this whole thing out the window and go back to business as usual. Right, they could do that. Or they could, they could realize that they have a serious problem in their leadership team. And they need to admit that it’s a problem. Because it’s made, it’s been made visual, we can see it now. It’s been made visual. And they could respond appropriately, which, which is what this leadership team decided to do. In fact, what they did is they gathered the entire team, together, they put this up on the board. And they stood in front of the entire team. And they apologized. And they said, We’re sorry, we hear you. You’re we’ve we’ve made mistakes, and we’re going to fix this. And then they went on to explain the plan that they were going to put together in order to fix the this this situation, which they did, and they carried it out and it was taken care of. And the team felt really good about this. Right? Obviously, they felt great about it. Another point of this assessment, which I think is important is this the chart that you’re seeing here, this is a what we call a decision making matrix or an empowerment continuum. But basically, what this does is it tells me how how the readiness of that team in making decisions, driving decisions more to shared control, meaning we’re going to share decision making between the frontline employees and leadership versus management, being in complete control of everything and making all the decisions. So you can see in column number one management decides then they inform the employees, they’re telling the directing, right, they’re fully responsible in column number two, management gets employee input before deciding. So they’re going in there asking the employees, what what they, you know, before they make decisions. And then number three is where employees decide and they recommend to management and the decision is made together. And then number four is where employees have been given some kind of boundaries, where they can just make decisions without having to talk to management, meaning maybe they have $1,000 budget that they can spend on improvement and not have to talk to management at all, they can just spend up to $1,000, anything over that maybe they have to get approval, but that would be an example of where someone would be in column number four. So the question that we asked teams here is, where were we in the past?On this chart, say five to seven years ago? Where are we today on this chart? And then where do you want to be? Those are the three questions that we ask around this chart. Let me show you the data from this from one team. So we asked the question, and we put these little dots up on the board. Now we do this, we don’t put all that we don’t let them see all the dots until the end, obviously. So each person is looking at a blank, a blank continuum here. And we asked them to just put this put a sticky somewhere on there. And you can see we’ve broken it up by shifts, as well as by leadership for leadership and management. And then we ask them to put their data up there. And you can see where the bulk of the data is the data points, right, you can see where now we’ve taken what was in people’s minds. And we’ve made it visual and we’ve created we’ve created a dataset here. Right. So where were we five to seven years ago, you can see they were in complete management, directing management, control, and decision making. But then I asked him, Where are you today? And this is where they went to. So if I shift between the two, where were you five to seven years ago? Where are you today, you can see that the data set has shifted, right, the data set has shifted. Now they’re sitting more in column two, where management gets employee input before deciding and almost into three where employees are deciding making decisions and actually recommending things. So this was really, really interesting. But then I asked that last question, where would you like to be? And look where we went to? You see how that shifted? Let’s go back. Where five to seven years ago today? Where do we want to be? You see the shift in the dataset? Isn’t that amazing to see that this team is progressing from having full management and fully in control to employees being empowered and starting to be part of decisions. But where do they want to go? They want to be more involved. They want more empowerment in decisions. And the reason why I show you these is because remember what we’re trying to do here we’re trying to make problems visible. Right now with everything’s in everyone’s minds and in their heads. We want to get it out and we want to make it visual and that’s what we’re doing here. Now look at this. This was Really interesting. This is third shift. Now, where are we today? We asked third shift, where are we today? And you can see where third shift said they were but pay attention to where the third shift supervisor thinks they are. The third shift supervisor thinks they’re in column three employees decide and recommend. And the entire third shift team says No way. No way he makes all the decisions, right? Sometimes he comes in asks us, but he’s making the decisions. So this was an eye opening experience for the manager when he saw this. And he’s like, man, that’s not nothing I can say about that. You know, I mean, it is what it is now. Now, Bill was the sole problem solver, the sole decision maker for his department. So I worked with Bill. And there was a day when we were working together. And I talked to Bill about decision making. And he said, he said, I feel like I’m firefighting all the time. He said, I feel like I come into work. And all I do is I run around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to try to fix things. It’s like fires everywhere, all the time. And he said, everybody relies on me to make all the decisions. And I feel like I’m getting burnt out. And so I said, Bill, you got to stop making decisions for everybody. And you have to move from making all the decisions to engaging your team in decision making and allow them to make some decisions. He’s like, Oh, that’s, that’s going to be so hard. I don’t know. I mean, they don’t know some of the things that I know, you know, I’ve been doing this for 20 years, they don’t know the stuff that I know. And I said, That’s okay, Bill, they’ll learn it. It’ll take them some time. But they’ll learn how to do it, they’ll learn how to put some of these fires out themselves if you allow them to. But if you’re doing all of the if you’re making all the decisions for them, and they know that you’re going to make the decisions for them, of course, they’re going to come to you. Right? So we went out on the production floor, and immediately someone runs up to Bill and I and they said, Bill, the machines down again, you got to come over and fix it. And of course, Bill is ready to be line over to the machine. And I’m like, Hold on Bill. Whoa, wait a minute. Let’s, let’s ask a question here. Right. So we asked this, this team member, what do you think we should do? Of course, Bill already knew what he should do. But we asked the team member, what do you think? What do you think we should do? Powerful question, by the way, what do you think? And the team member thought about it for a minute. And the team member said, Well, I think if I clean off the rails, and that’s what happened last time, and maybe it’ll run smoother. And so I said, Okay, why don’t you go do that, clean off the rails, try it out, see if it runs better. So he turns around, runs off to go do it. And Bill looks right at me. And he says, that’s not going to work. And I said, why not? And he said, well, the I actually know something because you know, yesterday, something happened and one of the rails I think is a tweet bent a little bit. And I think it’s going to need a little bit more than than just that. So we should go fix it. No bill, because that person is going to figure that out. They’re going to experiment, they’re going to try some things. And eventually they’re going to figure out that wiping off the rails didn’t work. And then what are we going to ask them? What should we try next, and we’re going to experiment with something else, we’re going to let them critically think through this and solve the problem themselves. Now this is going to take longer than it would have if you would have solved it for them. But what you’re doing is you’re developing these critical thinking skills in your team members, and you’re empowering them to start making decisions on their own, which is going to take some of the weight off your shoulders. Now there’s obviously times as leaders that we that we can make decisions and and help people right, obviously, we have to know that. But if we’re intentional about developing the learning skills in our team members, that’s going to reduce the firefighting. The only way we do that, though, in the beginning, is by starting to make problems visible. Right? So keep it visual, make your problems visible, figure out how do you how do you allow and empower team members to make their problems visible? Right. All right, the third one, the third one, I’m going to give you guys a little test here. This is the 10 second test. I want to see if you can find a calculator. All right, let’s do it. Find the calculator. Can anybody find it? Where is the calculator? And how many of you how many of you are feeling like this is your office right now? And you’re looking for it? Right? Okay, I see a bunch of you found it. This is the reality for a lot of us, right? But when we’re looking for something that we need, it can take us a long time when we’re when we’re working in an environment where it’s not organized, right? It’s not efficient. And you didn’t think that you were going to come onto a lean summit to not talk about five s, right? Of course not five s is one of the fundamental tools that’s necessary to establish an efficient workplace. Right? I like to use the 10. Second Test is a simple way to see how efficient or not efficient that someone’s workspaces, you could you could do it for anything, right? Find an ink pen, find a whatever an expense report, whatever it might be. So close your eyes and imagine you’re sitting at your personal space, or you’re standing at your workstation or you’re in your garage, whatever it might be, you know, now find a calculator in your space. Find a nine sixteenths wrench in your garage, how long is it going to take you? You know, sure, there’s, it’s only a few seconds, right. But these add up every single day, when you’re searching for things, every hour, every day, every week, every month, those those few seconds add up. Right across your entire day, multiple people than across the week, the year, these add up very quickly. So some companies don’t pay much attention to five s because they think it’s too basic. But you can’t improve when you’re working in chaos. Stability has to come first. And five s helps give us the stability that we need. It’s foundational. Right? So so it’s foundational, it you can improve chaos. Everything has a place and everything in its place. Right? It helps us to see the abnormal versus the normal, right? We talk about making problems visual. If we have a place for everything and everything in its place, it’s pretty easy to find it. Right? So the last one under keep it visual. Is that organized is efficient? Someone put that in the chat organized is efficient. Right? And it’s a hat, it’s something you have to do. You have to be diligent and intentional to set your workspace up in an efficient way. So understand that that organized is efficient. All right, now that we’ve covered these three points under keep it visual, let’s move into the last of the three areas, which is continuous improvement, continuous improvement. What small things are you doing to build the right culture? What small things are you doing? To build the right culture, you want to build a learning culture, a culture where people can experiment where people can try new things? When people have a problem? They can they can come up with a solution. And they can actually implement it. You want a culture where where it’s not a fear based culture, but a culture where people can feel comfortable to to bring up a problem and say they have an issue. Right? So what are the small things that you’re doing to build the right culture, small improvements matter? It’s the little things I talked briefly about Paul Akers, and to second lien to second, he challenges his team members to do one, two second improvement every single day. Just one two second improvement. It could be moving a table, it could be building a an ink pen holder, it could be just something small every single day. That adds up to massive change for the organization. small improvements matter, yet organizations often devalue them because they’re so small. I had the opportunity to this a couple of years back to to visit the Grand Canyon for the very first time, I had never been there as a child. So as an adult, I went to visit, as anybody experienced a sunset at the Grand Canyon, I had my whole family there, it was amazing. But there, obviously there’s many theories out there, but how the Grand Canyon was formed. But you can’t deny that the Colorado River that runs right through it over time with persistence, as cut through rock and helped form what we now see as the Grand Canyon. This is a quote from James Watkins. He says a river cuts through rock not because of its power, but because of its persistence. What if we use that same persistence within our organizations? Can you imagine the results that we would experience what one drop of water can do to build what we now see as the Grand Canyon, think about if your ideas, your improvements, little improvements do matter. Over time with persistence, they do matter and they develop the right culture, right? Culture is really an outcome or an output of what you do what you say how you do things, right. It’s it’s it’s the values the behaviors of your leaders of your leaders, your leaders actions or attitudes, not just the leaders but the entire team. All All of those are inputs to what then become the output, which is your culture, everyone has a culture here, you have a culture, because it’s a result of those behaviors. Those actions are where people spend their time to values all those things. Right? So I work with leaders, and I had this one leader this one time, who, you know, would sit in his office, and he would just scream at his management team, about culture. And he would say, why aren’t we changing the culture? Why aren’t we changing the culture? Why isn’t the culture changing? I don’t understand. And he would just he would get so mad at them. And what I what I like to use this quote, or this definition of insanity, right, all of us know this, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. This leader would sit in this office every day, every week, the same day, same behaviors, the same values, the same actions, but he’s expecting a different result. It’s complete insanity, complete insanity. Right, one of the greatest barriers to establishing a true culture of continuous improvement is that leaders avoid spending time in the place where value add is created. Right, this particular leader refused to go to the production floor. Right? He just wanted it to change. Well, behaviors need to change, you have to be intentional to change the inputs, the habits, if you want to if you want the output to change, right, especially as leaders, right, so you have to ask yourself, as leaders, everyone here is a leader, as leaders, where are you spending your time, if we were to take inventory? of where you spend your time over the next month? Every minute, every hour? What would we find? How much time are you spending, where the value add is being created. And the value add is identified by your customers, which, you know, your your, the people that you serve? In your city in your county? Right? That’s where the value add is created. So where are you spending your time? Right? Where are you spending your time, I want to take just a minute. And I want to remind you, if you’re if you’re not familiar, I want to I want to bring it to light the importance of Leader Standard Work. Right Leader Standard Work is incremental, and you can I’m not going to spend a lot of time on Leader Standard Work, you can go out on the web and search it if it’s new to you. But what I will tell you is it creates a a system for you to spend time in the right place, and to have your habits, your actions, your behaviors aligned with the culture that you want to create. So I was in Alaska, the last couple years, I’ve been up to Alaska a number of times, I worked with an organization up there. And this was me getting into a bush plane with a pilot, which was a little scary for me the first time. But you can see I had to take my camera out and take a picture, he literally pulled out his Leader Standard Work. And he he went through this checklist of things that are important, the inputs that are gonna give us the output that we’re looking for, which is a safe takeoff, a safe flight and a safe landing. That’s the output. That’s the output that he’s trying to create. So he needed to make sure that he covered all the right inputs. Right, this creates a framework for you to spend the right time developing the right habits and behaviors to give you the right output, which is the culture that you’re looking for. In the same way, for those of you that don’t know about Bush planes, or any airplanes in general, I’ll just tell you that there there are four areas for an airplane that that that you need to consider. When you’re taking off, I learned this, I didn’t know this, before I went to Alaska, I learned this. Two things that you need to take off. Number one, you need lift, and you need thrust. So lift is the force that holds the airplane in the air, right, the wings create most of the lift, but you need to have lift to keep you in the air. And thrust is a force that moves an aircraft in the direction of motion, so it pushes you forward. Right? The problem that that that airplanes have is they have two things going against them. And this is this, this was the struggle that I had getting in the bush plane, right? drag and gravity or weight, right gravity and gravity or weight and drag. So drag is the force that is opposite of motion. So it’s going to it’s going to go against thrust and then weight or gravity is the force that’s pulling you down and going against lift. So this is important because you know again, as we’re developing our Leader Standard Work and understanding what’s important to developing culture How are we going to get our organization off the ground? Right? Think about your office, think about your team, think about your organization, how are we going to get it off the ground? Right? Because the problem is, we have this drag that’s going against us as an organization, lack of lack of top level commitment and support, lack of focus on customer needs, lack of employee engagement, all of this is dragging against us. Right, we also have this weight that pulls down on the organization, a lack of clear expectations, over emphasis on cost cutting, a failure to sustain a lack of enabled action. Right, all of this is going against organizations that are trying to develop a true culture of continuous improvement. So the other thing that we have to understand is that if dragon Wait, are greater than lift and thrust, then we’ll never get the airplane off the ground, we’ll never get our organization off the ground. So we have to ensure that lift and thrust are greater than dragon weight. So what is lift? will lift is our standardized work. It’s our Leader Standard Work, it’s our daily management systems. This creates this is foundational, and it creates the stability that we need to lift the organization. And then what about Thrace? How do we go forward, structured problem solving, daily Kaizen, daily improvements, commitment to self development for leaders and team members, a commitment to coaching and developing others, and creating vision and aligning goals with clear communication all the way through the organization. This is where thrust comes from. So this is how our organization goes forward. Now remember, lift and thrust have to be greater than weight and drag, you’re always going to have weight and drag, when you’re taking off, always going to, it’s never gonna go away, you’re gonna have these things that happen that are pulling you down. But lift and thrust have to be greater than drag and wait. So these are the these are the areas that you need to focus on. And this is really what your standard work should be built around. So the first one under continue to improve is learning to build culture, learning to build culture, it’s the first point under continuing to improve build culture. Alright, number two, I want to tell you a little story from my friend Richard Sheridan at Menlo innovations here in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Richard told me a story about a banking organization that he worked with. And he went to this leader, the leader of this organization, and he worked with her. She’s an executive level, you know, VP at this large banking organization. And he said, the one thing that you’re missing at this organization is empowering your people to experiment, experimentation, allowing them to try new things, small things. And he said, I challenged her to empower everyone in the organization, to start experimenting, trying new things, and how they do their work. empower them, tell them they have the freedom to experiment. And so he laughed for a few months. And then he came back to this bait large banking organization. And he said he was walking through the front doors and going up the elevator with this executive, this executive VP, and the elevator doors open. And he turned the corner into what you know, was this, this big cube farm, lots of Office desks just wide open cube farm. And he said, When I turned the corner, I saw these red balloons on every single desk as far as the eye could see just red balloons everywhere. And of course, he asked the VP like, what’s up with all the red balloons because they weren’t there last time. And he said, and he said the the way, she said, what I did was I challenged the team members to use a red balloon. Every time they were going to run an experiment. I wanted to visually see everyone that was running an experiment. And so she she, they put started these putting these balloons up and Richard went over to the first desk. It looks like maybe Richard has told this story before. So some of you have heard it, which is good. But he went over to the first desk and he talked to the lady and she was super excited about her red balloon. And he asked her to tell him about his current red balloon. And she said I used to do step 1234. And now I’m going to do step 143 Or two, three, in that order. That’s simple. And she was super excited about the experiment. And she walked him through it. And he said, What Why are you so excited? What’s different? And she said, it’s the fact that I can run these experiments. It’s changed everything for me. I feel empowered, I feel excited to come to work. Right. And it was an amazing opportunity for him to just see the power of experimenting with small simple improvements. I want to show you that the little bit of data that came from Chi Nexus an organization was tracked. They track their suggestions for one full year. and this was the result of those suggestions, almost 2000 opportunities for improvement identified over 300 different employees with an average of six ideas per person in one year. Amazing 91% of those opportunities were completed to date 91% 93.5% of the completed opportunities resulted in a real change 755 ideas, improve the quality of organization and its products in some way. 216 ideas, improve the safety of vendors, employees 893 ideas, improve the satisfaction of customers, employees, and 837 resulted in over $7 million of financial impact. It’s amazing 2000 opportunities 300 different employees, just by asking employees what they think we should do to improve empowering the people that are closest to the value add work to experiment and try new things. Right. So point number two, under continue to improve is find your big in small, find your big and the small. Alright, the last point under continued to improve. And I want to talk about I want to tell you about my experience in the Marine Corps. I mentioned it a little bit earlier. In the Marine Corps, we were all issued an M 16 A to service rifle, which is what you see in this picture right here. Now in bootcamp, which I would never want to go back and do again, it was 13 weeks of experience that I do not never want to experience again. But I’m glad I did it. I learned a lot. And it was great, a great experience. But I want to tell you about this one thing is I think it’s really important to sustainment. Right sustainment, why is it important for an M 16 service rifle to be cleaned properly? Right. Why is it important? Well, of course, if you’re in if you’re in a gunfight with an end with the enemy, and your rifle jams, because it wasn’t cleaned properly. I mean, that could be life or death that could be the death of your, your the person next to you and or yourself right? This is a pretty important reason to have a clean rifle. Right The USMC standards for a clean rifle are very clear, very clear, the expectations are very clear. In the standards for clean rifle, it says no amount of dirt and black powder is acceptable. And each time a rifle is fired small amounts of powder and metal residue combined with lubricants on working surfaces, and they formed this sludge, right? Those of you that have served in or that shoot guns know this, there’s a sludge that can affect your firearms function. So we in boot camp, we were given all the standards and all the right tools to properly clean our rifles. here’s the here’s the cleaning instructions themselves. This is the SOP the standard operating procedure, right, this is a page from the procedures for standard work of cleaning the M 16. A to service rifle. And you can see here they’re clear step by step instructions, visuals, even a note of caution, right use well worn bore brush only. It also says areas behind the bolt ring and under the lip of the extractor need to be cleaned. Right and we’ll talk about inspection here in a minute. But do you think that the drill instructors and boot camp Do you think they check the area behind the bolt ring and under the lip of the extractor for any traces of carbon? Of course they did. Because it was laid out in the expectation it was very clear that where we needed to clean and how we needed to clean our M 16. A to service rifles because it could save our life and the life of the person next to us. Right so very clear instructions. We also had the necessary tools. We were given the right tools and the skills we were trained to use the tools and we have the tools. Not only did we have the tools, but we actually had them in the butt of the rifle. If you open up the butt of the M 16 rifle, your tools were all there for you everyone had their own set of tools. And when you laid out the mat, you’d have a shadow board so you could take apart your rifle lay everything out and ensure that when you put it back together, all of the parts were back together as they were taken apart. Because it was so important to make sure that the rifle was cleaned, cleaned properly and ultimately that it would fire when you needed to fire. Our drill instructors trained us they scheduled time for us to clean the rifles and based on the USMC standards for clean rifle cleaning. We were taught with clear visuals on how to disassemble how to clean and reassemble the rifle properly. They set very clear expectations for us were given we were also given the Reason, right? the why behind it? Right? They communicated the vision about the clean rifle. They communicated the why behind it, the reason behind it, and they provided us the right tools and the training in order to have the job done properly. But that’s not all. Because once you set the expectation, the next thing you have to do is you have to inspect what you expect. inspect what you expect. During bootcamp, the drill instructors would inspect our rifles daily, sometimes we knew exactly that when we would have an inspection and other times they would just spring it on us. Right. But do you think that I kept my rifle clean? Of course I did. Because I never knew when the drill instructors were going to look at it and I understood the why I wanted to survive, right. I understood the why and I knew that it was going to be looked at I was trained, I had the tools, the expectations were very clear. But in inspecting the expectation, we had to make sure that the process was understood that there was a clear understanding of the current state right. And that there was feedback that was provided. Right these these inspections are not meant to be done from your desk. Unless that is the gamba some of you are working in a computer. Right. And that is your gamba. But we need to go and do the inspection at the place where the work is being done. And then we have to provide feedback, right? There has to be a reinforcement of the expectations. Right? This is what I saw. This is why and responding to the reason. Reading the reinforcement is key. But one thing I’ll say about inspection is it’s it’s not meant to be punitive. Right, it’s meant to be an opportunity for coaching and reinforcement of understanding what you’re supposed to do understanding the why and making sure that you were trained properly. So the last thing is sustaining the improvements, ensuring that we have good sustainment of our improvements. All right, back to the note page here. If you missed any of these, I want to give you a chance just to see the summary here. As I wrap up and kind of open up for questions. Keep it simple, right? Communicate a simple vision. Simple communication, and simple does not mean easy. Number two, keep it visual. Everyone can understand right visuals that everyone can understand making problems visible, organized as efficient. And then finally continue to improve, learn to build culture, find your big and the small. And don’t forget to have a good sustainment plan for your improvements. So with that, I will I will close up and open up for questions.
Alright, if anyone has any questions, be sure to put them in the chat box. And we can address them. I have a question myself. Perfect. The the concept of the continuous appearance trap? What do you recommend if if a an organization or an office is is trying those continuous appearance tools? But don’t have that underlying culture? How do they reverse course and correct course correct?
Patrick Adams 1:18:17
Yeah, good question. You know, anytime that an organization is dedicated to just applying the tools and thinking that the tools are going to change everything, it’s it’s not going to work, the culture has to change first. So you know, my recommendation is to is to go back to the basics. And first, ensure that there’s a standard operating procedure for the activities that you’re doing that people have the tools that they’re trained properly, and ensure that the leadership team is is has the right behaviors in place the right actions. I think Leader Standard Work is such a key aspect of establishing the right culture, leaders behaviors have to be aligned with the direction that you’re heading as an organization. If you don’t have that in place, you definitely have to go back and ensure that your leaders are aligned with the direction they all have to be supporting the direction that you’re heading. And they have to be walking together in step right. You think about those of you that know rowing, right, the rowing sport, you have to have the entire leadership team rowing in the same direction. Otherwise, you’ll end up on you know, going sideways on shore, you’ll never hit the finish line. So I think it’s key that you that you have the leadership team aligned now. Do you have some good tools in place that are doing some good things, don’t just rip them out. I’ve had that happen to where our leaders have come out and just tore things out and it’s it’s it’s very detrimental to the people and the hard work that they’ve put in so don’t just tear it out. I think maintaining ensuring that you’re maintaining but don’t keep you can’t improve chaos. So you have to go back and stabilize before you can improve but you know, stabilize, create some some standards and then start to improve from there.
Great. I’ve got a couple questions in the chat box. One is about those suggestion boxes you were talking about? Are those an effective tool? And, you know, do they need to be used only in situations where there’s an uncomfortableness, verbalizing things? Or is it a good use all across the board? To have those anonymous suggestions?
Patrick Adams 1:20:27
Yeah, I actually would, I would, I would push against anonymous suggestions, I don’t think that that’s, I would say, make it visual. My My favorite way to, because here’s what happens, if you just start taking suggestions. And you’re you don’t have the capacity to actually implement the suggestions and you don’t know who they came from. So you can’t get their help to implement them, you’re gonna get this big list of hundreds of ideas that you can’t keep up with. And the one person that had a really good idea that never heard back on their idea is never going to give you another idea again, right. So there has to be a quick feedback loop that people get when they submit an idea. So my favorite way to perform a suggestion system, if you’re going to go that route, is to establish a visual board that only allows enough suggestions for what you have capacity to handle at any given time. And people put them up there and they fill the spots. And now no one else can add another one until these ones are handled, or taken care of. And some of those ideas won’t be implemented. We don’t have it in the budget, it wasn’t an idea that’s aligned with our goals or our direction. So the person just needs feedback on that to understand why that we’re not going to implement that idea. Or those ideas move forward and start being implemented. That’s one way. The other way is to give the team some form of boundaries and allow them to just in handle and enable the action. So allow them time to work on suggestions, but let them experiment and try things themselves and actually implement ideas without any kind of system. You know, but again, that might come down the road, after you’ve, you know, worked through some other areas. A really good book that I would suggest is the idea driven organization by Dean Schroeder. That would be a book I would suggest if you haven’t if you haven’t read it. It’s a great book about developing an idea system in your organization.
He actually spoke here last year. Perfect. All right. And we have another question. Here in state government, we have leadership changes constantly, at least every four years, if not, elections and things. Can you talk about sustainability through those changes? And how, how can how can that be possible when your
Patrick Adams 1:22:42
leadership changes? Yep, great question. You are not the only one that’s facing those challenges. I would say in most organizations, today, leaders don’t stay in a role any more than two to three years. And then they’re moving on to another position, either they’re promoted going to another company, it’s very rare that that leaders are staying at organizations. So here’s what needs to happen. Your it continuous improvement system, your management system, the way that you lead within your office, within your team within your organization has to be based on a system not on a person. So that that when that person, when leadership comes and goes, you have a system that you follow. And obviously in government, it’s hard because sometimes you have leaders that will say, Well, I want to implement my system, you know, I’m gonna bring my system and so that system needs to go, Well, you need to figure out what are the things that you can keep and keep stable in your system. And, you know, double down on those and create as much stability as you can in the management system. So that the leader is coming in and seeing Oh, that’s working, like look at the value that that system is creating for our communities. Right. I want to keep that in place. I want to support that. And I know it’s hard. I know, there’s a lot of things that you know that that, that come with that. But that’s the key, if you can develop a system, a management system that everybody follows and agrees to follow, and then leaders come and they support it and they leave and then another leader comes in it’s the same system. That’s the key. So figure out how to do it. I know it’s it’s it’s it’s not it’s easier said than done. It’s it’s a tough one, for sure. But that would be my suggestion.
All right. I think we have time for one more question. When a senior staffer has a lower level supervisor that does not row with the team, what would you recommend to address toxicity in the in the work environment?
Patrick Adams 1:24:40
Like I’m assuming this person, maybe this person reports to that person or not, I’m not sure. But I would say you have to address toxicity. I know it’s harder in state government, state and local government. But you know, I work with leaders who you know, especially through COVID I have allowed toxic people because they can’t find anybody else. And so they’re like, well, that what do I do? I can’t run my equipment I, you know, if I don’t have the people here, here’s the reality. What happened is at this particular company that I’m thinking of the older, more senior people who had been around for a while, started to leave, because they’re like, I’m not going to put up with this. Why can he come and go as he pleases? Why? Why does she get to come in later, or treat people like crap, but I can’t, and I’ve been here for 20 years, I’m out of here, right? If this is the direction this organization is going, so it started to spoil, and then they started and then they got in a to a worse place than they were otherwise, I think toxicity has to be addressed right away, or it will spoil your entire culture, right? It has to be something that’s dealt with, obviously, you want to try to coach that person, and be very clear about the expectations. But if that person is not, not meeting the expectations that are very clearly laid out, and then there has to be decisions made, if they’re not going in the same direction that you are either they have to self select themselves out, or you know, there has they have to be, you know, we have to go through the process of separating them from your team. Otherwise, it’ll it’ll continue to ruin your team. And that may mean that your team has to pick up the slack for a while. It’s unfortunate, but it will save your culture.
All right. Thank you, Patrick. Absolutely. All right. I’m going to turn it over to Vicki for closing remarks. And thank yous.
Thank you, Patrick. That was an incredibly inspiring presentation. We really appreciate that you came out today. And we hope that we’ll be able to participate in your Summit. It looks like an amazing event. So we’ve come to the end of our summit today. But it’s certainly not the end of our continuous improvement journey. As you heard from many of our speakers today, making continuous improvement business as usual, is a mindset. But it’s also about taking action on that mindset. And rapid results is built upon the Toyota belief that many small improvements add up to make make big impacts. And you actually just heard Patrick talk about that. So identify those little things that are noise each day, those things that we’ve just kind of gotten used to, but we’re living with focus on them and make those small changes, move that table, change those little things that can make a really big difference in in everybody’s day. Look for ways to improve those bad processes that actually keep all the really good employees working for the state from being as successful, and from enjoying their work as much as they could possibly enjoy it. Earlier today, Ken said that at Toyota, it was drilled into your head that there is no best only better. And you also just heard Patrick Patrick talk about the pursuit of perfection. In our training, we like to say that rapid results is about chasing perfection, knowing that we’re never going to achieve it. But it’s what always keeps us moving forward. So we hope that today, our speakers have planted seeds of thought that are going to keep you moving forward. You know, as Patrick said, it will be a waste if you don’t identify what you’re going to do as a result of what you heard today. And so we’re going to challenge you today to write them down now. Put them somewhere where you’re going to see them every single day. And then two weeks from now, email and let us know what you’ve done differently as a result of what you heard today. Because what we want to make sure we do here is not let the drag and gravity overcome the lift and thrust of your improvement efforts. So take the ideas today, and use them to help you make continuous improvement business as usual in your workplace. Now, an effort like this requires a great deal of work behind the scenes. And I want to end by recognizing the people who really made this possible. First, I want to thank all the wonderful speakers that we had today. I just feel so blessed at the quality of speakers who came and spent time with us today at the rapid results Summit. They took their time to deliver keynotes to participate in the question and answer sessions. And to record those breakout sessions that we’re going to have on our portal from now till perpetuity. We know that you’re that all those speakers are very busy, and they’re very sought after speakers. And we really appreciate that you took the time today to make this event a success. So thank you all. I also want to thank Ellen and Paula our American sign language translators. ASL is a very physical language and translating for this summit all day long, has to be physically exhausting. So we really appreciate your efforts to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to experience our summer speakers today. So thank you all very much. We really couldn’t provide this summit without the help of our technical experts. So Richard long at the Department of innovation and technology, and Becky DuPont from the Illinois Office of Communications and info Meishan made a big difference for us today. Their help with branding, website development and live streaming is really what made this event possible as a virtual experience. I also want to thank the staff of the Office of operational excellence, Raj Mitra, Cassandra Watson, Christine Neff and Cindy McCluskey. They participate in planning efforts for many months and for their ongoing efforts to help agencies make continuous improvement business as usual, I want to thank you publicly for everything that you do. I especially want to call out John Powell, who is also a member of our staff. He is our illustrious Summit, planner, producer, director, website designer, technical expert facilitator, and everything that I can’t mention because they just pop up and he does them. This has been the better part of John’s life for the last few months. And I just want him to know how much we appreciate all your efforts to make this one of the most impressive summit that we’ve ever had. Thank you, John, for all of your efforts. And last, I want to thank you all for taking the time to participate in this event today, and to care for caring so much about how to make what we provide the services that we provide in the state of Illinois, as effective as they can possibly be. So we may be the office that leads the rapid results initiative, but it’s you out there in the agencies who care and that that make the efforts to improve the processes. You’re the people who make a difference. And we really appreciate your time today, and your ongoing efforts every day. So we want to thank you all for being here today for helping to make the 2023 rapid results summit a success. And we look forward to working with you to make continuous improvement business as usual in Illinois state government. Thank you all.