A lot of mutual trust and respect, and that faith has to develop over a period of time. We have to prove that the system is going to yield the kind of culture change results that we’re looking for. You don’t have too many CEOs that are out there looking for culture change. – David Adams
Below is an excerpt from next week’s Business901 Podcast with David Adams (@commanderadams), the executive director of the Kennametal Center for Operational Excellence. Find out more about David in this short video.
David Adams: There has to be some sort of a management system that undergirds the system of tools. It’s the management system that’s the harder thing to get. You can throw a book about the Toyota management system at a group of people and say, “Go do this.” But implementing a management system is like switching from Windows to Mac OS. It’s a painful experience. You have to retrain your mind to think about the decisions that you’re making, perhaps even down at the values level, if you will.
What does customer?first focus mean? How does that translate into a daily decision?making experience whenever problems are occurring in, say, quality or productivity or cost? Which one do I work on first? There are thousands of problems occurring every day. Which one do I work on first? If I’m customer?first focused? We may address the quality over the cost problem, depending on the severity of it.
Joe: When you take this on as an organization, there has to be such a leap of faith. It’s not quite the blind leading the blind, but you have that feeling, don’t you?
David: Absolutely. In your introduction, you mentioned mutual trust and respect. The first thing that has to happen is mutual trust and respect has to develop between the coach, and substitute whatever word you want there. We use the word “coach” the same way people use the word “mentor” or “sensei.”
We’ve been down the road. We’ve seen the system and the framework implemented in enterprises as far-ranging as car sales, to automotive or motor manufacturing, to health care settings and hospitals. A large portion of our business right now is in hospitals. Part of that is just developing mutual trust and respect, and it has to be at the highest level of the organization.
A perfect, perfect match for us is whenever a CEO, myself or my colleague coaches, would see eye-to-eye. You’ve heard the phrase or the cliché, “Being like-minded,” and that’s essentially what it is. I can work with CEOs that maybe are expressing their management system differently, but if we’re like-minded, then we can begin to have that mutual trust and respect.
It involves the kinds of things that you wouldn’t expect, the CEO who calls maybe even the most tactical question that he or she might have, they’re calling back to say, “How does this work in the system? How does this work in the framework that you’re trying to teach us?”
A lot of mutual trust and respect, and that faith has to develop over a period of time. We have to prove that the system is going to yield the kind of culture change results that we’re looking for. You don’t have too many CEOs that are out there looking for culture change.
They may be mouthing those words and saying, “We want culture change,” but truly what they want is a return on their investment and a change on the bottom line. We can get you there, but we can only get you there after you change the culture that undergirds your improvement system.