Episode 22

Published on:

12th Apr 2021

What's Missing from Your Lean Manufacturing Program with Scott Gauvin

Connect with Scott Gauvin:

Website: www.macresco.com

Lisa Ryan: Hey, it's Lisa Ryan. Welcome to the Manufacturers' Network podcast. I'm excited to introduce our guest, Scott Gauvin. Scott is a seasoned change agent with over 25 years of experience successfully helping organizations realize their potential.

Throughout his career, Scott's focus has been on driving performance gains through organizational alignment and a progressive operation strategy approach. He has advised companies the world over and across a wide range of industries, including pharmaceuticals, biotech, consumer goods, medical devices, agriculture, packaging, legal services, banking, food processing, and industrial manufacturing. He holds a BA from the University of Massachusetts, an MBA from Boston University, and is a Six Sigma black belt. Scott, welcome to the show.

Scott Gauvin: Thank you, Lisa. It's a pleasure to be here.

Lisa Ryan: So share with us a little bit about your background and what has led you into the work you do, particularly with lean.

Scott Gauvin: Early in my career, I worked for a manufacturer and got a chance to play in many different areas and learned a lot about some of the issues that plague manufacturing companies. I realized a disconnect between some of the changes we were creating and how we created that change. Throughout many experiments that went awry, we learned that one of the things we struggle with is implementing sustainable change.

When we're implementing and practicing lean, one of the things that I've focused on - especially the last probably 10-15 years, is how to create change, but more sustainably. My focus is on the human element of lean practices.

Lisa Ryan: That was one of the things that we were talking about a little bit before we started the interview because manufacturers are pretty much familiar with lean. Everybody, at some point, is doing lean. You mentioned that a lot of them are only doing about 50% of lean. So what are they doing right

Scott Gauvin: Lean comes from the American executives' work who studied the Toyota operating model back in the 1980s. They've adapted it to their operating models, but there are two parts of that Toyota model: one is continuous improvement, and the other is respect for people. Many equate the respect for people as being nice to people. You should be nice because that's the right human thing to do, but the idea of respect for people isn't about being nice. The respect for people part is Toyota's operating mindset, which forms their culture.

The respect for people pillar is about the mindset you establish. The focus is on the human element of change. How you're incorporating every stakeholder into the change equation and letting their skills, their talents, their knowledge, their experience transform the organizations. Manufacturers get this wrong because they focus only on the continuous improvement side of these two pillars, and they give lip service to the respect the people piece. They implement the tools and then focus on creating cost reductions or productivity improvements.

Lisa Ryan: And why do you think they are they're thinking that? Do they perhaps feel that those soft skills are not contributing as much to the bottom line? Where is the disconnect?

Scott Gauvin: I think it all comes out of what's driving the need. What's driving the executive is we've got to get our numbers up; we've got to improve our performance, and so, what are the tangible things that we can do that? We can see that we can affect those. There are many tools in the lean methodology that helped drive change that will ultimately reduce waste or increase productivity. The problem is that a lot of those changes aren't sustained. There's an industry week article floating out there that they did a study that suggested that as much as 97% of lean efforts fail to achieve what they set out to accomplish.

Most start their lean efforts with the wrong purpose. They set out to reduce costs to eliminate ways to improve efficiencies; thus, they focus on the metrics instead of focusing on a holistic approach, which is a combination of the tools and the mindset in the culture around the respect for people aspect. The purpose is around the respect people piece. It's not about being nice. The purpose is to engage the stakeholders to create more value. That's why we're doing this continuous improvement thing.

If we're focused on just reducing costs, that's got a shelf life that's not very long. This is why we often see a lot of clients who call us back to help them. It's because they've done lean, or they've had some lean initiatives they didn't stick to. The efforts aren't sustained, and so they're asking us to help them with another approach. What we're seeing, when we do an evaluation, is that there's a lack of understanding and implementation of the respect of people piece.

Lisa Ryan: it's interesting because you think, with only two pillars, that would be 50% each. 50% of the time, we're focusing on continuous improvement, and then the other 50% is that respect for people. For the companies that are making that mistake, what would you say that their ratio is?

Scott Gauvin: There are two kinds of organizations: there are organizations who have been doing this for a long time and have come around to understand what the respectful people piece is. They understand that it is a mindset shift. It is a cultural shift. It's the way we operate as opposed to. We do the continuous improvement side are the things that we do -the immediate needs. We focus on continuous improvement.

For the average organization, it's like 98% continuous improvement tools and maybe a nod to the respectful people piece. There are very few organizations that I've been to that do a good job with the respect for people piece because it focuses on the mindset and the culture of the organization itself.

Lisa Ryan: And what are some of the things that you advise your clients to start to do to get stronger in that respect for people aspect of lean.

Scott Gauvin: It goes back to the mindset. One of the things that we do with our clients when we're heading down this path is when we look at why they are doing lean in the first place. What's the purpose of it? It's almost always to improve the operational efficiencies and reduce costs, in some ways. Then we migrate the conversation over to the people aspect because if they're people, they will be more capable of better buy-in. If the people were more engaged, the result would be the productivity improvement, the reduction of costs, the elimination of waste, and so, a lot of the conversation is around what are the right mindsets that the organization needs to adopt to have it be part of the way we do things as opposed to creating these events that almost forced the change to happen.

One of the first things we do is an evaluation of what is the current mindset and what are the mindsets that we want to migrate to. Then we create a path to migrate from the current mindset to whatever that future mindset is that we want to have.

Lisa Ryan: So does that start with an employee survey, or how do you figure out what the mindset is?

Scott Gauvin: So the mindsets are usually dictated by leadership. Whatever the leaders think usually permeates through the rest of the organization. It's a conversation with the key leaders in the organization around what do. I'll give you an example: one of the questions that I ask when I sit down with the leadership team is, "On a scale of zero to 100, what percentage of the employees at this organization come to work to do their best every day.? The executives usually will come back somewhere between 25 to 80%. That gives me a sense of where their mindset is in terms of the employee. I start to describe to them that they should think that the answer to that question is 100%. Now, what they'll say to me is, "Oh well, but I can tell you the guy. I know the guy that doesn't come to do his best every day." I explain to them is it's not about that guy, it's about your mindset. How do you see the people in your organization? Because if you see that only 50% of them are coming to do their best, well, then guess the decisions you make, how you resource, the policy decisions you make, the change process, and the changes you make. Because now you're making changes, based on the 50% of the population is trying to get one over on you. That drives all kinds of waste in itself. The first mindset shift has to be with the leadership that everyone comes to work every day, thinking that 100% of the people are coming to work to do their best and if they're not doing their best. What is it that's getting in their way? What can I do to remove those barriers? That's one of the first ways that we do an evaluation; it's a conversation.

Lisa Ryan: It sounds like it could be a difficult conversation if you run into a leader that comes up right off the BAT and says only 20% of my people, and that's how they're seeing it that's such an interesting perspective. How do you have that conversation and get that leader to start thinking it's not my people it's me.

Scott Gauvin: It's not my job to necessarily change their mind it's my job to create the environment that hopefully inspires them to reconsider their approach. What they've been doing isn't working, so they want to do something different. I'm proposing a new approach. If you change your mindset, you change your thinking; you change your approach because if you want to change the outcomes, you first have to change your mindset; changing your mindset will then drive a new set of behaviors. Those new behaviors we can then form into new habits those new habits, then ultimately create the outputs are the results are the outcomes that we're looking for. It's a process if they have a better path to get to those outcomes, well then they'd probably be pursuing it, and so there are occasions when I've had an executive say now I'm sticking to my guns it's only 20%, and what I'd say is that I can't help you. If you're not willing to change your mindset, we're not going to change behaviors. If we don't change behaviors, we can change habitsand if we don't change the habits, you're going to get the same outcomes that you've always been getting.

Lisa Ryan: Well, so when it comes to mindset changing, what is the very first thing that a leader listening to this podcast may do to get started.

Scott Gauvin: Thinking about what is the intention behind the behaviors that they're engaged in. Why are they making that decision? Are they making that decision for something that is for themselves, or are they making that decision for something beneficial to those around them? That's the first challenge you can use to evaluate do you have the right mindset or not if the if it's so that I can get my numbers up that I can look good or so that I can achieve my goals if you're saying a lot of me and my or I the chances are you've got a tainted mindset. If you're saying to help my team to help my people to make it more effective to get more their voice into the conversation to utilize more of their skills and talents and knowledge and experience, well, then you're probably on the right path. There are degrees there that you can look at, but the first thing would be to look at yourself and evaluate the behaviors you're engaging in. Are you doing those things for your intrinsic reasons, or you're doing them to help others around you.

Lisa Ryan: It reminds me of going through sales copy or speeches, or whatever and doing "I" surgery on it when you're removing all of those "I's" and looking at the needs of that customer that prospect to that audience member. It sounds like that is a good beginning step for people is to do some "I" surgery.

Scott Gauvin: The other thing I always come back to in these change efforts, we always talk about getting buy-in. I think leaders can improve their odds of success by getting better buying, and buying is a combination of creating clarity and listening. If you want people to buy in, first they've got to understand what they're buying into and why leaders don't do a good job of creating that clarity. You're on a need to know basis, and right now, you don't need to know. That doesn't work for any change effort. The second is listening. People need to express their concerns, fears, and disillusionment of whatever the changes they need to be. They need to have a platform where they can disagree debate it out. Once they've had that moment that they can have that conversation, and their voice has been heard. When we've had that conversation and talked about why they don't like the idea, why do they don't want to change, there's a much greater chance that they will commit to that change, even if they disagree with it because they understand what the change is for and their voice has been heard. They've been at least able to express their concerns or their reservations about the change. That's another thing that leaders could do if you want to increase your change success and create better by creating clarity and listening.

Lisa Ryan: Creating that safe environment for people to express what they like what they don't like. I tell people in my programs to become the master of the poker face. No matter what that employee tells you, no matter what that person in your organization tells you, your only responses, thank you for sharing - even though you want to say no, that's not right. But that safe environment is being okay with whatever employees say. That sounds like that has a big part of getting the buy-in that we need to move forward.

Scott Gauvin: The other thing that we often see is that people shy away from it because they're afraid of the conflict that might arise out of that. Like you were saying, you have to have that poker face. I don't think it's a bad thing to say. I'm not sure I agree with you on that, and here's the reason why.

Those conversations are the richest because if we shy away from the conflict that might create. It's okay for us to have differences of opinion. The differences of opinion create the platform for us to share. If there's one thing that I would tell people, don't shy away from the conflict. That's just a difference of opinion, and it sometimes involves some strong emotions. But what I would say is don't have a poker face manage your feelings around it so that you don't retort back or don't just be dismissive about it, but have the conversation. The conversations have the richness and opportunities you can debate because I know I'm not always right as a leader in my organization. I'm not going to admit that to my team always because we don't want to say that we're wrong but, but allowing yourself not always to be right as a leader is a powerful thing. People have different knowledge that they're bringing to the situation, so allowing that conflict to bubble up and have the conversation respectfully, of course, is valuable.

Lisa Ryan: When, in the beginning, you said that respect wasn't about being nice and that clarification of the fact that when you're nice is when you're conflict avoidant. People aren't necessarily feeling safe because I don't want to hurt their feelings. But respect comes from the opportunity to share a difference of opinion and still like each other, or at least be polite to each other at the end of the day, right.

Scott Gauvin: Right, and we have a workshop that we often run. It's a primer workshop for a lot of the change efforts that we do. We always run this workshop before we start any new lean effort. It's called conflict is the root of all waste, and the idea behind this this this workshop is that a lot of the waste that we see are the symptoms of unresolved conflicts. If we got good at engaging in productive conflict respectfully, not only are you creating that environment of respect for people, but you're almost encouraging it. We're saying we want to have the conflicts to flush out what is underneath all of these ways because the reason why a lot of these wastes keep coming back on people is because they're dealing with the surface waste and not the underlying current that's driving the waste in the first place.

I often equate it to my lawn. The lawn comes up, and it looks beautiful, and then all sudden, I start seeing the weeds. What do I do? I mow the lawn, and the weeds are gone. My lawn looks beautiful, and then two weeks later, we get a little bit of rain, and two weeks later, the weeds are right back. What we often do with our lean activities is mow the lawn. We knocked down the problems, but they just keep coming back because we haven't addressed the fundamental root. That's the root of that waste, which is that unresolved conflict. If you're practicing respect for people, you're willing to go at the root, not just cut the surface waste.

Lisa Ryan: Now that is a powerful explanation of getting to the root of that. We're getting to the end of our time together. Scott, what are some of the ways you serve your clients and the best way for people to get in touch with you.

Scott Gauvin: Our practice revolves around three key pillars, one is helping organizations develop strategies to grow their businesses, and so that then leads into the operation components, where we help organizations with their lean efforts. And the third piece is around the culture organizational development piece. What we find is that they're all three are connected if you. If you've got a good strategy, then that strategy can inform where you're going to operate and support the way you operate. You need to have a good culture, and so we help organizations where those three meet.

The best way to learn more about myself or my organization is to go to our website macresco.com. There's a ton of information about our models, our approach, and there's a way to contact us right there.

Lisa Ryan: Well, wonderful, Scott. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and insight when it comes to lean and that respect for people it's been a blast catching up with you.

Scott Gauvin: Thank you, so it's been a lot of fun.

Lisa Ryan: i'm Lisa Ryan, and this is the Manufacturers' Network podcast. See you next time.

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About your host

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Lisa Ryan

As a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), an award-winning speaker and author of ten books, Lisa Ryan, CSP, works with her clients to develop employee and client engagement initiatives and strategies that keep their top talent and best clients from becoming someone else’s.
Lisa’s expertise includes: strengthening workplace culture, improving employee engagement, increasing customer retention, and initiating gratitude strategies (“Grategies”) for personal and professional benefit. Lisa’s participants enjoy her high energy, enthusiastic delivery and quick wit and they leave the session with ideas they are committed to acting on immediately to make positive workplace culture changes.
Lisa costars in two films with other experts including Jack Canfield of “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” She is the Past-President of the National Speakers Association, Ohio Chapter and holds an MBA from Cleveland State University.

Relevant Experience

• Keynote, breakout or workshop speaker at more than 100 national and international conferences
• Thirteen years of industrial marketing and sales experience, including seven years in the welding industry – and yes, she does weld
• Host of “Elevate Your Engagement Levels: What You Need to Know” on the Elite Expert Network and the C-Suite Network
• Creator of “The Seven Mistakes Managers Make to Crush Company Culture” video series
• Best-selling author of ten books, including “Manufacturing Engagement: 98 Proven Strategies to Attract and Retain Your Industry’s Top Talent”
• Award-winning speaker