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Hosted by Haroon Rashid, the Business Fixer Podcast is for any business owner who wants to know how to get from A to B in the simplest possible way. This business podcast is full of business tips including leadership, sales, marketing, finance, culture and much more. Does something need fixing in your business? Don’t know where to begin with your startup, grow or turn around your business? Whether you’re a startup, established business or a multimillion-pound business, the Business Fixer podcast will help you understand where you are, clearly define where you want to be and guide you on the road to get there.
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About Our Guest
MARK JONES – CATALYST CONSULTING
Mark is a highly experienced consultant, coach and trainer with ~35 year global experience in business and industry. Originally a first-class honours Physicist, Mark is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and has worked and led improvement in Manufacturing & Engineering, Contracts Management, Financial Services, IT and a wide range of private and public sector transactional and service environments. His work has directly and indirectly delivered £ millions of cost saving, quality improvement, customer satisfaction and capacity creation benefit.
In his 10 years at Catalyst Consulting, he has trained and coached >2000 people and is a specialist in Design & Innovation, Kaizen and developing/deploying Target Operating Models.
He has also held management level responsibility in Laser Safety, Health & Safety and ISO9001 Quality Systems Management and attained the PMI Award in Pension Trusteeship.
[SHOW NOTES] Lean Six Sigma Beginner’s Guide
To introduce people to the basic concepts of Lean Six Sigma Catalyst Consulting run a free 1-hour webinar every few weeks, led by Martin Brenig-Jones our MD and ‘Dummies’ author. The next one is 11am Thursday 2nd September, you can sign up here: BQF Accredited Lean Six Sigma White Belt (lean-six-sigma.training)
We consult and lead improvement, change and culture-focused projects and initiatives for many organisations. Our consulting services cover Strategic, Operational, Assessments, Agile coaching and Interim assignments
Lean Six Sigma For Dummies:
We are at the forefront of the development of Lean Six Sigma, and we know that many of our competitors take our lead in how Lean Six Sigma is evolving. We were the organisation selected by Wiley Publishing worldwide to write the book “Lean Six Sigma for Dummies” which merged Lean and Six Sigma together and which is now an Amazon best-selling book on the subject and on its 3rd Edition, are now working on the 4th Edition. we. We also wrote Lean Six Sigma Business Transformation for Dummies and Lean Six Sigma for Leaders
[TRANSCRIPTION] Lean Six Sigma Beginner’s Guide
Business Fixer Podcast 012
Hey, sports fans, and welcome to the Business Fixer Podcast where we believe that clarity is king and simplicity is queen. Today! Episode 12. Lean Six Sigma a beginner’s guide. This is going to be an amazing episode because this is the first episode that we have a guest on the show. That’s right. We have Mark Jones from Catalyst Consulting coming to drop some knowledge, all about Lean Six Sigma for beginners and to tell you specifically how it can help you in a business turnaround situation. It’s going to be a good one.
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So I’m really excited about today’s guest. Mark Jones is a director at Catalyst Consulting, and I met Mark years ago on a training course where he taught me this whole new idea called Lean Six Sigma. And since then I have used Lean Six Sigma tools in all kinds of business situations, mainly in business turnarounds. The tools that you can get from this episode are absolutely game-changing. So I encourage you to go and check out the show notes on businessfixer.co.uk cause we’re going to be putting a hell of a lot of stuff in there. Go check out Catalyst Consulting and you know what they are actually given us a lot of great stuff like webinars and all sorts of stuff that you can go and get a hold of and sign up for.
Mark is a highly experienced consultant, coach and trainer with, dig this, 35 year global experience in business and industry. So this is a dude you really need to listen to. And Mark is a Lean Six Sigma master black belt. He’s worked and led improvement and manufacturing and engineering contracts management at financial services, IT and a wide range of private and public sector, uh, companies. So his work has directly and indirectly delivered millions of cost saving quality improved, customer satisfaction and capacity creation benefits. So when I said, you know, this is a great tool, or these are great tools for business improvement, you know, efficiency, cost, reductions, uh, improving culture, all that kind of stuff, this is the episode to listen to, if you want to know about that. So without further ado here is Mark Jones from Catalyst Consulting on the Business Fixer Podcast, talking about an introduction to Lean Six Sigma, Lean six Sigma for beginners. Enjoy.
So, Mark really good to have you on the show. How you doing?
I’m very good. Thank you. It’s nice to be here.
So we, uh, met a long time ago and you taught me about something called Lean Six Sigma and, uh, opened my eyes to a hell of a lot of really cool stuff. Uh, many of which, you know, these tools I’ve used personally. And companies where I’ve worked or when I’m even coaching and consulting, but for the audience who might not be familiar with this, could you just give us like a really quick overview, maybe a 6o seconnd pitch or something on what is Lean Six Sigma?
Okay. Um, Lean Six Sigma is an improvement methodology. Um, it’s actually a combination of lean thinking, which started around about the 1960s. Um, um, combined with Six Sigma thinking. We started around about the 1980s in America. Lean originally comes from Japan, uh, since around about year 2000 people have been bringing these two things together, hence Lean Six Sigma.
So basically it’s a set of improvement, methodologies looking to improve processes in organisations. Um, this stuff has 50, 60 years of global practice. It works in any size of organisation in any sector. Uh, we work with startups with us with, uh, you know, four or five people through to family businesses, through to SMEs, through to the government.
And we work with a lot of global blue chip organizstions, uh, in many countries. So it’s a, it’s a way of thinking about your business, the way thinking about process and improving it. Um, It really is thinking about culture and driving that. Um, but effectively it’s about working on the processes, improving your business, engaging your people it’s well-proven and it drives things like cost reduction and speed improvement and improving quality, reducing defects and processes. Very effective, very engaging. And well-proven.
Thank you for that. And one of the key things that I took away from our session was, uh, you talked about the improvement of say defects and you gave a really interesting stat. Um, you know, eh, you know, some companies might have like a defect of say one in every hundred of widgets that they produce, but you can actually reduce that. Uh, can you just talk us through what that is? Cause I’m just thinking that some people might be like, Yeah, process improvement efficiency. I’ve heard it before. Culture improvement. Yeah. But could you just tell us about that number and what this actually can do for someone’s business? Y
Yeah. Um, what Six Sigma thinking does is get us thinking about the rate of defects and we talk about defects per million opportunities. So if you did a process a million times, how many bad ones would you have. Okay. And we’re really trying to drive that number up. If your process had what we call a Six Sigma performance, that’s equivalent to 3.4 defects per million opportunities. So roughly one in a million failure rate, 99.9, nine, 9% something, um, most organisations or businesses when they actually start to measure how much they’re getting.
Right. And how much rework they’re really doing. It’s a shocker because there’s a tremendous, hidden factory of just fixing stuff that takes place in most organisations that they don’t even realise because they don’t measure it. And when you actually start to measure how much of your resource and effort is just fixing failures, which shouldn’t happen in the first place, it really is quite tremendous.
And what we’re trying to do really from at least single point of view is just reduce the fee. Because failure goes straight to the bottom line and it really kills you every time you have to rework something that’s straight out of your profits. So it’s about thinking and recognising that those kinds of numbers and asking yourself, do we want to put our effort into actually right first time? Or do we want to spend our time and effort? Just reworking the hell out of everything to make sure it goes out the door well, where we should have got right in the first place.
So that leads me onto the next bit, because at Business Fixer, we tend to focus a lot of our content on business turnarounds. And I can imagine that Lean Six Sigma is a great methodology for business turnarounds though. When you go into organisations and you do your coaching, what are some of the common things, the themes, the problems that you find in a business.
Well, the first thing is Lean thinking focuses on process. It’s all about process. A bad process will be a good person, no matter how brilliant your staff on your team are. You’re asking them to do bad work or work about a process. They’re not going to be successful. So we’re really focusing on process and understanding that. And to be honest, a lot of organisation reader understand their own processes.
They’ve got a lot of rework. They’ve got a lot of work around that, a lot of variation that they simply haven’t surfaced and realised. So a lot of it is recognising that. And the other main thing really getting, thinking about it, it’s actually measuring, I know in some of your other podcasts, you know, you’ve taught a lot around about, about setting goals and objectives and actually measuring your business.
And this is what Lean Six Sigma thinking is driving as well as getting real data. You know, we all have an opinion. Yeah, you will you’ll know the famous quote on, you know, opinions everybody’s going. Um, but when you actually start to measure and get data in the process with data from within a process, not just the risks.
Not just the result, but actually measuring the work during the work. Um, it really is quite a shock or sometimes a lot of businesses simply don’t realise because they don’t have good data. They don’t understand their own performance. Uh, and don’t measure that effectively. So it’s really thinking about that.
Understand the process. Surfacing the waste and the non-value-added cause the shed loads of it in most organisations and actually using data to manage by fact.
And do you find that Lean Six Sigma will help people who might say, well, I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what I should be measuring.
Absolutely. There are lots of tools and techniques within the approach, which gets people thinking about what to measure these days. We use the phrase there’s a lot leading a lagging measure. Don’t worry. And generally a lot of businesses still manage with, with lagging measures. They’re still looking at the outputs and the outcomes, and they’re not taking leading measures.
So a lot of the Lean Six Sigma tools and techniques, for example, a simple tool called sidewalk SIPOC, S-I-P-O-C, uh, classical tool. Really gets you thinking about not only what the process and your scope for improvement is, but getting you thinking about what output is are producing and what do I need to measure?
What inputs am I using them on taking them on a process? What is happening in the process that I really need to get a handle along. So it really helps you understand what’s important. These are leading measures, what you need to get your hands on.
Well, could you give, um, just explain to the audience what a lead measure and what a lack of measure is, and maybe gave us an example.
Yeah, sure. Um, lagging measures sometimes called output measures sometimes called Y measures. These other things we measure at the end of a process. So we might say, what was our sales revenue for the first quarter? What was our market share last year? How many complaints did we get in the first two months of the year, these are the things which businesses need to know, and everybody’s always measured them, but you, you only get to know the number at the end of the process.
So if you take a sales example, you might say sales revenue in the first quarter. You don’t know that until the end of the first quarter, you can take a good guess, but you don’t know it until the end of the period. Now, the trouble with these kinds of lagging measures is that it’s too late. It’s like driving through the rear view.
Yeah. One of my colleagues calls it, counting the dead. So imagine driving along, you’re looking through a rear view mirror and it’s like, boom. Oh, it’s another person. Oh, it’s another one. Yeah. You’re simply counting the dead and it’s nice to know what’s happened behind you. You can make comparisons, you can see how we’re doing compare last quarter to last year or whatever, but it’s too late to change.
Now the idea behind leading measures is to get data while you could do something about it. It’s like driving the car, looking through the front window. If we’re driving the car, looking for the front windscreen, we can see what’s coming down the road and we can adjust. We can make changes, we can avoid things.
Okay. And this is the concept we’re trying to do from a business point of view is measure things. Look into the front window, a leading measure, an example, uh, from sales point of view, it might be the number of quotes you write, or the number of visits to your website. Or the number of sales inquiries you have or whatever, because hopefully if you’re getting a lot of visits to your website this month, are you running a lot of quotes this week that is going to turn into sales at the end, by the, by the end of the period.
So it’s understanding. Those levers that you have early on. If in the first week of the month, you’ve not had many visits, your website, not many written, many quotes, what can we change? Or we can adjust. So we get a better performance next week. And therefore, by the end of the quarter, we will have hit our target.
If you don’t use these leading measures, you simply get to the end of the end of the period and you’ll get disappointed. Because you haven’t got what you thought you were hoping to get you, haven’t got your objective or your target, and it’s too late to do anything about it. So it’s trying to measure these things happening during the work, and that might be measuring how long it takes to do something, but the quality of something, but also things like, you know, from a sales point of view, how many quotes you’re writing, how many responses you’re getting this kind of.
I’m trying to lose weight to the moment. And I guess a lag measure would be the stones and pounds and a lead measure would be calories, consumed, calories burned. Number of times I go to the gym, things like that.
How many biscuits you at this morning, because that is going to be a leading measure. By the end of the month. If you keep eating three biscuits a morning, you’re going to have an unpleasant surprise at the end. So it’s controlling and monitoring these things during the process.
It’s really interesting because also when I’ve been into, uh, businesses and talked about, uh, lead measures and one of the bits of feedback that I get, and I don’t know if you are the same, is that people will say. Yeah, but it’s harder to measure a lead measure cause it can be a behavioural thing. How, how would you kind of respond to that?
Absolutely. Uh, it’s more effort there’s work involved because there’s generally lots of them. If you, for example, think, uh, how long it take turns to take, uh, to turn out a piece of work, we’ve had an order for something, and now we delivered something measuring how long that took is why measure.
And that’s fairly obvious. We know the date, we’ve got the order. We know the date. But the leading measures might be how long it took to do this part, how long it took to design this, how long it took the manufacturer procure that there’s lots more things to measure and therefore more work. So there’s a, there’s a barrier.
Uh, another thing you have to remember is that what you’re doing here is measuring the process. You’re not measuring people’s performance. This is not the old fashioned time and emotion type stuff. Uh, if I’m going to spend time with you on that particular piece of work around, I want to understand how difficult this process is and how long it takes you to accomplish it.
I’m not trying to make you work harder or faster. It’s not about your performance. It’s about the process. So you’ve got cultural things in measurement because, you know, measuring things can be uncomfortable for people. There’s effort involved, but the return on that investment is huge and you’re never going to get a better outcome if you don’t.
Um, but most of the people listening to the podcast will have heard this, you know, the classic phrase, if you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got. Yeah. My shorter version of that is if we change nothing, nothing will change. Yeah, we keep doing the work to say, are we going to get the same results and outcomes?
We’ve got to change the work now, which piece of the work do we have to change? Well, we don’t know that until we actually measure and understand it. Otherwise, we’re just guessing if I had changes in my process of improvement, without that data, I’m making a guess. It might be an educated guess. Might be intelligent guests with years of experience, but it’s a guess it’s called an estimate.
If, if, if you want to be a bit softer, but until you actually get some data on this, you don’t know for sure how you’re doing, what do I have to change and work in this process to get the results I’m looking for? And there is work and effort involved. There are some cultural things about it, but it’s the return issue.
So it sounds like it’s, uh, improving efficiencies. Uh, it’s uh, focusing on lead measures, things you can control. And when you go into a business turnaround situation, what’s some of the most common tools that you use, uh, to improve processes.
Okay. Um, I’ve got a little little list here and I’ve already mentioned one of them in here.
I’ll just rattle sort of through these, um, these are classic standard Lean Six Sigma tools. The first thing we want to do is really think about a problem statement. If you can’t write down your business problem, you’re not going to be able to solve it. So you need to think about creating. What’s my statement of the problem.
If I know where I am, you’ve talked in the past to remember objectives and goals. I can’t sit where I want to get to, but I don’t know where, where I am now. Um, we start to think about voice of customer and creating what are called CTQ (critical to quality). So in other words, the expression of some of the customer and to them, if I’m Amazon customer, I want my pulse to arrive on time.
Uh, so my CTQ is it’s delivered within 24 hours of my expected date. Uh, the product works when I get out of the box. There’s not the CTQ. We start to understand the flow of the process by using things like , um, value stream mapping, process mapping, we’re looking for waste and non-value add. Then we’re looking for root causes where we’d start thinking about Fishbone and Five Why’s, which is a classic sort of improvement tool.
We want to do some brainstorming because we want good improvement ideas. And then we have some, uh, techniques to try and help people, uh, maintain the improvement. You don’t want to make things better and then have the whole thing go down the panel, you know, two or three months later, you need to hold the gain and sustain.
So taking this through, we’re looking to say, what’s the problem we wanna fix. Problem statements, CTQ, voice of customer. You want to think about what’s going on. Process mapping, SIPOC diagrams. One thing about root causes, fishbone, five whys. We go into some creativity and then we want to sustain the changes.
Yeah. No, thank you. I mean, I’ve always found the five whys to be a really powerful tool because it’s like you, uh, I mean, you will explain it better than I can, but you you’ll ask someone a question and you’ll get a very surface level response. And the trick is to try and ask them why five times generally, then you’ll get to that kind of root cause that’s pretty much am I on the nose there?
Yeah, you are fine. Quite an old technique, but it massively powerful, uh, very contemporary in use as well. Originally comes from, uh, the Japanese and from Toyota, which was one of the sort of poster child for starting improvement. And the reason why, um, you know, Toyota is a world leader in terms of quality of performance is things like this.
And this is the idea, you know, small children are greater than her and not me, you know, why can’t I have a pony because, so the idea is we keep asking the why question continually to try and really. You know, um, drill down hard and it just, it’s, it’s difficult to answer. Why is the hardest question to answer kids know this and it’s irritating, but they’re trying to understand what’s what’s, you know, what’s behind all this stuff.
This is the idea we keep asking. Why maybe it’s four or five times maybe six. Probably not one. It’s probably not 10, but we keep asking why because, well, why does that happen? Because, because, because, and we’re looking for ultimately an actionable root cause that we can make a change. W they’re just challenging until, until we get to something which is hard and, uh, you know, changeable of course.
And, uh, one of the key things that, uh, I remember on your course was the DMAIC, the good old DMAIC. And for those of you who don’t know, uh, Mark is going to now just run through very quickly what the DMAIC is and try and condense 50 years’ worth of knowledge into 60 seconds. So over to you, Mark.
Um, DMAIC, D-M-A-I-C is a problem solving methodology. It’s what we base a lot of Lean Six Sigma thinking on it stands for define what’s the problem we want to fix, measure what the hell is really going on. It’s the process, what’s the work that’s being done. And what data information do we have analyse, which is about root causes. Yeah, what’s the causes behind.
We don’t want to fix the symptoms we want to fix the real causes improve. So what are we going to change? And if we change nothing, nothing will change. So what are, are we going to change? Who’s going to do it. And when control, we need to put those changes into place and make sure we can control that. So we keep getting the future.
We’re looking for. We don’t revert to, to the past. Um, the way to think about domain I find is it’s what your doctor. If you go to your doctor, and you sit down. And the first thing they’re going to say is why are you here? They’re trying to define the problem. What do you want me to fix? How long have you felt like this?
Then they’re going to take some measurements. They’re going to maybe blood pressure breathing, uh, blood tests, heart rate, whatever else they’re trying to get some data. Then they’re going to do a diagnostic. So in other words, for analyses diagnose, they’re going to diagnose your problem. They can use their expertise, they can use a medical textbooks, whatever else improve.
Now, they’re prescribing. If you change, I think, yeah, you’re going to have the same condition forever. So they’re going to prescribe in your case, the room or exercise less calories going to make it a prescription because they know if you carry on as you are, you’re not going to get the results you’re looking for.
So they’re prescribing a change. And then ultimately at the end of the, of the, um, surgery at the end of the consultation, they’re going to say to you come back in three months and let’s see how you’re feeling. Which is controlled. They’re trying to make sure you’ve done what they’ve suggested and you’re holding you there. So they make it simple how your doctor works.
That’s a nice way to think about it. Yeah, really, really good analogy. And I think, remember as well, you saying that a lot of the time, people can fall in that trap of just trying to go and fix something and they’re going down the DMAIC, they’re actually three or four steps down the process. They actually need to go back to the define stage and walk through the process because you can’t fix something. If you don’t know what the issue is.
Absolutely. Right. Um, lots of people spent any, you know, anybody with sort of quality of engineering or technical background. They want to jump to the solution, fix it, fix it, fix it.
Problem solution, problem, solution. They want to go straight from, I’ve got a problem to, here’s an improvement. They’re missing gaps. Half of the define. They’re also missing all the measure and all the, otherwise they’re just jumping on what they think is the cause, but not sure, usually it’s a symptom, so they make the changes.
They don’t get the results they want, they get disappointed. And now they’re going to go back and do it again. You’ve got to follow this thing, uh, effectively, that doesn’t mean takes a long time. You can do a domain project in a few days. You know, do this in a week or less. Um, but you need to have that structure. You don’t want to be just jumping to solution, you know, this knee jerk problem, fix problems, X problem, because you just simply get the same thing happen again, because you didn’t identify the root cause if we’re not a symptom, so you don’t make the problem go.
If it was like, say a company that was, I don’t know, small to medium sized business, how often, and I know it’s a re it’s, how long is a piece of string? This one, but how often should people be doing this DMAIC exercise? Like, should they be doing every time there’s an issue or is it kind of like periodically once a quarter, they define what the most common issues are and set it up as a project, you know, to tackle this.
Any, and all of the above, what some organisations do is they build the skills. They, they take, you know, training programs with an organisation like ourselves and they develop the competence and capability to do projects themselves. They get green belt, yellow belt training, whatever is appropriate for them. And they’ve run projects. And a project may take a few weeks, maybe in a couple of months, if it’s it’s a big problem.
Other organisations actually embed the problem, solving skills within their people. And they say, we want everyday problems. Yeah. Um, a company like Toyota, they have a company goal, which was say we want, I think that number is like three implemented improvement ideas per employee per month. Wow. Yeah, they, they really, really push it so you can embed these things.
Daily problem solving – we call it everyday operational. We can bet this thing as daily problem solving. So people are fixing things, improve things every day on the other extreme. If you’ve got a big issue, a big problem. Yeah. She wants it, tackle it effectively, get a little team together and maybe it takes longer, but it answered her own is all the above.
You can apply these skills really like that. I used to know. One company I worked in for many years. Um, I knew I really making some, some difference. When I walk into a sales meeting, just a typical quarterly sales meeting. I just pop in my head for the door. They got a fishbone of Five Whys on the wall and they’re not doing an improvement project.
They’re simply using these skills to solve a sales problem. Why aren’t we studying as many of that model or product as we thought we were going. That’s not improvement project, but they’re using the skills. So this is the benefit of doing continuous improvement. It’s not just about projects. It’s not just about changing processes, but you actually start people.
You start seeing traction where people use the skills and their simple everyday work. And that’s the benefit of, well, it’s all builds us in improvement culture. We can do a bit better. We’ve now got the skills to do it better and we’re all working. Brings a very long, I was going to say that you’ve just said the word there.
It’s a cultural shift. Isn’t it? Do you know what it is? Lean six Sigma is not generally rocket science. Most of the tools or techniques, uh, are relatively straightforward. I mean, Hey, I even managed to train you on this.
What is what is challenging in lean thinking? Lean Six Sigma thinking it is a change of thinking. That’s the hard part and to change the thinking drives with a change changing culture. Um, I spent a couple of years working at AVIVA. You know, we all know that company and there was a guy that one of the directors and one of his mantras was everybody here has two jobs doing their job and improving that.
So in other words, this cultural change, we come to do the work we paid for, but guess what? We come to use our brains and make things better. And that is difficult for some people. They want the paycheque and they go home But this is the cultural change, you know, organisations globally that do this stuff.
Well, the successful organisations do Lean Six Sigma thinking the ones that really make effective use of it, use it to, to drive their culture. In terms of we’re a team working together, we want to make things better. We want a change culture where people come to use their minds and not just to do, bring their hands to work.
We’re bring their brains to work, do the work, but also we want them to think about it. How can I make this better? There’s gotta be a better way of doing this. And there always is. And that is a cultural change. It takes time can be difficult for some people and change your thinking is usually the challenging part.
There’s some counter intuitive thinking within, within lean. Um, so the tools and techniques not too difficult, but sometimes you’ve got to be a bit of a change of mindset and that’s the major difference it’s thinking differently. You can describe lean as thinking differently about work.
I like that a lot. I like come to do your job and improve your job. I think I’m going to borrow that.
Well, I, I know the guy who used to say boat it from somebody else. I’ve tried to track down the quote, but it’s all over the internet, but this is the way to think about this. And also what you find is funny. Stars emerge in any team you have, when you start to give these skills, unexpected people really step up. Because they’ve got great ideas in their heads. The job of leadership and management in organisation is simply to uncork the bottle and let their people make the change because they’ve got all the great ideas. They know the work, they know what goes wrong because they, they see it and they suffer it all the time.
So the idea. I mean, your thinking is to uncork this bottle. And sometimes you very often you’ll find unexpected stars will step up. People who’ve had great ideas for years and then Lean Six Sigma gives them a voice and a way of expressing it and executing it. And very often organisations really surprise themselves with they’ve got some great people improvement, people who just haven’t had that way of doing it.
Yeah, I’d love. I love this is great. I love this episode from a business turnaround context as well. Can you tell the audience what is a Gemba and why should they care?
Okay. Um, similarly thinking originally comes from Japan. So there are some Japanese words associated with it. Uh, we tried to minimise that because we, you know, we’re not trying to blitz sort of people with it, but the word Gemba you’ll hear a lot. G-E-M-B-A, Gemba in Japanese means the real place. In English, it means the workplace, the coalface, the sharp edge. In other words, where work is done, um, what lean thinking will tell you is the only way to really improve a process is to immerse yourself in the work you can’t drag somebody. Off their job into an office and say, tell me about the work you actually need to go and see it and spend time with them.
It’s in their comfort zone. Yeah. Not yours in your office. Go to their work, see their work, immerse yourself in it. Uh, observe, watch. Yeah. And, um, this is, this is why it’s vital. So going to gamble, you sometimes see phrases like Gemba walk. If people want to Google that again, bill walk effectively is if you’re a manager leading the organisation, go and walk the process and do it frequently.
Talk to your people, watch them working. Um, understand what’s involved, experienced the problems, walk the process. So being pushed, the work is Gemba going. We talk about like Gemba walks. We talk about Gemba visits. We talk about go together, but there is no better way to understand your business than to go and see and do take part in the work.
And what were the three golden rules of doing again?
You know what? That’s a good question. I’m not sure what your heading out at the top of your head there. The, the, um, I’ll talk about the way Toyota do this. If you were to mention Toyota, they, they have a sort of style. And what they say is they say, go to Gemba.
So this is the way you lead. But ask questions, show respect. So what, what these kinds of leaders do is that they don’t go to people and say, I want you to do this, this and this. Because if I tell you what to do, you switch your brain off inside your head. You’re thinking, I think you’re wrong, but the help, you know, I’ll do it because I’ve been told to.
So we don’t actually, the idea is. Tell people what to do, but ask them, um, how are you going to solve this problem? What are you dealing with right now? Uh, what do you think the barriers are going to be? What support and resource do you think you’re going to need to solve this? How are you going to go about, you know, what ideas can you apply?
Yeah. By asking people these questions, we’re leveraging their expertise. We are keeping them engaged. They own the issue now because they’re telling us. Visual. They’re telling us the problem they’re giving us their experience. And that’s what this is about. It’s about leveraging your, your colleagues, your team’s experience.
Um, so this is go to gemba, ask questions. And the third one is show respect exactly what I was getting at. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. This is why you’ll see the classic Japanese style or everybody wears the same uniform. I’ve worked in Japanese factories in Japan and, um, You see the leadership coming down in the same closing uniform as everybody else.
And this is just simply to say, we’re all doing this together. There’s nobody here who is better than anybody else. We’re all taking part of it. We all have the same uniform on. This is part of the respect thing. Um, this is something you see with goodly and thinking is, uh, respect people’s experience, respect their skills and opinion, and use that from the Gemba point of view, don’t drag them into your office, into your comfort zone and respect them and go and see them.
Spend your time, learning from your team.
I love that. That was probably one of the golden nuggets I took away from your session. And I remember getting a bit of a, um, reputation as being the Gemba man, because I would go and, you know, people would send me to fix something and like, you know, a couple of days have passed, you know, have you fixed it yet? No. No. Why not? Because I’m still figuring out what it is. And have you told them what to do. No, I’m, I’m asking him what’s going on. You know, I’m asking them how they’re doing it.
Absolutely. Most organisations have work instructions, SOP guide cards. They have drawings. They have, they have the management leadership.
Think they know what’s going on because that’s, what’s written in the documentation. The reality, most of the time. There is variation that we’ll work around or no, we don’t do it like that. We do it like this, the drawing hasn’t changed, but we know. Yeah. You only surface this reality of work by going to the Gemba. What the hell is really going on in your process and organisation? Whenever you do it, Haroon, I don’t know if you saw this, but it’s not what you think is happening.
Oh, you’re, you’re, you’re shocked. You just like, I, what I thought was happening always, actually happening often just worlds apart. You know, it’s, it’s scary almost. Uh, and, and also what you talked about it before. It’s about everyone has an opinion, but we’re talking about facts, data. This is a form of data. So going to do a Gemba, uh, I don’t know if that is the correct way of saying it, but do it again, it’s getting data. What is actually going on? It’s not an opinion.
It’s a fact. And you can bet it’s surfacing, it’s surfacing the reality of the work. And that’s, that’s really what it is. The reason why this is so important is that that is probably, um, it’s been done in different ways by different people, different teams, and there’s probably best practices. If we’re not surfacing the variation, then we’re not understanding.
Yeah. That’s a great way real to share that, you know, where’s the good practice in your organisation. You would find this out by, by just discovering it. Once you’ve discovered group practice. Now you can share it. If we’re all doing it differently, we can’t all be right. There’s probably a better way of doing it and somebody’s probably already got that.
So let’s grab it. The other reason for this is that if you’ve got the work happening in different ways, you’re going to end up with different results in different variation. And what customers want is predictability. They want reliability. They want to be able to trust the quality. The speed of your process is you say, we’re going to deliver on this date.
They want that date. They want to be able to trust us variations of businesses. This comes from Six Sigma thinking. We try to reduce variation. Um, but quite often variation is, is one of the sources of variation is the work has been done differently by different people or different teams. And then we get surprised when we get different results.
Well, It isn’t a surprise. Go look for it. And this is not about saying that you must do it like this. This is about a show. It’s about understanding. How has it been done? Getting the reality where’s good practice. Where can we make it better? Let’s all learn from each other and get the best result we can from it.
A great example of uniformity is McDonalds.
Yeah, there are, you know, you may or may not. The foot, men may not like the food, but you have to remind the business. Um, last time I looked, they got some like 60,000 restaurants across the planet. You know, each one were to produce a thousand Big Macs a day. That’s 60 million big Macs selling at what, three, four pounds, a pop it’s, a quarter of a million quarter of a million pounds per day.
And one of the big value propositions is that you can go into McDonald’s anywhere on the planet or do something. Can you get pretty much the same thing? Um, and how do they achieve that? And the answer is, as you said, they look for all the sources of variation. There’s lots and lots of lean and lean six Sigma type thinking in their business.
Now I won’t go into all that detail. Now there isn’t time, but next time anybody goes to McDonald’s you take a look, know. You go into McDonald’s the drinks are on the left. The French fries are on the right. The burgers come down the middle and that’s the same across the piece because they know that’s the best way of doing it.
They get the best results. If they organise themselves like that, they, they standardise approaches, training tools, et cetera. You know, if you’re a franchise even McDonald’s, you can’t buy your equipment and your materials, your ingredients. So anybody you feel like. You got to get the right kit because it gives the right results. And these are the kinds of, you know, there’s so many good examples of lean thinking McDonald’s is, is.
The other thing that I loved and your session, and I’ve taken this and worn it, it’s become a phrase that I use day in, day out, personally and professionally. And I just want you to talk about why this question is so important and why people should be using it in their everyday business. But it is the question, the golden question. ‘What does good look like?’
Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s a phrase I use a lot that I think is well worth knowing, um, The way I tend to use this is, I mentioned only about the CTQ critical to quality. It’s a great thing to start thinking about, ask yourself what is critical to our customer here.
What’s critical to the quality of their experience of working with us. And if today we’re not meeting that well, what would good look like? What good looks like is not about saying what’s the solution. It’s about saying what’s the reason. If we’re getting this, what would good look like? We don’t want to set objectives and targets, which are science-fiction is never going to happen, but we also don’t want to just set a target, which is what we’re shooting today.
Cause we don’t get any, any improvement for me. This phrase is what does good luck look like? You can apply this to a way of working to a process, to a piece of training, to a tool, to it, anything it’s it’s a great question to ask your team. Okay. We having this problem right now, we’re getting this kind of failure.
We’re getting these kinds of defects. Well, what would good look like? What would they be like this? But off you go, it’s a brilliant way to sort of engage people to use their brains. It’s a question I use a lot, as you say, pressure puts non-professionally is, well, what would good look like?
Absolutely. I mean, yeah. I mean, one of the, the best ways I used it was in one of one business turnaround I did, we were with, I used to meet with the leadership team on a Monday. We’d go through, you know, what’s the big three look like, what’s the priorities. And then I would say, what does good look like by Friday? Yeah. And it was forcing them to get granular on the details. So let’s say as an example would be, I’m going to get more sales. Okay. Well, how many from where, you know, like, you know, that kind of thing, what does good look like?
Well, that’s great. I find sometimes self-statements do find is difficult, but just turning around and saying, we’re going to get some more sales or we’re going to sell more stuff to which my question always is.
So what are you going to change? And this gets them thinking, well, you know, if we do the same process, we can sell the same product to the same, the same marketing at the same pricing at the same marketplace. Guess what? We’re going to get the same sales, because this is what processes do. So what are you going to change?
Well, we’re going to change. Okay. So what would good look like? And I, you leave that question hanging and then people will fill in that vacuum and it just makes them think harder.
Mark. This has been absolutely amazing. If people want to find out more about the great work that you do, where can people find you online?
Um, the company, I’m a director of a company called Catalyst Consulting. We are a global, but a UK based consulting organisation. If you go to catalystconsulting.co.uk that’s all one word ‘catalyst consulting’ or Google that, you can find me and others on LinkedIn, obviously as well. Um, please reach out very happy to have conversations.
Well, thank you so much. I mean, obviously for those of you who do listen to the show, we will be, uh, putting all that, uh, great information. The links in the show notes, you can just go head over to businessfixer.co.uk, we’ll make sure you get all the great Gemba’s and SIPOCS and Catalyst Consulting links and all the good stuff that they provide.