The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 7 months ago

Advancing the Manufacturing Community by Banding Together w/ Marc Braun & Jonathan Jones


Founded in 1985, the Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the exchange of knowledge and advancement through tech.

With over four thousand members across the globe, it’s a uniquely powerful force for the evolution of manufacturing.

Our guests today are manufacturing experts, laser-focused on creating a courageous culture and fierce advocates for transparency:

- Marc Braun: Executive Coach at MDB, Chairman for the AME, former President of Cambridge Air Solutions, author, and volunteer.

- Jonathan Jones: Consortium Facilitator at AME, CEO Peer Advisory Board Leader, executive coach, author, and community leader.

In this episode, we’ll dive into:

- Building relationships between companies and sharing best practices

- How transparency encourages employee pride and engagement

- Creating the right culture to develop leaders

- Growth is not a riskless adventure

- Accelerating the speed of innovation

Subscribe to The Manufacturing Executive on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for The Manufacturing Executive in your favorite podcast player.

It's a challenging world to lead it and when you want to run a for profit business with purpose, if that's what you want, I believe that there's no better place or way to do that than to combine together. Welcome to the manufacturing executive podcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that are driving midsize manufacturers forward. Here you'll discover new insights from passionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share about their successes and struggles, and you'll learn from B tob sales and marketing experts about how to apply actionable business development strategies inside your business. Let's get into the show. Welcome to another episode of the Manufacturing Executive podcast. I'm Joe Sullivan, your host and a CO founder of the Industrial Marketing Agency Gorilla Seventy six. A lot of companies are scared to open up their doors, scared their competitors will steal their secrets or still their people. But maybe there's more to be gained than lost by sharing with and learning from other organizations like your own, their best practices, how they're building culture, how they're navigating challenges like labor and supply chain and Covid by two guests today represent an organization that's bringing together manufacturers to help them all become smarter, better companies through collaboration and sharing, and they're lifting up their entire region in the process of doing so. Let me introduce them. Mark Brawn has a strong vision for creating a world where business is a force for good. He believes that the growth of an organization comes from the growth of every individual and is inspired most when he sees human genius at the floor level of a company being unlocked and unleashed. With a background in Chemical Engineering and twenty seven years serving at every level of the organization, from frontline worker to President, mark shares his experience, strength and hope with others. Mark currently serves as the chairman for the Association for Manufacturing Excellence, where over four thousand manufacturing leaders unite to create a manufacturing renaissance through enterprise excellence and people centric leadership. In addition to his first hand experience as a successful leader in one of the most studied midsize manufacturing organizations, Cambridge Air Solutions, he's also a certified coach in the Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching Model Program he works with successful sea suite executives who are committed to becoming even better leaders. Mark Lives in St Louis with his wife, Melanie, where they raise the three boys and enjoy welcoming other bonus kids from around the world into their home. Jonathan Jones is a firm believer in the St Louis region as a great place to build a business and raise a family, and he believes that in order to enhance the region, they must develop leaders at all levels. He works with the associate sation for manufacturing excellence as a facilitator for a collaborative consortium of twenty organizations in the St Louis Region where they share, learn and grow together, strengthening the region's manufacturing community. Jonathan is also an executive coast with the vestige where he facilitates for private peer advisory groups for CEOS and key executives. He conducts over Thirty One on one coaching sessions each month with CEOS and provides assistance to an additional twenty plus executives and the employees they serve. Over the last three decades as a leadership and organization development professional, Jonathan has built a reputation for assisting businesses of all sizes and increasing their performance and profitability, while navigating the inherent challenges of growth that come with purposeful strategy and deliberate execution. Mark and Jonathan, welcome to the show. Thanks, Jo, great to be here. To be here Jo, awesome. Will Mark, it's not your first Rodeo on the manufacturing executive podcast. I had you on the show when you were in the role of president at Cambridge. Are Solutions or I know you spent thirteen plus years.

I believe I did long stay. One of my favorite parts of my career. Awesome. It's great to have you back in. Jonathan, great to have you here for the first time. So good of the year. Great. Well, guys, let's get into this conversation. So both of you are heavily involved with the Association for Manufacturing Excellence, or a me. Can you start by telling our listeners what am he's all about and why you've put so much time and energy into getting it off the ground in the St Louis Region? Yeah, I can get US kicked off their first of all, association for manufacturing excellence is a, like you said, of a collection of about four thousand manufacturing leaders that around the world and all of them believe in that operational excellence is something critical for business, meaning that process is working well together help people thrive. And then people centric leadership, so that the ability to lead with the people at the core and to be able to focus on the growth of individuals inside and outside the organization as part of their mission. And so why did I get involved? I get to meet some of the leaders there and I just fell in love with the people. The people are in extremely active group of folks who believe that business could be a force for good. And so I found a group of people that believe what I believe and they're putting their time and energy and talents into helping organizations around the world build that and so it's the largest collection that I've found of those type of people with that belief, and so it's really fun to be able to serve with them. I love their focus on practitioner practitioner, learning and sharing and growing, and so they help each other and they know that this work is hard to do alone, so they want to be able to help each other do it. Very cool, Jonathan. Anything to add there? Her? Yeah, I would. I would go with that. I mean Cambridge has been very active within continuous to improvement and they used had a lot of tours in St Louis and I had seen their tours every at least once a year. I had been to one of their tours and saw that experience. Mark Talk to me about a and me about the about the idea of bringing more companies in St Louis Together, and so, thinking about a while, I wanted to do it with them. The I am a professional, you know, Peer Advisory Group Organization, you know facilitaire. That's what I do. I wanted to make sure I did it right. He brought me up to the conference in Chicago and I saw the enthusiasm of the lean practitioners and and then seeing some of the insight, some of the things that I was I saw Cambridge doing some of things that I've never seen before. We talked to other companies that were in St Louis that were interested in this and it looked like a great place to put my time and my energy to grow St Louis Companies. That's great. You guys have talked to me a little bit about how a tightly knick group like yours in St Louis, chapter of Amy Works to share best practices with each other. What are we talking about when you say best practices? Yeah, so I think it's the so how our relationships built between companies that are not doing business together on an ongoing basis? And so one of the ways is to be able to invite people in to share what's going well, what struggles you're facing as a business and allow them to see the real, the transparent reel of who you are. And so that builds relationships. And so what kind of best practices? So lots of them. Strategy deployment would be a best practice. How do how do companies use how do they translate vision into strategies that every single layer of the organization, every person in the organization, understands and can get behind and row in the same direction? So Strategy Employment would be one of those best practices. The other best practice that we have been sharing is your daily management system. How do how do those best practices show up in your daily Huddles, your daily rhythms? What does it look like to start your day? And how do people know what work they need to get done? How do they know...

...what success looks like? How do they know when they're struggling or having an issue, how do those issues get resolved? And so best practices around daily rituals or daily habits. But it could be any part of the business, sales, how your sales organization is structured and how it's working or how it's not working, how it's been helpful for growth or how it's not been. So any best practice in your business, being able to share those best practices with other noncompeting businesses and to be able to grow through those. Those are some examples. And then if you look at the companies that decided they wanted to get involved, you know a lot of them were saying, I don't even know how to start. You know, I want to do I want continuous, to improven in what we do, I want to get better, but I don't know how to start. And so one of the things that mark talked about just a daily the daily rhythms and getting employees engaged. And there's a huge aspect regarding people set entric leadership, which is the real core. Are They and me? That is what kind of creates that that glue to make it, to make it happen. And then from there you're looking at and just observing what other people are doing simple, you know five asks, which is just, you know, making sure your tools are in the right place at the same place. At the same time you got to clean the work environment. Then there's a value stream mapping on on how your product is flowing through, what value added steps are non value added steps need to be eliminated. So there's some technical aspects, but the real thing that people are looking for early on is how do I deal with the soft stuff so the hard stuff becomes easier? Have you guys found that leaders of some of these organizations, whether they're part of Amar of maybe thought about it or maybe just organizations you've been a part of interacted with throughout your career? Is there any hesitancy to say, yeah, we're going to open the doors, we're going to let people inside, show them what's going on here, like they're afraid they're going to expose themselves to the outside world of the competition or, you know, some detrimental Wa yeah, I've found significant hesitancy in being able to invite people in. I think the reasons for them are complex. Some of them are competitive threats, some of them are concerns over loss of employees and for concerns over what we have as trade secrets or ideas that we've come up with it want don't want to share. Most of them, for me, lie in the area of fear of something, fear of loss, fear of concern, and so one of the things that amy does is provides a safe environment for them to be able to get over that fear and to be able to see that they can grow in significant ways by opening themselves up. You can still isolate items like rd projects or anything that you don't want to share, but what's interesting is the common practices of how you improve things and how you get people engaged every day in creating value, in adding value into their processes, into their workspaces, into the clients that you serve. How to do that better and better and better. Those practices are less proprietary and more transferable than anything else. So you want to be able to see those, and firsthand observation is the way that those are best learned. Fair to say this more to be gained than lost and being more, little more open with those around you. I would say that strongly. Yes, there's more to be gained than lost with transparency at almost every level, and the question is is what can you open up now and then what can you open up next? And it's okay, you don't have to go faster than you're ready. You just have to open up to sharing. But sharing comes back tenfold. Yeah, one of the first things that a you know, and when so many joints are consortium, they're one of the first thing they're asked is is okay, when are you going a tour? And we like to get them Insu are sooner as opposed to later, and they know that's an expectation. There's hesitancy, but then once they've experienced another tour and they say, well, they do stuff similar to us. If I shall bring my people,...

...somebody out to see what we do, it's not any different than what they did and there's not a lot of proprietary things that they that they can't show or that that is out there that they're they're afraid of. So bringing them in lets people come in and take a look at their space and to show things that they're they're doing in an opportunity to improve and and you're not going to get any suggestions for improvement if you don't open yourself up to share. And what I've really found, though, is, while that fear of showing is number one, the the pride that the employees get for the showing off. You know, these are the things they've done. They've been doing things, whether it's had a level of companies that have been in continuous improvement for years. You know know. But they're engaged and it's that pride of the engagement of the employee that makes this magic work. One of their commentsoe. You know the you've heard the saying that what if you train all your people and they leave? And the counterpoint of that is what if you don't train them and they stay? And it's really that that clear. And there are people who are scared of training their people because they might leave. And so what we do is just work with wherever the leaders at and the idea that the people who are attracted to this kind of community understand that they want. What they want a courageous culture where everybody's engaged and they're willing to take steps towards that, and so training your people is part of that and letting them understand things that would be transferable to other businesses and that has potential to lose your employees and they might go somewhere else and work for somebody else. But what if you didn't train them in and they stay? That's the opposite of that. And so there's so much more to gain than to lose. I love how you said that. Yeah, it just kind of reminds me of my own world in a lot of ways. Is a marketing guy. You know, there are a lot of organizations who would rather not share their expertise or marketing content or, you know, in their sales process. And I'm a I'm a advocate of let's be transparent, let's open it up, let's be helpful, let's be a resource to others and by doing so you, you know, you're going to create a positive impression of your organization, you're going to demonstrate expertise and take a leader in your position in your community, and so I think there are just a lot of parallels there. I think a lot of companies sort of live in fear and and you know, in some cases, sure like there, you can't you can't open up the doors and show everything sometimes, and that's okay, but the fear just sort of prevents people from from doing things that could could really be beneficial to themselves and others and not going to add to that, is that they know this is an element of in my mind, it's about developed up leaders and you want to create the right culture. So culture is the very beginning and if you look at a culture of development, of Culture, growth, the contulture, of enthusiasm, of everybody is worthy, what what they do that keeps people there in that and that's one of the things that, if you look at the challenges that are out there's is that the culture is the one thing that you can have that can either make you stronger or it's not. The Great, great culture is going to make you weaker. So we've had this consortium going on for a couple of years now and one of the things that we have seen is we've seen growth and people. We had a one of our lean leaders here in St Louis. The company bought a company out in in Connecticut and that guy is now the plant manager in Connecticut because they saw the growth in the activity that he was doing engaged in not only in their company and the multiple plants that they have there, but also with the other within the other companies that we had here in St Louis. You saw his leadership, they saw his leadership. They got they got promoted and he's one of many examples in the last couple of years where we've seen people grow. I think it's a great example. And Joe, you're a parallel to the marketing thought leadership. Give away your experience and what will happen if you give... away, and will people steal it or will they come to you for more? And I think the you know, what I find is that most CEOS that I work with, I work directly with CEO's, and they want to grow the business and growth is not a riskless adventure. And so the idea that there really is risk when you put your marketing material out there and your thought leadership out there, there actually is risk. You're are risking something and and growth requires risk. And so what what we do is we say, okay, is it is it the right kind of risk? Is it in the right direction? Are you taking risks that are appropriate for that you can afford to take? But you have to risk to grow, and so it's a most people would love to find a riskless way to grow. It just doesn't exist. And so that's one of those pieces that it's just a truism of the world. Growth requires risk and and so opening your doors, sharing marketing content, putting yourself out there for a new position in Connecticut. That's a risky move, but is growing and then we get to watch him grow, which is awesome, great. I love that way of looking at it. So, guys, you told me in a previous conversation that the larger group of St Louis's am e Chap has already started to sort of break down and form smaller interest groups where you've got maybe HR people at this company, in this company of this company having their own smaller groups. And supply chain or safety, I think, are if you you may have named. Can you talk about that a little bit and just how impactful it's been for people in specific roles to be able to, you know, collaborate, chair ideas and learn from others and their roles at other organizations? Well, I actually it all started with the beginning of COVID. So covid happened in March and everything started shutting down and what we did as a consortium is I send an email out and staid let's get together and let's get on zoom. We were all learning zoom and we had boardy some people that showed up zoom to talk about covid now and what we're doing and sharing what we're doing, and this actually helped to connect with each other relatively quickly. We were doing this weekly, but then we had our email list. In sharing that information, the HR team said, our individual said, we seem to be getting a lot of this. We would like to start meeting on our own to just talk about hr and that became the HR special interest group and they continue to meet every other week talking about hr issues, leadership issues. Can you know? They still doing or dealing with covid but they're also what are you doing regarding this law that's coming up, or what are you doing regarding this executive order that came out? How are you? What are you doing for training plans? What are you what are you doing for leadership development processes? Those they would talk about things that other HR people would talk about within manufacturing and they've created a good group of people that that help each other out and while it may not be in that call, it might be an email that goes out and just a simple ask and you get a lot of responses. That went off to then we had a supply chain issue and we thought companies said. They said, what about a supply chain special interest group? So they started the the special which is Grat for supply chain, and then safety also came up as an issue. So so we have monthly supply chain conversations where they are different companies will share an element regarding supply chain and we have a monthly meeting regarding the safety leaders, not just covid safety, because that's where it started, but on other elements of SAFETYS is safety as they keep part of taking care of their employees and making sure that everything everything works. There are other items in the mix. We're now talking about an operations leader, which would need more supervisors and line leaders getting together to share best practices more often than what we do. But it's created more connection with the within each other and adding additional value to the membership besides the tours that they're getting in...

...the learning sessions that we do. Yeah, I think the the vision becoming reality. So the vision is that there's relationships across the organization all levels, that people can understand that if they're stuck they have people who can bounce ideas and get them unstuck, and and those organic relationships being able to developed so that they're always happening and you can't develop relationships only when you need them. You have to develop them over time and then you can when you need them. There, there and they can be helpful. And so it's gives a method to and a frequency of a cadence to meeting frequency to be able to discuss those issues so that now, now the HR community is so tied together that they can rapidly change and grow with whatever happens. So if a new policy comes out from Osha, they can consume it and and share how they're reacting and responding and be able to share best backs across all the HR system inside of saying Louis, it's it's a beautiful organic system of growth for the for the region. It's great. It feels like no no better time than now to with just the the wackiness of the last few years between the pandemic supply chain and everything going on, having support feel like you're not alone. It's probably a pretty powerful thing. I think. You know, covid obviously is one of those that triggers us to think about the fact that change is happening rapidly. But you know, if you look over the last hundred years. I mean we were we didn't have vehicles and now we've got vehicles to thrive themselves. You know, the rate of change is happening rapidly, with or without covid and the ability to stay up with that change and how build a system of a network of people who can accelerate the speed of change inside and innovation inside of companies. I love that for St Louis, but I love that for the US and I love that for the manufacturing community globally. I just want there to be a system that can grow health in a healthy way, to be responsive to any change, whether it be covid related or technology related or other, because they're happening fast. That's what and I believe they'll happen faster if our predictions are correct right that, if the history is any prediction of the future, they're going to becoming faster. So, guys, what advice can you give to manufacturing leaders in, you know, whether they're in our region here and say Louis, or maybe other parts of the country, to that about banding together and sort of working with those around you as opposed to trying to kind of go at it alone? But working together to lift up your region and, in the process, to help your own business. I'll share just from an AMI board perspective. You know, I the reason that I give so much time and energy to this organization is I believe it's really got the potential to change the future and I think that, as a CEO President, I was not able or willing to do this work alone. I needed others who were willing to, side by side, shoulder to shoulder, do this. This kind of leadership, this kind of leadership, is courageous. Growth leadership requires enormous courage and encouragement, and so what I would recommend to CEEOS, if they're listening, or other folks in manufacturing, is connect into a me. Obviously I'm biased because it's a place where I believe in, but look for decide if you could potentially be an anchor company that could start a consortia in your area where you would be able to build what has been built in St Louis. Connect with somebody. We can help you connect with somebody like Jonathan to be able to be the facilitator and then invite your friends in and then let them invite their friends and and so you're not having to do this leadership alone. It's a challenging world to lead in and when you want to run a for profit business with purpose, if that's what you want, I believe that there's no better place or way to do that than to combine together, to do it together, and so happy to take direct requests for that. Or they can reach out to amy at any time at a me dot org and we would love to help them plug into the system. Yeah, I think. I think the feedback that I...

...get from the people on why they want to get involved, the presidents and CEOS that that want to get involved, is that that this is a practitioner to practitioner organization where you're not going to get with people that are trying to sell you a product at the absence you're getting information from other people that are in you're saying, peer area, might they make something different, but making is the key, the key element. So to get involved is if there is a consortia in your area, then get involved in that. If you want to create one on your own. And so just you know. So while we have one in the St Louis we have multiple consourceia across the country. The other facilitators and I through a leader within a volunteer leader within a and me has keeps us together to communicate with each other and to share with what we're doing with each with each other. If we have people starting to wanting to do something in Indianapolis, we have one of the members in our consortia, one of the members in the consortia in Manchester, and then they're looking for a facilitator to help them take off in Indianapolis to get more and more company. So who, wells do you know that has a similar continuous improvement mindset or would like to have a continuous improved mindset? Or what other company do you admire or do you like and would like to spend more time with the learn from them? Because if you can stay in your same lane, it's going to be harder. Is If you can look out and to see what other people do, can do that. We, so many other companies have just looked in another company and up taking something really quick, from a book club to the way they lay out their tools, to the way they do their breaks, their warning meetings. You know, just go out and see somebody else and asked if you can go see somebody else or, even better, invite somebody to come to your to your facility, and you might have a good experience and then want to do it more and more, and that's what we found great. Anything else you guys have like to add to this conversation? I just one piece. I you know, I didn't I have spent twenty seven years of manufacturing, but you know, the idea that our youth, who I care about so dearly, being able to learn how to create value, learn how to do things and change things from raw material into more valuable goods is such a beautiful foundation. And with that foundation you can go anywhere in the world and work in any industry, anywhere from if you can learn how to create value from things that are raw to things that are more valuable, which happens to be what manufacturers do, but if you can take services and add service to make it more valuable. That ability, that gift. I just want that inside of every single human being in the world and I'm looking at the youth right now and just wanting that for our youth. I want that for our I've got three boys. I want that for all three of them and I want that in our schools and I want that in our universities and I want them to be able to learn how to create more valuable things. And then you shared it. You know, how do you give that away or how do you share that with others, or how do you get that to others? And so I just I think manufacturing as a whole is this beautiful space where people can learn that kind of skill. And so would encourage you, if you haven't taken a look at manufacturing, if you're a parent or child, or if you haven't looked, go look at it, because it's such a beautiful space and it's a foundation that you can build off for forever. Going on that same thing of students in our youth, think about well, well, we've experiences that we've had these tours and our tours are for each other, but we've also opened them up to college students and we've opened them up to high school students and there's a manufacturing day every year and in first Friday and in October. But we kind of expanded on that because there are organizations in our communities that caps program in the St Louis Areas, one for instance, which is for high school, high school students that might be looking for something outside of what they are...

...being told they might need to do to go to college and then for college students there are different associations that that we can connect with, because that's the future of our country. It's good future of our manufacturing and there's going to be manufacturing. We just have to get the word out to people that these are really cool jobs. And you know, my favorite part of every tour is meeting with the employees afterwards and reviewing the day and how did you feel everything went, and you can see so much pride in what they do and being able to show that off to other people and when they can show it off to a kid, it's exciting for them and they're very proud of what they do. They're proud of what they've accomplish. They've seen that that growing, not only in their business, but they take at home and they learned, you know, and it makes a better relationships Rome, but they're also applying some of some of the principles in their home and it's been really cool. Great Message, guys. I love what you're doing and I hope that those listening can take a nugget from this like probably much like your your meetings that you guys have in your organization and Sarah, it's that's burden idea. I'm going to go do something about this now. It's great to be with you today, Joe. Awesome. Well, can can each of you tell me a little bit more about where they can get in touch with you two individually, as well as learn more about a me? Yeah, I can go. So you can go to my website, mark debroncom. It's for a sea, so mark debrauncom and connect with me there. You can also go to a me dotorg to learn, which is a nonprofit and what we've been talking a little bit about is where the we're folks can gather and share best practices and and learn more about a me. And I'm happy to take requests at the Markti Browncom site anytime about am as well, because I serve that. I serve with my time. They're so happy to take requests there and direct them in the right place and I can be reached my my website is Jonathan Jones consultingcom. That's direct Jonathan. That, Jonathan Jones consultingcom is my my email then, but he wants to reach me directly through that. There's always the ame dot org and there's a consortium site within the Ame Dot Org website as well, and my phone number should be out there as well. Fantastic guys. Well, I appreciate you both doing this today. This is this is really great. Thank you, Jim. As for the rest of you, I hope to catch you on the next episode of the Manufacturing Executive. You've been listening to the manufacturing executive podcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learn more about industrial marketing and sales strategy, you'll find an ever expanding collection of articles, videos, guides and tools specifically for bdb manufacturers at Gorilla Seventy sixcom learn thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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