The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 8 months ago

The Brightest Generation: New Leadership in Manufacturing w/ Paul Brauss


The younger workforce in manufacturing is looking for more out of leadership. In particular, millennials want to know why the organization is doing what it's doing. And they want a voice in their company's continuous improvement.

How can we embrace the energy, curiosity, and brain power that younger members of the workforce are bringing with them?

In today's episode, I talk about the generational transition in leadership with Paul Brauss, CEO Blue Line Technology and author of Dare to Improve Your Legacy.

Here's what Paul and I discussed:

  1. What the new generation of workers means for manufacturing executives
  2. How to move from top-down leadership to a team-centered approach
  3. Why a production plant is one of the single best marketing tools a company has

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I really was concerned about hearingconversations about millennials and the expectations that they have and I amout there refuiting that saying this is the brightest workforce, the brightestgeneration we've ever seen in it's our obligation to tack that that capabilityand to tap that resource to become better manufacturers. Moving forward. Welcome to the manufacturing executivepodcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that aredriving midsize manufacturers forward here, you'll discover new insights frompassionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share abouttheir successes and struggles, and you will learn from Bto B sales andmarketing experts about how to apply actionable business developentstrategies inside your business. Let's get into the show, welcome to another episode of theManufacturing Executive Podcast, I'm Joe Sullivan your host and a Co founderof the Industrial Marketing Agency Garila. Seventy six, so I've noticed atrend in recent conversations. I've had with leaders of manufacturingorganizations. What they're telling me is that the younger workforce inmanufacturing is looking for more from their leadership than previousgenerations. Have millennials in particular, are more interested in theWy of what the organization is doing. Instead of just the what and they wanta voice in the continuous improvement of the company, as my guest today will tell you,instead of dog in on the millennials, which seems to be the common practicefor many of us, we need to be embracing the energy, the curiosity and the brainpower that these younger members of the workforce are bringing with them. So onthat note, let me introduce our guest Paul brouse is a seasoned, amanufacturing leader that is champion company transformations built on leanmanufacturing techniques throughout his career. Paul has aligned companies,customer centric, focuses around business process, improvement,keydriving, metrics and gaining involvement at every level of theorganization. Paul holds a Bachelor of Science and Industrial Management andan MBA from Washington University in St Louis, which also happens to be my Almamatter. Paul is the former CEO of Mark Andy and has served on industryleadership panels published articles and as a pastboard member of the tagand Label Manufacturers Institute, as well as a current board. Member of aaimemployers, association, Holl, recently published his book dare to Improve YourLegacy and it highlights a label and packaging printers journey, withcontinuous improvement as a methodology for educating the next generation ofleaders to assume the business as a consultant and executive coachPaul continues to help organizations with their organizational developmentfocus on continuous improvement, implementation and business succession.Paul welcome to the show thanks go. I appreciate the opportunity toarticipate in the program. Awesome will congrats on on the book being releasedand I'd love for you to start by talking a little bit about the book.Dare to improve your legacieis when it's called, and I I think it's hot offthe press right. It is just released on Amazon in October of two thousand andtwenty so starting to get some Nice hets on it appreciate that the journeyof the book was really the beginning of. It was a case study that I was writing,because I work with a lot of leadership teams and they're always curious of howto get started on a journey of continuous ipprovement. They think it'sit's really a scary ominous beginning and what I was trying to convey in thebook is it's easier than you think and you're already doing some good thingsin your company, but let's put it together in a way that makes sense sothat you can continue this process a d...

...and pull every bit of the organizationtogether. Well that article went into the book- and I had a friend of mine,really encouraging me- I was helping his family inder business and he reallyencouraged me to go ahead and finish the book as a story that a lot of theconverteers in the printing imdustry could relate to that's great, and so myunderstanding is that the book is is written almost as a story withcharacters right it's as opposed to a traditional businessbook with at whichI think is interesting, I' Boue, to hear a little bit more about sort ofwhat what inspired you to write it that way. Well, I met a lot of leadershipteams and I met a lot of family businesses and a lot of their problemsare the same. No matter if they're in a fabrication, company and AssemblingCompany machine shops, they all come across the same sort of problems, andso I pulled together in amalganation. I may up a family that a lot of peoplewhen they read a story think that I could be talking about their familybusiness and I could be talking about their manage thet team, and so I pulledhis group of different experiences together and I created a family. That'sgoing through not only the need to improve of business, but also thegenerational transition. So as we move from one generation to the to the next,the fun thing about it is tha. The kids that are listed in the book are allnamed after my grandkid, so it gave me a little inspiration to do that andbring their personalities and the personalities of my own kids into thecharacters as well. I think that's a really interesting decision to write it.That way- and you know it stands out because it's it's different- you knowt'there's, so many businessbooks out there that may ot lots of good onesloft ten, that's not so good ones, but it's just simply changing the format.Have you have you ever read the servant by James C Hunter as a servant,leadership sort of parable, similar sort of thing there. I'm sure some ofour listeners are familiar with that one and on the topic of ServantLeadership At as written in a similar way where you know it told a this storyis essentially to illustrate the point, and it really resonated for that reason.So I like that, you you took that approach. I got a copy of your bookright on my desk wbut. I just got it the other day, and so I need to diveinto it still, but great well, so Paul an you've, also written. You know bunchof great great content out there on online and there was an article that Iknow you recently wrote that, were you touched on some observations about thechanging workforce and I wanted to talk to you a little bit about that. I'm Gon,no, I'm going to quote you here, you wrote the workforce of today is lookingfor more engagement, understanding and visualization that will lead to theirideas becoming implemented and provide a sense of community in theorganization. Can you unpact that one a little bit for us and tell us what thatmeans for manufacturing executives, yeah? I think I can. I grew up in amanufacturing environment and a lot of the work that I did was on theproduction floor and the old school way of thinking was. We have a way we'regoing to we're going to do these processes. We're going to build thisproduct just follow the way and do it o. When ask questions. Jus Go get it done.There was a lot of talk about getting it done faster. We need more productout the door, but there was never a way for me as a as a worker on theproduction floor to communicate back up the chain, so to speak on things that Iknew could be done to improve an operation of the organization, and sowhen you, so we grew up that way, so that thatwas my generation of work and we we accepted today's generation, and I knowthis from participating in aims, the employen association and speaking withthese people that are on the floor today. They want to know why th thisthere's this curiosity. They have the workers have today that is socompolleng and and if we can fade that curiosity and engage them inparticipating to help us do our jobs,...

I'm finding that we've got much happierworkforce as a result of that and a happy wer force, neens less turn over.It means of better ideas coming from the floor, quicker improvements beingmade, and so and so I really was concerned about hearing conversationsabout millennials and the expectations that they have and I am out thererefuting that saying this is the brightest workforce, the brightestgeneration we've ever seen in its our obligation to tack that that capabilityand to tap that resource to become better manufacturers moving forwardyeah. I really like your perspective on that. I think it's we're all I don'tknow. Technically, I could be considered a millennial, I'm thirty,eight I think like in some classifications, but I don't feel Idon't feel like one, but I don't. I don't feel like onecertainly and en most of my my team is- and I think it's you know my businesspartner John and I whenwere having our gripe sessions about all sorts ofthings. Bu. We tend to dog on the on millennials right, but there's so Ithink you're so right that there's so much curiosity and the. Why right yousaid it like the. Why is opposed to you k O telling me what to do it's. Theywant to understand why they want to contribute to the bigger picture andthat's t's such a a huge thing that that we can all harness it's justthere's this energy there that you know I didn't get to experience the theprior generation really, but it's something that I need to remind myselfnot to overlook sometimes well and it's leaders, the biggest challenge we haveis we want to tell them what to do. We want to tell people what to do it's inour nature, it's how we grew up and what I'm encouraging in the book andthen the articles that I've written, I sometimes you got to take a step backas a leader. You got to take thi step back Wut. They put the overview ofwhere you want your company to go and let them go. Try Things. I wasfortunate in my career that I had. I had worked for bosses that allowed meto do something even even whin. I made a mistake. They allowed me to do it andbecause of that, I think I learned faster and I was I became a bettercontributor to the company and I think that's what we need to do, that thathas to be part of what we do as leaders is to create this vision, a path to getto that vision and then get out of the way and let let these new employees andnew generations, and it's not just millennials anymore now, we've gotgenerations Etoing, Otboard and we've got to prepare the millennials tobecome our new leaders. That's where it's going o you're right. So what are?What are ways that manufacturing leaders can you know start to fosterthis involvement from their teams and start to move from less of a top downleadership approach, where the president is driving every decision toone where he or she is instead supporting the activities of the team?Well, I think th, the first step that do with a lot of the companies as I goin and I do a mackro business mat a process map of how the business worksfrom the time they engage. A customer through the hand off of an order to themanufactureing termenent. We call that the preorder process and then I mapfrom the time they get the orders received all the way through fulfilmentof that are and actually could include collection of that order. So by processmapping it it's interesting to pull a network of people in after they've seenthis rough draft on a wall and here their perspective of how they do aparticular process step and in several of these companies, what you find outis, as operators start talking, Niggo. Well, I don't I don't do it that way. Ido it a different way and you find out that in the in the scheme of things,everybody's got the roowm twist of something and because there's been nofocus on business processes. The process quality is really bad, and so that's the first sten. It's findout what the process really is and find...

...out what you want it to be, so that youcan get the desired results and in my training from the Times group years ago,we call that, what's the process entitled to do if we took out all ofthe barriers, if we took out all of the road blocks to a process, how fastcould it be done? How good could it have been done and that's the processentidleen, that's what we're really looking for yeah, so many problemswithin a business. I think for my experience. I run a marketing companyCOLEDA marketing company, but it's a lot of the same things. It's I can step back and my business partnerJohn, can step back when people understand the way something needs toplay out and they were part of it of developing that process as well. So buta so many of the problems that that we see stem directly from confusion roundprocesses and accountabilities well and then and then the next thing to do isso many times as leaders we're talking about the results of our organization.So we're talking about earnings and we're talking about performance, butwe're talking about it at a level that the typical production worker can'trelate to they. Don't it doesn't Gress, then in any way, so so ias a supervisorleader and I walk out and said Wowe our profits were down and things arelooking bad and employe can't do anything without information. So whatwe have to do is go find what the real drivers in the business work so switchup. Our focus on matrics to focus on drivers and not the results, and so adriver couldn't be something as simple as how many quotes did we get processedtoday. I don't know if they're good culture that, but how many did we getprocess? What's our process capability, because ever sales organization wantsto turn the quote over very very quickly, so our drivers? Well, how manydid we get done and what stopped us from getting an done? So what was thequality problem? We were having with processing more fooks and that becomesif we move to those driver metrics the conversations changed pratically in thearticle I referenced earlier, Paul that you had authored. You mentionedsomething that caught my attention as a marketing guy, you said a productionplant is one of the single best marketing tools, a company has thatdemonstrates its capability. Can you tell us what you mean by that yeah? Youknow in my experiences with Markandy alvy system. Some of the othercompanies that I work with the sales team is really focused on getting theorder off the street, so they got to get they got to do whatever it takes toexcite that customer. If you have a facility that demonstrates is cleain,orderly and productive, and it demonstrates that it looks that way andthat's we refer to that as a visual factory, and all these are a lot oflean principles that we that we pull together all the way through thecompany. But if your shot presents well and your sales people can bringcustomers out onto your shot floor, your sales person has confidence in thecompany because they see how it goes and that company are that confidencereally transformed, so that the future customer that you have is all of asudden gaining confidence in your organization as well, and so I think,all of those sorts of things become selling features and selling points ofwhy your company could be better than the competition. It's a really goodpoint. I've been inside of HA number of manufacturing facilities over the years,given that or client bases midsize manufacturers of all different shapesand sizes, and there is really something to be said for some facilities. I'm inside of are kindof a mass they're dirty there's. You know, there's scraps on the floor. It'sdark and dingy in there. Others are well lit, they're, well, ventilated,there's everything's clean, and you know the impression that that createsis, can be really strong. You know here's a little little idea, effort forthose listening. We have one client of...

...ours that is an equipment manufacturerthey're, actually going to start. Given this, this covid are we're livingINWHAR. It's tough to you, know, tough, to be on the move and flying around thecountry and going into facilities they're actually going to start doing,is zoom based demo requests where they're going to have a camera set upright inside their manufacturing facility, where you can kind of see thebackground and highlight what it looks like in there and they're going to bestanding next to their product and talking about it and you you canactually do a zoom base to call with them. In addition to having somerecorded videos- and I think it's going to it's going to work wonders for him,because you're kind of replicating some of some of those things that can be alittle tougher to do in person, but it all comes down to the sort of the samepoint like if you can. It is Yeah Y. now, it's tougher out there. The salesguys have a very, very tough job, and so, whatever organization Coan do t tohelp that sales process. Ob is really important and what was fun for me iswhen the salesman would be excited about the plant o. They walk out there,many of them commenting to me if I can get my customer on to our shop floor. Iknow I can close the ORT and then and then the people on the shop floor arevery curious and they're like did we did we get the ardor? Did we winbecause then they have this sense of I'm helping I'm helping the company win.I participated in doing this and it makes for just a lot a lot of fun towork in an order. Doligion like that yeah, you bring up a really good pointthere, because you're not you're, not keeping the shop floor clean and formarketing purposes, you're, keeping it clean to run a tight operation, butthat will impact marketing and then, when, when your team knows that yourmarketing is going to be dependent on that it kind of motivates people, andso it's kind of the cyclical thing. I feel like that. Yeah, it's Artof, thiswhole Agena thing that w that we keep doing the more? U You feel it the more.It feels itself and the conversations on the shop floor changes drasticallyand when they're talking about quality and they're talking about efficiencyand they're, talking about how to Dho things better and as leaders wereletting them do it we're helping them. Do it because we're saying how can wehelp it just gets this momentum going that sontagious yeah? I love that Paul leaders insideof companies, both inside and outside of manufacturing, have a tendency to bebig idea: People Er, if you're in Eos fan, you know vision, ares, theres, sothere's a lot of visionaries out there who have. You know a lot of ideas,often up in the clouds and I'm guilty of it myself. I fit the profile of thevisionary perfectly, but you've referred to this problem that you'vecalled starts control issues where leadership tends to start a lot of newprojects without a true understanding of what it'll take to actually executeand complete all of them. So how can manufacturing executivesharness their own energy and excitement and really focus on starting theprojects that matter the most instead yeah? I think I think the first thingthat they have to do is understand the impact. A starts control, it's a basic,simple equation: YOUV got in ideas generating in anorganization all the time and whether you're doing an it up grade or whetheryou're doing a efficiency, movement or quality movement or any of any of thosesorts of things. What you find is they intend to lead to a list of projects, alist of things to do and as a leader often I find that the leaders are outwell yeah, let's go and give the approval. Let's go. Let's go upgradethat software. Let's go change this production, nothing, let's go, buy somenew equipment and Niplement it on and on on. In an organization I was workingat in southern Missouri. We pulled everybody aside and said: Let's justtalk about the improvement initiatives...

...we have going on, how many are thereand we kind of forty seven active improvement initiatives? Okay- and thisis by a plant of a no hundred eighty people- something like that and we thenasked well how many were we getting completed and what we found is we werencompleting many at all, so out of the forty seven, because we were working onthem with a small group of people, call it resource constraine activity, wecouldn't get anything a complic, so we couldn't make any of the improvementslast because we weren't completed so in this example. What we did is we shutdown about forty of those projects and said we're not going to not do that,we're going to back log we're just we're just going to move them over here.I don't want any resources to work on these and let's take the resource andpull it up and go after these southern projects, and let's get these sevendone and as we get one done then well start a new, and so we had to findwhatever that balance was in the company. Some companies can only dothree ot the time you know, but because of that we were getting those projectsinplemented quicker more successfully and in reality, because we were doingthat some of the projects that were on the back loglist, we didn't need themanymore, because we had fixed something else. That was more important that wecould get to know. So it was about pooling resources, stop starting so many projects andlet's focus on completing some projects back Loen. If they're good projectsthey'll still be ther and you can pull them over when you' V when you'vecompleted a yew. Let's take that resource that we have. Sometimes we doit as Kaison teams. Sometimes we do it as a crossfunctional team in aparticular area of the company, but let's keep it to a minimum of how manywe start so that we can go finish. I think. That's so great, I mean Ou whatyou basically just described as there were forty seven projects and becausethere were forty seven projects, they were getting a few of them done andthen you go let's strip it down to seven projects. Now you get seven doneso, and all the wasted time on things that were never completed goes away. Soyou get all that time back and, like you said they stay there. You know itreminds me of our company started implementing eos in late last year andit's sort of the same ideaas you having your priorities for the year, yourgoals for the year and breaking them down into quarterly rocks and sayingthese are the things where Gonnao get done and we are going to get them done.You know, but and then find the resources may ended up, find theresources that you can do it find the people that are smart in your organization that perhapsknow about the process and can contribute it pull those people fromevery area in the company but concentrate them and concentrating inwhat we call quickkit project improvement in hisues. That's GreatPaul's there anything you'd like to touch on that. I didn't ask you abouttoday: Yeah t the biggest thing that I run into with the leadership teams. Is this hesitation to get started on acontinuous improvement process and we're coming out of this covidnightmare that we've had to live through? I see a lot of robust activityahead of us, especially in manufacturing. There's a there's, anemphasis o really focus on US manufacturing and US matigin that Ilove. I love. I love that focus and the encouragement that I want to have forleaders is figure out. Your Plan Whit you got toget start. Continuous improvement is not something you do extra as you go towork in the morning. It's how you're going to do the work, and so, if youcan get that into your mind, about changing the way you want to go afteryour improvement initiatives in the company and Changin the way you want tofocus and that's whan processes, driving metric and quick hit kiys onprojects. If you want o change your...

...mind to do that, let's jump in and let's go, do it stopbringing the hand stop slowing down, don't hesitate, you got to get gon. Yougot to take that first step and so a lot of leaders are quite hesitant tothat and I'm saying now is the time not to be hesitant. It's the time to driveand it'so efod at just start right. You got to start yeah, fantastic Paul. This is a reallygood conversation. I appreciate you sharing your wisdom and taking the timeout of your data, talk to our audience. Well, I appreciate the opportunity. oDo really does mean a lot great well. Can you tell our listeners where theycan get in touch with you and where they can learn more about yourconsulting services in case it may make sense for them sure it's brouseconsulting. You can look up our website, FRUSK CONSULTINGCOM and we're readlyavailable there, I'm on linked in. If you want to just link into me and ask afew questions happy to have a conversation, my email addressespbrofset, Bros Consultingcom, pretty sumpso great. Give me a note. Well,we'll get you started and the book is now available on the Amazon. Iappreciate you pugging Thar forme a little bit. I think I think once somepeople lead that I know leaders that have read it already have called me andsaid. I think I want to do this. I think I can do this and I'm encouragedby that. That's great, so that's Paul, Browse Brouse, consulting that's Br, aUSS and Paul's book has he mentioned, is dare to improve your legacy, so gocheck that out on Amazon and based on everything. I've heard from you todayPaul I'm excited to dive into it myself. So great great awesome! Well, thanksonce again Paul and as for the rest of you, I hope to catch you on the nextepisode of the manufacturing. H Executive you've been listening to themanufacturing executive podcast to ensure that you never missed an episodesubscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learnmore about industrial marketing and sale strategy, you'll find an everexpanding collection of articles, videos guides and tools specificallyfor btob manufacturers at Gerilla. Seventy sixcom Awar. Thank you so muchfor listening until next time.

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