The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 10 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

To ensure that you never miss an episode of The Manufacturing Executive, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, or Spotify, or here.

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

I really was concerned about hearing conversationsabout millennials and the expectations that they have, and I am out there receut inthat saying. This is the brightest workforce, rightest generation, we've everseen and it's our obligation to tap that that capability in to tap that resourceto become better manufacturers moving forward. Welcome to the manufacturing executive podcast, wherewe explore the strategies and experiences that are driving mid size manufacturers forward. Hereyou'll discover new insights from passionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share abouttheir successes and struggles, and you'll learn from B tob sales and marketing expertsabout how to apply actionable business development strategies inside your business. Let's get intothe show. Welcome to another episode of the Manufacturing Executive podcast. I'm JoeSullivan, your host and a CO founder of the Industrial Marketing Agency guerrilla.Seventy six so I've noticed a trend in recent conversations I've had with leaders ofmanufacturing organizations. What they're telling me is that the younger workforce in manufacturing islooking for more from their leadership than previous generations have millennials in particular are moreinterested in the why of what the organization is doing instead of just the what, and they want a voice in the continuous improvement of the company, asmy guest today will tell you, instead of Dogg in on the millennials,which seems to be the common practice for many of us, we need tobe embracing the energy, the curiosity in the brain power that these younger membersof the workforce are bringing with them. So, on that note, letme introduce our guest. Paul Browse is a season of manufacturing leader that ischampioned company transformations built on lean manufacturing techniques. Throughout his career, Paul Has AlignedCompany's customer centric focuses around business process improvement, key driving metrics and gaininginvolvement at every level of the organization. Paul holds a Bachelor of science inindustrial management and an MBA from Washington University in St Louis, which also happensto be my Alma Mater. Paul is the former CEO of Mark Andy andhas served on industry leadership panels, published articles and is a past board memberof the tag and Label Manufacturers Institute, as well as a current board memberof aim employers association. Paul recently published his book dare to Improve Your Legacyand it highlights a label and packaging printers journey with continuous improvement as a methodologyfor educating the next generation of leaders to assume the business. As a consultantand executive coach, Paul continues to help organizations with their organizational development focus oncontinuous improvement, implementation and business succession. Paul, welcome to the show.Thanks, Joe. I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the program. Awesome. Will congrats on the book being released and I'd love for you to startby talking a little bit about the book. Dare to improve your legacy is whatit's called, and they think it's hot off the press right. Itis just released on Amazon in October of two thousand and twenty, so startingto get some nice hits on it. Appreciate that the journey of the bookwas really the beginning of it was a case study that I was writing becauseI work with a lot of leadership teams and they're always curious of how toget started on a journey of continuous improvement. They think it's it's really a scaryominous beginning and what I was trying to convey in the book is it'seasier than you think and you're already doing some good things in your company,but let's put it together in a way that makes sense so that you cancontinue this process and and pull every bit...

...of the organization together. Well,that article led into the book and I had a friend of mine really encouragingme. I was helping his family in the business and he really encouraged meto go ahead and finish the book as a story that a lot of theconverters in the printing industry could relate to. That's great, and so my understandingis that the book is is written almost as a story with characters rightit's it is as opposed to a traditional business book. With that which Ithink is interesting. I'd love to hear a little bit more about sort ofwhat when inspired you to write it that way. Well, I've met alot of leadership teams and I met a lot of family businesses and a lotof their problems are the same, no matter if they're in a Fabrication Companyand Assembly Company, machine shops that all come across the same sort of problemsand so I hold together an amalgamation. I made up a family that alot of people, when they read a story, think that I could betalking about their family business, I can be talking about their management team,and so I pulled this group of different experiences together and I created a familythat's going through not only the need to improve the business but also the generationaltransition, so as we move from one generation to the to the next.The Fun thing about it is that the kids that are listed in the bookare all named after my grandkids. So it gave me a little inspiration todo that and bring their personalities, in the personalities of my own kids intothe characters as well. I think that's a really interesting decision to write itthat way and you know, it stands out because it's it's different. Youknow, there's there's so many business books out there that I meant lots ofgood ones, lots and that's not so good ones, but it's just simplychanging the format. Have you have you ever read the servant by James CHunter as a servant leadership sort of parable, similar sort of thing there. I'msure some of our listeners are from Eiliar with that one. On thetopic of Servant Leadership. It was written in a similar way where, youknow, it told a the story is essentially to illustrate the point and itreally resonated for that reason. So I like that you you took that approach. I got a copy of your book right on my desk, but Ijust got it the other day and so I need to dive into it still, but great. Well So, Paul in, you've also written a youknow, bunch of great, great content out there online, and there's anarticle that I know you recently wrote that we were touched on some observations aboutthe changing workforce and I wanted to talk to you a little bit about that. I'm I'm going to quote you here. You wrote the workforce of today islooking for more engagement, understanding and visualization that will lead to their ideasbecoming implemented and provide a sense of community in the organization. Can you unpackthat one a little bit for us and tell us what that means for manufacturingexecutives? Yeah, I think I can. I grew up in a manufacturing environmentand a lot of the work that I did was on the production floorand the old school, the only way of thinking was we have a way, we're gonna we're going to do these processes, we're going to build thisproduct. Just follow the way and do it. Don't ask questions, youjust go get it done. There was a lot of talk about getting itdone faster. We need more product out the door, but there was nevera way for me, as a as a worker on the production floor,to communicate back up the chain, so speak, on things that I knewcould be done to improve an operation of the organization. And so when youso we grew up that way, so that that was my generation of wordand we and we accepted it. Today's generation, and I know this fromparticipating in Naimes, the Bloye Association and speaking with these people that are onthe floor today, they want to know why they're this. There's this curiositythey have, the workers have today, that is so compelling and and ifwe can feed that curiosity and engage them in participating to help us do ourjobs, I'm finding that we've got much...

...happier workforce as a result of that. And a happier workforce means less turnover and means of better ideas coming fromthe floor, quicker improvements being made, and so and so I really wasconcerned about hearing conversations about millennials and the expectations that they have, and Iam out there and refuting that, saying this is the brightest workforce, thebrightest generation, we've ever seen and it's our obligation to tap that that capabilityin the tap that resource to become better manufacturers moving forward. Yeah, Ireally like your perspective on that. I think it's we're all I don't know, technically I could be considered a millennial. I'm thirty eight, I think likein some classifications, but I don't feel I don't feel like one,but I don't feel like one certainly, and most of my team is,and I think it's my business partner John and I, and when we're havingour gripe sessions about all sorts of things, we tend to dog on millennials.Right, but there's so I think you're so right that there's so muchcuriosity and the why. Right. You said it like the why, asopposed to you're telling me what to do. It's they want to understand why,they want to contribute to the bigger picture and that's such a huge thing, that that we can all harness. It's just there's this energy there that, you know, I didn't get to experience the prior generation really, butit's something that I need to remind myself not to overlook sometimes. Well,and it's leaders the biggest challenge we have as we want to tell them whatto do. We want to tell people what to do. It's in ournature, it's how we grew up, and what I'm encouraging in the bookand in the articles that I've written is sometimes you got to take a stepback as a leader. You got to take a step back. What theyput the overview of where you want your company to go and let them gotry things. I was fortunate in my career that I had I had workfor bosses that allowed me to do something, even even when I made a mistake, they allowed me to do it and because of that, I thinkI learned faster and I was I became a better contributor to the company,and I think that's what we need to do. That that has to bepart of what we do as leaders, is to create this vision, apath to get to that vision and then get out of the way and letthese new employees, the new generations and it's not just millennials anymore. Nowwe've got generation Z coming on board and we've got to prepare the millennials tobecome our new leaders. That's where it's going now. You're right. Sowhat are what are the ways that manufacturing leaders can, you know, startto foster this involvement from their teams and start to move from less of atop down leadership approach where the president is driving every decision to one where heor she is instead supporting the activities of the team. Well, I thinkthe first step that I do with a lot of the companies as I goin and I do a macro business map, a process map, of how thebusiness works from the time they engage a customer through the handoff of anorder to the manufacturing arena. We call that the pre order process. Andthen I map from the time they get that in order has received all theway through fulfillment of that are and actually could include collection of that order.So by process mapping it it's interesting to pull a network of people in afterthey've seen this rough draft on a wall and here their perspective of how theydo a particular process step. And in several of these companies. What youfind out is as operators start talking, they go, well, I don't, I don't do it that way, I do it a different way.And you find out out that in the in the scheme of things, everybody'sgot their own twist of something and because there's been no focus on business processes, the process quality is really bad. And so that's the first step,is find out what the process really is...

...and find out what you want itto be so that you can get the desired results. And in my trainingfrom the Times group years ago we called that what's the process entitled to do? If we took out all of the barriers, if we took out allof the road blocks to a process, how fast could it be done?How good could it have been done? And that's the process entitlement, andthat's what we're really looking for. Yes, so many problems within a business.I think for my experience I run a marketing company. Co Lead tomarketing company, but it's a lot of the same things. It's you know, I can step back and my business partner John can step back when peopleunderstand the way something needs to play out and they were a part of it, of developing that process as well. So, but I so many ofthe problems that we see stem directly from confusion around processes and accountabilities. Well, and then, and then the next thing to do if so many timesas leaders, we're talking about the results of our organization. So we're talkingabout earnings and we're talking about performance, but we're talking about it at alevel that the typical production worker can't relate to. They don't it. Itdoesn't grass then in any way. So so as a supervisor leader and Iwalk out and say wow, our profits were down and things are looking bad, and employee can't do anything with that information. So what we have todo is go find what the real drivers in the business work. So switchup our focus on metrics to focus on drivers and not the results. Andso a driver could be something as simple as how many quotes did we getprocess today? I don't know if they're good quotes or not. How manydid we get process? What's our process capability, because every sales organization wantsto turn the quote over very, very quickly, so our drivers will.How many did we get done and what stopped us from getting them done?So what was the quality problem we were having with processing? More quotes andthat becomes if we move to those driver metrics. The conversations changed drassically.In the article 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 that demonstrates itscapability. Can you tell us what you mean by that? Yeah, youknow in my experiences with Mark Andy, alvy systems some of the other companiesthat I work with, the sales team is really focused on getting the orderoff the street. So they got to get they got to do whatever ittakes to excite that customer. If you have a facility that demonstrates is claimorderly and productive it and it demonstrates that it looks that way, and that'swe refer to that as the visual factory and all these are a lot oflean principles that we that we pull together all the way through the company.But if your shot presents well and your salespeople can bring customers out onto yourshop floor, your sales person has confidence in the company because they see howit goes and that company are that a confidence really transformed so that the futurecustomer that you have is all of a sudden gaining confidence in your organization aswell, and so I think all of those sorts of things become selling featuresand selling points of why your company could be better than the competition. It'sa really good point. I've been inside of a number of manufacturing facilities overthe years, given that our client bases midsize manufacturers of all different shapes andsizes, and there is really something to be said for use. Some facilitiesI'm inside of our kind of a mess. They're dirty, there's you know,there's scraps on the floor, it's dark and Dingying there. Others arewell lit, there well ventilated, there's everything's clean, and you know,the impression that that creates is can be really strong. You know, here'sa little little IDA for those listening.

We have one client of ours thatis an equipment manufacturer. They they're actually going to start, given this thiscovid air we're living in, where it's tough to you know, tough tobe on the move and flying around the country and going into facilities, they'reactually going to start doing is zoom based demo requests where they're going to havea camera set up right inside their manufacturing facility where you can kind of seethe background and highlight what it looks like in there, and they're going tobe standing next to their product and and talking about it and you can actuallydo a zoom based to call with them in addition to having some recorded videos, and I think it's going to it's going to work wonders for him becauseyou're kind of replicating some of some of those things that can be a littletougher to do in person. But it all comes down to the sort ofthe same point, like if you can it is yeah, it's tougher outthere. The sales guys have a very, very tough job and so whatever organizationcan do to to help that sales process out is really important. Andwhat was fun for me is when the salesman would be excited about the planethey've walk out there many of them commenting to me, if I can getmy customer onto our shop floor, I know I can close the or andthen and then the people on the shop floor are very curious and they're likedid we did we get the order? Did we win? Because then theyhave this sense of I'm helping, I'm helping the company win. I participatedin doing this and and it makes for just a lot, a lot offun to work in an organization like that. Yeah, you bring up a reallygood point there, because you know you're not you're not keeping the shopfloor clean and for marketing purposes you're keeping a clean to run a tight operation, but that will impact marketing. And then when, when, when yourteam knows that your marketing is going to be dependent on that, it kindof motivates people and so it's kind of the cyclical thing. I feel likethat. Yeah, it's part of this whole engagement thing that we that wekeep doing. The more you you feel it, the more it feels itselfand the conversations on the shop floor changes drastically and when they're talking about qualityand they're talking about efficiency and they're talking about how to do things better andas leaders were letting them do it. We're helping them do it because we'resaying, how can we help? It just gets this momentum going. That'sstageous. Yeah, I love that, Paul. Leaders inside of companies,both inside and outside of manufacturing, have a tendency to be big idea peopleor, if you're an EOS fan. You know visionaries. There's there's alot of visionaries out there have a, you know, a lot of ideas, often up in the clouds, and I'm guilty of it myself. Ifit the profile of the visionary perfectly. But you've referred to this problem thatyou've called starts control issues, where leadership tends to start a lot of newprojects without a true understanding of what it'll take to actually execute and complete allof them. So how can manufacturing executives harness their own energy and excitement andreally focus on starting the projects that matter the most instead? Yeah, Ithink. I think the first thing that they have to do is understand theimpact of starts control. It's a basic, simple equation. You've got an ideasgenerating in an organization all the time and and whether you're doing an itupgrade or whether you're doing an efficiency movement or quality movement or any of anyof those sorts of things, what you find is they they tend to leadto a list of projects, a list of things to do and as aleader, often I find that the leaders are out with yeah, let's go, they give the approval, let's go, let's go upgrade that software. Let'sgo change this production method, let's go buy some new equipment and implementit, on and on and on. In an organization I was working atin southern Missouri, we pulled everybody aside and said let's just talk about theimprovement initiatives we have going on. How...

...many are there? And we kindof forty seven active improvement initiatives. Okay, and this is by a plant ofa hundred eighty people, something like that. And we then asked,well, how many we were we getting completed? And what we found iswe were completing many at all. So out of the forty seven, becausewe were working on them with a small group of people, call it resourceconstrained activity, we couldn't get any, think, accomplish. So we couldn'tmake any of the improvements last because we were completed. So in this example, what we did is we shut down about forty of those projects and saidwe're not going to not do them, we're going to backlog, we're justwe're just going to move them over here. I don't want any resources to workon these and let's take the resource and pull it up and go afterthese seven projects and let's get these seven done and as we get one done, then we'll start a new one, and so we had to find whateverthat balance was in the company. Some companies going only do three at thetime, you know. But because of that we were getting those projects implementedquicker, more successfully and in reality, because we were doing that, someof the projects that were on the backlog list we didn't need them anymore becausewe had fixed something else that was more important that we could get to now. So it was about pooling resources, stop starting so many projects and let'sfocus on completing some projects backlog and if they're good projects, they'll still bethere and you can pull them over when you've when you've completed a few.Well, let's take that resource that we have. Sometimes we do it asKais on teams, sometimes we do it as a cross functional team in aparticular area of a company, but let's keep it to a minimum of howmany we start so that we can go finish. I think that's so great. I mean you what you basically just described as there were forty seven projectsand because there were forty seven projects, they were getting a few of themdone, and then you go, let's strip it down to seven projects nowyou get seven done so and all the wasted time on things that were nevercompleted goes away. So you get all that time back and, like yousaid, they stay there. You know, it reminds me of our company startedimplementing eos in late last year and it's sorted the same idea as you, having your priorities for the year, your goals for the year, andbreaking him down into quarterly rocks and saying these are the things where you getdone and we are going to get them done. You know, but andthen find the resources man it up, find the resources that you can doit, find the people that are smart in your organization that perhaps know aboutthe process and can contribute it, pull those people from every area in thecompany, but concentrate them and concentrate them in what we call quick hit projectimprovement in issues. That's great, Paul. Is there anything you'd like to touchon that I didn't ask you about today? Yeah, the the biggestthing that I run into with the leadership teams is this hesitation to get startedon a continuous improvement process. And we're coming out of this covid nightmare thatwe've had to live through. I see a lot of robust activity ahead ofus, especially in manufacturing. There's a there's an emphasis to really focus onUS manufacturing and US made again. That I love. I love. Ilove that focus and the encouragement that I want to have for leaders is figureout your plan, but you got to get started. Continuous improvement is notsomething you do extra as you go to work in the morning. It's howyou're going to do the work. And so if you can get that intoyour mind about change in the way you want to go after your improvement initiativesin the company and change in the way you want to focus, and that'son processes, driving metrics and quick hit...

...guys on projects. If you wantto change your mind to do that, let's jump in and let's go doit. Stop bringing the hand, stop slowing down, don't hesitate. Yougot to get going. You got to take that first step, and soa lot of leaders are quite hesitant of that, and I'm saying now isthe time not to be hesitant, it's the time to drive, and soI've encouraged that. Just start right. You got to start. Yep,fantastic, Paul, this is a really good conversation. I appreciate you sharingyour wisdom and taking the time out of your data talk to our audience.Well, I appreciate the opportunity to do it really does mean one great well, can you tell our listeners where they can get in touch with you andwhere they can learn more about your consulting services, in case it may makesense for them? Sure, it's browse consulting. You can look up ourwebsite forrowse consultingcom and we're readily available there. I'm on Linkedin if you want tojust link into me and ask a few questions. Happy to have aconversation. My email address is t brow set browse consultingcom. Pretty so great. Give me a know. Well, we'll get you started and the bookis now available on Amazon. I appreciate you. I'm going to have forme a little bit, I think. I think once some people read that. I know leaders that have read it already called me and said I thinkI want to do this, I think I can do this and I'm encouragedby that. Well, that's great. So that's Paul Browse brouse consulting.It's BRA USS and Paul's book. Has He mentioned is dare to improve yourlegacy. So go check that out on Amazon and, based on everything I'veheard from you today, palm, I'm excited to dive into it myself.So great, great, awesome. Well, thanks once again, Paul, andas for the rest of you, I hope to catch you on thenext episode of the Manufacturing Executive. You've been listening to the manufacturing executive podcastto ensure that you never missed an episode. Subscribe to the show in your favoritepodcast player. If you'd like to learn more about industrial marketing and salesstrategy, you'll find an ever expanding collection of articles, videos, guides andtools specifically for be tob manufacturers at gorilla seventy sixcom learn thank you so muchfor listening. Until next time.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (84)