The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 1 year ago

Make It Right: Growth and Stability in Manufacturing Companies w/ Kevin Snook

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

What comes to mind when you think of a great business leader? 

Someone with all the answers? Someone who grinds away working long hours? Someone with such deep experience and expertise that you don't need to question his or her guidance?

Or is a great leader someone who leads by empowering the people around them?

On this episode of the podcast, I invited Kevin Snook, CEO of both Saxagon and LUCIDi4 and author of the Amazon bestseller Make It Right, to talk about leadership in the manufacturing sector. 

Kevin and I discussed:

  1. Empowering the frontline employees to make decisions
  2. A 5-step framework for leading a manufacturing organization
  3. A leader's 2 roles
  4. Avoiding the slippery slopes of manufacturing leadership

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

There's too many people inmanufacturing that are not enjoying their work, and I think I think that it's almostcriminal manufactiuning can be a fantastic place to work if we helppeople in the way that they need help. If we guide people on that process- andwe recognize them for the great work they're doing welcome to the manufacturing executivepodcast, where we explore the strategies and experiences that aredriving midsize manufacturers florard here you'll discover new insides frompassionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share abouttheir successes and struggles and youwill learn from btob sales andmarketing experts about how to apply actionable business developmentstrategies inside your business. Let's get into the show, welcome to another episode of theManufacturing Executive Podcast, this show is being brought to you by oursponsor cadinus part solutions. I'm Joe Sullivan your host in a cofounder ofthe Industrial Marketing Agency, Gerilla, seventy six. So what exactlycomes to mind when you think of a great business leader? Is it someone who hasall the answers about where the organization is going and how exactlyit's going to get there? Someone whose job is their life, who grinds awayworking long hours and making sure hisher hands, are in everythingimportant to assure it's done the right way. Someone with such deep experienceand expertise that you don't need to question his or her guidance, whoseword is final and whose instructions you follow without question becausewell, they're the boss, and they know what they're doing right or is a greatleader. Something different. Is it someone who leads by empowering thepeople around them by granting autonomy, to make decisions to those in the frontlines, but communicating clearly and with a regular cadence to their peopleand by listening to those individuals to help guide the direction of theorganization you can probably see where...

I'm headed here and today will betalking about this exact topic: how to lead a manufacturing organization. Solet me take a moment to introduce Kevin Snuck author of make it right and CEOof both Saxagon and lucid. I four Kevin advises manufacturing CEOS around theworld, helping them transform their businesses and deliver break throughresults by giving frontline employees the information tools and capability tomake the very best decisions every minute of the day as a manufacturingleader at Pang for seventeen years, Kevin had hands on experience ofproducing billion dollar brands such as Pampers, always Gillette, Pantin covergirl and head and shoulders. After successfully growing Pang's contractmanufacturing division for Asia, Kevin Left Pang to become managing directorof a four thousand employee manufacturing business. The businessgrew by implementing many of the Best Systems Kevin had formulated as anentrepreneur founder and consultant to hundreds of manufacturing companiesacross more than twenty five countries. Kevin has had a deep sense for what ittakes to deliver the magic combination of growth and stability inmanufacturing companies, and he has gone further by learning how to makethat outcome. Simple, kavin welcome to the show. Thank you so much he's greatto beher. Well, Kevin you're, certainly a busyguy with a lot of great things. Going on from your book to your role is CEOof two companies and we're going to talk plenty about the book today. Butcan you take a moment to tell our listeners a little bit about Saxagonand Lucidi for Yes sow? First of all, I I don't liketo be considered busy wone of e think that I really against a little bit ofthis whole idea about being busy what I, what I do like to be asfully, engagedand and really selective about the priorities. Tho Ti choose to work on,and not only for work, but also for home life as well, and so it'simportant to me that people are o very selective about what they choose to do,but yeah. So a little bit about Saxogon...

...and Luseda for Saxogon started up. Whenreally I was looking ID worked, a lot H with PNG with a lotof different companies. I saw there was so many different ways of doing things,and you know bet companies had their ways of doing things and then small ormore innovative companies had the ways of doing things and what I noticed wasHa. There wasn't one right way of doing things. There was right things to do inh at the right times or in the right situations, and as I as I, a kind offiguring out whar. The right next step for me was having been in Proctur andgamble and then run another company for a while. I figured out I wantyou to beable to apply more of that knowledge to see how many other companies we couldinfluence and n. That was where Saxogon state came from, and that was really aconsulting company and, as I went into different companies over the first fewyears, I realized that in a lot of cases you weren't getting theinformation that you needed to be able to help them. Make good decisions andpart of a big role of being a consultant is really being able tochange the outcome right to really be able to impact the business. And to dothat, you need to have some metric a be Abe to show that there's a big changeand as we weren't getting that data or the data that I was seeing quite oftenwas manipulated or had been in some ways delayed coming to us. I wanted tobe able to change that and pull the data directly from the production linesand then look at that data and make sure that that was getting presented inreal time to people. So we could make real decisions in real time and thenmonitor the changes that we were making as consulting group. So That's whereLucy di four came from, and that was all about pulling data directly frommachines unadulterated and then be able to feed it back to people in real timein a way that the frontline employees could really make good decisions basedon it. That's great a that seems to be theme that you know well talk aboutyour book in Ha second here, but that I saw coming out quite a bit. Is thatidea of empowering you know the front...

...line and the people around you whoreally need to be the ones making decisions right when it is thefrontline emproyes that make the decisions every minute of the dayanyway? Yeah they don't matter whether you're in starbucks RRIG, an you'refacing the the person you're serving your coffee or you're in a productionline and you're actually making the baby dipers or the Sanatory Napkins orthe shampoo right? It's it's. The people that are running the productionline that are watching what's going on and making choices every minute of theday and what we want to be able to do as leaders is, have them make reallygood decisions and when they make really good decisions, you know thatyou're getting a really good quality product going into the box, they're thelast ones to see it before the customer pulls it off the shelf rigt. And so it's critical that we are not onlyempowering our employees to make good decisions, but weare we're helping themwith the challengas they've got of making those good decisions and, and soa big part of making right is really around helping those frontlineemployees do what in their hearts they want to do great. Well, I stumbledacross make it right when I had the opportunity to be on your podcastearlier this year, which has goes by the same name. Make it right. You knowbefore we get into some of the details of it. Can you give listeners a littlebit of a sense for what make it writs all about and who it was written foryeah sure, so it was written for manufacturing CEOS and I had been overmy time. I've been working in about thirty different countries now andabout two hundred different manufactures, and so, whenever I gointo a company I say: Look, I don't know your company as well. As you knowit. I don't know your production line as well, as you know it, but there'ssome things that I've seen in other places that maybe we can reapply a wecan. You know, help take this part of the business forward and and actuallythat's my role in helping the frontline employee used to do things in adifferent way, with a slightly different perspective, and so havingseen things done in a lot of different...

...cultures, an ot f different countries.The idea was: How do we find some of those best practices and make make lifeeasier for the frontline employes? What I found is that when their work iseasier, we talked about it before they are the ones making the decisions everyminute of the day. But when their work is easier, they get a chance to be moreproactive, O rather than reactive. They have a chance to really look forwand alittle bit and see what's coming and make sure it comes in right, so thethey can men, you know make that transformation to the product in abetter way and so make it. RHYM was around pulling those best practicesthat I've seen around the world and then putting them in a place so thatthe frontline employee can enjoy their work. That day, and one of my Keymetrixis, is: Are People looking forward to coming to work the next day and that'sreally t the whole idea about making right means you're, making the productright, but you're also making it right for the employees so that they'rehaving a fulfilling day at work and looking forward to work the next dayand you structured the book around a five step framework for leading aManuam manufacturing organization that you called the align process. Can youbreak that down a little bit for us? Maybe tell us what wet each of thesesteps means in a line as so, it's yeah. Thank you for the question that theHalin is Al Ign and a is aim from the heart and that's really what is thedirection of this business or all this division? You know I find that theleader needs to have. We call a compelling business direction. Theyneed to be really inspired by what they're trying to do with the businessin order to be able to inspire the employees as well, and so a is aboutgetting a very clear direction as coming from the heart, so that you feelinspired every day, then l is lead with the front blind and that's what we'vebeen talking around dis side. How do...

...you get ownership, Byin, accountability,all of those critical factors that you need throughout the organization, soyou've got this clear direction, but then you want everybody to be able tobuy into the Action Plan on how we get there so that he l, I lead with thefront line. I is inspire with information and information is allaround having the right metric. So as you take this path forward, how do youhow dods your team know that they're on the right path you know and when theyneed to pivot and do other things and so wehave the right metrixs in there,and what I like is the idea of a personal best culture. So I likeindividuals to be setting their own metrixcs and then challengingthemselves to do better each day, and so this is, if you like, it's a KPI orkeep performance indicators, but a personal KPI that I said, fo myself andthat's all around getting the right information there and then getting backinto the hangs of people so that they can keep moving in the right direction. So that's Ali and then the G is givehelp and support- and this is you know, one of the other critical factors ofthe leader is that in every business that I've been to. I believe that Tha,the employees want to do a good job, but quite often they're not being givento help and support, and in order to be able to do that, and sometimes thathelp is a new tool. Sometimes it's a different method. Sometimes it's aperspective from outside. You know. Sometimes it's just someone to listento their idea, but when people are moving in a direction into thatcompelling business direction there's times when they gan need help andsupport, and the job of the leadership is to make sure that they're gettingthat HEALP and support. So that's the G and then the N is nurture with feedbackand recognition and nurturing. Sometimes you know it's like really do.I really need a nurture. My people, you know shouldn't they they're gettingpaid to do the job anyway, right...

...shouldn'. They just be happy with thatand thend be getting on with it. But I've never found anybody in anorganization be overrecognized, and you know it's one of those things that wetend to hold back recognition in case. You know people get too full ofthemselves and then they don't perform again in the future. But what I muchprefer to do is catch people, doing things right and then help them to dothings right more often, and that's part of what I call nurturing withfeedback and recognition Andso, that's the align process, Al Ign and on wefound yourseld as we put that and it's a hierarchy of a stepby step, prokprocess. So you really need to have a very foundational step of knowing whereyou're going before you start building the plan, and you need to have a goodplan before you know what the right metrics are right. So it's a step bystep process. So when you put it in place, we've seen that the results areexplanation, be better. It's great. I love it, something that I highlighted early inyour book, which seemed to become a recurring theme. Was this idea of youknow a leader having two roles, one to set direction and to to help people getthere? Can you talk a little more about what that means? Yeah so one of the one of the least good ways of running abusiness, but it happens to be quite a common way of running. It is this veryautocratic process and it's kind of like that organizational pyramid whereat the top you've got the CEO and at the bottom, you've got the frontlineemployee and the idea is basically to say what's going on down theorganization and then what happens going up? The organization is peoplespending, hours, doing reports and emails and presentations to say this iswhat we've been doing. What do we do next right and then you've got thisdelay as people are telling you you go to the monthy report and somebodyreports something and then they wait...

...for their next instruction. And it's us,it's just terribly terribly slow, an autocratic way to run a business. Ifyou think about turning that triangle up the other way right and you've gotthe CEO at the bottom of the pyramid and his his day. His job is to carrythe organization in a certain direction. So, first of all, he has to be veryclear on what that erection is, and that's the that's. The number one roleof t e leader is to be absolutely clear where we're going and Whyr we're goingthere and then to say to the Organization:Okay, what help do you need in order for us to get there and that's thedifferent way of looking at it? So it's turning it around from asking forreports and giving orders to listening and saying what helped you need, andthen people saying this is specifically what I need to be able to do my jobbetter. Once we get into that mindset, then the role of the leader is exactlythat very clear direction and then giving the help and support we're goingto take a thirty second breather here for a word from our sponsor cadinuspart solutions. Let's talk real quick about getting specified. Are you acomponent manufacturer? Maybe you sell architectural products to parks orlarge facilities, engineers and architects need models of your productsto test fit in their designs. That's where cadenus comes in to help youcreate a dynamic, sharable, cad catalogue. You put on your website.Designers can preview the product from any angle and download it in the formatthey prefer. They get the data they need for their design, and you get afresh lead to add to your marketing pipeline to get one of your productsturned into an online thred model for free use, the code executive at part,SOLUTIONSCOM executive. So, building on that, I had highlightedthe following line from your book that I think, really illustrates what youwere trying to say and you wrote, while managers and leaders may think they'rein positions of authority, they really...

...have a limited impact on the day to daydecisions made by the front line. Employees who decides whether or not toclean the machine well to shut down the line to fix a quality issue or whetherto tighten the right torque. Can you kind of speak to that a littlebit yeah? It goes back to alubi what we 're saying before around it is thefrontline employees that are making those decisions you don't want to as aline manager or a factory manager. You don't want to be out on the productionfoor, all the time telling people what to do. It's just not effective that way.What I want my factory manager an my line managers looking at his where oesthe next innitionship coming. How can we bring in a new material that givesus a better cost and a better impact? You know what's coming down thepipeline and how do we? How do we get ready for that so tho when it comes inand we get that transition point going, then we overcome the transition pointas smoothly as possible with the least variability, and so in order for theirleaders to be able to look at those things coming. We need the frontlineemployees to be doing their job every day and we need them empower to be ableto do that. So the right tools, the right decision making authority and theright support that they need- and that's all about, yeah that that's allabout giving them that autonomy tbut also being very clear on what they'retrying to ow where we're trying to go as a company in few places. You usedexamples of what happens when the wrong message is being sent from the top ofthe organization down and how that damage kind of trickles all the waydown to the plant floor and one example, was the idea of maximizing productionvolume at all costs. When everyone down the ladder follows blindly corners arecut, the plant becomes, messy equipment, isn't maintained, quality control takesa backseat and so on. So how culd a manufacturing leader lead his or herteam in a way that avoids these really slippery slopes. Yeah and H T that oneisn't even maximizing production at any cost. I would say in some ways it'seven maximizing production productions...

...at output and we can't work on outputsand I've worked in factories before where you know I would walk into thefactory and the in the morning and and the factory manager would be. What wasyour efficiency for yesterday and you're like Christ right? That's, justan output number. It wasn't around. What were you doing to build the team?What were you doing to make the equipment run more effectively w? Whatinputs were you working on? It was all about what was that output number andwhen you, when you work in that way, people are so stressed about the outputhat they'll end up doing anything to try to get the output. What I found is that when you work onthe right inputs, the outwarts come and so the inputs it manufacturing franklya having equipment that runs beautifully. So your line might befifteen years old, but if you treat it and you get in into a condition likeit's, a new production line and you've got it fully aligned as a productionline, then the chances are is going to be producing better quality product. Ifyou have your team you're working on another IMPU, which is your teammembers, you're building their capability and their their ownership,their accountability you working on those areas, then the product is goingto come out of the line better and eventually you're going to get betteroutputs. But the key is to work on the inputs, because they are the thingsthat we can control rather than the outpurt, which ends up with peoplepraying for a better result. That's a logical way to look at it. It is alogical way, but it's not it's. Not It's not practiced in so many places,because the pressure is for outwurt. Nor if you look at the the metrics thatpeople measure a production factory on it, how many units did you makeyesterday and frankly, I'm not interested in how many units were madeyesterday? I am interested in how many units were made on going andconsistently over a period of time and were they made when they were supposedto be made, and you know: What's the...

...reliability and the consistency, andhow can I as a whether I'm a financed person or a shipping person or asalesperson? How can I rely on what's going to be made because I know thatit's being made to forecast, so I know that it's being made to demand right.That's what's important, not just how many did I make yesterday and suffertoday, because I was pushing too hard yesterday, it's much more aroundeliminating the variability from the system so that we get consistency andthen, when you've got consistency at a certain level. That's when you raisedto the next level. It is logical, but in the pressures of daily production,an the pressures of quartery cycles daily morning meetings, you knowmonthly reviews, then that's when the pressure comes on and people get insome way incentive in the wrong way and censivize to make bad decisions. One really tactical leadership tip thatthat you gave that caught. My attention was this idea of the CEO or leader ofthe company, sending a brief daily video message to the entireorganization, and I just love this because I'm such a fan of using youknow video to humanize yourself both in you know your marketing and salesprocess, but out also for internal communications, and so it really I waslike yes, this is awesome when I was starto started reading that that littlesection you talked about how to quote you from make it right back in Thousnd,nine hundred and twenty. The only way Henry Forrd to talk to his operationswas to shout at them through a megaphone right, but today we have theLugsy of such advanced communication technologies to help us lead and what awaste it is. I think to not leverage some of those things. So can you talkabout this idea of sending a daily video message? You know what should becommunicated and a regular recurring touchpoint like that, and why is it soimportant to keep that open communication with your team yesure andthere's still a lot of factories these days, shutting down or Shifs ketningeverybody into a big room and shouting at them? Tou a microphone or I tmegaphon right when I see that...

...happening it, it's like! No, pleaseeverybody has a mobile phone in their pocket right. Everybody has a mobiletar, a smart part that plays video and you know and gets a good signalrapidlyan and I'm not only talking about in the US or in Europe. But youknow I worked in Indones, Yoar, South America and Indiar and all of theseplaces everybody has a mobile phone right start using it. You can. You canin two minutes record a video t that says: Hey Look, and this can be the CEOof the company. Who knows that there's a Uinititiav of going on in Brazil- andyou know e- wants to send a message: Te. Seventy topracy, alyday, hey look! Thisis for the whole company just want to Ley. You all know that back down inBrazil at the moment you know on line number four in the in the plant ind andin wherever soul. Pawlo we've got this particular thing going on. I just wantto give a shout out to them all, and you know this is important for thecompany Brazils, a growth coman, the country for us and guys, you know, keepit up. You you're leading the wave for US right. What's that that was fortyfive seconds and all of a sudden you've given a shout out to the whole company,then knows that you know what's going on knows what you care about know thatthe people that are doing it are important and all of a suddeneverybody's got that message on thei phone on the way into work. It's so easy, but for one reason oranother, people are not utilizing this new technology and s there's a level of,I think, there's a level of fear, but fear only disappears when you startdoing things and you start needing things differently, and you don't haveto be the co to be doing that. You know you can be the factory manager talkingto your giving a shout out for the cleaning crew on night shift right,giving a shout ou for the people that clean the toilets and keep keep thatstandard up so that we take the standard from the rest rooms and and thand their canteen on to the production...

...floor. You know I hin you go into somemanufacturing facilities and the production floor is nice and they're,making great products and t e. You go to the CANNTINAS, it's like a piece ofcrap right, and how can you? How can you be feeding people? You know bad stuff in abad environment and then hope that they go out and make a really good qualityproduct. We need to be Ligke tiing these things together and you can givethat shout out to the night crew. You can get that shout out to therestaurant staff. You know Teks make people feel like they're important and there'sno better way to do that than video great point, and it's just such apowerful way to humanize yourself to connect people who aren't all in thesame place and to really build a team that feelslike they're working together. I'm going to steal that tip for my owntwenty person, marketing company, where, frankly most of us are all right here,but at a time like this, especially where people are scattered, you knowworking from home and elsewhere. I think it's a great way to just sort ofbring people together and acknowledge the good things that arehappening and build that culture yeah, and why not? Right? And I I was workingO company one time and I said, look wee got to celebrate more. We got it andtheyere like mm this Isa Company in South Korea, they're like MMM. Now Iwas like why what's wrong? It's like we have to celebrate it, then people willwill realize that were doing the right things and they want to do it more andthey said well. No, the problem is if we celebrate that people in o expectthis level in the future, and I was thinking about the soccer world cubright in the soccer World Cup. You only play it once every four years he makeyou win that soccer World Cup, but you don't celebrate it because you'reworried that you might not Wen it in four years time. It's crazy is at what's the point oncelebrate it right exactly stelebrateyour wings feel good about it, and and with this personal best type culture,we can have small micro winds going on...

...around the C, the company at all timesright, and we can all be celebrating those micro winds in a certain team ora certain division. So if we know about them, let's get out there celebratingand and video message is a great way to reinforce that yeah love that are thereany other ways. You see manufacturing leaders leveraging technology to bebetter leaders yeah, so we touched on it a little bit earlier on, but it'sreally around real time data in order to be able to make good decisions,ounique good data, in order to be able to make real time decisions, you knowrapid decisions, you need real time data and so getting the data without itbeing manipulated, getting it as quickly as possible and then putting inin a format. If you can automatically so people are not having to play withthe systems, then you can get information to the right hand veryrapidly in a way that they can really understand it in uws as well, and nowthe technology is available to be able to do that, like it never was beforeyou used to have to write down numbers from a production machine type hem intoExcele. You know, pull up a report, do a Gan chart or something and basicallymanipulate everything, and then yeah a week later, we'd finally see someresults, and now you don't have to do that. You can do all the analytics inthe cloud you can get. The data directly from the machine and then youcan push it into people's mobile phones immediately, so the there's great waysto use technology to be able to get the right information in the right hand, sothat those frontline employees can make rapid decisions there. Anything elseyou' like to ad to this conversation Cavin before we wrap it up, or maybe asuggestion on how to put some of these powerful concepts from your alignesystem into practice, yeah how to put them into practice. Isn't thatcomplicated? It's a very simple process! It's following that aligne process, butit takes some dedication righ. These are not things that change overnight,so we typically seeing that in...

...organization to really change a culturein a factory, for example, it really take about eighteen months beforepeople are doing things a different way consistently without without startquestioning the new way of doing things so you'll see results on something likethis in a month or two, you start to get people clicking and, and thingswill start to fall into place, but really the change the cultures a bitlonger that it's a simple process. You have to have the dedication as a leaderto say: Yes, that's where we're going. This is the way we're going to dothings you know from now on and then commit to making that happen, but theprocess is, is in the bookets, an you make. It right is the book. If peoplewant to get hold of me that I'm on Linktin right, so my name is KevinSnook. I A O. Okay Linktin is an easy way to get hold of me, but happy totalk people through that process. My my passion has always been the front line. Emproy use, frankly, isit's: How do we there's too many people inmanufacturing that are not enjoying their work, and I think I think thatit's almostcriminal manufacturing can be a fantastic place to work if we helppeople in the way that they need help. If we guide people on that process andwe recognize them for the great work they're doing so. My goal is thateverybody in manufacturing feels fulfilled at the end of the day and isexcited about coming to work the next day and it's the role of the leaders tomake that happeningto their business and to make that right great way towrap it up Kevin. Well, this was a really great conversation. I encourageeverybody to go, find Kevin Kevin snok on linked in take a look at what he'sdoing at Saxagon and lucid, I for his companies and I'd, encourage you totake a look at his book, make it right as well. I read it sort of into, as youknow, in preparation for this conversation and just because t youknow it's interesting, being a persand...

WHO's working with so many manufactures,but not right. There, inmanufacturing and they're just a lot of greatleadership principles to pull out of it. So I'd like to say thank you once again toor sponsor Kadinus part solutions for helping make. This show possible andKevin takes a time for coming on. The show was really fun thanks for mostshow and it's a placeyue to be here, awesome well for the rest, O Wyo, Ihope to catch you on the next episode of the Manufacturing 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 B to B manufacturers at grilla. Seventy sixcom alar. Thank you so muchfor listening until next time.

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