The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 1 year ago

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


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.

... I think that it's almost criminal. manufaction can be a fantastic place to work if we help people in the way that they need help, if we guide people on that process and we recognize them for the great work they're doing. 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. This show is being brought to you by our sponsor, codinas part solutions. I'm Joe Sullivan, your host and a cofounder of the Industrial Marketing Agency guerrilla seventy six. So what exactly comes to mind when you think of a great business leader? Is it someone who has all the answers, so about where the organization is going and how exactly it's going? To get there? Someone whose job is their life, who grinds away, working long hours and making sure his or her hands are in everything important to assure it's done the right way? Someone with such deep experience and expertise that you don't need to question his or her guidance, whose word is final and whose instructions you follow without question because, while they're the boss and they know what they're doing right. Or is a great leader something different? Is it someone who leads by empowering the people around them, by granting autonomy to make decisions to those on the front lines, by communicating clearly and with a regular cadence to their people and by listening to those individuals to help guide the direction of the organization? You can probably see where I'm headed here, and today we'll be talking about this exact topic, how to lead a manufacturing organization. So let me take a moment to introduce Kevin Snook, author of make it right and CEO of both Saxogon and Lucid I. for Kevin Advises Manufacturing CEOS around the world, helping them transform their businesses and deliver breakthrough results by giving frontline employees the information, tools and capability to make the very best decisions every minute of the day. As a manufacturing leader at P and G for seventeen years, Kevin had hands on experience of producing billion dollar brands such as Pampers, always, Gillette, Pantine, cover girl and head and shoulders. After successfully growing PEG's contract manufacturing division for Asia, Kevin left PNG to become managing director of a four thousand employee manufacturing business. The business grew by implementing many of the Best Systems Kevin had formulated it as an entrepreneur, founder and consultant two hundreds of manufacturing companies across more than twenty five countries, Kevin has had a deep sense of for what it takes to deliver the magic combination of growth and stability in manufacturing companies, and he has gone further by learning how to make that outcome simple. Kevin, welcome to the show. Thank you so much. It's great to be here. Well, Kevin, you're certainly a busy guy, with a lot of great things going on, from your book to your role as CEO of two companies, and we're going to talk plenty about the book today, but can you take a moment to tell our listeners a little bit about Saxogon and Lucid I, for yes, show first of all, like I don't like to be considered busy whatever. Think that I really gainst a little bit of this whole idea about being busy. What I what I do like to be is fully engaged and and really selective about the priorities that I choose to work on, and not only for work but also for home life as well. And so it's important to me that people are very selective about what they choose to do. But yeah, so a little bit about Saxogon and Lucid I. for Saxogon started up when really I...

...was looking. I'd worked a lot with with P andng, with a lot of different companies, and I saw there was so many different ways of doing things and, you know, beat companies had their ways of doing things and then small and more innovative companies had the ways of doing things, and what I noticed was there wasn't one right way of doing things. There was right things to do in the at the right eight times, are in the right situations. And as I as I was kind of figuring out what the right next step for me was, having been in proctor and gamble, and then run another company for a while, I figured out I want you to be able to apply more of that knowledge to see how many other companies we could influence, and that was where Saxogon state came from, and that was really a consulting company. And as I went into different companies over the first few years, I realized that in a lot of cases you weren't getting the information that you needed to be able to help them make good decisions. And part of the big role of being a consultant is really being able to change the outcome right to really be able to impact the business, and to do that you need to have some metrics and be able to show that there's a big change. And as we weren't getting that data, or the data that I was seeing quite often was manipulated or had been in some ways delayed coming to us, I want you to be able to change that and pull the data directly from the production lines and then look at that data and make sure that that was getting presented in real time to people so we could make real decisions in real time and then monitor the changes that we were making as consulting group. So that's where Lucidi, for came from, and that was all about pulling data directly from machines unadulterated, and then be able to feed it back to people in real time in a way that the frontline employees could really make good decisions based on it. That's great. That's seems to be a theme that, you know, we'll talk about your book in the second here, but that I saw coming out quite a bit is that idea of empowering, you know, the frontline and the people around you who really need to be the ones making decisions. Right. Well, it is the frontline employees that make the decisions every minute of the day anyway. Yeah, that doesn't matter whether you're in starbucks right and you're facing the person you're serving your coffee, or you're on a production line and you're actually making the baby diapers or the Sanitary Napkins or the shampoo. Right, it's it's the people that are running the production line that are watching what's going on and making choices every minute of the day, and what we want to be able to do as leaders is have them make really good decisions, and when they make really good decisions, you know that you're getting a really good quality product going into the box. They're the last ones to see it before the customer pulls it off the shelf right, and so it's critical that we are not only empowering our employees to make good decisions, but we we're helping them with the challenges they've got of making those good decisions. And and so a big part of make it right is really around helping those frontline employees do what in their hearts they want to do. Great. Well, I stumbled across make it right when I had the opportunity to be on your podcast and earlier this year, which has goes by the same name. Make it right. Before we get into some of the details of it, can you give listeners a little bit of ad and for what make it writes all about and who was written for? Yeah, sure, so it was written for manufacturing CEOS and I had been over my time, I've been working in about thirty different countries now and two hundred different manufacturers, and so whenever I go into a company I say look, I don't know your company as well as you know it, I don't know your production line as well as you know it, but there's some things that I've seen in other places that maybe we can reapply a we can, you know, help take this part of the business forward and, and actually that's my role, in helping the frontline employees to do things in the different way, with a slightly different perspective. And so, having seen things done in a...

...lot of different cultures, a lot of different countries, the idea was, how do we find some of those best practices and make make life easier for the frontline employees? What I've found is that when their work is easier, we talked about it before, they are the ones making the decisions every minute of the day, but when their work is easier, they get a chance to be more proactive rather than reactive. They have a chance to really look forward a little bit and see what's coming and make sure it comes in right so that they can then, you know, make that transformation to the product in a better way and so make it right. was around pulling those best practices that I've seen around the world and then putting them in a place so that the frontline employee can enjoy their work that day. And one of my key metrics is is people looking forward to coming to work the next day, and that's really the whole idea about make it right means you're making the product right, but you're also making it right for the employees so that they're having a fulfilling day at work and looking forward to work the next day. And you structure the book around a five step framework for leading the menuet in a manufacturing organization that you called the align process. Can you break that down a little bit for us, maybe tell us what each of these steps means in a line? So it's thank you for the question, that the aligned is align and a is aim from the hearts, and that's really what is the direction of this business or this division. You know, I find that the leader needs to have we call a compelling business direction. They need to be really inspired by what they're trying to do with the business in order to be able to inspire the employees as well. And so a is about getting a very clear direction that's coming from the heart so that you feel inspired every day. Then L is lead with the frontline, and that's what we've been talking around is. So how do you get ownership, buy in, accountability, all of those critical factors that you need throughout the organization? So you've got this clear direction, but then you want everybody to be out to buy into the Action Plan on how we get there. So that's the L lead. With the front line, I is inspire with information, and information is all around having the right metrics. So as you take this path forward, how do you, how does your team know that they're on the right path, you know, and when they need to pivot and do other things. And so with the right metrics in there. And what I like is the idea of personal best culture. So I like individuals to be setting their own metrics and then challenging themselves to do better each day. And so this is, if you like, it's a KPI or key performance indicators, but a personal KPI. That I said for myself. But that's all around getting the right information there and then getting back into the hands of people so that they can keep moving in the right direction. So that's Ali. And then the G is give help and support, and this is one of the other critical factors of the leader is that in every business that I've been to, I believe that the employees want to do a good job, but quite often they're not being given the help and support and in order to be able to do that, and sometimes that help is a new tool. Sometimes it's a different method, sometimes it's a perspective from outside, you know, sometimes it's just someone to listen to their idea. But when people are moving in a direction, into that compelling business direction, there's times when they're going to need help and support and the job of the leadership is to make sure that they're getting that help and support. So that's the G and then the end is nurture with feedback and recognition and nurturing. Sometimes, you know, it's like really, so I really need to nurture my people. You know, shouldn't they? They they getting paid to do the job anyway, right, shouldn't they just... happy with that and be getting on with it? But I've never found anybody in an organization be over recognized. And you know, it's one of those things that we tend to hold back recognition in case, you know, people get too full of themselves and then they don't perform again in the future. But what I much prefer to do is catch people doing things right and then help them to do things right more often. And that's part of what I call nurturing with feedback and recognition. And so that's the aligned process. Align and what we found is that, as we put that, and it's a hierarchy, of a step by step proke process. So you really need to have a very foundational step of knowing where you're going before you start building the plan and you need to have a good plan before you know what the right metrics are. Right. So it's a step by step process. So when you put it in place, we've seen that the the results are exponentially better. It's great. I love it. Something that I highlighted early in your book, which seemed to become a recurring theme, was this idea of, you know, a leader having two roles, one to set direction and to to help people get there. Can you talk a little more about what that means? Yeah, so what of the one of the least good ways of running a business, but it happens to be quite a common way of running it is this very autocratic process and it's kind of like that organizational pyramid where at the top you've got the CEO and at the bottom you've got the frontline employee, and the idea is basically to say what's going on down the organization and then what happens going up the organization is people spending hours doing reports and emails and presentations to say this is what we've been doing. What do we do next? Right, and then you've got this delay, as people are telling you. You you go to the monthly report and somebody reports something and then they wait for their next instruction and it says it's just terribly, terribly slow and autocratic way to run a business. If you think about turning that triangle up the other way, right, and you've got the CEO at the bottom of the pyramid and his his diet, his job is to carry the organization in a certain direction. So first of all he has to be very clear on what that erection is, and that's the that's the number one role of a leader is to be absolutely clear where we're going and why we're going there, and then to say to the organization, okay, what help do you need in order for us to get there? And that's the different way of looking at it. So it's turning it around from asking for reports and giving orders to listening and saying what helped you need, and then people saying this is specifically what I need to be able to do my job better. Once we get into that mindset, then the role of the leader is exactly that very clear direction and then giving the help and support. We're going to take a thirty second breather here for a word from our sponsor, cadinis part solutions. Let's talk real quick about getting specified. Are you a component manufacturer? Maybe you sell architectural products to parks or large facilities. Engineers and architects need models of your products to test fit in their designs. That's where cadinis comes in. They help you create a dynamic shareable cad catalog you put on your website. Designers can preview the product from any angle and download it in the format they prefer. They get the data they need for their design and you get a fresh lead to add your marketing pipeline. To get one of your products turned into an online d model for free, use the code executive at part Solutionscom slash executive. So, building on that, I had highlighted the following line from your book that I think really illustrates what you were trying to say, and you wrote while managers and leaders may think they're in...

...positions of authority, they really have a limited impact on the day to day decisions made by the frontline employees who decides whether or not to clean the machine well, to shut down the line to fix a quality issue or whether the tighten the right torque. So can you kind of speak to that a little bit? Yeah, it goes back to a little bit what we were saying before. Around it is the frontline employees that are making those decisions. You don't want to as a line manager or a factory manager. You don't want to be out on the production floor all the time telling people what to do. It's just not effective that way. What I want my factory manager and my line managers looking at is where does the next initiative coming? How can we bring in a new material that gives us a better cost and a better impact? You know what what's coming down the pipeline and how do we how do we get ready for that so that when it comes in and we get that transition point going, then we we overcome the transition point as smoothly as possible with the least variability. And so in order for the leaders to be able to look at those things coming, we need the frontline employees to be doing their job every day and we need them empowered to be able to do that. So the right tools, the right decision making authority and the right support that they need and that that's all about. Yeah, that's all about giving them that autonomy, but also being very clear on what they're trying to where we're trying to go as a company. I few places you used examples of what happens when the wrong message is being sent from the top of the organization down and how that damage kind of trickles all the way down to the plant floor. And one example was the idea of maximizing production volume at all costs, when everyone down the ladder follows blindly, corners are cut, the plant becomes Massy, equipment isn't in pained, quality control takes a backseat and so on. So how could a manufacturing leader lead his or her team in a way that avoids these really slippery slopes? Yeah, and that that one isn't even maximizing production at any cost. I would say in some ways it's even maximizing production productions, that output, and we can't work on outputs. And I've worked in factories before where, you know, I would walk into the factory in there in the morning and the factory manager would be what was your efficiency for yesterday and you're like Christ right, that's just an 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? What inputs were you working on? It was all about what was that output number. And when you when you work in that way, people are so stressed about the output that they'll end up doing anything to try to get the output. What I've found is that when you work on the right inputs, the outputs come. And so the inputs in manufacturing, frankly, at having equipment that runs beautifully. So your line might be fifteen years old, but if you treat it and you get it into a condition like it's a new production line and you've got it fully aligned as a production line, then the chances are is going to be producing better quality product. If you have your team, you're working on another input, which is your team members. You're building their capability and their their ownership, their accountability. You working on those areas, then the product is going to come out of the line better and eventually you're going to get better outputs. But the key is to work on the inputs because they are the things that we can control rather than the output, which ends up with people praying for a better result. It's a logical way to look at it. It is a logical way, but it's not. It's not it's not practiced in so many places because the pressure is for output. Now, if you look at the the metrics that people measure a production factory on, it's how many units did you make yesterday? And frankly, I'm not interested in how many units were made yesterday. I am interested in how many units were made ongoing and consistently over a period of time, and were they made when they were supposed to be made? And you know, what's the reliability...

...and the consistency? And how can I, as a whether I'm a finance person or a shipping person or a salesperson, how can I rely on what's going to be made because I know that it's being made to forecast? I know that it's being made to demand. Right. That's what's important, not just how many did I make yesterday and suffer today because I was pushing too hard yesterday. It's much more around eliminating the variability from the system so that we get consistency. And then, when you've got consistency at a certain level. That's when you raise to the next level. It is logical. But in the pressures of daily production, the pressures of quarterly cycles, daily morning meetings, you know, monthly reviews, then that's when the pressure comes on. A people get in some way incentive, in the wrong way, incentivized to make that decisions. One really tactical leadership tip that that you gave that caught my attention was this idea of the CEO or leader of the company sending a brief daily video message to the entire organization. And I just love this because I'm such a fan of using, you know, video to humanize yourself both in, you know, your marketing and sales process, but out for also for internal communications. And so it really I was like, yes, this is awesome. When I was starry started reading that that little section you talked about how to quote you from make it right back in one thousand nine hundred and twenty, the only way Henry Ford could talk to his operations was to shout at them through a megaphone, right, but today we have the luxury of such advanced communication technologies to help us lead, and what a waste it is. I think to not leverage some of those things. So can you talk about this idea of sending a daily video message? You know, what should be communicated in a regular, recurring touch point like that and why is it so important to keep that open communication with your team issuing? And there's still a lot of factories these day shutting down all ships, getting everybody into a big room and shouting at them through a microphone or my megaphone. Right when I see that happening it it's like no, please. Everybody has a mobile phone in their pocket right. Everybody has a mobile phone, a smartphone that plays video and you know, and gets a good signal rapidly. And I'm not only talking about in the US or in Europe, but you know, I worked in Indonesia and South America and India and all of these places. Everybody has a mobile phone. Right, start using it. You can. You can, in two minutes, record a video that says hey, look, and this can be the CEO of the company who knows that there's a new initiative going on in Brazil and, you know, wants to send a message specificity to Brazil. They Hey, look, this is for the whole company. Just want to let you all know that back down in Brazil at the moment, you know, on line number four in the in the planting in wherever sell powlong, we've got this particular thing going on. I just want to give a shout out to them all. And you know this is important for the company. Brazil's a growth company, the country for us, and guys, you know, keep it up. You're leading the way for us. Right, what's that? That was forty five 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, knows that the people that are doing it are important, and all of a sudden everybody's got that message on their phone on the way into work. Right. It's so easy, but for one reason or another, people are not utilizing this new technology and there's a level of I think there's a level of fear, but fear only disappear years when you start doing things and you start needing things differently, and you don't have to be the CEO to be doing that. You know, you can be the factory manager talking to giving a shout out for the cleaning crew on night shift right, giving a shout out for the people that clean the toilets and keep keep that standard up, so that we take the standard from the restrooms and and the and the canteen onto the...

...production floor. You know, it's like you go into some manufacturing facilities and the production floors nice and they're making great products and you go to the Canteena it's it's like a piece of crap, right, and how can you, how can you be feeding people, you know, bad stuff in a bad environment and then hope that they go out and make a really good quality product? We need to be like tying these things together and you can give that shout out to the night crew, you can get that shout out to the restaurant staff. You know, let's make people feel like they're important, and there's no better way to do that than video. Great Point and it's just such a powerful way to humanize yourself, to connect people who aren't all in the same place and and to really build a team that feels like they're working together. I'm going to steal that tip for my own twenty person marketing company where, frankly, most of us are all right here, but at a time like this, especially where people are scattered, you know, working from home and elsewhere. I think it's a great way to just sort of bring people together and acknowledge the good things that are happening and build that culture. Yeah, and why not? Right? And I was working on company one time and I said, look, we've got to celebrate more. We got it, and they were like, this is a company in South Korea. They're like HMM. Now I was like, why, what's wrong? It's like it. We have to celebrate and then people will will realize that we're doing the right things and they want to do it more. And they said, well, now the problem is if we celebrate and people are going to expect this level in the future. And I was thinking about the the soccer World Cup. Right, in the soccer World Cup, you only play it once every four years. You might you win that soccer World Cup, but you don't celebrate it because you're worried that you might not win it in four years time. Right, he's say, it's crazy. Is that? What's the point? I can celebrate it. Right, exactly, celebrate your wings, feel good about it and and with this personal best type culture, we can have small, micro wins going on around the country the company at all times, right, and we can all be celebrating those micro wins in a certain team or a certain division. So if we know about them, let's get out there celebrating, and video message is a great way to reinforce that. Yeah, love that. Are there any other ways you see manufacturing leaders leveraging technology to be better leaders? Yeah, so we touched on it a little bit earlier on, but it's really around real time data and in order to be able to make good decisions, you neique good data. In order to be able to make real time decisions. You know of rapid decisions. You need real time data and and so getting the data without it being manipulated, getting it as quickly as possible and then putting it in a format, if you can automatically, so people are not having to play with the systems, then you can get information into the right hand very rapidly in a way that they can really understand it and use it well. And now the technology is available to be able to do that like it never was before. You used to have to write down numbers from a production machine, type them into excel, you know, pull up a report, do a game chart or something and and basically manipulate everything and then, yeah, a week later we'd finally see some results. And now you don't have to do that. You can do all the analytics in the cloud. You can get the data directly from the machine and then you can push it into people's mobile phones immediately. So there's great ways to use technology to be able to get the right information in the right hand so that those frontline employees can make rapid decisions. So anything else you'd like to add to this conversation, cabin before we wrap it up? Or maybe a suggestion at at how to put some of these powerful concepts from your aligned system in the practice? Yeah, how to put them into practice isn't that complicated. It's a fairy simple process. It's following that align process, but it takes some dedication. These are not things that change overnight. So we typically seeing that in organization. To really change a culture... a factory, for example, or it really take about eighteen months before people are doing things a different way consistently, without without side of questioning the new way of doing things. So you'll see results or something like this in a month or two. You'll start to get people clicking and and things will start to fall into place really to change the cultures a bit longer, but it's a simple process. You have to have the dedication as a leader to say, yes, that's where we're going, this is the way we're going to do things, you know, from now on, and then commit to making that happen. But the process is in is in the book. It's you make it right. Is the book. If people want to get hold of me that I'm on Linkedin right. So my name is Kevin Snooke Sno, okay, linked in as an easy way to get hold of me, but happy to talk people through that process. My passion has always been the frontline employees. Frankly, it's how do we there's too many people in manufacturing that are not enjoying their work and I think I think that's it's almost criminal. manufaction can be a fantastic place to work if we help people in the way that they need help, if we guide people on that process and we recognize them for the great work they're doing. So my goal is that everybody in manufacturing feels fulfilled at the end of the day and is excited about coming to work the next day. And it's the role of the leaders to make that happen in to a dismiss and to make that right. Great Way to wrap it up, Kevin. Well, this was a really great conversation. I encourage everybody to go find Kevin, Kevin Snook, on Linkedin, take a look at what he's doing at Saxogon and lucid I for his companies, and I encourage you to take a look at his book. Make it right as well. I read it sort of, as you know, in preparation for this conversation and just because, you know, it's interesting being a person who's working with so many manufacturers but not right there in manufacturing, and they're just a lot of great leadership principles to pull out of it. So well, I'd like to say thank you once again to our sponsor, codeina's part solutions, for helping make the show possible, and Kevin thanks of time for coming on the show. So was really fun. Thanks so much show and it's a place you to be here. Awesome. Well, 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 bedb manufacturers at Gorilla Seventy sixcom learn thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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