Thursday, July 8, 2021

Episode 155 – Events for Leadersights and 579 Leaders

Good morning, I'm David Veech and this is Elevate Your Performance. 

I want to share some other ideas I've had about 579 Leadership and share a couple of events that I'm planning. 

First, I'm starting to record episodes for a podcast I'm simply going to call Leadersights, after my book.  It'll be a mix of me telling stories of the things I've learned about leaders and lean systems and conversations with leaders about overcoming problems and setting goals.  Those leaders might be CEOs or they might be Team Leaders from a manufacturing plant.  The key is to share some insight. 

I'll have discussions with each of them about 579 leadership, which, as I hinted at yesterday, is about the application of the Leadersights of Love, Learn, and Let go.  So I'll want to hear their stories about each of those and share them with you. 

My target length for a Podcast episode is going to be 579 seconds, twice.  579 seconds is 9 minutes and 39 seconds, and twice that will be 19 minutes and 18 seconds; which should be plenty of time for a good conversation. 

I hope you'll share with me some of the things you are looking for in a podcast so I can keep making it better.  I'm going to launch the podcast on my birthday, August 22 with the first 3 episodes, then release a new episode every week. 

Second, in September, I am launching a new mastermind study group that will focus on 579 Leadership.  Here, the members will be the stars as we share the things we discover about leadership in every situation you can imagine.   

Here's what I'm planning: 

Members will complete an application for the program, committing to a 579-day-long program (1 year, 7 months, and 4 days). Our key objective will be to become more effective as leaders, coaches, parents, team members, business owners, etc.  

Individually, I'll work with each member.  We'll have a 360-assessment done and together we'll set goals and build your action plan to become a more effective leader.  We will complete a few other assessments or diagnostic instruments for your business and set goals and build actions plans to improve there as well.   Members will get an hour of coaching with me every two weeks, plus additional access if you're working a particular problem or goal.  Members will also have access to exclusive materials I've created just for the group. 

The group will meet virtually every two weeks for 86 minutes and 51 seconds (or there abouts) which is 579 seconds times 9.  This will largely be in a Lean Coffee format where members will bring issues and we'll discuss those issues and try to help you take action to solve a problem or drive an improvement. 

Once a quarter (six times in the 579 day cycle), we'll meet face to face for 579 minutes (9 hours and 39 minutes).  We'll meet in different spots for everyone who can make it.  I hope that the members will rotate hosting in their companies and invite us in for a Genba walk while we're there and let us work on a problem they're wrestling with.  I'd like to have an agenda that includes the genba walk, focus time on a problem or lesson, a guest speaker, open networking and discussion time, lunch, and end with dinner and drinks - 9 hours and 39 minutes is a long day – so we'll make it as valuable as we can. 

Twice a year (three times in the 579 day cycle), we'll have a retreat for 3 days someplace we decide we'd like to see.  I hope all members will be able to make at least one of these, as we'll have some special recognition activities in addition to guests, tours, and cases to study. 

Once a year, we'll take a vacation – pushing us to have some balance.  So I'll book a cruise or a resort for us to take our families to and we'll spend a week or so just enjoying each other's company and taking in some cultural aspect of wherever we go.  I have Japan, a European River cruise focused on wine and beer, a Mediterranean cruise focused on culinary delights, and the Bourbon trail in mind. 

I'm still working on a pricing structure that will reflect the value of the program.  For the first cohort, I'm thinking about $15,200 for the 19 month program if paid up front, or $894 a month if paid monthly but committed for the program.  I promise we'll get much more value that that from the journey.  Of course the travel will be extra, but I'll get the best rates I can for wherever we go and offer them to the group through our partner travel agency, Clandestine Travel.  Part of the fees will contribute to a partner charity that I'm sorting through now so we can also give back to our community. 

I'll release the application which will include schedules for the 19 months on July 26th.  I'm limiting the size of the mastermind to 28 people per cohort.   

I'm pretty excited about both of these events – the podcast and the study group.  I've been thinking about these for a long time.  Let me know what YOU think. 

Have a great day, and I'll see you next time. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Episode 154 - 579 Leadership

I'm David Veech and this is Elevate Your Performance. 

Yesterday, I introduced this idea I've had surrounding numbers and balance.  I showed how odd numbers in the scale from 1 to 9, when depicted as dots on a line, have evenly distributed numbers on each side of a center point, reflecting a balanced system. 

As I researched the meaning of certain numbers: 5, 7, and 9 in particular I made some interesting connections. 

Five is positioned in the center of the scale from 1 to 9.  In that position, it reflects the pivotal point of change.  Leaders should be that pivotal point of change for their teams and organizations.  But the number 5 also reflects characteristics and values like freedom, curiosity, and adaptability.  These are all good qualities for leaders as well.   

5 also values experiences and is more willing to go with the flow than others.   

Seven represents a quest for wisdom.  Here, leaders ask questions...lots of questions, and listen carefully to the answers.  They tend to be more analytical than others and try to find meaningfulness in everything they do.  These all sound like excellent qualities to develop in leaders. 

Nine is a little more complex.  Nine represents completeness, or wholeness, but not finality.  It's like completing one cycle and then beginning another, much like we describe in the PDCA cycle of continuous improvement in a lean system.  Nine emphasizes the importance of transitions and transformations and how leaders should be guiding and empowering their people through these transformations.   

Nine is compassionate and kind and seeks the greater good.  Leaders here are wiser, stronger, more aware, tolerant, and supportive than others. 

These characteristics are all quite similar to what I describe as key insights for leaders in my book Leadersights – Love, Learn, and Let go. 

Nine, as the compassionate, guiding, and supportive leader demonstrates love – actively placing the needs of others above their own. 

Seven, seeking wisdom, asking questions, represents Learn – the on-going quest for understanding. 

Five, the free-spirited, experience-oriented (why not give it a try), going with the flow really captures the essence of Letting go.   

I want to keep exploring these leadership values, characteristics, and behaviors so I am doing two specific things to focus my energies.  I'm out of time now, so I'll tell you about them tomorrow.  Join me here at 9 am. 

Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Episode 153 - Numbers and Balance

I’m David Veech and this is Elevate your performance. 


A few months ago, I stumbled onto a little article about numbers and numerology.  As I was reading through what they said each of these numbers meant, I kept drawing connections with leadership.  Weird, I know. 


Through much of last year, I’ve been reflecting on balance in all things.  This is one of the keys to lean thinking and making a workplace more productive.  Everything naturally strives for balance or equilibrium.  When things are out of balance, it creates stress on the system or on the human.  We can feel it when we’re out of balance.  Entrepreneurs and many other leaders often dedicate enormous energy to their work, sacrificing balance in the pursuit of success.  But how do you get someone who really loves what they do to take a vacation? 


So what does balance have to do with numbers?  I started thinking about how certain numbers can illustrate balance.  Think about just the numbers 1 through 9.  If we use dots to represent numbers you’ll notice that odd numbers each have a center point with an equal number of dots on either side.  With a little push, you can see that these look like scales that are perfectly balanced.   


That made me dig a little deeper into those odd numbers and what numerologist say they mean.  Keep in mind, I’m not an expert numerologist.  I don’t even know how a number comes to be associated with a person.  I’m looking for something that might be catchy enough to help me lead leaders to become more effective. 


That’s all I have time for this morning.  Over the next couple of days, I’ll share more insight into what I discovered and how I have been able to tie everything back to my 3 key insights for leaders - Love, Learn, and Let go. 


Have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow 



Thursday, July 1, 2021

Episode 152 - Plans

I’m David Veech and this is Elevate your performance. 

After taking June off from making videos, I figure it’s time to get back at it, especially since it was one year ago today that I made the first of these.  I managed to run a pretty good streak then.  When I broke the streak, I broke that momentum.  As with everything else, if you’re running a streak and something breaks that momentum, it’s very tough to get back to it, so the videos got more and more sporadic. 

Because of that, I’m hesitant to commit to getting back on this horse, but I do need to make some more and spread some more joy and knowledge.  Let me share some plans with you that I’ve been working on and thinking about. 

I did a short workshop on Fearless Teams for the NK Institute for Human Advancement.  It was a blast and got great feedback.  In my consulting engagements, building effective teams is a major focus area.  We all need teams to WORK.  I’m also building a couple of additional workshops we will offer in the future. 

Fearless teams lead to fearless culture.  Any change you’re trying to make in your workplace, whether it’s new software, or something from the Lean Six Sigma toolbox, if you don’t address the culture change needed, that initiative will fall short of your goals.  I help companies bridge that gap.  While your lean consulting group is doing their thing, or your software implementation team is doing theirs, I work in the space between the technical change and the people to bring about a culture change.  That’s the sweet spot for my coaching work. 

3 other big things I’m planning to launch in the next several weeks: 

First, I want to offer a mastermind study group through the NK Institute that will focus on High Speed Problem Solving.  This will be an ongoing membership-based group that will take lots of deep dives into techniques and skills for problem solving.  We’re still working the details, but I want to meet virtually every couple of weeks and face-to-face about once a quarter with one of the participants hosting at their workplace.  While we’re there, we’ll do some specific work on their specific problem. 

Second, I’ve had this nagging idea about a new leadership study group where the focus is on balance.  I’ll be writing some more on this idea in the future, but this group will be developing more effective leadership behaviors to drive change, build wisdom, and work in cycles where we define a challenge, work to meet that challenge, then set a new one in an upward spiral elevating performance for everyone. 

The third is a podcast.  I’ve been wrestling with this one because producing a podcast is a lot of work, and marketing it to get any followers is real heavy lifting.  But I think I can do this and tie it to the leadership study group.  I want to talk to leaders about balance, about learning, and about problem solving.  Be watching for more information about this.  I’ll need at least 10 episode in the can before I can launch, so I guess I need to start on that very soon. 

I guess I’d better get to work, huh?  Thanks for listening.  Subscribe to get updates and let me know if you’re interested in participating in any of those three projects.  And if you need help developing teams and problem solving skills for your employees, reach out.  I’d love to work with you. 

Have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Episode 151 - Quality Circles

Hi, I’m David Veech and this is Elevate your performance.

Let’s talk about Quality Circles; also known as Quality Control Circles or QC Circles.

Quality circles are small groups of employees with cross-functional skills who work together on a problem in the workplace to learn how to solve problems.

This is my definition based on my understanding of the INTENT of quality circles programs at Toyota and Honda.

The key outcome for quality circles is not the solution to the problem, but on having people learn, understand, and use the key problem solving process.  They of course learn by doing, so the solution is the gravy to the meat and potatoes of LEARNING.

I heard a story a long time ago about the birth of Quality Circles.  Let me remind you that Deming initiated the quality movement in Japan in the 1950s through his lecturing with the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers.  

Sometime in the mid to late 50s, after Deming had taught another group of managers and engineers the basics of Statistical Quality Control, someone is said to have asked him repeatedly about ways to get more employees involved in solving problems.  

The story says that Deming made a short, off the cuff remark about pulling a group of employees together after they’ve experienced a problem and have them stand in a circle to discuss and solve their own problems instead of calling someone else.

This informal, off-the-cuff comment sparked another movement in Japan that included a series of local, regional, and national QC-Circle conferences where workers who solved a problem through a QC circle would present their findings to an audience of peers, who would then select certain ones for awards and celebrations.

Joseph Juran, a contemporary of Deming’s, wrote several articles on Quality Circles in the mid-1960s, published in Quality Digest and other similar publications in the United States.  All of these were completely ignored, of course, until the 80’s when everything Japanese was duplicated, or at least we tried to duplicate.

I was in Grad School at Clemson in 1991 researching production systems when I first learned about Quality Circles.  I was studying self-directed work teams, but quality circles kept coming up in my research and my discussions with managers.  

A lot of companies tried to install Quality Circles programs in the 80s and 90s.  But as we are wont to do here, we usually mandated that every employee be assigned to a Quality Circle, and they would meet once a week and solve problems to save the company money.

This attitude had to come from Juran’s articles that said Japanese companies who participated in all these Quality Circles conferences reported saving about $10 Million annually through the programs.  

US companies wanted that $10 million bucks and missed the whole point about people volunteering, once a problem had occurred, and that other people would be recruited to join the circle with the full support of the company.  

Needless to say, most efforts in the US failed.  

I started studying quality circles at Toyota after I joined the University of Kentucky faculty in 2001.  Toyota maintained about 150 to 170 active quality circles at any given time.  They reported saving about $10 million from these efforts - a surprisingly consistent number.  

I discovered similar findings at Honda’s facility in Marysville, Ohio when I served on the board of IdeasAmerica.

I found this so cool that I wrote about creating circles in my book Leadersights.  Here, though, I called them Learning Circles in an effort to get the focus on developing people.  

I hope you’ll pick it up, read it and give it a try.  When you do, call me.  I’d love to help make your system more successful.

I hope you’re finding these videos helpful.  

Please like, comment, share, and subscribe to let me know!

Have a great day and I’ll see you next time.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Episode 150 - Deming

Hi, I’m David Veech and this is Elevate your performance.

Last week, I introduced the birth of the Quality Movement which followed W. Edwards Deming’s series of lectures with the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers in 1950.

Today, I want to tease out a few more details about Deming, and make the controversial point that PDCA is NOT an effective problem solving methodology.  It’s great for product development and for continuous improvements, but not specifically for everyday problem solving.

I don’t claim to be a Deming expert.  My friend Mark Graban has a far greater understanding of Deming and his key contributions.  Much of what I will share here today came from an article published in Quality Progress in November 2010 by Ronald D. Moen and Clifford L. Norman.  I’ll paste the link in the description box.

I have to start the Deming story with Walter Shewhart.  Shewhart earned his doctorate in physics from Berkeley in 1917 and joined Western Electric’s Inspection Engineering Department at the Hawthorne Works in 1918.  You can learn a little more about AT&T, Bell Labs, and Western Electric in my video episodes 134 and 135.

Deming earned his doctorate in mathematical physics from Yale in 1928.  This is around the time when Deming discovered Shewhart’s work and wanted to apply his statistical quality control principles to non-manufacturing processes.  Apparently, they built a close relationship.  In 1939, Deming served as editor for Shewhart’s book 
“Statistical Method from the Viewpoint of Quality Control.”  This is where the “Shewhart Cycle” first appeared, thanks to Deming.  

This 3 step cycle consisted of “Specification - Production - Inspection” but what made it different was that Shewhart insisted that this was circular, not linear as in most production systems.  As Deming continued to evolve Shewhart’s work for non-manufacturing processes, he joined the US Census Bureau and applied his theories there.  

Deming's refined 4-step cycle included "Design – Produce – Sell (Get to market) – Redesign through Market Research.” Deming made this modification in Japan in 1950, at a meeting of the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE).

It was JUSE who relabeled the steps as Plan - Do - Check - Act and published this widely through Japan.  I don’t know if this was a “lost in translation” thing, or an effort by JUSE to simplify the language, but Deming called this “the corruption.”

Deming eventually warmed to the idea, but insisted that Check was insufficient for a learning cycle and focused instead of Study, giving us the PDSA cycle.  

Toyota still uses PDCA as their main thinking process - to drive continuous improvement.  For problem solving, they built their 7-step problem solving process around the PDCA cycle but had to add more descriptions.

I taught PDCA for years and everyone always struggled with the Plan part.  That’s mainly why I think PDCA is an Launch Cycle and an Improvement Cycle, not a problem-solving cycle to tackle everyday problems.  With lots of help, I created the C4 process to focus directly on problem solving with 4 key steps:  Concern, where you focus on finding, understanding, defining, and breaking down a problem; Cause, where you find the root causes; Countermeasure, where you take action to correct the problem at its root cause; and Confirm, where you study the result, learn, and celebrate.

Here’s what I want you to be thinking about:  Japan initiated their quality focus in the 1950’s.  I grew up in the 60’s and Japanese products were cheap crap.  In the 70’s, Japanese products were cheap, but they were no longer crap, particularly with electronics.  

By the mid 80’s, US Electronics and Automobile manufacturers were collapsing under the onslaught of high-quality, affordable Japanese products.   Thanks to an old NBC News documentary called “If Japan can, why can’t we?” America “discovered” Deming and launched our own quality revolution in the 80s.

The Quality movement in Japan took 30 years to shake the market.  It was a generational change.  Lean is also a generational change.  It will not succeed if we decide to focus on “implementation” of our favorite parts and ignore the rest; or if we change initiatives with every new leader.

Next up, I have a few stories about Deming, Juran, and the Quality Circles movement of the 1960s in Japan.  Subscribe, like, and comment!

Have a great day and I’ll see you next time.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Episode 149 - The Quality Movement

I’m David Veech and this is Elevate Your Performance.

I’ve been making my way through the history of events and people who have shaped Toyota, enabling them to become the great company they are.

It started with Sakichi Toyoda, who’s known in Japan as the King of Inventors.  His Automatic Loom changed the game for the textile industry and provided seed money to start the Toyota Motor Company.

Sakichi’s son, Kiichiro and nephew, Risaburo focused on the passenger car business, first with an Automotive Division within the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works and later as the Toyota Motor Company.  They struggled to reengineer cars and engines from Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler.

Japan’s government asked them to design and build a truck for the military, which they did throughout World War II.  After the war, Kiichiro wanted to get back into the passenger car business as soon as possible, but the restrictions of the occupation government prevented them from achieving his goal of catching the Americans in 3 years.

Before I get too far away from the Automatic Loom Works, I want to point out that in 1949, an engineer from Toyoda Boshuku, named Taiichi Ono was promoted to General Manager of the Koromo Plant Machining Plant.  This facility integrated the engine and Powertrain plants.  Ono noticed that operators worked at a single machine, often just watching the machine as it ran.  The way that the automatic loom changed the game in textiles was instead of having one or more operators working each loom, now one operator could run a room full of looms, often up to 20.  Ono wanted to bring that practice to Koromo and initiated programs to add simple automation to machine tools so they could start and finish without human action, allowing one operator to work several machines.

1950 would turn out to be a significant year with labor disputes and turmoil, a tie-up agreement with Ford that allowed Eiji Toyoda to study their processes and facilities as well as those of dozens of other suppliers, and the Korean War, which actually hampered the Ford agreement and passenger car production.

Toyota did receive orders for 4,679 Model BM trucks to support the war and those orders stabilized the company financially.

In the late 1940’s, the United States sent representatives from the US Census Bureau to help prepare Japan for a 1950 census.  One of these representatives was W. Edwards Deming who had joined the Bureau in 1939 and applied statistical process control to their processes, significantly improving their productivity.

The Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers invited Deming to speak at one of their conferences, and as a result, he lectured in Japan for ten years teaching statistical process control and total quality management to as many as 20,000.  JUSE named their top national quality prize after Deming in 1951.  The quality movement had officially begun.

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Have a great day and I'll see you tomorrow.