The Wisdom Within
The Bible may tell us that you can’t be a prophet in your own tribe, but it turns out you can be a prophet in your own company
By Lynn Shelton
Enterprise Minnesota's Vice President of Marketing
(Lynn Shelton, vice president of marketing, Enterprise Minnesota)
Last Friday, the full staff of Enterprise Minnesota gathered for a one-day meeting in the Roseville offices of Olsen Thielen (our newest State of Manufacturing® Platinum-level sponsor! Thank you very much.) A high point of that day was an hour-long panel discussion in which four of Enterprise Minnesota’s consultants analyzed the value of lean and continuous improvement from a variety of perspectives. Their observations about the always-improving evolution of continuous improvement left a lasting impression on our staff, not only for their insights, but for the wisdom and subtle discernment of the consultants’ comments.
The Bible may tell us that you can’t be a prophet in your own tribe, but that doesn’t mean you can’t impress your colleagues in the workplace. I learned again the value in taking the time to appreciate the skills and wisdom of the folks on your own team. (Unless they don’t exhibit those traits, which might prompt you to find another team. I’m told the job market is quite good these days.)
An edited version of that discussion will appear as the cover story of the December edition of Enterprise Minnesota® magazine. In the meantime, one of my favorite exchanges involved long-time consultant Sam Gould describing how organizations can embed a lean culture by enduring, not avoiding, the internal pushback from what he calls the C.A.V.E. men—"citizens against virtually everything.” These are people (yes, women too) whose long tenure on a plant floor often breeds a certain skepticism at what they might consider the latest shiny objects thrust upon them by their managers.
“They've been through a lot of activities that didn't deliver,” he told us. “They know that just saying it doesn't mean anything. They won’t see value until they feel it, smell it, hold it, and see it in action. I’ve learned that you don’t jettison the C.A.V.E. man. In fact you don't leave on your journey without one, because they're the ones who will bring the ballast to it.”
Sam is a lean pioneer who has been teaching continuous improvement to Minnesota’s manufacturers from its earliest days. He described how instructors initially advised him to jettison the C.A.V.E. man from the lean implementation as quickly as possible, as not worth the hassle of enduring their questions. “I thought that was disrespectful because I'm a C.A.V.E. man. This isn't going to work if I have to get rid of myself first,” he told us. His view is that the C.A.V.E. man could be the most important cog in leaning up operations. “They're the ones asking the questions that you're not ready to answer, which can be frustrating,” he added. But the reason behind their questions has ultimate value: what value is the activity trying to accomplish?
Vice president of consulting John Connelly agreed, describing their resistance as rooted in commitment to the success of the current state. “So without seeing the reason and the value for the future state, they hold onto the current state,” he said. “That's different than people who just oppose things.”
David Ahlquist, another Enterprise Minnesota certified lean expert (who has been with us since 1996), says that C.A.V.E. men often resist change because they worry that change can create bigger headaches for them. “Change is always hard,” he said. “Change isn’t always managed well; there isn't follow-on, there isn't accountability. Like in a good Kaizen event, he said, an effective lean program addresses the roadblocks that C.A.V.E. people bring up. “If you can engage the C.A.V.E. people”—Sam loves to say this—“you can turn your biggest detractors into your biggest supporters,” he said. “It's not easy to do, but we need to set up an environment where we make it easy for changes to happen.”
Sam’s conclusion: “A converted C.A.V.E. man will deliver ten times the value of an early adopter. Not only that, they will do something you might not be able to: They will convert the other C.A.V.E. men.”
He advises companies to take the time to deal with “that crusty group at the top. Don’t ignore them and hope they retire, because when they do retire, they’re going take along a lot of value you will have a hard time recovering.”
Your Business Strategy: On Purpose or By Accident?
**Exclusive to Manufacturers**
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
Anoka Technical College - Auditorium B
Anoka, MN 55303
What to Expect
- Does your corporate vision include the right combination of strategic mission, values, and objectives to help your company compete and grow?
- Is your business effectively integrating your strategic vision into its existing organizational culture?
- How well do you understand your competition or how technological advancements will impact your business?
- Are you incorporating your customers’ strategy into your strategic thinking?
- Do you know how to create distinct market advantages that will be difficult for competitors to copy or substitute?
Steve Haarstad, an Enterprise Minnesota business growth expert, will share his knowledge and insights around rethinking and retooling your business strategy to be best positioned to manage current challenges and to take advantage of future growth opportunities.
This event is exclusive to manufacturers and is free of charge. Registration required.
To register please contact email@example.com