Your Lean Management Foundation – A Conversation with Ron Pereira | 012

by | Oct 30, 2020 | 0 comments

Lean Leadership for Ops Managers

Your Lean Management Foundation – A Conversation with Ron Pereira | 012

Episode 012 - Your Lean Management Foundation with Ron Pereira - Coverart WP - Lean Leadership for Ops Managers PodcastLean leadership isn’t just the woo-woo beliefs and people side of things. It’s also about how we use Lean management to make work easier, better, and faster.

So what are the four routines needed to build your Lean management foundation?

Join me for a special conversation with Ron Pereira, co-founder of Gemba Academy. Ron walks us through the specific four routines that make up a Lean daily management system: what they are and why they’re important.

We explore some missteps we sometimes make with the four routines and how we can take a different approach for improved adoption and sustainability. And of course Ron leaves us with words of wisdom and encouragement that will lift you up when you need it most.

Ron has interviewed me five times for his podcast, but for this episode, the roles were reversed! You won’t want to miss this episode as Ron and I get FIRED UP through the discussion.

I have learned so much from working with Ron over the years, and I couldn’t be more excited to share his insights and experience with you. I mean, hey – who knew we’d end up talking about thermodynamics on the episode!


What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why your Lean management foundation needs to focus on a Lean Daily Management System
  • The four routines of a Lean Daily Management System
  • Potential Lean management hazards you may run across, and some alternatives to consider
  • What thermodynamics has to do with your daily Lean management
  • Advice if you’re feeling overwhelmed with trying to integrate Lean into your day job

Take Action:

In the comments section below, let me know which of the four Lean Daily Management routines you would like to learn more about. Share the questions you have to shape future podcast episodes.


Mentions & Features in this Episode:


Welcome to Lean Leadership for Ops Managers, the podcast for leaders in Ops Management who want to spark improvement, foster engagement, and boost problem solving – AND still get their day job done. Here’s your host, Leadership Trainer, Lean Enthusiast, and Spy Thriller Junkie, Jamie V. Parker. 

Jamie: Hey, Ops Leaders. Jamie Parker here, and I am super excited about today’s conversation with Ron Pereira, Co-founder of Gemba Academy. We get fired up talking about Lean thinking in operations management, and we explore the foundational daily management system. A quick note to regular listeners. This episode clocks in a little over 35 minutes, so allot yourself a little more time than for typical episodes. Here we go.

All right, so today I’d like to welcome to the show, Ron Pereira of Gemba.Academy. So excited for the discussion and conversation we’re about to have. So Ron, welcome.

Ron: Thank you, Jamie. It’s fun being on the other end of the microphone this time. Normally it’s the other way around.

Jamie: It is, yes. So I’ve been a guest on your podcast like three, four, five, maybe?

Ron: A bunch of times. Yeah.

Jamie: So definitely a little bit of a role reversal.

Ron: For sure. Well, it’s fun, and great job with the new podcast. I’m loving it and excited to see you keep going.

Jamie: Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate that. So before we jump into all of the topics that we’re going to talk about, can you share a brief introduction about the work you do at Gemba Academy?

Ron: Yeah, for sure. So I don’t know, the best way I’d describe Gemba Academy when people have no idea what we’re about, so we’re sort of like a Netflix with benefits. That’s what I say. I mean, really, it’s more like– So obviously, we do online training videos in Lean and Six Sigma, and then we have all these kind of Lean company case studies we call Gemba Academy Live where we go and visit different companies. So there are over 1500 videos now. We’ve been at it for, I guess, over 10 years now, March of 2009, we started the company. So yeah, lots of different topics. Most of our videos are kind of five to 10 minutes long, so kind of by size, that’s how we’ve learned adults learn the best. I think adult attention span is worse than a kid’s, so we keep them short and punchy. But we’re not just videos, we do a lot of coaching, as probably, honestly, what I do most of the time now it’s coaching people through various projects. And we also offer kind of traditional certifications – Green Belt, Black Belt, Master Black Belt – and we have a new Lean practitioner certification that’s been extremely popular. So we do a lot of coaching and support. We do some on-site consulting as well for folks that want that but we’re primarily a kind of more of a virtual learning organization. But yeah, that’s what we’re up to these days.

Jamie: Yeah. And I got to tell you, I’m a huge fan of Gemba Academy. In fact, I was trying to think back when preparing for this, I was like, “Okay, so when did we actually first meet?” 2013-ish, but that was the precursor that then led me to actually engage Gemba Academy as really our kind of learning system and content system for introducing Lean to 20 plants across the country.

Ron: Yeah, FedEx was a great, and it still is a great partner. So we appreciated that way back then, Jamie, and we’ve learned a lot from you because you are one of the power users I would say early on, and we were like, “Wait, this is what Jamie’s doing.” So we copied a lot of what you guys were doing at FedEx and told other folks how to best leverage our content. So we sure learned a lot from you back in those days, and so thank you for that.

Jamie: Yeah, thank you. Now, you’ve been doing this Gemba Academy thing for a while, but before that, what was your professional experience?

Ron: Yeah. So I worked at Motorola. [It] was kind of my first– Well, my first job was a Maid-Rite sandwich shop in Greenville, Ohio in high school. Okay, so I learned a lot, believe it or not. I think every kid should work in food service, like just everything from filling up the ice chest to taking the trash out and serving angry customers and all the rest of it. I think that’s great experience for a kid so I actually did learn a lot about just the value of working back then, as a young boy. But then, so I guess my first kind of professional job there was with Motorola up in Chicago, and so I worked there for a little over five years. And so we built cell phones. Do you remember that starTAC, Jamie? I don’t know if you remember that phone. It was like the very first flip phone that was ever made.

Jamie: Oh, my goodness.

Ron: And I actually helped build the very first starTACs, I’d never forget. We were in a new product introduction area, I worked at the time, and we saw these phones in this big metal secure rack, and we were peeking at it and looking at it and “Ooh, look at that”.  But I learned a lot back at Motorola. It was various engineering roles, always in production building cell phones. And so I did that and then I went to Nokia, Motorola’s big competitor back then. Neither one of them are doing that great these days, I don’t think. But then I went to Nokia, and we built a lot of cell phones then boy, back when Nokia took off. So that’s where I kind of went through my formal– So back at Motorola, they are the big Six Sigma folks. Bill Smith was the originator of Six Sigma and that’s where he worked – Motorola. But I didn’t actually go through their formal training back there. It was just interesting, just as engineers, we just sort of all did our jobs that way. I thought every engineer was doing SPC and running design of experiments and things like that, but come to find out they weren’t at other companies.

  So anyhow, at Nokia strangely enough, that’s when I went through formal training and what they were, they were a big Six Sigma house in the very beginning back in those days. And so I went through their traditional Green Belt, Black Belt, Master Black Belt training, and then I knew that we’d learned enough about Lean to be dangerous in all that training, but I knew there was more. And so we actually brought in Gemba Research back then, which is one of my business partners, John Miller, that was his consulting company back then. And so we Nokia hired Gemba Research to come in and teach us more about Lean. And so that’s how John and I first met and one thing led to another and I just kept learning about Lean. There was no Gemba Academy back then, so you wanted to learn Lean, you had to bring consultants in and then read books and just kind of trial by fire sort of thing.

  But after Nokia, I went to a company called Flowserve. They’re based out of Irving, Texas here. It’s a decent-sized company. It’s about a $5 billion company and I worked in their valve division, and so, me and one other guy, we kind of developed their Lean program. They were also a big Six Sigma kind of organization and didn’t really have any Lean. And so we sort of developed this Lean initiative there, and we spread that across the world really, for Flowserve, and that was a lot of fun. But the problem was, I was always on an airplane, and I hated that with a young family and all the rest of it. And so that’s when we had the idea, approached John and Kevin Meyer, our other business partner and said, “Hey, guys ever thought about making videos?” And one thing led to another, we learned how to make videos and hack together a website, and March of 2009, we turned this thing on. So that’s just a quick story of, I guess, my career and how I met Gemba Academy.

Jamie: Yeah, and I love hearing that story, too. I actually didn’t know some of that Flowserve stuff before, but just knowing that you’ve been in the trenches.

Ron: Yeah. For sure, I’ve had a lot of different roles, everything from just kind of continuous improvement person, worked in supply chain at Nokia for a while, work with a lot of suppliers, and worked with tons of Operations Managers, and I know that’s your primary audience. So a lot of experience working with the frontline and understanding the challenges that they face because it’s not easy. It’s a hard job.

Jamie: Yeah. Well, so speaking of this hard job, so this podcast is really designed for Operations Managers and that means that they’re not full-time Lean practitioners. So they’ve decided that they really want to integrate this Lean thinking and working and how they lead their teams and manage their operations. But sometimes it just feels like there’s so much out there, right? There are so many different concepts and tools and systems that are presented, that it just can become overwhelming. So to that Operations Leader, what advice would you give them on whether it’s where to start, or just what the foundation really is that needs to be built?

Ron: Yeah, I mean, it’s a tricky question because there’s not an exact right answer to offer because everyone is at a slightly different place. And so, we can’t always do cookie-cutter Lean, so to speak, and say, “Oh yeah, always start here and you’ll be good.” What I will say is, there’s this whole thing about 5S right, kind of a workplace organization methodology that we use in Lean. It’s one of the principles. Somebody asked me one time, they said, “Ron, which one of the 5Ss is the hardest? And I always said the hardest is start. That’s the hardest. That’s not actually one of the Ss but it’s sort of a play on words. But it’s the truth is that you do need to make a decision that you want to improve, right? And that’s the first thing. You have to make a decision as an individual and as an organization, that, yes, we want to improve, we want to get better. And it sounds strange to say well, who doesn’t want to get better? And I would say, you’d be surprised. You’d be surprised because there’s a lot of folks out there, a lot of organizations out there that maybe they have a good product, and they’re doing okay, and they get a little comfortable, right? And so, that’s the first thing is just commit to starting. And then what I would also encourage these folks– You know, Lean isn’t going to be their full-time job, right? But what I would say to that is Lean can be part of your full-time work.

The principles behind Lean, the thinking that goes along with it, that can, and I would argue, should become part of what you do sort of like the fish in water, right? And the fish is swimming around and then somebody says, “Hey, how’s the water?”, and then all of a sudden, the fish goes, “What’s water?” They don’t even know it, right? They are in the water. And so if you’re doing this the correct way, I would venture to say you don’t have to go running around saying you practice Lean and you have a Lean program this and that. It’s just, learn these principles, and we’re going to talk about one of them today, Daily Management System, and just make that part of what you do. And then it’s not extra, it’s just part of what you already do. And in fact, if you’re doing it correctly, it’ll make what you’re doing easier, and so remove the struggle, if you will. That’s what we’re trying to do with Lean. We’re not trying to create struggle, we’re trying to remove struggle. And so that’s where I think an Operations Managers should definitely embrace the thinking behind this because it does work. A hundred percent guarantee it will work if you apply it correctly and you persist.

Jamie: Oh my gosh. Preach, Ron!

Ron: Yes.

Jamie: I love this. You’re getting fired up. I’m getting fired up listening to you.

Ron: I do, I get fired up. Yeah. Imagine If we were face to face, you’d be “Ahhh!” AME or something like that when we do the face to face. It’s probably better that we’re separated. Keep us calm.

Jamie: Yeah. Oh, my goodness, I think that’s so important. Absolutely. Everything you said I’m seconding right now. 

You said, “Hey, we’re going to talk about Daily Management Systems. Let’s dive into that. What is it? Why is it important?

Ron: Yeah. So I would say it is one of the foundational principles. It’s not the only foundational principle. There are other principles that I would argue are foundational, but this is from an operations perspective absolutely critical. And, I mean, there are lots of definitions for what’s a Daily Management System, or some people call it a Lean Daily Management System, whatever you want to call it. But really, what we’re trying to do with a Daily Management System, is we want to be able to, on a daily basis, as the name implies, we want to know, are we on track? Are we off track? What kind of corrective action should we be taking? Maybe we look at past corrective actions. And then I guess, another way of looking at it is you just want to be able to know walking around, you should be able to go around to anyone in the organization and answer the question, are we winning or are we losing? Right now, are you winning or are you losing at the game that you’re playing, this production process that you’re doing? 

And that’s really what we’re trying to understand at a meta-level with a Daily Management System. Are we winning or are we losing? What actions do we need to take? And perhaps, are we even sustaining the gains that we’ve made in the past, right? Or I would argue don’t even try to sustain gains, just try to make them a little bit better every day and that way, you don’t have to worry about sustaining because you’re always making it a little bit better each and every day.

Jamie: Yeah, because we’ve definitely all seen the “Hey, we made an effort, we made this improvement, we made this progress”, and then took our eye off the ball, if you will, and it went back. 

Ron: Yeah, well, entropy, that second law of thermodynamics, it’s a real thing. And entropy is always pulling at our processes. It’s always pulling in life in general and it wants disorder. Entropy wants disorder, and the thing about entropy, it never stops and so you can never stop. And the only way to really counter entropy is to keep making things a little bit better. Sort of like the stock market. It’s either getting a little bit better or a little bit worse. Very rarely, if ever, does it go perfectly sideways and so we want to keep the process improving just even a little bit.

Jamie: Fantastic. Okay, so it sounds like this Daily Management System is one foundational method that we could potentially integrate into how we work to be able to do that. 

Ron: Yep. 

Jamie: So tell me what is it?

Ron: So the way that Gemba Academy approaches Daily Management System is we teach, and we actually just released a full-blown series of videos and courses on this topic, so folks can go check it out if they want to learn more, but I’ll give you the high-level today. There are four primary routines that we’re interested in with a Daily Management System, and I’m going to give them too in an order, but doesn’t mean that this is the correct order. It’s like a spider web – they’re all connected, in a way. So if you pull on one, all the other ones are going to kind of pull along with it. But the first one I’ll talk about is just a daily accountability process. And this is where many of us are involved in maybe like daily cleaning, or maybe there’s equipment that we need to check on a daily basis. You know, shifts startup meetings are really popular in a lot of organizations. I know you at FedEx, you guys did tons of those, and they still do. Morning all-hands meetings, huddles, there are many different words for them. Tiered accountability meetings is something. There are different tiers in the organization, depending on your role in the organization. And so these different tiers may have various levels of accountability meetings. And so that’s what we’re doing with daily accountability process. 

The second routine that we talk a lot about is leader standard work. And this is a routine for leaders really at all levels in the organization to be able to check on their teams, you want to be able to check on the status of progress on that day’s work. We’re looking at process standards are they being followed? And for sure, we’re finding opportunities to coach and inspire those around us. So leader standard work is, you know, sometimes you’ll see people, they’ll plan out their day, and depending on the– Like, if you’re a CEO, your leader standard work is going to look very different than, say, a frontline supervisor. The CEO’s leader standard work is not going to be quite as detailed because they’ve got a lot of things that just kind of come up, just out of the blue, so they have to be flexible. Whereas a frontline supervisor, they might have every 15 to 30 minutes planned out on the day. They know that from nine to 9:30, we need to go do a Gemba walk in Area B or something like that, and so they’re really planning things out. So that’s what we’re doing with leader standard work. 

The third routine is Gemba walks, and this is a very popular one. A lot of people, they’ll read a book, or they’ll, I don’t know, watch a video Gemba Academy, and they are all excited about Gemba walks, which is great. Gemba walks are awesome. But by themselves, they’re not going to be as effective just as an isolated tool. So I mentioned that just because people can get excited about going to Gemba or Gemba walks, but what we’re doing with a Gemba walk is we’ve got a structured process for identifying opportunities, really. We also want to develop people, and we want to keep learning on a day to day basis. And so, with a Gemba walk, in short, it’s kind of like get out of your desk, or get out of your chair and go to the place to work is done and see what’s up. Now, but there also, again, has to be structure there. You can’t just get up and start randomly walking around and asking folks, how’s their day, right? That’s not Gemba walk. Okay, that’s the third one, Gemba walk. 

And the fourth routine is process confirmation. And I mentioned this one last because this is a slightly more involved part of a Daily Management System. And here, we’re using one of the common tools that you’ll see really hardcore Lean companies using is something called a Kamishibai audit system. And this is where there are these cards, and they’re typically up on a wall and you might have little sleeves, and these little cards are in these sleeves, and one side of the card is red, and the other side is green. And what these are, these are things that we need to go audit or just kind of check in and confirm that everything’s going okay. And so you pick out a card, and then it says, “Oh, go to Area B and check ABC.” So you walk over to Area B, check ABC. If everything looks good, you come back and you put the card green. Now you put it green, so you know that you’ve done that one. So there might be some Kamishibai cards that you do on a daily basis. There might be some that you do on a weekly basis, some that you do on a monthly basis. But it’s really just a way to kind of audit our process and make sure that everything is working the way that we want. So really those four routines, kind of working together in harmony, make up what we call a Lean Daily Management System. So again, it was a daily accountability process, leader standard work, Gemba walks, and process confirmation.

Jamie: Fantastic. Thank you for walking through all four of those and presenting those as a system. I have two follow-up questions, though. 

Ron: Okay.

Jamie: I’m kind of listening to you talk about it. So the first is about leader standard work. And I want to ask about it because I feel like, for a lot of folks, it’s this kind of elusive thing. I know when I first learned about leader standard work, it was really presented as this tiered thing, and you’ve got your first level leadership that’s checking this stuff, and then second level comes in, and part of what they’re doing is checking the next level, and then the third level leadership. And it was this whole tiered– It just was this complex system that I tried over and over and over to work with teams and figure out how can we do this and execute it, and it was elusive. We could never quite figure it out. And so I think that there may be a better way to go about starting that. What are your thoughts when you hear me say that? If somebody else is resonating, they’re like, “Yes, I’ve tried that, too and I couldn’t get it.” What do you have to say to us?

Ron: I’ve never heard of anyone ever struggling, so this might be you, Jamie, I don’t know. Just kidding. 

Jamie: Oh, there are a lot of Jamie issues, for sure. 

Ron: No, you’re right. I mean, listen, none of this is easy, right? None of it. And leader standard work is not easy. What I would say, I guess my advice would be, in a perfect world, there would be a group of people that we’re all in it together, and you are all going to kind of experiment together. And so because if you do it one way, and I do it another way, I might find something that works for me, and you might find a way that works for you, and that’s okay. And I would say it’s probably what happens more often than not. But I would think in a perfect world, if we had the ideal situation, there would be kind of standards to the way that we did leader standard work. Now, doesn’t mean that they would be handcuffed, that you would have to do it that way, but I think starting slowly is probably the most important thing, right? And giving yourself some grace, give yourself a break. And don’t feel like in the beginning, you got to just have this plan, every 15 minutes of your day planned out, and you’re like this little robot following your spreadsheet. So I would say start at a higher level, like maybe have just a few things that you want to accomplish this week, and then write those down, and give yourself some general time when you think you want to work on that. And if you think about Toyota Kata or Scientific Thinking, we would say, that’s your next step, right? Like, “This week, I’m going to try to do this.” That’s how we coach people through our Green Belt, Black Belt, Master Black Belt, and Lean practitioner, especially in the academic side because they’re all stressed out about having to watch these videos. So always say, “Okay, don’t worry, don’t worry.” Say, “So what’s your plan this week? For the next five days, what do you want to do? Well, how much time per day could you watch videos?” “Well, maybe 30 minutes.” “Okay, when?” “Like from 10 to 10:30.” “Okay. Do you use a calendar?” “Yeah, well write that in your calendar.” 

So now what we’ve done is we’re honing in on a specific plan, right? And then you got to take that next step. And I would encourage folks doing leader standard work to don’t forget this next step. Make a prediction of what you think’s going to happen. Look at your day, and say, “Here’s my day, here’s my plan, or here’s my week, here’s my month”, and then make a prediction. What do you think is going to happen? “Oh, boy, I think it’ll be all good until then, and I think it might fall apart right there for this reason, this reason, this reason.” So write it down somewhere, and then at the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of the month, whatever the time period is, you reflect back and you say, “Okay, what actually happened?” And so then you can compare what you thought was going to happen with what actually happened, okay? And then you can take that fourth step and say, “What did I learn?” And then from this, that learning, then you’re going to be able to improve your leader standard work going forward because you know that, boy, I was all excited early on and now I realize I got to back off and pull back in that area or that area, or I got to move this around because that works better in the morning, that works better than in the afternoon. But it’s just constant really, experimentation process. That’s lean, right? We’re experimenters, we’re scientists, right? And so we got to do the same thing with our leader standard work. But in the end, I would say don’t beat yourself up, and just try something. Make a prediction, see what actually happened, see what you learn, and then improve and adapt accordingly.

Jamie: Yeah, you know what I love so much as I’m listening to you share this recommendation is that I think it addresses a couple of different areas. Because at least from my experience, what I see is that we try to kind of go from that zero to 100 in one full step.

Ron: No, for sure. I mean, don’t try to take on too much. It’s slow and steady wins the race, right? But know why you’re doing it. What problem were you trying to solve by trying to create this leader standard work? If you don’t have a good answer to that, then maybe you shouldn’t do it. Maybe it’s not right for you and the work that you do. That’s okay. But most people I think, are going to benefit from having some form of a plan, right? And I think most people do, right? People have their meetings and their calendars and all the rest of it, well then just slide in a few other things like, “Hey, go check on process X at this particular time.” It’s not a meeting, but it’s a thing that you want to accomplish. And then when you do it, give yourself a checkmark, give yourself a little dopamine, right? Check it off, feel good that you accomplished something.

Jamie: Yeah. And it allows you to kind of build that muscle of discipline too. So often it’s like, well, we’re just stuck in firefighting all the time. 

Ron: Absolutely. In fact, I remember one time at FedEx, I gave a talk to you and your leadership team on how to stop being firefighters. And one of the things we talked about and I remember in that talk was don’t reward firefighting. Like, we so often, “Oh, I’m going to promote Jamie because man, she can put out some fires”, you know? Well, maybe let’s work on not having fires to put out, to begin with, right?

Jamie: Yeah, absolutely. And you’re not going to go from “I have all of these fires all the time. I’m always firefighting” to “I have a perfectly disciplined system and plan that I can follow consistently.” So we’ve got to build that muscle of discipline and do it, I think, in those smaller chunks. All right, so one other follow-up question I have is about Gemba walks because I think you’re right, this is the sexy part that everybody loves. And my experience has been that Gemba walks, especially for Ops Managers, we’ve grown up in this environment where it’s really kind of compliance-based, very results heavy. And so a lot of times I see like we start this Gemba walk and process our idea or attempt, and it ends up being like an, “I gotcha” or “You’re going to walk away with a list of 10 things you need to fix.

Ron: Right.

Jamie: So if that’s not what a Gemba walk is, can you contrast that? If that’s not what it is, how would it be different if I were doing it effectively?

Ron: Yeah, I would say it’s, it’s definitely not an “I gotcha”, or an “Oh, my gosh, here comes Jamie, straighten up.” It shouldn’t be that. It should be more of a spirit of you’re going there to learn, right? The leader who’s doing the Gemba walk is there to learn. How can they better support the team members? Finding out “Hey, what are the team members struggling with?” And it might be things that are wrong in the process, right? I mean, blame the process, not the person is one of our big mantras in Lean. And so we should be constantly seeking out ways to empower and teach and inspire the team members to be able to do their very best work. So, some of the companies that I’ve seen that do Gemba walks really well, it’s kind of interesting. People, when the leader is kind of approaching the area, you’ll see team members actually walking towards the leader. They’re excited that the leader is there because they know they’ve got some things to share. And so that is wonderful to see, compared to, “Oh, my gosh, here they come. Look out, incoming, incoming.” You don’t want that, right? And so it’s really with the mind of being a servant more than it is a tyrant. 

Now, it doesn’t mean to say that there’s no accountability. Of course, there is. If people are flagrantly not doing what they’re supposed to be doing and you see that during a Gemba walk, well, yeah, you need to address that as well. But when you get the right culture going within a Lean thinking organization, those sorts of things very rarely are ever going to be a situation to have to worry about. It’s more about boy, how can we keep improving this thing, the system, this process? And that’s where Gemba walks done correctly, can really be a very powerful force.

Jamie: Oh, fantastic. If there are folks out there listening that are saying, “Hey, I want to learn more about this whole Daily Management System”, where should they go?

Ron: Yeah, well, I mean, Gemba Academy definitely has a pretty comprehensive course and there’s lots that I didn’t go into. There’s these so-called seven enablers that we teach and things like team size and span of control is a big deal in Daily Management System. If you have one frontline leader with 40 employees, that can be pretty difficult, right? So we talk about those sorts of things. And there are lots of other principles that are involved here, like standard work, visual management, escalation systems, those sorts of things. So it’s a pretty big topic, to be honest with you, but yeah, I mean, Gemba Academy can definitely help. It’s in our school of Lean, so folks could just go to But outside of Gemba Academy, what I would encourage folks to do is get help, whether it’s from Gemba Academy, or someone like Jamie, like you, Jamie. Just get help from folks who have done it in the beginning. Don’t get the consultant that’s going to milk you for the next five years. The best consultants come in and teach you how to fish and they leave. And I know that’s your style Jamie is to teach people how to fish. And so that’s what I would encourage folks to do is get access. Maybe you have employees that have experience from [Toyota 31:10] or whatever it might be, we’ll tap into them, and get these things going, but you do need to get the information before you can implement it.

Jamie: All right, great. So last question. For the Ops Leaders out there who just feel overwhelmed. They’re already working long hours and now they’re kind of thinking, “Hey, this sounds intriguing, but it just feels like it’s maybe a little too much or overwhelming.” What either advice, encouragement, or words of wisdom would you share with them today?

Ron: Kind of like I said with leader standard work, give herself a little grace, don’t be so hard on yourself. but also, learn how to break problems down. And that’s why we’re so passionate at Gemba Academy, also about Toyota Kata and Scientific Thinking. It’s really, really, really critical that we learn how to take a big vague problem and then we kind of break that problem down into smaller problems or smaller opportunities, and then we just start slowly chipping away at them. Sort of like if people wanted to go run a marathon, that’s 26 miles. So where are you at right now? “Well, I can’t run a mile without throwing up.” Okay, well, you got a little ways to go. But what we’re not going to do is we’re not going to stress about 26.2 miles on the second day. Instead, we’re going to say, “You know what? Why don’t we focus on jogging a half a mile?” Just jog a half a mile, or jog a quarter of a mile. And so next thing you know, you’re up to a mile and then a mile and a half and two miles, and before you know it, you’re running a marathon, but you got to take it in small steps, and experiment and learn along the way. Don’t worry about knowing all the answers because no one does. If they say they do, they’re lying. They don’t. No one does. So we just have to break problems down, and then find out what makes those problems up and just start chipping away at them slowly. And if you do that, good things are going to happen.

Jamie: I love it. Break problems down, slow and steady, and give yourself a little bit of grace. 

Ron: Yep, absolutely, especially in these crazy times. In case you haven’t noticed, Jamie, there’s a few things going on in the world.

Jamie: A few things there are. 

Ron: Yeah.

Jamie: Well, Ron, thank you so much for being here. I love this discussion, not just about the foundation, but then some of the different ways we can think about it to integrate it into how we work to make our work easier. So it’s not a tack on. It’s something that we integrate that thinking into our own work.

Ron: It was my pleasure, Jamie. Thanks again for having me on and keep up the great work.

Jamie: Oh, my goodness! I was so pumped through this conversation with Ron. I mean, who knew we would talk thermodynamics? All right, listen, Ron said at the beginning, one of the very first things that needs to happen is you need to decide. And this goes right back to what I shared in episode eight. You have to decide either “hell yes” or “hell no”. My life coach Melinda taught me that and helped me frame and use that filter for making decisions. So we can’t go into this whole development process halfway. No “Maybe.” No “We’ll try.” No “We’ll see if we can squeeze it in.” We have to decide it’s a “hell yes” and we’re playing all in. 

If you want to learn more about Ron and Gemba Academy, you can head over to I’m also providing the link in the show notes, which you can find at and find episode 12. 

Now, I do have to tell you, I’m a huge fan of Gemba Academy. I was a customer of theirs for years, and sometimes I even work with organizations who are customers of Gemba Academy and we use that content to help train and develop team members across the operation or across the main the manufacturing team, while also helping them with implementation and with leadership development. I hope you loved today’s conversation about the foundational Daily Management System. And remember, it’s not about tacking on another rollout, another implementation. It’s actually about integrating Lean thinking with your leadership and with your daily work, iterating and learning along the way. All right, that’s it for today. I’ll be back to talk with you next week.


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Meet Jamie

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I’m a recovering Command-and-Control Manager who’s now on a mission to make the world of work more human. With a soft spot in my heart for Ops Managers, you’ll get the straight talk combining Lean, Leadership, and the real challenges of operations management.




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