Wednesday Mar 01, 2023

CEO Gary Michel on Lean for the Enterprise and the Need to Decomplify Work

Episode page with video, transcript and more

Joining us for Episode #470 of the Lean Blog Interviews Podcast is Gary Michel.

He was Chairman and CEO of JELD-WEN, Inc. until August 2022 and, just after that, I saw him give an outstanding keynote talk at the AME annual conference in Dallas.

Gary was previously President and CEO of Honeywell Home and Building Technologies (HBT) and President and CEO of ClubCar. He also led the Trane HVAC business, among other executive roles.

He has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.

His book, Decomplify: How Simplicity Drives Stability, Innovation, and Transformation, will be available later this year.

In this episode, Gary discusses his Lean origin story and how he views and drives Lean as a CEO. He reflects on the importance of strategy deployment and Lean as an enterprise approach, and shares his approach to Lean problem solving as a CEO. Gary emphasizes the impact of taking a “fresh eyes” approach to Gemba walks, and talks about the importance of being inquisitive and taking responsibility for simplifying processes (or “decomplifying” them).

Questions, Notes, and highlights:

  • What's your Lean origin story?
  • Lower volume business – how to make it flow? We're not Toyota?
  • Strategy deployment… lean as an enterprise
  • How to be focused on most pressing needs?
  • Reaction to the John Toussaint quote – “you've seen one lean transformation….”
  • “I teach problem solving a lot”
  • Who were your teachers, guides and coaches?
  • Shedding Old habits and old philosophies
  • How did you drive Lean problem solving from the CEO seat?
  • How to coach others away from bad habits?
  • Culture impact of coaching leaders vs. selecting the right ones for promotion?
  • Having a rallying cry to set direction
  • Working to reduce fear of speaking up
  • Get out there… those closest to the work
  • How to get other leaders out to the Gemba?
  • The impact of taking leaders out on a Gemba walk??
  • Some are afraid of that, making mistakes?
  • The importance of taking a “Fresh Eyes” approach??
  • Why should leaders be inquisitive when things don't look the way they're supposed to look?
  • What's your definition of a “great company”?
  • Problem Solving AND communication as much as anything else
  • Influencing other CEOs to take interest in Lean yet alone drive it?
  • Gets asked – What if my CEO isn't driving this?
  • Decomplifying annual planning and strategy cycles?

The podcast is sponsored by Stiles Associates, now in its 30th year of business. They are the go-to Lean recruiting firm serving the manufacturing, private equity, and healthcare industries. Learn more.

This podcast is part of the #LeanCommunicators network

All content copyright Mark Graban & Constancy, Inc, 2006 - present

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