Saturday, October 29, 2011
It's Been ONE YEAR
I wanted to look back and share some of the lessons and experiences I've had over the last year. It has been a unique opportunity. Many of the things I had taught at my previous job for over 30 years were really put to the test at Ebsco. I'm proud to say I have come along way since that first day I took the wrong turn in the warehouse and got stuck in a dead end and looked foolish, only to compound it by pretending to look at boxes on the shelf like I had a clue. Oh I still do stupid things everyday but now the team has learned to expect it from me.
I have always preached that any team will look at leadership, decide if they are going to succeed or fail and then set forth making their decision a reality. Their determination on the leaders fate is based on if the leader cares about them and has the entire teams best interest at heart. I really do care about the pink mob pictured above and I think they all know it. They have responded posting one of the best years ever at Ebsco and driven positive change to new levels. They are making us a success. It took a little time but when we develop a relationship on trust, they responded. When I asked for ideas on change at Ebsco they responded and responded and responded. It wasn't necessary to sell change to them, my problem was keeping up with all of their ideas for change.
Another point I have always preached was that management was the same everywhere. You do not need to be an expert on the industry, you need to be an expert on caring and leading a team. Again they have proved this correct. I knew I didn't know anything about spring making when I walked in and the only progress I've made is to realized I didn't even know how much I didn't know. That might not be completely true. I found that people like to talk about their jobs and love to teach the boss. They have taught me a great deal about spring making and Ebsco. Now I might know a tenth of what they do, but they keep trying.
I read several books before starting my new position on manufacturing, lean, TQM blah blah blah. what I found was none of the books had any answers. What they did have was the questions. They providing me with the right questions for the real experts, the Team Members. The knowledge I gained from reading didn't apply directly to Ebsco but it allowed me to ask the right questions and they provided the answers. Reading can spark the imagination or start the kernel of an idea. This is just the starting point. People hold the answers.
I discovered that being a catalyst is an important trait for a leader. Being inquisitive and asking why or why not sparks the minds of team members. Those sparks lead to the fires of invention and unlimited potential. When you can take the combined knowledge and experience of the entire team and create a spark, the results will often knock you down. Coming in from outside gave me a real advantage at this. I had a complete different wealth of experiences and didn't have the "we have always done it that way mentality". This made it easy for me to "spark". Now, what keeps me up at night is that I am becoming an insider and may loose some of that spark. I have committed myself to continue reading, visit customers and vendors to see and experience new things. I don't want to loose the spark.
I have discovered new perspectives of leadership. In my new position I have the opportunity to see the mile high view. At that level the details are very fuzzy and that allows the total picture to be very clear. This is a big portion of my job. I may not understand all of the details but I have the opportunity to see how the entire process works and the relationship between groups. I have been able to relieve the boss of some of her day to day activities and allow her to step back even further. I think this has helped her with some big decisions that have really impacted Ebsco. I can't take credit for the ideas but hopefully what I have done has contributed to her being able to take a new perspective on things.
Organizational skills have turned out to be essential. I've adopted a saying "Baby Steps... One Million at a Time" To keep those million steps in line takes organizational skills. A little OCD isn't a bad thing when herding this many projects. Outlook has become my best friend. i have always utilized planners but in this job it's my life line. Without it, most things would just fall through the cracks.
So to recap, what have I learned. A great deal and nothing at all. I've learned allot about manufacturing, springs, ISO, Job Boss and many other specifics. Generally though, I've learned nothing new, just reinforced what I knew all along. "It's People Stupid" With all the technology and management theory it boils down to that one simple phrase. PEOPLE. I'm lucky I have the people at Ebsco on my team.