Podcast

Episode: 30 |
Larry Oglesby:
Speed in Lean Operations:
Episode
30

HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL

Larry Oglesby

Speed in Lean Operations

Show Notes

Larry Oglesby has been a close friend and mentor of mine for over a decade. I first got to know Larry when he was my Engagement Manager at McKinsey on a manufacturing lean operations project back in 2005, and we bonded over our shared service in the U.S. submarine force.

Larry is a deep expert on operational transformation – after spending time in the Ops practice at McKinsey he joined the George Group – a boutique consulting firm focused on operations.

After the George Group was purchased by Accenture, Larry stayed on and ended up as the Managing Director for North American Process and Innovation Performance Service Line.

Larry has now started his own consulting practice, 440 partners – and we start our discussion with Larry explaining the name of his firm.

A cliché in operational transformation is: To go fast, go slow.

Larry has a different approach: To go fast, go fast.

In our discussion, Larry talks about the importance of speed in a successful transformation; he also shares how he incorporated into the transformation a book club with weekly discussions.

To learn more about Larry, visit his firm’s website: Four40Partners.com 

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman: Larry, it is so great to have you on the show.

Larry Oglesby: It’s great to be here Will.

Will Bachman: Larry, we go back, I think to 2005. You were one of my early engagement managers at McKenzie and continue to mentor me since then. It’s really fun to have you on the show. Love to hear the story of how you came up with the name for your firm, 440 Partners.

Larry Oglesby: Yeah. I know. I appreciate it Will. One, I think you’re right on timing. It’s always been a great relationship. I think mentoring is maybe too strong a word. I think we’ve both helped each other out along the way. I always appreciate with you and Margarita. The business name is 440 Partners. It’s actually a tribute to the place where my parents raised me and my brothers, a 440 square foot single wide trailer. It also reflects what my wife and I are interested in moving forward. We donate 4% of our top-line revenue to special needs group that my daughter’s a part of called Extra Special People. That group focuses on creating an environment where children and adults with disabilities thrive, instead of focus on the disabilities. It’s really become probably the most important element in my daughter’s life and it’s something that’s brought a great deal of perspective to my wife and I as well.

Will Bachman: That’s really awesome. You’ve got a nonstandard not living in the city or the typical suburban place. Tell me a little bit about your place.

Larry Oglesby: Yeah. It’s always been nonstandard. We’ve always liked a more rural lifestyle and this is certainly the case. I think most consultants; particularly senior partners tend to live, in our case in Atlanta. We live about an hour, an hour and a half outside of Atlanta on a dirt road. We’ve got a 40-acre horse farm. It clearly is maybe nonstandard. We’ve always felt that it was important to raise our children in an environment that hopefully you all want to come home to one day. More importantly, we guard against the entitlement feel maybe too a little too much extent. Certainly nonstandard is probably the right term.

Will Bachman: Yeah, because you got horses, right, and a barn?

Larry Oglesby: We got horses, dogs, cats. We’ve got a barn and a large indoor riding arena. We built a pond on the property as well. We developed it out a decent amount over the years. Now it’s just a big variable cost. We don’t use it for hardly anything. We’ve got three horses on 40 acres. We spend more time cutting grass than anything else.

Will Bachman: I think it’s awesome the way you’ve designed your life to be around stuff that’s really important to you. One reason that we bonded when we first met at McKenzie was we both came out of the Nuclear Navy. You were, I think, the only guy I knew at McKenzie who had been in the Navy as an enlisted guy. I think that probably gave you a slightly different perspective and maybe a greater ability to relate to the guys on the shop floor. Could you talk about some of the lessons that you learned in the Navy and maybe the different perspective that you think that you have versus maybe someone who came up through the officer ranks?

Larry Oglesby: Yeah, happy to. I’m not sure the path that I took was the one I’d advice for my children but it’s worked out for us. I met my wife when we were in 10th … well, actually when we were in 8th grade. We started dating in 10th or 11th grade. We got married at 18. Went into Navy, enlisted shortly before getting married to her and we’re still, I think we’re in our 32nd year or so now. The time in the Navy enlisted was, I thought, was pivotal. It was the first time in a professional environment where I was able to observe different people’s leadership styles and what worked and what didn’t. Maybe not from the textbook perspective in the same way they would tell you that in real world perspective about what the guys in the trenches think about different leadership dynamics.

I think that combined with the fact that I grew up in a pretty blue collar environment has shaped the prism that you look at the world through. In particular, I think the way it shaped my professional life is I’ve always felt when we go into work that there’s a dollar number that’s absolutely going to help the company, going to help executive team. I don’t feel that things are complete unless I feel like I can walk away thinking that we’ve realistically helped the person that’s on the shop floor that’s working for an hourly wage and that their life is a better spot after we’ve gone than before we left.

Finding that balance and doing that at speed has become important. I think that the time in the Navy certainly shaped that. It also shaped it, I think Will, because it’s forced me to think and act on diversity topics a lot over the years. Because I think in corporations today, we look for diversity but it’s on a very interesting line on things you can observe. I think the real diversity challenge we have today is one of socioeconomic diversity which is a little harder to measure. Someone who grows up as we did, in a trailer park on a dirt road, in a small town in Georgia, isn’t even aware of opportunities.

It doesn’t mean that their capabilities aren’t every bit as good as the person that was destined to be important. It does mean that they’re not even aware and they can’t access it. Or they make certain decisions at an early point in life, like to get married at 18, that might alter that. I always keep that in mind and I search for that type of talent that I thought in different circumstances, with a different amount of awareness, may have chosen a different path. I try to set them on a more accelerated path and make him aware of what’s possible.

Will Bachman: Yeah. What are some of the markers that you look for when you’re looking for that kind of talent? I’m assuming you’re talking like among the supervisors, among the shop floor folks; you’re looking for someone who’s really ambitious and wants to get something done.

Larry Oglesby: What I think, ambition is a prerequisite. You’ll start to see the initiative take hold. They’ll be aggressive on it. What I really look for is that intelligence level that this person is thinking and acting in a way that’s measured and structured strategic. They may not have the formal schooling or the formal apprenticeship to put that in the right frameworks but intuitively, they get to the right answer a lot of times. The other thing I look for is when you engage them; often provide tests to see how versatile they are in their thinking and are they flexible and will they engage you. That’s a big marker. Then the final thing I look for is, are they willing to push back regardless of what level you are relative to them.

Oftentimes I will throw out something that’s just blatantly a bad idea, just to see their reaction. If they get that strong push-back, then I start to take an interesting perspective with them and try to spend more one-on-one time in talking about how they got to where they’re at and where they ultimately want to be. Many times, I found that it was exactly as we talk, either they didn’t have exposure enough or they did not know opportunities were or not or they made certain choices in life that sent them down a path and they weren’t sure how to get away from it. Or in some cases, you find people that haven’t applied themselves before. More often than not, you got tremendous talent that’s way underutilized, that you can create a place where someone can really change the impact they have on their family lives and their kids’ lives.

Will Bachman: Let’s talk about your work a little bit. I know that’s something that you mentioned it just now and also something that I’ve known about you for a while is you really have a focus about driving speed when you do a transformation. We should probably tee up a little bit about your work in terms of your real lean operations expert, driving transformations. Maybe you could take one or two case examples of what you do and just walk us through one of your projects and explain … I’d love to hear about how you drive speed and some of the lessons learned around that.

Larry Oglesby: You’re right. I would say 80% of my work is around lean transformations and discreet product manufacturing environment. I would say the remaining 20% covers a very broad gambit of overhead cost reduction, operational due diligence, portfolio strategy, et cetera. When I get into lean transformations, I’ve done several that are, I guess, turbo charged on speed. I’ll give you an example of we worked at a industrial product company. We had told the CEO at the time that each facility would probably take nine to twelve months to go through the transformation as we thought it through from our background at the time. He came back after speaking to the board and said, “We’re going to use you. However, we’ve got to accelerate the time a little bit.” “All right. What’s a little bit to you?” He said, “I probably get 80% of savings out within a eight-week period.” I think-

Will Bachman: 80-20 baby.

Larry Oglesby: Yeah, yeah. My initial reaction was probably not something I could say on a blog-cast The core leader from the client and I stepped back and talked to our team. We started problem-solving around what would you have to believe to go this fast? We came up with five categories and 25 things that we had to believe. We went back to the CEO and he gave us 22 of the 25. We were able to actually transform each plant within a eight-week window. We averaged 40% head count reduction while maintaining flat volume and no disruption in client … in customer service, and averaged about 30% space reduction, all within a eight-week period.

Now these were somewhat simple plants but they were probably 70 to 100-person facilities. Then in the most … the fastest that we did, we only had two weeks between projects and we went into one of their larger facilities and redesigned 12 manufacturing lines completely within that and reduced 50% of employee base. Once again, didn’t miss a shipment and saved 40% of floor space in a two week period. That was just brutally aggressive. I remember several … We had two McKenzie people at the time, myself and Damon Morgan and two client people working people working that. I can remember at 2:00/3:00 in the morning, being in [inaudible 00:13:14] pulling cables through the overhead just to make that happen.

Will Bachman: Let me ask you Larry, when you first walked into one of those plants, it sounds like it was several plants, Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Blink’ talks about how people who have really developed expertise and had enough reps, see things when they just first glance at an object. You’ve been in so many plants, talk to me about the first hour or so that you were in that plant, what you observed. Maybe just paint a little bit of a picture for us about the kind of opportunities you were seeing and what you were taking in when you first walked through there.

Larry Oglesby: I agree with Gladwell, by the way, I think what I always tell people, something I heard in Australia, was that any 10-year old can do what I do as long as they’ve been doing it for 30 years and [inaudible 00:14:09]. I think it’s true in this case as well. I think when I go around the facilities … and I stopped counting after I went through 350 different facilities, either for short walk-throughs or diagnostics or projects, 350, seen a lot of it … what I tend to see is one, the attitude of the leadership team. I always feel like the workforce, I’ve yet to find a workforce that’s incredibly great or incredibly bad. Unfortunately, they are generally subjected to the attitudes and competencies of leadership above them.

First and foremost, the early discussions, when we start, within five minutes, I can normally tell you that someone’s going to work out or not, over the whole of a transformation. Then the second thing is there’s just some quick thumb rules that I’ve found to be reasonably effective. If I walk through and I see 50 people, in general, the spot checks that you have are on how many people are actually working, doing something manual at the time, compared to those that aren’t. Give you a good feel for how much labor reduction you can take out. The analysis typically back that up when you get into, say, span control or you do OEE analysis or you do the observation of someone that has a nonstandard job like a maintenance person, et cetera, but doing a snap check on that is pretty good.

Similar, when you’re looking at material flow off the plant, you can often get a sense of whether their operations work efficiently or not. In this case, you still have a decent amount of downtime and a decent amount of people standing around. Those things don’t yield well to … They tend to yield a lot of opportunities. There’s one that’s important though is try to get behind a design element of what’s happening on the supply chain or in the … when you look at things like how many spare parts or parts are around the facility, how much excess inventory are there. Some of that you need to do data. In the current environment I’m in, it didn’t take that long because they have two factories but five warehouses. That balance just doesn’t feel right.

In this particular case, we did have a decrease in volume of about 30%. We also, in 13 weeks, head count is down 60% and we’re out of two of five warehouses and then a considerable shrinkage in the others. Everything in the facility has been rearranged and changed including the management team structure. I don’t know of a single thing that hasn’t changed in 13 weeks. Those are … After seeing some returns, it just seems to be pretty obvious. The question really becomes one of, given the management team, you’ve got, how can you maximize the speed. For some, that’s laying out the complete … here’s the journey map of where we need to go.

For others, and that was the case in my current assignment, it wasn’t that. It was about giving them the next practical pieces. I talked with each leader and I told them I would share with them the most important three things they need to focus on. They needed to rush with them because I had a list of 40 for each of them but they only needed to know the next three. We stayed with that. Then the other thing we did to try to drive the speed was we very much focused on over-communicating with the front-line directly. The management teams and others heard it while we were speaking to them but there were some core messages which I think are critical and they’re different than what I see in most of the lean transformation books that I’ve read along [inaudible 00:19:01].

Most of those books rely on … I call them a Kumbaya [inaudible 00:19:07]. It’s nothing bad is going to happen. We’re all in a great team together. We’re going to go through this together over time. That’s just not a fallacy. What I told to people here is I said, “Hey guys, you’ve been drifting along a lazy smooth river that’s been drifting down.” I said, “I can tell you up ahead that there are some pretty nasty rapids and we’re going to be on them for some time now.” I said, “There might be some waterfalls, some rocks. It isn’t without danger, by any means. You’re going to be incredibly uncomfortable through that journey.” I said, “All I can tell you is what’s coming up and what we’ll be seeing around the next bend.” I said, “I’ll tell you when we’re out of the rapids.”

I said, “Until then,” management team in particular, I told them the first 10 minutes, I told them the same story but I said, “I need you to make a choice. Go home and talk to your family and if you don’t want to go down this river, that’s okay, I understand. Let us know and we’ll allow you to transition out, on your terms, saving face. We will help you to find your next position somewhere else. If you want to go down, then you’re fully committed and there’s no way out of the boat unless you get thrown out.” Both of those things, I thought were helpful to put people in a mindset where you’re very clear on what the short-term direction was. Each of them had clear things to go do.

Then we started teaching, Will, three … We call it book club but it’s we take three different books that I’ve found to be good over time, to help build people’s capability. For the management team, we chose ‘Journey to Lean’ which was 2004 written by some of our McKenzie colleagues, a great book and frankly an easy to read book. For our supervisors and team leaders, we chose the 1930 something book from Dale Carnegie, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’. For our people that were in purchasing and customer support, we chose a book, I forget the author now but the title is called ‘Getting More’. It’s around negotiations and how to do that in a very ethical way but productive way.

In each of these book clubs, what we did was we had the teams … everyone had to read a chapter a week and then they came in and at the start of the training session, we pointed to one random person and had them lead the discussion. Everyone person has to read a chapter with enough intensity during the week, to make it … to be able to lead the discussion without embarrassing themselves in front of their peers. The discussion is good but the force reading with intensity is probably more productive. What we always focus on in that case is I want to have a more professional, polite, drama-free workplace.

We have certain sayings that I repeat over and over again, with the leadership team as well as the front-line, then I say, “Hey guys, we’re going to have a soft culture and a hard performance. The way we’re going to do that is we’re going to start off nicer and softer but … we’re going to go as soft as possible but as firm as necessary.” If someone’s not starting off and escalating, then we’ve got a problem with their leadership style and we address it as such. If someone on the other hand is causing someone to elevate up to a level three or a six, you get there then we’ve got an issue with their reception of the message.

There’s a CEO I work for, well, he had a great saying which I told him I have to spill. Ted Doheny is the CEO of Joy Global. His saying, he said … He is the first person that I heard as a CEO say that. He said, “On the day that I walk you out the door, we will be smiling and having a good time because it’s always been polite and clear all the way up.” He talked about his mantra; stimulate, motivate, educate, dictate, and eliminate. He said, “I will always start at stimulate and I will go up until we reach what we need to do.” He said, “If I get to dictate, I might get to eliminate.”

We’ve used that in our organization. Now when I’m feeling frustration, I often start the discussion with, how does that feel like? I’m at the motivate level right now. I’m happy if there’s a way we’ll get to educate. I don’t want to move past that. We’ll get to educate next week. By the way, if you didn’t pick up stimulate, this is when it happened. I found that that allows you to almost have a whisper and intonation and that drives action, versus someone who’s screaming, they get action until people realize that their bark is worse than their bite. Then it becomes just like a nagging person, just not effective anymore. The best thing in the world for me to see is a workforce that’s just being very effective but that it’s also a respectful, professional culture.

Will Bachman: That must be incredibly wrenching on an organization. You talked about how over the last 13 weeks, there’s been a head count reduction of 60%. Talk to me about how that got communicated and about just the impact on the folks that remain and how you went about implementing it. That sounds really gut wrenching.

Larry Oglesby: One, it’s the morale is better than when we started. Maybe that’s the more difficult thing. Maybe that’s where the 30 years is helpful. The morale is better when we started. Predominantly, everyone knows I’ve been out there. I literally spoke to the workforce 60 times in the first four weeks, all different groups, large sizes, small sizes, et cetera. I got to know them. The second thing was I was really tuned into the frustrations that they had. Normally, when you think frustration, if someone on a front-line has a frustration, somewhere down the line it’s causing that business money. We understood that. Second, I also tell people all the time that reality wins out. We all have to face reality. A question of when and how we face it.

I ask them to look at it themselves. I’ll take videos of different things in the workplace. Someone asks me, “What do you think about X?” I’m like, “Sit here and watch with me on video. What do you think?” If you can just be quiet enough to let them process the dots and then give you an answer, most of the time, they completely understand what the situation is. The bigger challenge is they feel like … that they’re being treated with respect and are they being involved in the discussion. We don’t make decisions here without involving our front-line Every major move and decision we make involves them. We shut both factories down for a full day, to let them in cross-functional teams, worked on 15 to 20 projects.

We’ve invested in that way. We invested in the book clubs. We’ve invested in the communications. We’ve talked to them about it. We’ve been open and transparent with where we thought the ship was going and exactly what we were going to be doing ahead of time. We obviously can’t signal personnel actions ahead of time. What we can’t tell them ahead of time, we follow up immediately and we stand in front and we talk about it a lot. What we typically see is there is a two-day period of time where people are appropriately, they’re in a state of mourning, for lack of a better word, around what happened to people they care deeply about, which that’s a realistic and natural reaction.

So many times you get into these changes where you’re changing fast and people want to read a short-term morale. If that morale is terrible I’m like, “Wait a minute, morale is not terrible; morale is exactly what it should be for a rational person right now, in this environment, in this situation. By this time, here’s where will be at. “The ability to know that something is either temporary or systematic and to either deal with it or more importantly, leave it alone, I think makes a huge difference. Every person out here on this line now has effectively designed their own areas, their own areas at the production and labor requirements that we need it to be at.

They’ve had real input. They’ve been brought into discussions. They’ve been able to drive it. The other item we did try to make the change happen, to make it real for everybody is we talk about as a country club. In this particular case, there’s a second floor that had all the offices on it. It was departmental offices, so quality and production control and the different supervisor groups, et cetera. We split that up and we brought everybody into … through value stream teams and we took them closer to line and all sitting in one office.

I think the operators see that that’s … they’re getting better answers and they’re getting faster answers and they’re also getting a more cross-functionally thought out answer. I think a big fallacy is to think that you can go too fast, to make speed kills, I think, slow speed kills is often [inaudible 00:30:48]. I think that’s … I wouldn’t trade that … I don’t think people here, even online, would trade out, go back to where they were three months ago. I don’t think that that’s something that any of them want to do. If they think about the job security for their children, there’s not a one that would do it.

Will Bachman: Can you share some examples of some of the changes that you’ve made in the plant, almost maybe paint a picture of the before and after?

Larry Oglesby: Yeah, I can. First, let me try to think about this without disclosing too much. We have assembly lines and then we have parts coming in. The parts coming in were broken apart from large shipments coming in down to [inaudible 00:31:50] line in three different stages. We compressed other floor space to give us the opportunity to bring two of those three together. It requires less variability and easier to see it. We get down on the operations front with long linear lines. For what reason, I have no idea. We were running up to 22 people on one line. It’s now running with six. It’s in a U-shape line format. Where we fit four lines before, we’ve got seven lines today. That’s some of the blue collar changes.

On the white collar side, the main thing I’m seeing, Will, is the data and analytics were poor. For one, the management teams got … aren’t the most analytically skilled. The infrastructure isn’t that great like it is in a lot of companies with data infrastructure. There’s data there but it’s not in great shape and it’s not very usable. There’s two products I’ve found in the last six months that have been fantastic for helping with things like that. One’s called Alteryx, A-L-T-E-R-Y-X, and the other is called Tableau. Alteryx basically is … I would think of it as Excel [macro 00:33:25] on steroids. It provides a graphical user interface to allow someone with limited to no programming ability to make workflows.

An example, one of our white collar workers, he had brought in six different spreadsheets; things like demand, inventory levels, et cetera, and tried to merge those together and cleanse them and then bring the other formulas that would tell us when we needed to order and what weeks we needed to order new raw materials. That took him about two and a half to three hours a week to update. As always, when you’re doing manual data manipulation, you had errors. When expose them to Alteryx, he and one of the IT people sat down and in three hours, they rebuilt what he did every week in three and a half hours. Now that report is run in 10 seconds and it’s run the same way every week and any data cleansing or whatever is spit out in a side report so we can go and fix those issues.

We now utilize those two platforms. Tableau, if you don’t know; it’s a Visual Basic software. We’ve used those two platforms together to extract data which didn’t have much information to it but we’re building up dashboards for each area of the business. We’re laying out leadership standard where it tells us exactly when meetings are held, what data, what dashboards are used and what decisions get made and by who. The ability to pull this from real time data and to bring it out and same on the shop floor, so when we look at the lines when they were getting started, they have one goal for the line. Even though the line ran 15 different parts, it has one goal. When we went and analyzed and compared goal to actual, there was no correlation. The [r2 00:35:47] was 11%.

I asked the operators, “What do you think about that?” Their answer was predictable. It’s like, “That’s a bunch of management BS. It didn’t have any real impact on us.” Now we pulled the last 25 times that they ran that particular part number and their goals are set at 50% and 65%. It’s like green, yellow, red. You’re greater than 65%, it’s green; 50-65% is yellow and less than 50% is red. At the end of the day we tell them, “You scored 80% today.” Everybody likes to have score kept. No one likes to have score kept as no basis. In fact, it isn’t meaningful and it isn’t reflective of the [work 00:36:35]. Because of the advanced analytics, we’re able to put an entirely different scorecard and entirely different way in front of the workforce. I think that’s also helped real time with our performance culture.

Will Bachman: Yeah. I’m a big fan of Tableau. I just spent some effort, earlier this year, learning it myself, which was a really worthwhile investment. I just mention for listeners-

Larry Oglesby: It’s cheap.

Will Bachman: Yeah. Tableau, it’s like you can get, I think, one version of it for like 500 bucks or another version is 1,000 bucks depending on what features. Just a tip for listeners is you can go on the Tableau’s website, you can download the software for free, a trial version. Then they have this amazing set of videos on which you can just watch the video. You can download the data. Then using follow-along and do all the stuff yourself, following along with these how-to videos, which is a great way to learn. I went through all of those. Then they have in-person courses which are a little bit more expensive. The two-day course, the intermediate course was worthwhile on Tableau. Then it’s been, just professionally, very useful.

I’ve actually helped a client implement a dashboard using Tableau. They loved it. Their reporting team was doing everything in PowerPoint and making flat PowerPoint. Then any time anybody asked for anything different, they’d have to go and redo it all but now they can provide their internal clients with a tableau dashboard. If the clients want to explore the data and say, “Let me cut this just for the US or just for this business unit or just for this time period,” the users can do that. For Alteryx, I’ve heard of that. I haven’t actually learned that myself. How did you get your clients to learn how to use Tableau? They hadn’t been using it. How did you get them up to speed on it? How did they get up to speed on Alteryx.

Larry Oglesby: First Alteryx, let me share with you a reference that listeners can use. There’s a gentleman called Rod Light, he runs his independent business called Light Analytics. We actually contracted with Rod to remotely train our key super users. We had two people that we wanted to be super users. We set up just two hours a week to go through. We started off with one exposure where he just told us what it was capable, Alteryx. Then we went into others where he just took our data and things that we were struggling with and we worked through those issues and then a lot of our managers sit in. The way I was exposed to Alteryx, I was working with a company that was a little more established, probably a 30 billion-dollar company. We were called in because they were having work stops.

They were supplying the spare parts to their finished product in the field their finished product in the field or having work stops. It was several times more than historic, but they had a new president, and this team was required to present out on where the issues were in the supply chain every week. It was a 7:00 am meeting and they had aggregated all their data. By five o’clock, all the prep materials had been pulled together, and then it took them from 5:00 pm to 3:00 am to both cleanse that data, merge it together in the right ways, print it out in PowerPoint and be ready for the presentation which happened at 7:00 the next morning. It’s about time we had been called in.

They’d been doing this for three months and were just exhausted, and every time they went in, it seems like some data error was there, so they would say, “We’ve got three things missing from this group,” and the person would stand up and say, “Well, no, it’s actually two, and because you aren’t right on that, I don’t know what else you’re wrong on. Therefore, I don’t believe your data.” We came in with three missions. One was just to take over that heavy work from them so that they could get some sleep. The second one was to try to compress the time down by like 25% using traditional methods. The third, I said, “Well, let me just bring in a data guy, a BI guy. Maybe they’ve got something new.” So we brought this guy in and he was 24.

He had been at Walmart, BI guy and he was fantastic. The first day we got the data, got the three teams working simultaneously. On checking the first team, they’re grinding through. On checking the second team, they think they’ve got a few things. They can probably bring it down 15%, they’re not sure about the last 10%, et cetera. I go to this guy and he’s had about two hours, three hours to work with, and he goes, “Yeah, I think I got it.” I said, “Well, what do you mean you got it?” He says, “Well, I decided to use this tool called [Alteryx 00:42:03],” and he said, “Have you heard of it?” I was like, “No, I’ve never heard of it.” Too old for that, and he says, “Well, let me show you.” He showed me, and he said, “Well, can I talk to the clients the next day?” and he said, “Well, for sure.

Let’s go do that and we’ll show them around.” So we go into the client and he says, “Well, I just want to first understand how much time you’re spending. You’re spending six, seven hours a night, dadadada. Five, six people.” He says, “So therefore, you’re putting about 30 hours every week into doing this portion of it, and then you’ve got 10 hours or more in the trip going into actually doing the PowerPoint presentation, right?” He goes, “Yep, yep, that’s exactly right.” He goes, “Okay, let me show where we’re at now,” and he puts up Alteryx and he presses a button and he goes, “Did you see that?” I said, “see what?” He goes, “The analysis. Do you see it?” and he says, “I’ll do it again.” He presses the button again and then he goes, “Yeah, just like you probably have variability from week to week,” he says, “So do I.”

He says, “Sometimes you get done at one in the morning [inaudible 00:43:05]. sometimes you get done at two in the morning.” He says, “So you’re probably like six to seven hours.” He says, “Mine varies from four to seven seconds, but that’s mainly based on these things,” and he replicated what they did overnight and then crafted that workflow. That’s the first time I knew about it and had been exposed to it, and it was just a game-changer. That output can now fit into Tableau and what we did because they had an older management team, we actually didn’t want to tell their management team that we were using something different, and so we structured Tableau output to look exactly like their PowerPoint output, down to with the bars, shades of color, size of font.

Everything looked exactly like an output that they were accustomed to, and all that was done [inaudible 00:44:06] in no time flat. Then we were able to work with the organization to look at all the work they had preparing to send the [inaudible 00:44:15] and went back to source data. So you took out miles of work and got the same output. What I’m doing here is I’ve challenged the team that every time they go into Excel for something that’s done on a routine manner, that that should be done through Alteryx and that they should just get a Tableau output on it for decision-making, or an output from Alteryx directly, which is more like spreadsheet more often than something else. It’s a very powerful tool, and like Tableau, it’s not costly. It’s about 5,000 [inaudible 00:44:56], but when you think about the price of bad decisions, that’s pretty cheap.

In this case, we focused on two users. We bought two licenses. The readers for Alteryx and Tableau were free. We’ve gotten readers out for everybody else, but just dealt the success in a narrow, narrow way first, and then it’s created a pool. Now we’re actually getting called from some of our colleagues overseas to try to use the software as well.

Will Bachman: Wow. That sounds like an amazing tool and one that I’m going to look into myself. I wanted to go back to one thing that you mentioned earlier about the book club. I was just curious, because I’ve read the [inaudible 00:45:46] book, and I’m curious how to inference and influence people. How did you use that with the supervisors? What was your goal there? Just talk to me a little bit about that.

Larry Oglesby: The way I got into that spot was when I walked around and talked to the workforce, I heard two things here. You hear them everywhere, but not to the extent I heard here, which is basically some form of, “My supervisor is an asshole.” You were getting a bad culture, and you were having low performance and bad culture from it. In order to get to the culture which I wanted, which was soft culture with high performance, the supervisors and team leads are the typical positions in your organization. You have to wean how they behave and conduct themselves. You can easily tell a manager, a particular senior manager, “I need you to adjust to be more like X,” and they’ll figure that out. The supervisors and team leads, I felt, you have to drip-feed that in.

You have to constantly be saying the same things as your objectives, but you have to give them … and this is part of [Edri-Garo’s 00:47:02] book, which I don’t remember if we’d talked about earlier or not on leadership compass, but he talks about being very practical in the advice you give. As you know from reading the book, the way they talk to you about it in [inaudible 00:47:20] classes, they just want you to read one chapter a week and they want you to practice it. We set out to read the chapter and to have people practice it at work and at home. The good part is what we’re hearing back, the thing is, “Yes, this is changing me at work, but more importantly, it’s causing me to have positive relationship changes with the people I care about the most; my wife and my children, et cetera.”

Now, that aspect we’re able to reinforce with that group every week where we want them to be in behavior and how … in observing. That gives you a lot better relationship when you go out to do hard core analysis. Now people are bringing that to you instead of hiding stuff from you. It’s worked on multiple dimensions. I’m not sure that I will ever do a transformational study without using the aspect of book club again and [inaudible 00:48:25] at the management level and [inaudible 00:48:27]. As I told you before, I’m only showing out the three things that people need to work on at that time in the early days. Journey to Lean gave them a body to see some things put in a broader concept. It’s like you’d understand what I was asking them to focus on, one, two and three.

Will Bachman: That’s cool. What would an example of one change that the supervisors were making based on the Del Conor E book? Can you give us a before and after?

Larry Oglesby: Yeah. One of the things that Del Conor E talks about is know … He talks about knowing people; their names and their relationships. There was one supervisor, I think it’s [inaudible 00:49:16]. One supervisor, the first time I had a town hall discussion with the whole group, his first question was, “I want to know if you’re going to bring more of that stinking thinking in here.” Literally, it was his question. It was loaded with sarcasm and he goes, “You guys are going to cut out some of the cattle, but I’m curious if you’re willing to cut out some of the ranchers too.” That was literally the first time I had met this guy in front of 200 people. We had this discussion along the way as he’s going through the thing and he was reflective on how he was communicating.

Later on, we had a discussion in the relationship that built enough, and so I was able to have a discussion with him on, “What do you think your potential is?” and he said, “Well, I think my potential is to be exposition,” which was much higher than where he’s at. I said, “Well, I agree with you that’s your potential, and your intellect is very strong, but the way you’re going about your business right now will leave you barely hanging on to your own job if your fortunate.” I said, “Why do you do things like X?” and he’s like, “Well, this is how I felt.” So we talked about that, and I was like, “Well, you know what? We all have a choice of what prison we go through, but that prison really influences everything else we do.”

I said, “I think you need to make a conscious choice of which prison you’re going to go to. If you don’t … If you have a positive one, I believe that you can ascend to where you want to be. If you’ve got a negative one, and you continue to choose to live through that one,” I said, “I doubt you will be here in this time.” He’s become one of the best supervisors that we have, and we keep going back to the Del Conor E lessons and over and over again. I think it opens up opportunities to have discussions like that which are very straightforward, but not from a hard-ass disciplined environment. It’s more from a, “Hey, let me help you understand what your impact is, and let’s give you a choice.” Every time, I’ve told people from the very beginning, “You don’t have to do anything.

We’re going to make some choices clear to you, and we’re going to give you a choice, but ultimately, no one forces you to do anything here,” and so that key principle of give people choices has helped to have them walk away and think about it. I think that’s some of the ways we’ve used that, well, if that makes sense going on.

Will Bachman: No, that totally makes sense Larry. I often ask guests, setting aside their professional for a moment, in terms of your own health and wellness and mindfulness and spirituality and how you thrive, I’m curious about any personal practices you have, maybe ones that you’ve been doing for a long time or recently adopted that you’d be willing to share.

Larry Oglesby: Sure. I’m not sure I’m the best person on that for sure. If anything, balance is not something that I do well. I tend to be 100% on or 100% off. I’ve grown addicted to golf, I think, is one thing, but I am open to trying new things when they come about and I’m aware of them. One thing here that I’d never thought I’d try is one of my colleagues here quit smoking about six months ago and she did it through a laser treatment therapy thing. I thought, “Yeah, I’ve never heard of that and don’t think anyone would ever consider that,” but then my assistant was smoking, and she was advised that it would just be a good thing professionally to stop. So she went to the same therapy, and at noon she went to the therapy and ordered the last cigarette she ever touched.

I was shocked by the effectiveness of it, and you and I have known each other for quite some time and you probably recall exactly how many coke bottles I might drink in a day. I’m not sure that diet has always been the best for me. So I decided to … I probably tried to quit drinking cokes and reduce sugar intake for years and years, and many times tried to give up. I actually wrote to this guy, this laser client and said, “I’m willing to try it,” and I figured if it’s a bust, it’s no worse than the bust I’ve done on my own. I did this a week ago and had zero desire to consume any sorts of sugar. Completely changed the diet, and still left all the cokes in the same places they were. I looked at them all the time. Not the first desire, so I think there is some …

The lesson for me is … and I think I learned this about chiropractic care in a person. I thought that was hocus pocus and it controlled my life, gave me a choice of I’d hurt my neck playing basketball or something. She said, “You’re either going to the ER or a chiropractor.” So I went to the chiropractor, felt great quickly. I think the biggest point there is be willing to try new things in business and in home life and just be aware of the effectiveness. That it’s not much of a crime, and find something that doesn’t work and then just figuring out you’re just wasting a lot of money. I’ve wasted money on plenty of things in my life. That’s probably it. I’m probably a train wreck, well, in terms of personal habits.

Exercise, I love to play sports. If I’m not playing sports, I don’t exercise much. Fast food meals, until last week, I probably … 15 or more fast food meals a week.

Will Bachman: Oh my God.

Larry Oglesby: Now I look around and I’ve got nuts and fruits and water on the table in front of me. This is a new phase.

Will Bachman: A brand new Larry. All right. Any morning routine, Larry? How do you start your day?

Larry Oglesby: You know what? I’m more of an early morning person [inaudible 00:55:49]. I get up and get to work as quick as I can. I always find that the morning is the time for clear thinking and even in a manufacturing setting where people start at 6:30, I’m normally here. Well, before the first person in the door and it allows me to just structure the day out and what I find is if I don’t structure what I’m going to accomplish, then the day just happens and you wake up at four o’clock and you haven’t moved forward. I think about it a little different than most is that once you’ve solved that problem and the journey of where you need to go, then it becomes how you maximize the people. I always think about two things.

One is whether the direct action is going to push for each of the key people so like at least [inaudible 00:56:47] spending the rich person at one time. Then what is the emotion I’m trying to communicate throughout the workforce and how do I need to display that? If I can get that game plan in place early in the morning, then the day tends to roll out pretty smoothly. On days where I come in, a little closer whenever in that and I get caught up in what’s going on, it’s far less impactful. If I was really good at doing that at the end of the evening, I think that’s probably more advisable, but for me, I’m pretty wiped out by the time I decide to call it a day and it’s a way that I’ll do anything practical outside of chat up with some friends and colleagues after-hours.

Will Bachman: Well, we started our discussion this morning at 7:00 am and I guess that was middle of the day, late morning for you.

Larry Oglesby: I’ve always been here a while.

Will Bachman: All right. All right.

Larry Oglesby: [inaudible 00:57:50] with you probably, right? I think you … Maybe that’s what made me stop coming back in [inaudible 00:57:54], but we tend to start early.

Will Bachman: Zero Dark Thirty. All right. Larry, this has been great. We’ve gotten past the time that we’d plan. You probably have to go back to work at the plant there. I really appreciate the time on the phone, and it was great catching up with you. Thanks so much for joining.

Larry Oglesby: Well, it’s always great. Tell Maggie I said hi and I hope to talk to you soon. Take care, bye.

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