This week, Jason Davis and Chris Spurgeon discuss problem-solving and how managers can learn to see problems as opportunities for improvement. Jason and Chris also talk about creating a culture of problem-solving on teams, then Chris gives 3 simple ideas that are guaranteed to make you a better problem solver today. An edited version of their conversation follows.
Jason Davis 0:10
Welcome to Lead Smarter Not Harder, your stop for how to stand out as a leader. I'm your host, Jason Davis. And this week, I'm joined by a great friend of mine, Chris Spurgeon, as we take a deep dive into problem-solving, not as a skill, but as an activity or function of the business. You don't want to miss a second for this show. Let's go.
Alright, well, what did we get together today and dive into a pretty hot topic here, really wanted to talk about what managers should know about problem-solving.
I talk about this on LinkedIn to have talked about this with some guests and, and other podcasts. And, as I said, it's probably something that is more recognized as a skill, and maybe not something that's recognized as a function or an event or something that needs to take place within an organization. So wanted to talk through that a little bit, and, work through how managers can support that as a function or an activity. So to do that, I needed to bring in some expertise. So with me today, I've got Chris Spurgeon. Chris is a longtime friend of mine, but somebody that I think is uniquely qualified to talk about problem-solving as a function, and not just a skill. Chris is currently a Lead Continuous Improvement Consultant, with CenterPoint Energy, and has been involved in process improvement and problem-solving for seven years now. So Chris, say hello, and, fill us in on anything that I missed in your background.
Chris Spurgeon 1:50
Thanks, Jason. No, that's pretty good. What do I do? So I lead continuous improvement projects, events, if you will, workshops, and I do some coaching to CI, as well as training other people to lead other projects and events. And, problem-solving, I think is an important topic for managers to understand. I think there's a lot of misconceptions about the best way to go about problem-solving. That really, some folks can develop bad habits as a result. So I think if you learn just a few simple tools and kind of change your perspective a bit, you can change your culture and start to see serious improvements and address your problems.
Jason Davis 2:41
Awesome. Alright. And so where does this podcast find you today? Where are you calling in from?
Chris Spurgeon 2:47
I'm in Mount Vernon, Indiana, here at my home.
Jason Davis 2:53
All right. So in the southwestern area?
Chris Spurgeon 2:58
So if Indiana looks like a foot, I'm in the tiptoe of it. Right next to Evansville, Evansville is probably where people would know.
Jason Davis 3:10
All right. So you talked a little bit about your role as a continuous improvement consultant got that right this time. So, thinking about problem-solving? What's your connection to the topic, passionate about it?
Chris Spurgeon 3:37
Well, I'm passionate, passionate about continuous improvement, and the mindset that brings with that and, a big component of that is problem-solving and how you identify problems, and then how you go about addressing them and finding the root cause. And so that's what I do in my roles. I lead structured problem-solving events, we have a seven-step process that we take our teams through. So it's just a structured format that you can lead a group of experts through and that's, that's what I Yeah.
Jason Davis 4:14
All right now, I think that's a really good segue into an overview of problem-solving. And you mentioned it a little bit, problem-solving being a component of continuous improvement, or CI is a lot of people refer to it or people that are in it, refer to it anyway. So, let's talk about that a little bit more about what makes problem-solving so important.
Chris Spurgeon 4:38
So, a lot of times you hear in corporate culture, especially for managers, they'll talk about, that they're busy putting out fires all day. And what, when we try to work into a new area and work with new managers on continuous improvement, often one of the responses we get back is, we don't have time To do these continuous improvement li CI events, in addition to our normal work, we're so swamped, we're behind, we got all these issues, I'm putting out fires every day, I don't have time for your CI. And what I'm hearing is you don't have time to not do CI. You're putting out fires, you're not stopping the bleeding, and you're just patching things up. And so problem-solving is really about seeing those problems as opportunities to make improvements within your process. But to do that, it does take an investment, you've got to stop the process, and do the work of making the improvements first before you continue, you've got to stop passing on defects, you've got to stop the process that's creating all of these issues. And then take the time to make the improvements. And I think that's what we get wrong. A lot in corporate culture is those managers, high performers, especially, right, like you're eager to, to prove yourself and to be the problem solver, you want to save the day, everyone wants to be the hero. And so you'll stay late, to fix that report, or do the manual tweaking that it needs to get things right for the next day, or to fix the errors, that came out or whatever, and kind of sweep your problems under the rug, you're the hero, nobody knows better. But that's not, that's not helpful, right? Because those same problems are gonna come the next time you run that report the next time and, and, so what you need to do is just stop and see that problem as an opportunity to get your team together and address it.
Jason Davis 6:34
I want to dive into that a little bit. Right. And you hit on, like stop the process, right? Like literally hitting the stop button. Like if you're on a factor, an assembly line somewhere, you're hitting the stop button.
Jason Davis 6:50
It sounds expensive. And it probably is sometimes, but thinking about the cost of continuing to put out defects or, a higher rate of defects and what might be possible by not hitting that is something that's, you're ignoring there. So, it kind of thinking about it from that, that managers that leaders perspective, what what, how do they go about doing that? What are some ways that they can kind of go out saying, Alright, we're gonna stop doing this, we're gonna change a little bit of how we might be going about problem-solving before, how are we going to, how might they go out and say, Alright, we're gonna stop what we're doing real quick and take a better look at this? What does that look like?
Chris Spurgeon 7:29
Seeing the problem is an opportunity, and getting excited about it, it's not a bad thing. We're not getting anybody in trouble. Empower your subject matter experts. The people that are executing the process, doing the work every day. Those are the folks that know how to fix this, that know where your problems are, to begin with. And you get them in a room, you physically get them in a room. And I know that's hard to do these days, with COVID. So, you get them in a virtual room. But it's got to be the people that are doing the work. It can't be your managers, it can't be your supervisors, it can't be your trainers, it's got to be the people that are doing the work every day. What is helpful is to go in there and learn about how we're training people to do the process. We're learning about how they're supposed to do the process, what we need to learn about is how they're doing the process today. And so that's why you need to get those folks in the room to solve it, they'll be able to tell you, what's wrong and shine the light on your problems.
Jason Davis 8:47
That's a great point. And I think it, really helps to get away from, people solving problems at a very high level without actually talking to the people that are doing the work. And then you've got the people on the frontline saying, well, they have no idea what I do, right? Or, they didn't even ask.
Chris Spurgeon 9:05
It's great, right? You're doing your job one day, and then, the next day, your boss comes along and says, Hey, from now on, we want you to start doing this instead. Cool, why don't worry about that, we figured that out in a backroom somewhere. And this is going to be better for everyone and just do it this way. And people don't buy into that they don't like it, they don't feel like it's more efficient. They've got to be part of the process and see the big picture and how their part plays. And if they pass on a defect to the next stage, them understanding the consequences of that is going to make a different culture in your workplace. People are going to feel like they're part of the team, they're going to understand their part in it. And that that's part of changing that mindset. And that's a big part of addressing your problems, right is getting your team members to have that mindset of wanting to fix things and wanting to make things easier for their co-workers.
Jason Davis 9:59
Getting buy-in from the employees and in a CI environment or an environment that is installing CI, which, in my experience with continuous improvement is being an environment that was installing it, you got to have a lot of buy-in, because it is a large kind of complicated process to kind of start from if we weren't doing any of this before, or we were maybe doing these things, but not doing it in the kind of recorded, systemic faction, to now, hey, we've got these holes all the time, I've got my numbers on the board that everybody in the floor can see. I mean, we're talking about our problems every day, which is pretty cool. But again, it takes time. I think there's a lot of buy-in, like he said, that has to occur there.
Chris Spurgeon 10:46
Yeah. And, when you talk about CI culture, you've got to plant seeds, right? It's not like a plug and play to your point, right, where you're gonna say, Hey, we're gonna implement CI today, everybody, here's your new jobs, but that over there. Now, we're lean, it's a, it's a culture, and it won't, it won't be sustained, you'll get those projects level wins, but you won't get that culture win. So you've got to like plant seeds in your organization and let them grow organically. Let them develop their huddle boards don't just come in as management one day with a big court board up and say, let's talk about this from now on every day. But then, the other part is once you've got those folks empowered, and you're going to bring them together, and you do your huddle boards, or whatever tool you want to use to start looking at your problems and starting that conversation. You want to make sure that you're then going to measure your success. So you talked about the value of bringing people together, and it's expensive. There are tons of books and case studies written about the value of lean. It has proven it’s worth. That said, you still need to measure the success of each project, but it shouldn't be how many dollars are we saving? Right? certainly shouldn't be how many people you can reduce, right? If you're improving people out of the job, they're not going to help you too much longer. It's got to be performance metrics, and things that they care about, what are their headaches? What are their problems, processing time, defects, or other things like that. Measure the improvements on those and keep checking against those measures. That's the other part of continuous improvement, right? Is, if it doesn't work the first time, that's okay. That doesn't mean you fail. That's part of the process, you're going to fail, expect that and set that expectation.
Jason Davis 12:46
A couple of things you said I'll back up on so one, the measuring their success, and then attaching that to results that they care about. In the broader scope, employees at a company care about sales, they care about revenue, they care that the company is doing well, and in a broad way, right. But, they can solve a problem, and they don't see the impact in those numbers, right, or they don't see the change in those numbers. And I think that's kind of where you were going with, make it, make the things you're measuring things that they care about, they can see that they're, they're already being measured against, they can
Chris Spurgeon 13:26
roll to exaggerate. Yeah, like I always, it's got to drive action, the majors, the metrics that you're keeping an eye on, right, if all you're doing is getting together in front of a board every day. And no matter what the number says, just go in, alright, Team break, and everybody goes and does their job like normal, the things you're looking at aren't driving a conversation, that's then going to change your action through the day. Okay, guys, we got a problem here. Let's talk about how to address it. What do we do to improve this number? it's got to be something that's going to drive action and how they do their jobs so that they can control it and improve it.
Jason Davis 14:03
Yeah, yeah. And you and a little while ago, you mentioned empowerment, and it reminded me of, again, kind of when I was seeing and going through a little bit of CI installment and getting to watch, frontline employees sit in problem-solving sessions, and just how engaged they were. And just, and I've talked a lot about employee engagement on the show, and they talked about just how much more it felt them or it connected them to the V environment. It just seemed like a very positive, kind of thing from the employee’s standpoint as well. What do you see there?
Chris Spurgeon 14:42
So at the end of each day of workshops, we do a plus minus exercise. Plus for things that they feel went well, minus for things that maybe we can improve upon for the next day or next session. And inevitably, in every single project team, one plus that always comes up is the value they got in learning about other people's jobs and other roles. That's the feedback, we always get from the folks that are in it. But knowing your place in the world kind of helps you kind of understand your value, too, and how you can contribute to the bigger picture.
Jason Davis 15:33
That's a pretty good overview. Let's, let's move in a little bit and talk about managers encouraging and supporting problem-solving. So thinking about it from that, that point of view, what do they need to know? What should they be looking for?
Chris Spurgeon 15:51
Well, so first of all, you've got to start knowing what a problem is. Right? And that, I think it's sometimes difficult. We have I just got an email from a department reaching out, they learned about continuous improvement. And so they want to, they want to start continuous improvement. Maybe they're like, We don't know where to start, what do we do? And I'm like, Well, you got it. You know step one is you have to identify what your problems are. And if you don't know what your problems are, that's your first problem. Right? Let's dive into that. So why don't we know what our problems are? we do we know what we're doing? Do we have an idea of what we're contributing what we're trying to? Do we know what our voice of the customer is what our customers want? Yeah, so understanding your value, right? And what your value add is, right? And so that's step one, and then two is seeing where your waste and problems are. So what's a good day? And what's a bad day for you? What do your customers internal or external customers, what, what are they wanting? What do they value? What do they not value, and then look for it. So once you've got things that you're going to measure that matter to you, your performance measures identified, set targets, identify gaps, areas that you want to improve in, and, and you dive in there, I mean, that's it, you don't have to know, when you start the process, right, you don't have to know what the root cause is, or what the solution is going to be. And that’s creates a lot of uneasiness amongst managers. They hate going into a project without a plan and knowing where they're going with it, but if you have a process, or if you're going to use Lean, continuous improvement tools just trust your process and stick to it. Know that you don't have to have the answer. If you already have the answer, don't waste everybody's time.
Jason Davis 17:53
That reminds me, what I used to kind of help people who ran into the same thing in a call center situation with managers. They don't know what problems we should be solving or but they've gotten himself into such a routine where somebody comes in, asks them a question, they just answer it, right? And they don't kind of think about it as a problem. Then we just kind of stopped them and said, what are the top five things that people come to your desk and ask you, and write those down. And there you go, you got five things now that you can go figure out why are people coming to ask me this? And again, getting very, very simple. It doesn't have to be the company's biggest problem. Right.?
Chris Spurgeon 18:45
Yeah, that's, why I like the question, what's a good day? And what's a bad day for you? Start there. And so for that call center manager, a bad day is going to be when they're hounded with questions all day. Right? What are those questions? Is there something we can do to proactively provide that information so that they don't have to come to you anymore? To get it? let's, why? What's the root cause for them getting up and coming over to you, and let's stop answering the questions and address that root cause? Yeah, yeah,
Jason Davis 19:17
that's exactly right. What's that root? Cause? What's the root cause of them coming over to ask you something? Is information, just a lack of knowledge? system problem, I mean, it could be a range of things, that that's within? Or was that not their control? So,
Chris Spurgeon 19:32
yeah, and it does take, then a certain level of leadership, empowerment, right, like you need your leadership to empower people to say, stop answering the questions and solve it, take time to solve it. and so it, yeah, it takes both you've got to have your subject matter experts involved, right. They're gonna have the answers, but it takes your leadership to understand that they need that empowerment to solve your problems.
Jason Davis 19:59
Yeah, yeah. and sometimes depending on the environment, it's tough, right? project-based environment, you've got a little bit of time and flexibility where you don't have to immediately come up with something, maybe, to the call center, you might have a customer on the phone, or somebody that you've got to respond to, or react to very quickly. So you've got to have a temporary solution, and figure out alright, what's the, how do we figure out what the long-term kind of correction or fix to this might be? So?
Chris Spurgeon 20:27
Yeah, I mean, in specifically in that call center environment, I've had a call center director, we've talked about they were, their service levels, they were struggling, right. And so he couldn't, couldn't allow the people off the phone to come to the CIA event, and I'm like, Dude, come on, like you, like, you understand why they need to be in the event if you're struggling at your service levels, right? Like this chicken and egg thing. he's like, No, I get it, Chris. But let's think outside the box here, he's like, I'll pay overtime for them to come in on a Saturday, and work with you, when the call center is closed, like, I get it, it's worth the time, it's worth the investment. I just need them on the phone today. And so, I get, you've got to balance that, with your business daily business needs, but then think creatively and be willing to invest, because it is worth it, it will pay off.
Jason Davis 21:20
Competing priorities get in the way. They’re always getting in the way. So what are some of the best ways that a manager can create a culture of problem solving?
Chris Spurgeon 21:35
So the best way is by, giving your employees a platform to talk about the problems. And we kind of touched on earlier, visual management models, but those are, I mean, those are great tools. if you can measure what matters to people on those, and have meaningful metrics up there that you can talk about daily, that's going to drive action, it's going to be the stuff that people care about, then taken 15 minutes at the start of your day, or once a week or something to bring your employees around that, to talk about that, and what they're doing your battle pay off, that's going to create that culture, it's going to create some brainstorming, people will feed off each other. And it's just going to help change that employee mindset where they start looking for these opportunities to do things. If all you're doing is just coming to work every day and sitting down and doing your work. it may never occur to you that hey, is there something I can do to make this better? and so then you're never gonna get anywhere? You're never gonna make improvements if you're not making that effort to do it.
Jason Davis 22:40
So if I understand you, right, you're kind of using those team meetings or those huddles, and that those opportunities as opportunities to talk about either from a leader standpoint or employee standpoint, hey, this is what I encountered, this is what I'm struggling with, or not hitting my numbers here. I think it opens up a wide range of things. If so, if I understood you correctly,
Chris Spurgeon 23:02
for sure, yeah. And it should be a two-way dialogue, right, like, both ways. So stuff that's important to management should be on there, to communicate to the team, what they're seeing the metrics that they're majoring in talking about with them, how those are performing. And it should go the other way, then two things that are important to the employees that they need to know from their management things that they feel like they need to do their job, and they want to communicate to them. And so it should be a two-way sort of communication on those huddles going both Yeah.
Jason Davis 23:33
It gives a manager a way to look at a result of something that's happening and ask, what's happening here? Is there anything that's going on, that you might need some support with or that I might be able to help you with? Is there somebody else on the team that might be able to help you out? And I think it's great It's more of a team conversation, rather than one on one because it gives other people on the team an opportunity to say, “hey, I ran into that, too and this is how I got around that”. I think it creates a little bit teamwork, as well.
Chris Spurgeon 24:05
Yes. And I'll say, these can work in any environment at any level, to like, you typically think of these in a manufacturing setting, right? When you do shift changes and things you'll meet around a huddle board, and that's great. It works for those too. But, it also works in service industries, like we were talking about earlier, call centers, it can work in your accounting department, too. it can work in your HR department, as you're trying to work through those interviews and, and get folks on-boarded right now, which I know is tough. it doesn't as long as there's a process, right, these tools can be applied to it. Yeah.
Jason Davis 24:48
That's great. So you mentioned it earlier, seeing problems as opportunities. So let's, let's dig into that a little bit further. What do you mean by that?
Chris Spurgeon 24:58
So while we're talking earlier about, the problems or fires that need to be put out, right, they're bad, it's a bad thing. And that's you need to change your, your script on that problems are good things, they're opportunities for you to get better if you don't see your problems. As I said earlier that's your problem right there. So seeing your problems means that you're seeing your opportunities for improvement, and you're going to be able to continuously improve them.
Jason Davis 25:30
So removing the negative stigma or the stigma that problems are bad. I think I've mentioned this to you when we're doing kind of a pre-chat. Like, an old job of mine, a good day for me was keeping my boss's desk clear my problems like that, that used to be how I kind of evaluated a good day for me, we spoke about that a little bit earlier to the total wrong way of going about that, right? because I probably either had to fix or do a lot of things that were either repetitive that might have been able to be solved at a different level. Or, it just didn't get the attention that may have had it needed, because they were getting fixed in some other way. I was just trying to keep your desk clean.
Chris Spurgeon 26:23
Right. And what she needed to do is come to you, when her desk was clean, and ask “Jason, what's going on?” what, what are the problems here? What are we working on? What are we trying to improve? You're either improving or going out of business, it's one or the other.
Jason Davis 26:46
Absolutely. So, I guess, to that point, and, we spoke about that a little bit earlier, so its time is precious, and we can't solve every problem. So what's a good way to start thinking about prioritizing problems? Or how can manage your start to prioritize things that come their way? Because they're certainly got a lot of problems coming at them daily, some new, some old? So how do they start, to work through that?
Chris Spurgeon 27:12
Yeah, it's crazy when, when I'm working with a team for the first time, right, it's like their first CI event that they've had. So it's their first time, where they're having that opportunity for empowerment, to address things, and I get excited, and they want to fix everything, you know. So there's, there's no shortage of ideas on things to implement. But then I remind them, I'm like, Hey, guys. So just remember, there's not like a second project team that's hanging out in the wings, that's going to swoop in and implement all of this for us if we're the ones that have to do all the work and implementation after these workshops to still in addition to your job every day. So, let's keep that in mind. We don't have unlimited resources here. Right? With, it's just us doing this. So what can we do? And so, one way that we think about that is, with an impact and effort matrix, so you want to look for that low hanging fruit, that stuff, that's low effort, and high impact, like that stuff, but every single one of those on it to do this somewhere and start knocking those off, if you've got something up there that, ends up being high effort to implement, but it's just not going to have that big of an impact, that we put that what we call the kill zone? No way, no how that’s getting done, we're not going to do a whole lot of work for a small change. And the other thing to keep in mind. So when you're doing that exercise, then when we talk about impact, right? What do we mean? impact what? And that's where we go back to those performance metrics, what are you? how do you measure the problem that you're solving? And so you want to think about, that action item, that improvement item? What sort of impact is it going to have on that metric? How much is it going to move the needle? And if it's not going to have an impact on that metric? What is it improving? why do you think that's impactful? Like, knock it off? Get it out of there, it's low impact, go back and have another conversation about what you should be measuring, if you've identified No, we need to do this, even if it doesn't make move the needle here, then you're probably missing a metric somewhere. And you need to think about what you're measuring and think about why that's important to your organization to make that improvement. what is that going to improve for you?
Jason Davis 29:38
Yeah, and, I feel like, for the most part, people's natural reaction is just to fix things that are coming at them, and not thinking about that impact versus effort. Is it true a metric that we care about, or is it going to move the needle on a metric that we care about or has value, or is it something of little value, and kind of going through that process a little bit in, even like you said, kind of thinking about that, that low hanging fruit, if there's something that's high impact, low effort, like go, like, just start going after it, like figure out ways to make that happen. we should call those just do it.
Chris Spurgeon 30:18
Yeah, so we call that do, and I'm like, don't let's not wait, and it's cool. Like I've seen, in a workshop, like a three-day workshop, right? And we'll identify something, on day two, or whatever. And we're not even getting to the part where we're prioritizing things yet. But, the the idea is maybe to, send a reminder out to this group about this that, or something. And, there'll be a guy we'll talk about, he's like, oh, I've already done that mark, that went off. I sent that email yesterday. He's like, I figured, why not? Right, like, what harm is that got to do to go ahead and just send that reminder? We're like, Yeah, no, that's great.
Jason Davis 31:00
Way to get medium impact, low effort, right.
Chris Spurgeon 31:04
The crazy thing is, is that, that did work, right, is we saw an immediate impact. it, it moved the needle instantly, like the next day, it was one of those things. Now, that may not be a long-term sustainable improvement, right? Yeah, it was a one-time reminder. So maybe the, a more sustainable effort was, setting up some regular training or things like that, to make sure that we don't lose sight of that again. But don't, the point is, right, don't hesitate to implement. Once you've got an idea, just go ahead and do it.
Jason Davis 31:38
Yeah, yeah, it may have a high impact on getting you to kind of the next step that you need to get to, right, I think, it's rare that you're going to have a high impact low effort item, that's going to move mountains for you, I mean, if you've been in business for a while, you've been doing your stuff for a while, you probably pluck those, you'll find them every once in a while. But they're rare, they're, they're going to be more probably foundational to get you to that next step kind of thing. So, I mean,
Chris Spurgeon 32:07
they're, they're few and far, but But I tell you what, I mean, when you get those, it's like, hitting a freakin home run, like, it's an amazing feeling. And you do still get those now and then, I had just earlier this year, I think it was this year, it's been a long year, it was earlier this year, I was working with a team, and we had a, a 40-year field tech veteran on the project team. And we were looking at our maintenance plans and how we go out and service the sites and our maintenance plans, with generating automatically every year, some service orders work orders to go out and have the maintenance performed on them. Okay. the problem with that is, we're visiting the same site, 234 different times to do different types of maintenance for different orders, and so we're looking at, is there a way in the process where when you get a work order, you can check the maintenance man plan to pick up other work orders that may be out there and do them all at once? how can we do this? And, and, Vince, this 42-year field tech guy says, Well, the different work orders, all that is, is just a number in a field, to one for this type of workload or two for this type is like, why don't you just, give me a six in there and tell me that that's a combo. And I'll do those two, both of them. Were like, oh, well, well, yeah. Why don't we do it? Let's make some new combo work ordered number types, and you can we were able to find a way to script those changes, so even implementing it was pretty, relatively speaking, low effort, and the impacts gonna be freakin just. And, it's all all the events, it wasn't some it genius, and, is our 42-year field tag go? And guys just put a six in there instead of a one and tell me that a six is a combo. Oh, you got it?
Jason Davis 34:01
Yeah, yeah. And that highlights the value of having people that are doing the actual job in the room and the conversations and empowering them to be a part of the conversation, empowering them to be problem solvers. Making them the experts really, I mean, they're the ones that are doing the job every day and the leaders in the room are there to one protect their time, right protect time to make sure that they've got time to problem solve, I think is a great way for leadership to represent and to to help escalate the issue to different areas of the organization where they can to get support right if you got to go to it for something that line in in sales is probably not going to know where to go to and it to get that script written. better leaders got the time to kind of figure that out a little bit. So I think that's a great way for, again to create that empowerment and create that buy in and let the frontline dig in and help problem solve and you got to win in there, right, you got the field tech that's been doing this for 40 years saying, Hey, this is what I see what I know, like, if you just change this I can I know to do this now, you know?
Chris Spurgeon 35:10
Yeah, it is, the simplicity was brilliant of it. And yeah, to your point that like we didn't have, the skillset on that project team in the room to write that script, and so that was the leadership role then. So they come in, they support that project team, they show up in the room, and see what they've done. And so then they get buy-in, they buy into the improvements, and they understand how putting a sixth in there is going to save a whole bunch of waste. And so then they help us get those resources to get that implemented. And that you're right, that's leadership's role is empowering them and then clearing the obstacles to help get things implemented smoothly.
Jason Davis 35:54
Exactly, no, I love the way you put that. So alright, so if you could kind of let's get simple here. So what are three simple things that people listening to this show the audience that they could do to be better problem solvers? Tomorrow?
Chris Spurgeon 36:09
Okay, the big three takeaways, right? Like, everything we've said, these are the things that matter. Problems are opportunities. I mean, we've already talked about all this. But that's, that's the number one thing, you've got to quit just burying your problem, freaking out about your problems and start looking for your problems, searching them out and seeing them as your opportunities you want to know how to improve, find your problems, that's got to be step one. And then step two, we talked about empowering the subject matter experts, the people that do the work, quit trying to solve all the problems yourself sitting at a desk, or in a conference room, go to where the work is being done, talk to the people that are doing the work and ask them, get them involved there, they're going to be the ones that can find that low hanging fruit that we talked about. And then the third thing to keep in mind when problem solving is don't give up. I mean, just, you've got to know, measure your success to know what success looks like. And then don't give up until you get there. if you try a countermeasure, and then it doesn't work, or it causes more problems somewhere else, then address that and keep trying, there's that plan, do check and adjust cycle that continuous improvement follows. And it is just a continuous cycle of doing just that, continuously improving. And I feel like I brought it all home there. I feel like yeah,
Jason Davis 37:49
that all worked. Yeah. So just to recap, I know that that was awesome. So seeing problems as opportunities. That's one. Number two, empowering your subject matter experts, the people that are doing the work. And then number three, don't give up. measure your success. Yeah,
Chris Spurgeon 38:07
I think that I mean, if you do those three things, I don't see how you're gonna fail. Like you're there eventually.
Jason Davis 38:13
So you heard it, there is a guaranteed money back their money-back guarantee. All right. Well, Matt, no, Chris, where can people find you? Mount Vernon?
Chris Spurgeon 38:26
Yeah, they can find me in Mt. Vernon For sure. It's a small town, probably, just ask around somebody. But LinkedIn might be a more convenient way. I've got a profile up there, you can message me through LinkedIn. If you've got questions, I'd be happy to talk about Lean. It's one of my favorite subjects. So I'm never shy to hop on a chat or something to talk about continuous improvement. It's a fun passion. And, we talked about, identifying those, is what's a bad day for you? Right? And that's what gets me passionate about it, too, is, I'm helping people have better days, right, we're gonna make your job easier. And, then maybe you look forward to coming to work a little more. Improving your quality of life a bit. And in addition, we're going to make some money for your company right or save you some costs. So win-win.
Jason Davis 39:22
Absolutely. Love it. Love it. All right. Well, any final thoughts? Oh, good.
Chris Spurgeon 39:28
No, that that was it. Those were there. All right. That was it.
Jason Davis 39:31
All right, those those were them. Perfect. All right, man. Well, hey, I really appreciate your time today. You've been an awesome guests. Like I said, I think you've given us a lot of really good things to think about a lot of easy things that I think managers and people can think about and do to help be better problem solvers. And to really bring that again is more of a function to their team and not so much of just a skill. It's an important skill to have. But the the event and going through it is important as well, and to do that together. So thanks for bringing that to light. I really appreciate it. And yeah, maybe we'll have you back again sometime.
Chris Spurgeon 40:04
Yeah, thanks. I would love to.
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"Iron Bacon" Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/