Part of the personal growth effort of Cambridge includes encouraging each employee to feel more confident speaking in front of a large group and other public speaking opportunities. The “practice” of this improvement comes in the form of taking turns to Emcee the morning meeting that we hold out in the shop every day. Each Emcee can speak to whatever they’d like as the group stretches – some take the chance to talk about their families or hometowns, others give trivia and yet, others – like Steve, our Controller – take the opportunity to be creative.
Watch the video below to see how Steve used his introduction time!
A few months ago – we realized that we were missing out on an instrumental LEAN Principle: continuously improving the safety of our best problem solvers (our employees). That said, we had been tracking safety issues and conducting Root Cause Analyses when needed, along with reporting at our morning meeting what had happened and what solution was being applied. But something was missing.
Our employees identify LEAN opportunities and make videos to show to the company every day. Their ideas are so creative and effective, which, in turn, inspire others to think about how they could apply these and other ideas to their work station and processes. Naturally, some videos started to turn toward LEAN applications that were to help with SAFETY along with productivity – and a light bulb clicked. Once we realized that we had room for improvement, we started to encourage workers to consider what could make their work station and our community areas have a lesser chance of hazard for themselves and others. Some improvements are as simple as cleaning off an overhead shelf so that they couldn’t possibly fall on somebody and some as complex as creating new processes with additional checkpoints.
Below is a playlist of our LEAN SAFETY videos that we share in hopes that you might find something applicable at your company – whether that be the initiative in general or a specific idea. We are seeing new ideas every day, meaning Cambridge is becoming a safer work environment, and that is a win for everybody.
For those of us working in an office, a manufacturing plant, a warehouse or a commercial retail environment, we spend about 2,350 hours a year at work. As you reflect on your own working hours annually, think about how that might compare to the time you get to spend with your family. For the M-F working adult, this generally leaves about 2,350 hours with your family after work M-F and Saturday-Sunday to be present as a father, mother, sister, brother, daughter or son. While the percentages may vary greatly by individual, the amount of time one spends at work is significant. Being fulfilled at work through accomplishment and influence has been shown to translate into positive energy at home. Conversely, plodding, struggling and frustration at work without influence to make needed changes, results in people carrying negative energy and stress home to their families and or friends.
Cambridge Engineering, Inc. exists to glorify God by enriching the life of every person we touch. We are working hard to build a better experience for people that we meet each day at work, whether that is an internal team member, a customer, a service support vendor or a supplier. When people go home from work fulfilled they can be better fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons. Healthy families contribute to healthy communities and healthy communities will lead to a more healthy country.
John Kramer, Jr., Cambridge’s CEO, speaks frequently on this message of glory and dignity in the factory and it really resonates with me. I’ve been witness to a transformation in people engagement at Cambridge Engineering, Inc. and it started with a group of committed people on the production floor. With some help from a mentor, Paul Akers, and a highly energized group of manufacturing companies across the U.S., Cambridge was encouraged to learn about how to eliminate struggles in the plant. Our 2-Second Lean journey (Paul Akers) gained incredible momentum due to the simplicity of the message and it’s foundations in humility. It was sustainable because of the sincerity of our manager’s, leader’s and owner’s commitment to enrich the lives of the people we touch.
Two years ago there were no fancy top down internal marketing campaigns to pitch the problem solving process to the organization. Through a small group of committed production and supply chain leaders, a continuous improvement mindset and total employee engagement process was born. This small team set the foundation that literally created energy, excitement, exploration, creativity and inspiration within the factory and across all departments. Cambridge has now documented with video, nearly 4,000 improvements.
I can say without hesitation that during my 4 years, the Cambridge organization has significantly contributed to my being a better husband, father, brother and son. Knowing that the work that we are doing here in Chesterfield, MO supports better environments for people across North America working in the warehouse and manufacturing segments is highly motivating. We are definitely not short on the things we need to accomplish across the sales, marketing and service organization. Operating in this type of environment makes everything flow better. Unconditional love for who people are (not what they do) and high performance expectations are woven into the culture.
Cambridge Engineering, Inc. exists to enrich the lives of everyone we come in contact with. We do this by making commercial and industrial HVAC equipment to improve lives. Supporting building owners and facility leaders that desire glory and dignity at work is very cool!
About Cambridge Engineering, Inc…..
For more than 50 years, Cambridge Engineering, Inc. has been committed to enriching the lives of its people, customers and suppliers through the design, manufacture and application of space heating, ventilation (make-up air) and cooling products in commercial and industrial facilities. Cambridge Engineering’s 120-employee operation and its network of 400-plus sales representatives have been helping manufacturers, distribution business owners and operators, facility managers, design engineers and mechanical contractors to create better indoor working environments through even temperatures and improved indoor air quality (IAQ) in warehouses, sports facilities and other high-bay spaces. The company has invested heavily in research and development to offer HTHV (high temperature heating and ventilation) products that significantly save energy and reduce operating costs. Whether in new construction or existing facility retrofits, Cambridge Engineering’s Made-To-Order design, fabrication and testing process ensures that each HVAC system is certified safe with unsurpassed product quality.
With more than 37,000 system installations and 2.5 billion square feet of buildings served, Cambridge celebrates its customers’ commitment to an improved working environment for people on the factory or warehouse floor. Cambridge is an active member of the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Alliance, an initiative of manufacturers and businesses dedicated to reducing energy consumption in commercial spaces. Cambridge is headquartered in Chesterfield, Missouri. www.cambridge-eng.com.
Here is another of the behind the scene faces here at Cambridge Engineering that you wouldn’t normally get to meet but make a profound difference in our culture and our desire to manufacture the highest quality products for you….our customer.
Today we are pleased to introduce to you Scott Moore from our S-series department. Scott leads the team that manufacturers our S-series products and is also a Lean leader here at Cambridge. You can also find Scott helping out at Christmas as one of Santa’s many helpers. Oh yea, he is also another one of our all around great guys here at Cambridge. We hope you enjoy his video.
During a recent visit in Rhode Island, a customer and friend of our organization complained about the features of our WiFi thermostat and Iphone App. He just didn’t like the interface with the control application. He struggled with understanding if the HVAC equipment was running and he didn’t like not being able to program the system settings directly from the Iphone App. Our phone interface bugged him. What happens when our customer’s get repeatedly frustrated with experiencing our product, services or people? You know the answer. They’ll be gone.
We have been learning and growing in our LEAN journey at Cambridge. My key learning has come in the form of exposure to the energy and passion of our Operations staff for documented improvements in our plant. I’ve been drawn into the LEAN vortex in operations because of our people and their commitment to improving things every day. Unfortunately, the passion for LEAN has not translated to the same awesome level of enthusiasm and commitment beyond the factory floor. Like many in the sales, the customer service and the marketing departments, I have struggled to document meaningful process improvements. My focus on fixing what bugs me has yet to yield the transformational improvements that are possible for me and my team. While transformational improvements are not our stated objective, I find myself feeling reluctant to put forth additional 2-second Lean improvements. Others in my organization have shared similar frustrations. Paul Akers, the author of the book 2-Second Lean, details that every organization hits plateaus in LEAN and persistence is needed to push through to another level.
My perspective on LEAN shifted during this Rhode Island trip to VIBCO, a family owned U.S. based manufacturing organization. I want to share my perspective shift in hopes that it might unlock more people regarding how LEAN practices can propel all of us forward into closer relationships with our customers. I am shifting my thinking from fixing what bugs me to fixing what bugs my customer. Over the last year, I have spent the majority of my time looking at my processes, my environment, my efficiency, my organization, my wasted time and energy.
As I reflect on the power of our Customer Service team, I believe their stellar reputation in the HVAC industry is built upon this hard wired philosophy of helping customers solve problems fast. They strive to support the customer quickly. Both on the phone and on site, our customer service squad supports solving issues that bug customers. Within our technical advisory team, they support our Reps and contractors with information, analysis and design to make their customers more effective with their customer. They have a guaranteed 24 turn around commitment to their customer and typically deliver in less than 4 hours. LEAN beyond the manufacturing plant dock doors is all about fixing what bugs customers.
I’ll report back on the progress we make creating our own LEAN Sales Vortex. We are building our 15 minute daily stand up meeting agenda now. It will include building and fixing customer issues and new ideas for customer improvements. We will be discussing our “Go and Watch” plans for cross functional team learning and customer centric improvements. Finally, we will be outlining our Revenue team external exposure plans so that we can provide an environment to unlock everyone’s genius for fixing what bugs our customers.
Is it not true that what bugs the customer, likely bugs us the most?
Watch this great video about a recent trip our leadership team took to Xylem Design in Fort Collins, CO for a Global Lean Leadersship Summit. Learn how Xylem eliminates waste and romoves that which they struggle with in they daily activities.
Let us know what you think about these Lean efforts.
Truly understanding your customer’s needs and the value they place on your products and services is paramount to success in business. Defining and refining your value to the customer takes total organizational alignment. Alignment around the importance of the information and collaboration around collecting it, communicating it, and acting on it are vital.
value concept handwritten on blackboard
Customer Advisory Boards are a great way to engage the leadership in your own organization. They allow you to capture candid feedback on measuring existing corporate value statements against your messaging across the company. Are your value statements landing? Do they resonate with the people receiving them? What would your customers say is most important to them?
Customer Advisory Boards provide three major benefits to an organization.
1. Deepening Relationships with Customers
2. Understanding Your Customer’s Value Language
3. Identifying Your Product/Service Gaps
Deepening Relationships: People do business with people they like. Putting people together with one purpose, “How can we help one another achieve more together?” or better yet, “How can I help you over achieve for your organization? My win is wrapped up in yours.” Putting your customers together with your business leaders across the enterprise can create awesome bonding and momentum.
Understanding Your Customer’s Value Language: We all want to be spoken to in our own value language. I can be just as guilty as the next of projecting what I think is important to customers rather than speaking in their terms. “Energy efficiency is important to building owners and facilities managers,” I state. The customer stated, “Energy efficiency is really important to owners, but I also want to cut 2% out of the total costs of the project. That is more important right now. Can you help me do that?” How valuable is your proposed solution in the language of the customer? Go well beyond economic value to draw out all things valuable and then have your Customer Advisory Board rank them. Then, and this is key, change your language based on their responses and challenge the list continuously through an ongoing Advisory Board engagement process.
Identifying Your Product/Service Gaps: Through intentional questioning, you can uncover items requiring your organizations attention. What is the number one problem you are facing with the use of our product? Share with us any challenges you’ve had with our products? What else have you experienced? How many times has that occurred? How would you suggest we improve what we’re doing? What are others doing in this space that you feel is innovative? A great way to clear the session of any fear of sharing “bad news” is to coordinate a pre-Advisory Board survey that probes into improvement areas. Also, don’t defend or justify any mistakes or gaps. Just reply, “Thank you for sharing that.” Your customers will share openly if their input is appreciated and not explained away.
Build an Advisory Board and you’ll build a deeper relationship with your customers, knowing how to speak their language and fine tune your products/services for success.
Have you created or participated on an Advisory Board? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments below.
Recently, in my first blog post, I asked the questions, “Why do financial executives so frequently find themselves following, rather than leading, during a LEAN initiative? Has your company implemented LEAN in the finance/accounting area? If not, why not?” It is my experience that the single biggest obstacle to a creating a truly LEAN culture in an organization is the character of the leaders tasked with implementation. And, among the character traits that we will discuss in these series of blog posts, I truly believe that HUMILITY is at the heart of, and foundational to, any successful effort at LEAN leadership.