GreenLeaf Industries is constantly looking for new ways within the plastic injection molding industry to be challenged, or an opportunity to learn and grow, or the chance to make a difference. In order to accomplish all three, GreenLeaf Industries’ leaders not only attended the October MAPP Conference, they presented.
The Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors is an association that “enable(s) leaders within the plastics industry to achieve new levels of success by providing high quality and greatly valued tools and services that strengthen their effectiveness and profitability.”
Its members are comprised of the nation’s most successful plastics manufacturing companies, and MAPP encourages fair competition, sharing of cutting edge resources and information and networking between leading plastic professionals for the benefit of impacting industry sustainability.
For this reason, GreenLeaf’s CEO Lawrence Segrest and Vice President of Operations and Quality Systems, Beth Johnson, were honored with the privilege of presenting their plastics industry knowledge and insight at the sold-out event.
The MAPP Benchmarking and Best Practices Conference 2016 held in Indianapolis, IN had the theme of “Perseverance, The Secret of All Success,” and was “designed to inspire, motivate and educate processors on how to positively influence the people around them.”
Some might say that Lawrence Segrest couldn’t have been a better speaker for the job. He and his father started GreenLeaf seventeen years ago with only four employees. Being small, Lawrence wore many hats while serving as CFO. Now in the role of CEO, he is responsible for creating and maintaining company culture, ensuring long-term financial strength and setting the strategic direction of the company. After a stellar career in the medical device industry, Beth Johnson joined GreenLeaf nearly four years ago. In her short tenure, she has been the dynamo to transform the company’s operations to “world class” levels.
While many topics were covered at the conference, Segrest chose to give a presentation on the “Four Disciplines of Execution” (known by Segrest as 4DX). These four disciplines will allow any company to: get focused, align everyone, strengthen their culture, and increase engagement.
Here are some of the high points of the presentation:
Big Plans, Small Results
Leaders, and especially CEOs, are driven to see their team or organizations be excellent. Leaders create big visions, they are very optimistic, and they are generally impatient. These are essential characteristics of leaders. However, these same characteristics may cause many leaders to fail year after year at annual planning. Each year, CEOs tend to create a vast number of initiatives with associated goals and metrics, rolling out the plan with great fanfare and enthusiasm. Further, the annual plan is driven by the CEO and a few members of senior management, while the rest of the company plays along until crises and inertia allow everyone to go on with “business as usual.” These big plans often deliver small results.
The Path to 4DX
Optimistic and aggressive leaders want to fix everything all at once. However, to successfully execute, leaders and support teams must focus on one or two Wildly Important Goals (WIGs) at a time. Applying more energy against fewer goals is the key to success. This powerful concept created the “A-ha moment” for GreenLeaf’s leadership team.
Align Everyone (Around the WIG)
One way that GreenLeaf has found success is by aligning its staff with a corporate WIG (Wildly Important Goal). Every member of the company is on a team, and each team creates a team WIG that supports the corporate WIG. Individual team members make weekly, personal commitments that will push the team towards achieving its WIG. Every employee is now working towards achieving a company-wide goal. This is alignment! If you do this, you will see your company transform.
Get Outside of the Whirlwind
Manufacturing as a whole is what we consider to be “The Whirlwind.” The whirlwind is the day-to-day planning, implementation, and all other operations. In order to improve the whirlwind, you have to get out of the whirlwind. Set a small bit of time each week to get out of the day-to-day work and focus on achieving the team WIG. The leadership team must insist on this, lead by example, and verify that it is happening.
A Painful Reality
A month after your company rolls out the annual plan how many employees can name one corporate goal? And if they can name one, how many are working to achieve it? The painful reality is that almost no one in you company even remembers the corporate goals. Implementing the four disciplines of execution can change that reality.
Discipline 1: Focus on the Wildly Important
Manage the necessary ongoing activities while identifying one or two wildly important goals to work on. This key strategy decision must come from the very top of the organization.
An example of GreenLeaf’s most important issue from last year is reducing profitability losses due to specific wastes. The two corporate WIGs that came from this issue were to decrease wasted labor and decrease wasted material. Teams brainstormed together, created and worked on smaller goals to help achieve the corporate WIG. By March 1st both had been significantly reduced.
Discipline 2: Act on the Lead Measures
You must identify goals called lead measures. Lead measures are quantifiable activities that move the WIG in the right direction. For example, if you have a WIG to lose weight, a lead measure might be: reduce daily calorie intake. Lead measure activities will eventually move you in the right direction – achieving your WIG. By contrast, the WIG measure is a lagging (rear view) measure.
Discipline 3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard
It is proven that team members take more initiative when a score is being kept. Find a fun way to have teams keep their own scores. As team WIGs are achieved, the corporate WIG will eventually be achieved too. But if you don’t keep score, people quickly lose interest. Therefore each team’s “score” should be tracked in addition to the corporate progess.
Discipline 4: Create a Cadence of Accountability
Weekly “WIG Sessions” are quick meetings held outside of “the whirlwind” of the normal work activity. Every team member is required to make a new commitment each week that they must fulfill before the next meeting. Team members report on how they kept their prior commitment, and made a new commitment to the team. This activity creates the “cadence of accountability.” This is the most important discipline of all. Without it, 4DX will fail. However, if you do follow this step it will change your entire business and the culture. Making quality commitments, keeping commitments, and holding your team members accountable for not keeping commitments is a real game changer. As a leader, this will take the most effort over the longest period of time.
This last point is not one to necessarily bring you success, but it will keep your teams happy and your company culture thriving. If you’re going to keep score then make sure to celebrate your success! The entire company wins or loses together. Have a monthly meeting with the team to discuss progress, summarize efforts, recognize outstanding improvement or individual effort, and announce earned rewards for progress. Every few months allow the teams who did the best to present their success to senior management and encourage the other teams.
If it’s important to you that your plastic injection molded parts be produced in a focused environment with industry-leading management ensuring quality products and delivery, or if you would like a copy of the 4DX presentation to implement within your own business, contact Robert Segrest directly at Robert@greenleaf.biz
About GreenLeaf Industries:
Green Leaf Industries is an American plastic injection molding company located in Lenoir City, Tennessee. The company provides design and production services for plastic injection and is one of the only plastic injection molding companies exclusively using all-electric injection molding machines. Established in 1999, they take pride in high-quality craftsmanship and superior customer service. An ISO Certified company, GreenLeaf Industries is extremely process-oriented with a relentless pursuit of manufacturing excellence and continuous improvement. They are family-owned and operated by two generations of hard-working, hands-on, professional engineers. The entire staff at GreenLeaf Industries is obsessive about engineering quality, on-time delivery, and cost containment for every single one of their designs and projects.