Every business’ root cause of a problem is the leader. If you’re fighting every day just to survive in the business, you’re going to get burnt out. You have to really start changing the system and how your business works. If you want to improve, start looking at your KPIs, planning, processes, and people. Join Ben Baker as he talks to the principal consultant of the Crysler Club and the host of the Everyday Business Problems Podcast, David Crysler. Discover why change is important, so you don’t just autopilot through your business. As a leader, engage with your people to know what systems need fixing. Learn how you can improve your processes by addressing the root cause today.
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Finding The Root Cause Of Your Business Issues With David Crysler
[00:02:08] In this episode, I’ve got David Crysler with me. David has a company called the Crysler Club, and I love it. He is not a car guy. Maybe he is a car guy. This company is about process engineering in the manufacturing industry. David, welcome to the show and let’s talk about managing systems without addressing the root cause.
[00:02:32] Thanks so much, Ben. I’m excited to have this conversation with you. I appreciate the invitation and looking forward to getting into it.
[00:02:39] We’ve had some interesting conversations. I can’t even remember when you and I met. We met a while ago now. We know a lot of people together in the manufacturing industry and I’m learning more about manufacturing. I come from the print industry, but I always find people who put things together.
It’s always fascinating to me to sit there and say, “It starts out as raw materials, whether it’s metal, plastic, or whatever. It goes through some process and in the end, you have something that is incredibly useful to somebody.” It’s amazing how few people think about the process of what it takes to get something from that pure raw material out the door to something that is useful within the market now.
[00:03:32] It’s incredible and when you think about it, we both have a background in the print industry. That’s a great one to pick on from a manufacturing standpoint because you hear a lot of people talk about print is dead and digital initiatives are replacing it. To your point, the thing that most people don’t realize who are outside of any type of manufacturing environment is how many things are manufactured.
Specific to print, how many things are printed and how many different types of printing technologies exist in the market now? While that technology continues to grow and expand, new technologies are coming into existence and maybe replacing some of the technology of old. At the end of the day, print is still very much alive. It will be for many decades to come because the circuit boards inside of your phone that you take for granted are printed.
There are all kinds of printed things that may be everyday items you touch. We don’t read as many newspapers anymore, which have been replaced with digital copies, but you still have them out there. They’re still in print. We have one about 2 miles away from where I’m sitting right now. It’s a giant newspaper manufacturing facility. For all of the things out there in the manufacturing world, it shows how it’s made and dirty jobs or something like that.
It’s why those shows have become so popular because I think for most people, it’s interesting to understand that you can take one form of something, like paper, metal, wood, what have you, and turn it into something completely different. Maybe that’s by adding additional materials or by putting it through some type of production manufacturing process. Everything we touch and utilize in our day-to-day lives has been influenced and impacted by manufacturing.
[00:05:43] Absolutely. First of all, shout out to Mike Rowe and Dirty Jobs. mikeroweWORKS is his foundation. It’s all about how you get there and get from A to B. How do these things actually get produced? When you were talking about printing, I’m thinking about the billions of boxes of cereal alone that get produced on a yearly basis. That’s all printed. Every single label on every single thing that you buy at a grocery store, a pharmacy, or whatever, those are all printed.
Maybe direct mail is not as prominent as it used to be. I used to print millions of pieces of direct mail many years ago, but it’s still viable. It’s still something that works. It’s got to be for the right person and the right industry. We need to think of all these things when we’re thinking about manufacturing. Without things being produced, all we would have is raw trees, raw metal, pulp and paper board, or whatever and nothing that we actually utilize on a daily basis. I’m looking at the 27-inch monitors that I have in front of me. None of this stuff would exist.
[00:07:09] It’s very true. Coming out of the pandemic, you hear these things like supply chain disruptions. Why can’t we find the thing that we need at the store? Why is the thing now 2, 3, 4, or 5 times what it was prior to? All of those types of situations can be traced back to manufacturing and the supply chain where things are made. If we’re purchasing more things made overseas or with overseas components versus things made domestically, depending on where you’re at, if you’re overseas, that’s one thing. If you’re domestic and you are expecting these items to be produced and shipped for a low cost, all of those things have now been impacted.
One of the stats that I had seen was that a typical shipping container that you would expect to receive electronic goods in from overseas. Let’s say pre-pandemic, the average price of that was around $4,000. Around the time of the pandemic and due to a lot of the issues that that created, the average price was somewhere in the $20,000 to $25,000 range for that same containership. You think about if that container had 100 refrigerators on it, what’s the cost now to ship one of those refrigerators? Obviously, the companies need to recoup some of that cost, which is why you see some exorbitant prices for some of the goods that we were typically purchasing.
Not to make this a push about where things are manufactured, but I think it’s important because that way, people can understand when we do create things where we consume them, the pricing may be higher for certain aspects or the labor cost is higher domestically. If we source the parts here and we can eliminate some of those exorbitant shipping costs, now we’ve got potentially cost savings. You could definitely get your goods faster if they’re manufactured closer to where you’re at.
All of those things apply no matter what you’re talking about. If we’re talking about print going to a local commercial printer or more of a regionalized larger printer or you have those requirements, that could benefit you more than possibly going somewhere else. Whether that’s East coast, West coast, North, South, or overseas because that, for a while, was an option to buy print and produce it overseas and have it brought back.
[00:09:59] It’s interesting because we used to use a distributed print process where we had three different printers across North America that were printing the material at the same time. Some of it went to the East coast, some went to the West coast, and the rest ended up in the middle. We worked with three different direct mail houses to be able to do this because we’re producing 1 million to 2 million pieces of direct mail.
Due to that, to get all that raw paper to one press, then you have to get the presses to produce all that material. To be able to ship it to a direct mail house, then get it out to the direct mail house out to the doors. First of all, you’re slowing the whole process down and you’re costing yourself a fortune moving stuff here and there.
We’ve got to this on time or just in time, the jit model, where years ago you used to carry inventory. People used to have tons of inventory sitting on a shelf because they didn’t know how long it was going to take to get it. Now, you can sit there and people might have 36, 48, 72 hours, maybe a week’s worth of inventory. When that inventory all of a sudden gets dried up quickly or too quickly, panic sets in.
[00:11:26] Specific to the print industry, probably over the last eighteen months or so, I have talked to many print manufacturers that you hear both sides of it. On the one hand, you have the companies that are bringing in additional inventory when they can find it because they don’t know when it’s going to come back in stock.
On the opposite side, you’ve got some companies saying, “If you’re not going to be utilizing it, you’re pulling that capacity out of the marketplace.” It’s been an interesting dynamic and there are some other things that have affected the print industry specifically. Some toner manufacturing facilities have had some catastrophic disasters that they’re trying to recoup from in the midst of all of the c and pandemic issues that people are seeing.
There are a lot of things at play which brings us back to how we started the conversation, talking about the things you’re doing internally and how those things can ultimately impact these external factors that everybody is being forced to navigate through. There’s nobody that’s escaping that pain. It’s a matter of how we utilize the system, the people, the processes, and our planning. How do we utilize all of what we have now to leverage that and to successfully navigate these challenges that continue to get thrown into people?
[00:13:02] If I’m right day in and day out to sit there and say, “Let’s take a look at where we are, where we want to go, and how we get there?” Is that correct for a lot of the work that you do?
[00:13:15] Yes. If you don’t know where you’re going and you’ve been, it’s easy to get lost along the way. It’s what many people deal with on a day to day. With all of these challenges that we’ve talked about and laid out, what are you left to do? Fight fires and make it to another day. Nobody has time to sit down and document process.
Nobody has time to go back and make sure that the new person that’s trained is trained up to the right spot because, “It took me six months to find this person, let alone worry about how I’m going to get him trained. I’ve got Joe who put in his two weeks’ notice and I’ve got this issue going on.” It’s a never-ending battlefield of the inputs hitting business owners and ops leaders wherever they’re in that management leadership hierarchy.
You’ve got those inputs and fires that are coming at you day in and day out. If you don’t have an attack plan and know where you’re going outside of, “I’m trying to make it to tomorrow,” it could be challenging. It’s easy to get burnt out, overwhelmed, or take those things out on your team, and then you start to get yourself into an ugly cycle of surviving. It is what I call it. It’s no fun.If you don't really have an attack plan for putting out your fires, you're just going to get burnt out. Click To Tweet
[00:14:53] How do we get people out of this firefighter mode? How do we get people out of, “I get up in the morning? I put on my fireproof pants, dawn my helmet, and grab my axel off. I go again now, not knowing what’s going to be on.” To get them into the fact that it says, “We’ve got a strategic plan. Our people are trained, we have a process, we know what we’re going to do, we know where we’re going, and we know what’s coming down the pipe so we can plan for it.”
How do we move people from a position of chaos? You and I see a lot of companies in chaos to a place where companies are sitting there going, “Joe just quit and we have to fire this other person. We’ve still got procurement issues, but we’re going to be okay because we’ve got this and this in place.” How do we move people from a position of chaos to a position of saying, “There’s still minutia going on in our lives, but we’re going to be fine because we know where we’re going?”
[00:16:07] I say it 1 of 2 ways, depending on what your favorite adage is. The first way is how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The other way to say it is that it’s taken you a long time to get to the point that you’ve recognized that you’re tired of being in that fight or flight or fire person mentality. It’s going to take some time to walk yourself out of that, but getting to the place where in your own mind and being that you want to do things differently, you’re open to techniques and utilizing specific frameworks to do that, that’s the unlock.
Anybody can, from a surface level, talk the talk, but it’s about not giving it lip service because this stuff is hard work. There is no shortcut for it. That’s why I say it’s taken you a long time to get to this point because you’ve built your business over the course of time if you work for a large organization that they have been doing the same way for a long time. In either situation, you have challenges that are going to take time to unpack where you’ve been and then start to put things in place where you can move forward.
Having that mindset and being in the right mindset, understanding that it’s going to take time and be a lot of work or you’re probably going to have some setbacks along the way that you or your team is going to make mistakes. All of those types of things are the cues that I look for when I have conversations with ops leadership folks about, “Are they ready?”
If they’re not ready, everybody is wasting their time. That’s not about, “Can I sell them something?” That has nothing to do with it. I’ve lived this life. I’ve done it for many years. I’ve been given many tough challenges in an operational leadership role. I understand and can empathize with where they’re at, which is why I say, “If you’re not in that mindset or not ready to dig in and do the hard work, then relish yourself to the fact that you’re going to continue to fight fires until you until you’re ready to change.”
[00:18:55] I look at it as the fact of you don’t gain 50 pounds overnight and it probably will take you as long, if not longer, to lose that 50 pounds if you want to keep it off. You don’t do it without sweat, swearing, and setbacks. We need to tell people and have people realize that it’s going to get messy and uglier, and people will get more frustrated before it gets better. I think that that’s part of the process that nobody wants to hear.
[00:19:32] There are plenty of people that will tell you transformation is no big deal. It will slap some new technology in there, you’ll be off to the races. It’s frustrating being in my position as somebody that owns a consulting business. As I said, I’ve done the hard work. I’ve gotten my hands dirty. I’ve had to try to figure out how do we create a better process. How do we engage people in a situation where we don’t know anybody?
Those were the kinds of challenges that I had, “Here’s this facility that’s struggling. I know you don’t know anybody. I know you don’t know the equipment and the products, but go figure that out. See if you can sell some more of it and make more money while you’re at it because we want to turn this thing around.”
To your point, it gets ugly sometimes, but when you have a framework to follow, use a methodology, and take that systematic approach to it, it does work itself out in the long run. As long as you’re communicating your why, like why are we doing this to your team and everybody that’s involved more times than not? You end up picking up steam along the way and making sustainable change much faster than you would’ve ever done had you not been in the right mindset and started to make this shift.
[00:21:02] I agree. I put an article up on the homepage of your brand marketing. It’s from Harvard Business Review and the title of the article is 70% of Change Management Initiatives Fail. If you look at that number, it’s huge. The reason that they fail is because there isn’t the people’s purpose. Money is put behind those change management initiatives in concert to make it work. Your leadership team needs to be dedicated to change.
They need to put their money where their mouth is, roll up their sleeves, and do the hard work to make it work. A lot of people have said, “This is hard. This is harder than I thought it was going to be. This is frustrating. My people are getting frustrated. Are we doing the right thing?” It takes time. Anybody that doesn’t have somebody helping them guide them through the perfect process, whether internal or external, can sit there and say, “This is going to get worse before it gets better and be honest about it. It is setting people up for failure.”
[00:22:16] From a straight-up technology implementation, there is a similar failure rate. Some of the reviews and articles that I’ve read cited as high as 85% failure rate. To your point, it all boils down to the same problem. Leadership has an idea of why, but they haven’t dug into the why enough to understand how is it going to impact the facility and organization. Beyond that, they haven’t done a good enough job of sharing the why. Everybody loves to share the how. Everybody wants to talk about, “We’re going to buy this new ERP system. We’re going to implement this new CRM. We’ve got a new whatever.” Everybody loves talking about the how because the how ends up being easy to understand from an ROI perspective.
There’s a lot of black and white around the how. The why is a lot more gray. If you can spend 80% of your time talking about why and before you decide on the how, if you engage people to understand the why, it’s a two-way communication street. If, from a leadership perspective, you’re identifying, “We’ve got this KPI that’s telling me we’re struggling in this area,” then we take that and go to the people that are closest to the process that is near.
Before and after the process, we start having these conversations and say, “Here’s what this KPI looks like to me. What’s your experience?” Get that data, then you can go back and start to formalize and have some ideas around, “I think that we need to investigate some technology or process improvement or something along those lines. Here’s why.”
Here’s why I think it’s going to help. Here’s why we need to improve this KPI then you go back and say, “Now, what and how?” Doing those couple of things, I firmly believe and I have seen in my facilities and I’ve been responsible for clients I’ve worked with. It moves the needle significantly because now we are talking about the impact. How is this going to make people’s lives better? You’re still asking that how question, but it’s the why. It’s like, “Here’s why we’re doing it because we want to impact how you are executing these processes. We want to automate this part and eliminate waste and errors.” All of those types of things fall into those buckets.
[00:25:00] To add to that, it’s about being able to create those aspirational conversations. Once we do this, what will it enable us to do? Once we fix this problem, what will this enable us to do, either individually as individual people within the organization or as an organization itself? Hopefully, we can marry those viewpoints. People will sit there and say, “If I’m working on this thing, all it’s going to do is benefit the company.” No. It’s got to benefit the company and the individuals within it. If they’re going to go through the chaos of change, they’re going to be frustrated, sit there and put in the blood, sweat, and tears. There’s got to be a benefit for them on an individual level when on the outside. There’s got to be a celebration along the way.
[00:25:51] I completely agree with that. Too often, what you see happening, especially in larger and larger businesses, is when they go through some change management initiative, a lot of it is around this idea that we can reduce cost. A lot of that then boils down to reduced cost through labor reduction.
[00:26:14] My job is going to be eliminated and the companies can make more money.
[00:26:17] That’s a huge mistake from a leadership and organization perspective. The way you should be looking at this is if we deploy a particular technology. Let’s go through some process improvement, continuous improvement, and lean manufacturing. I don’t care what terminology we’re going to use, but if you go through some of these events, the next thing you should be asking to get back to what your point was, how do we redeploy these assets?
How do we redeploy the collective brain power of people that we’ve amassed over the course of time to double down now on this effort? If we free up somebody in customer service and sales, how do we get them to make more outbound phone calls? How do we drive more leads? How do we let them close more business?
How does that drive growth? If we free up somebody in operations, how can we now produce X number of widgets more so that we have them available to sell faster than our competition because we’ve now put them on the shelf and they’re ready to go in inventory? It needs to be, again, back to what I said, this complete mindset shift of not looking for opportunities from a cost reduction standpoint but looking at them from an opportunity cost standpoint to say, “Where can we redeploy our best assets? Those being our people, how do we redeploy them so we can build our business and grow faster now that we’ve eliminated waste, reduced error, and put these additional abilities to increase efficiency and utilization throughout the organization?”Look for opportunities, not from a cost reduction standpoint, but from an opportunity cost standpoint. Click To Tweet
[00:28:05] Give people the feeling that they’re doing something more important and more effective. Perfect example, my son was working for a manufacturer this summer and they had a whole bunch of people whose job was strictly to do grinding. At the end of the manufacturing process, they ground off the excess bits.
If a machine can do that as effectively or more effectively, what if you could take all those people and move them over to quality control or put them somewhere where they’re sitting there, not grinding and rooting their hands and their ears all day long and give them a job that there’s purpose, meaning, and something they can see the benefit of it at the far side of the job. It gives people a reason to move up, move around, and be able to feel that they are more important to the company and the company, therefore, becomes more important to them.
[00:29:00] It utilized the example of how you can take 2 similar companies, 2 print manufacturers, or 2 machine shops. On the one hand, you’ve got a company that is talking about how busy they are, can’t keep up, and their incoming is crazy. They are looking for more people because they’re growing so fast and in the same town, 2 miles over, you’ve got another company that’s saying, “We can’t find anybody to work. Nobody wants to show up on time. All these people do is complain. All they do is make mistakes. It’s cost me money every day we open.”
Why is that? It comes down to the engagement of people. It gets back to how I like to break down business systems, planning, people, process, and technology. If you have a problem inside of your organization, it falls into 1 of those 4 buckets. If you want to grow your organization, you have to tap into each 1 of those 4 buckets to be able to do that.
It gets back to when you have those similar organizations, one is growing, one is dying, why is that? One is figuring out how to leverage those four pillars and they’re all working together towards that common goal of driving growth, operating with excellence, top-notch quality, and top-notch customer service. The other one is concerned about what’s happening right now and can’t see beyond their nose.
[00:30:44] Where do you start with that company that can’t find good people that feel that there’s not enough business out there and all these different driving factors? When you’re brought in the door, where do you start with that company to assess the situation, find out what reality truly is, and then help them move beyond these limiting thought processes?
[00:31:09] What always starts with the leadership team if the leadership team is not of the right mindset and is not interested because you’ve got different factors at play? You may have an organization where an owner recognizes that they have some issues with their operations leadership folks. They may engage me and the owner is all on board and wants to do these things and see some obstacles with the operations leadership folks.
If it’s the business owner, you start there. Oftentimes, it says, “If you want to see what the problem is, take a look in the mirror.” That’s for the leadership folks because, typically, the people in leadership are the barrier to entry. Most people that have ever worked for me personally that I’ve ever been engaged with from a manufacturing perspective, by and large, 99 out of 100 of them, all they want to do is they want to come to work, put in an honest day’s effort, and be recognized for the contributions that they want to provide to that company.As a leader, if you want to see the problem, just look in the mirror. Click To Tweet
They want to be compensated fairly for those contributions, and then they want to go home and do their own thing, whether spending time with family or friends. By and large, people that work and do the heavy lifting day in and day out are trying to make it. It’s the leadership’s position to make sure that those things are happening. What do they have to do? They have to go out there and find out what problems are in these guys’ and girls’ way and remove those roadblocks. For me, that’s where it always starts.
It always starts with leadership, understanding where they are at and what they are seeing. I always spend time on the floor because you always learn what’s going on and how many times they’ve already given this suggestion to John in leadership, Bill over there, or whomever. You start to put the puzzle together of what’s happening in the organization, how change is perceived, and how suggestions are received.
You then start to go through the questioning process and find out who’s telling the truth somewhere in the middle of what’s actually happening. We then talk about, “Here’s where we’re at. Where do we want to go? What are we trying to do? Is that unlimited growth? Do we have one particular vertical we’re trying to go after? Is this maybe a quality initiative that we have, so we need to develop a much stronger quality management system? After all of that, do we dive into the what of the matter?”
[00:34:07] There’s so much there. People have got to sit there and read through that again. Seriously, there’s a lot to unpack there. What I want to do is I want to ask you two quick questions and then we’re going to let you out the door. The first question is, what have we missed? What’s the one piece of advice you would want to give people to be able to help make their lives a little bit better?
[00:34:30] I think the best advice, especially when I think about what I wish I had known twenty years ago from an operations leadership perspective. That is spending more time with the people that are doing the heavy lifting. Engage with them, find out what’s going on, and talk about things outside of the organization, department, and immediacy of what’s happening because when I think back to all of the success I’ve enjoyed both when I had my corporate career, now as a consultant, it’s those connections where the best ideas were ever generated from. Taking and getting that engagement, receiving those ideas, and then from a leadership perspective, understanding what the bounds of that are. I know the goal that I’m trying to hit. How can we bring these things together?
How can we try some of this to keep people engaged and to see some quick wins? I think that’s one thing that gets missed because we’re all so busy, it’s easy to say, “I’ll do it tomorrow. I’m going to spend the whole afternoon out there.” At the end of the day, it very rarely happens as much as it should be happening. That’s the one piece of advice I would give to anybody in an operations leadership role, business owner, operations leadership, team lead, or anybody that leads people. If you want to move the needle for your business, department, and area of responsibility, spend more time with the people doing the process, which is closely related to the processes you’re ultimately responsible for.
[00:36:17] Great ideas can come from anywhere. Dave, what’s the best way for people to get in touch with you?
[00:36:39] Here’s the last question I ask everybody. As you get in your car and you drive away after a meeting, what’s the one thing you want people to think about you when you’re not in the room?
[00:36:53] I think for me, I’ve always wanted to make an impact on people, treat them with empathy, and let them know that I’ve lived their life. The unique thing I bring to my consulting business is that I’ve done this, I’ve lived this life, made hard decisions, and made bad decisions. I’m a real person. I put my shoes on the same way. I want to help people.
Whether or not that results in some paid engagement, that’s always secondary to me. I want people to remember that I cared about the things they told me, and I always tried to remember specific things about people who make that connection because I’m working on building relationships. I’d love for somebody to think of me in that light that, “This is a genuine person that cares about what’s going on, loves what he does, and wants to see people succeed in life.”
[00:37:52] I think it was Teddy Roosevelt that said, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Thanks for caring, David. Thanks for being an amazing guest and thanks for all the great things you do.
[00:38:03] Thanks so much, Ben.
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About David Crysler
David Crysler is the principal consultant of the Crysler Club and host of the Everyday Business Problems Podcast. Having spent nearly 20 years working for a publicly traded corporation that grew through acquisition provided Dave with the opportunity to grow several different businesses during his career. Entering entrepreneurship, Dave quickly realized there was a tremendous need within small businesses to have access to the tools and support that were commonplace in a large corporation. It was during this time Dave developed his operations framework that he uses to solve everyday problems and free business owners from working in their business so it can grow.
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