“Everybody Matters” by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia was the May topic of the ISPE Midwest chapter book club. The first half of the book follows Bob’s journey from business school through becoming CEO of a large manufacturing and design company, Barry-Wehmiller. The second half focuses on the implementation of his key learnings about leadership and culture.
Members were deeply interested in the actual culture at Barry-Wehmiller, a conglomeration of packaging equipment manufacturing, paper processing, and printing plants as well as consulting engineering and IT. Members discussed that the culture endures through consistent messaging and small gestures that focus on the people. All employees are called “professionals,” breaking down the silos between the front office and floor workers, designers, and engineers.
“People want to be led, not managed.” Signs around the office include the “Guiding Principles of Leadership” and “10 Commandments of Truly Human Leadership.” LEAN processes are led by the employees involved in the process, not to eliminate waste, but to eliminate frustration. “It’s not about telling, it’s about listening.” As one employee said, even those jaded from previous experiences, through repeated exposure, overcome their cynicism and embrace the politics-free approach to collaboration. Decisions are always about the good of the company. The message is always focused on the employee. Those who take it for granted are the fortunate few whose careers started in this people-focused company.
Another theme that resonated with the group was the idea of, “Freedom to Fail Leadership,” which is based on trust, not fear. When individuals feel free to have a meaningful role, act on their ideas and not fear failure, they are empowered to do exceptional things.
Company culture shapes our day both at work and when we interact with our families at home. Two examples of this concept in the book were recognition and armor. Barry-Wehmiller asks employees to nominate their co-workers for recognition and then rewards them with the use of a company car for a short time. Co-workers were touched, both by reading the kind words written in the nomination, but also by the car, which most immediately drove home to show off to their parents in pride.
When overcoming those jaded by previous experiences, the book discusses as they lose their need to armor up and can express themselves freely to their co-workers and leaders, they also feel like their authentic selves both at work and at home. Many in the group in leadership roles discussed the challenges in traditional cultures to identify when co-workers were in a position where they might need help and how the lack of open communication can be detrimental.
While not everyone is part of a company culture that embraces the employee in such progressive ways, the Midwest WIP group is open to all. Please consider joining future book club discussions or reaching out for mentorship opportunities. As “Everybody Matters” teaches, we are all someone’s child and should treat each other as we would want our children to be treated.