All right. Hi, Erin. How are you today?
Well, I'm great. How are you, Kris?
I'm doing well. I'm doing well. I'm curious. Were you ever in the Girl Scouts? Or Are any of your children in the scouts?
I'm so glad you asked. Your timing is perfect. I just enrolled Vivian, my daughter in Girl Scouts, Girl Scouts of America. So we have our first meeting is next week. And I have to tell you, I'm really excited. It seems like it's going to be a much different experience. We we tried scouting with my son and then COVID came along. It just changed everything. So why are you a Girl Scout?
Well, I was when I was really young. But it wasn't something that I stayed with for very long because I was in sports. So I felt like my you know, my parents had to choose when they could physically be able to keep up with as far as my activities. So I really loved Girl Scouts, but I, I loved athletics more. So I know I kind of moved into that area. But I have my cousin's two daughters are very, very active and Girl Scouts, and they absolutely love it. They always have events going on. They come out to the farm frequently to earn badges. And you know, the older one has, her name's Emma, Emma has so many badges now, that are patches, I think is what they receive. And then they put them on their vest. And she had to move some of the ones from her back to the front. But now she's a year older, and she's moved up so she'll get a new best this year. And she'll be after new, you know, different things. So,
yeah, yeah, I am. I'm very excited for Vivian, because my daughter just has an open mind for doing lots of different things. And the exposure that she'll get through scouting, I think is going to be great forever, how long she's in it. So that's what got me excited about it. Whereas it's kind of funny, because my son, who is naturally both athletic and outdoorsy, and we just thought it would be a great fit. He had the unfortunate experience in addition to COVID. His troop was they didn't do the outdoors activities. We were surprised there was a lot of classroom stuff. And he was in kindergarten, he's like I just spent the whole day in a classroom situation. That has changed a lot because Scouting is very popular in my neighborhood. And it's lovely to see how much it helps those younger boys really develop a sense of independence and those outdoor skills. So as an institution, I'm a big fan. It's just it didn't work out for our son.
Yeah. Well, we'll have to circle back and find out how
Vivian's Yeah, yeah, I'll keep you updated. Yeah.
Kris 3:05consulting firm he founded in:
Bill Fournet 4:30
Thank you. It's great to meet you, Kris and Erin.
Yeah, it's great to have you. Thanks so much for joining us. I'm just gonna dive right in. I know that we've got some great things to talk about. I want to hear all of your answers to our questions. And I'm really interested in exploring this conversation. So you know, as you were working with clients in the manufacturing field, and out with different speaking engagements, what leadership topics do you see rising to the top today?
Bill Fournet 5:04
Sure. So for the most part I've there's I'm gonna put them kind of in three categories. The one that I would say has been the most recent, and probably one of the hottest areas of questions and concerns or challenges for leadership teams? Is the AI and robotics aspects? How's it going to affect their business, their site? How do they take advantage of it? But also, how do they how does it potentially have long term implications for that? And for me, the main focus around that one is around ethics. And how do we, you know, is this the Jeff Goldblum quote from Jurassic Park? Just because we can do it? Should we do it? And what are the potential effects it has, for the manufacturer or for the leadership team and for the labor force. The second is very much around the workforce. And really, in the workforce, it's been two areas. One has been most recent, which is the construction and the availability of labor. And so the cost the effects that that has on the business, but the broader one that's I've been seeing for about the last 15 years has been the generational shift. And that can be everything from just the drivers and the expectations of the workforce, all the way through the technologies they want to use or have maybe have not used in the past. And then the last one, which is also has been pretty recent. And it seems like a lot of manufacturers are starting to settle in on this space. And that is around the supply chain and the inflationary impacts over the post pandemic period coming out of that, how do they manage through these disruptions where that could affect their logistics? affect their supply chain? And and how do they address that in a also inflationary economy?
Yeah, you know, it's interesting, those four, I would say, Well, we started our podcast, initially had our discussions with several different people who were willing as our guests to share their experiences, a lot of them were talking about supply chain. So the fourth one that you brought up on your list, that was just so hot and topical. And most recently, in our discussions, we've really been touching on AI, the first one that you brought up. So you know, if people would go back and listen to some of our episodes, here, I was talking in our most recent ones all about AI, because it just keeps coming up every every week.
Bill Fournet 7:24
I think it's happening so much faster than was predicted. And you've heard some of the thought leaders around that that thought we had a 30 year cycle, maybe they really worked through some of these points. And, and it is happening at a rate we've never seen. I mean, it's just incredible to see from a technology, I focus a lot around disruptions and what I call game changers, things that change the way we look, the way we live, where we live the way we work, and AI is easily the fastest game changer disrupter I've seen. Mm hmm. Yes.
Oh, I, Laurie is she we tease her all the time, because she's like, I just can't get my head out of the out of the AI conversation. So just shout out to you, Laurie, sweetie, we miss you. Yo, just piggybacking on that last comment that you made, and also, by the way, navigator of chaos. Wow, I love it. Do you have like a cape? And like, I feel like they're
Bill Fournet 8:23
trying to have like you said earlier with bet with scouting of backpacking, I love. It's very much like, it's just dealing with uncertainty, right, which is, sometimes when you head out on the trail or in the outdoors, you don't know what might happen that afternoon or the next day when you're out there for several days. And it's going back to what are those things that are tried and true that we can keep ourselves aligned on and having a compass to know where we have a deficit where we how do we get to our destination?
That's, that's beautiful. And you know, like you said, the change is happening so rapidly. And, you know, quote of yours, change is constant. Chaos is a choice. That's brilliant. In an industry. This is dynamic. You know, as manufacturing, we've seen leaders have to navigate through tremendous periods of disruption in the chaos and last few years. I'd love to learn more from you about how they can create stability and rhythm inside their teams so that they can transform disruption into innovation and opportunity. And I just love that phrasing.
Bill Fournet 9:29
Thank you. So the personal element on the change is constant and chaos is a choice that came from the speed of change is happening faster than ever before. And when you start to accept that change is constant versus trying to go back to a new normal or a normal whatever that was my my view is it's never normal. So once you kind of accept that and sports teams are excellent at doing this, they go in with the exception that they're going to get surprised. So do a lot of military you And it's and that's where there's a lot of good lessons and stories to be able to see, once you accept that change is happening and is going to continue to happen, then it becomes an attitude choice of do I try to look for where I can find rhythm or stability and create that in a different format than maybe before? Or do I just hope for the best and you know, hair on fire when I get our fire drills as we refer to them, you know, when when stuff happens. And so the way to build some stability into your organization is fundamentally starting with with a cadence or a rhythm. Whenever change happens, pulling people together having a touch point, when, like, for example, when the when the pandemic occurred, usually in those first few weeks, people were meeting almost every day just to touch base with their team to hide, what are you hearing? What are you seeing that touchpoint not knowing what you're going to talk about unnecessarily in that touchpoint. But the cadence of knowing that every day at a certain time we're going to get together, that is starting to bring stability. The other part is, is really stepping back and defining what the outcome of success looks like, versus trying to dictate or direct the actions for success. And that's a hard one for a lot of that's tough. Right, especially generationally, I mean, a lot of Gen Xers especially had the attitude of if you want to get it done, right, do it yourself. And the challenge on that one is, and we've seen, I've seen this a lot with managers and leadership teams, where they've now got so much burden on their shoulders, because they tried to direct it or do it themselves. And what happens is it just keeps piling on and the and then when you add in the pressure of the speed of change, people just start imploding. And the challenge with with fire drills and firefighters that hero based culture is it works great with your high performers in the short term. But it's not scalable. And it's not teaching the organization how to learn. So they can better adapt when change comes at them. And that's the name of the game when change comes you've got to be prepared to adapt in a disciplined way. That means that you don't know all the answers day one, but you know, your team knows how to pursue those answers and work a plan.Erin:
Mm hmm. Wow. Wow, I just want to sit with that for a minute. Listen to it all over again. Because that's so valuable. And you know, what I'm hearing from you and undercurrent a message of courage because I think that's what's so scary about change, obviously. But even it's so enticing about the fire drill approach, because it's like, well, I'll just do it, and I'll bang it out and everything will be fine. It'll be over with and it takes guts to stick stay in that change, you know, mindset. So that's great. Thank you.Bill Fournet:
Does it also is about focusing on judgment. So I would say that for a lot of organizations we got so and I'm I'm a believer of process. So but we got so process focused, we tried to remove the human being almost when I was a consultant in the northeast, early in my career, there used to be a phrase that you would hear it was designed a process so a monkey could do it. And but we've clearly seen over the past 15 to almost 20 years is that people aren't monkeys, they have personalities, they have different drivers, and the world changes. And so one of my beliefs that I've seen that organizations and leadership teams really need to focus on even though it takes more time up front, is they need to be coaching judgment. Because judgment is how we make decisions. And you know this when you have people that you have high confidence in their decision making. If they you feel like they've asked the right questions, and they're getting with the right people, your confidence rises and challenges that if we if we don't coach judgment, we just tell them the answer. Because we know the answer is this don't save time. Let's save this meeting. And I'll just tell you the answer right now. That's not teaching. And you have to build judgment because you can't be at the front line or the point of impact of all this change all the time. And you have to build competence and trust people to be able to take it in a direction. And we saw that I'm a big believer that the military in combat situations leads corporate America by 10 to 15 years because the leadership is having to adjust generationally into ever changing environments. And a lot of what I've found has been going back to what's what occurred back in the early 2000s in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how we had to adjust and also watching what sports teams do with the same thing. And that's where there's a lot of good lessons for for leaders in manufacturing.Erin:
Excellent. Now I'm all excited to dive into the literature on the sports and military because I just believe you that that makes perfect sense. I mean, we're all now in Rapid Fire environment. So what are the skills? We need to do that?Kris:
Yeah, and I really liked what you had to say about rhythm as well, you know, when I think about some of the processes that we've implemented with clients, because we're in the, the transformation space of companies adopting technology, right, and how, as we are first working with the client to adopt the technology, we start a rhythm of weekly meetings, right? So we're weekly talking about the different things that are required to move their products online as an example. But then, you know, once we launch, then we're into what we call hypercare. Period. So that's a significant change period, now, their customers have a new way of doing business, they have a new way of servicing their customers. So now we're speaking with them more frequently. So there comes this rhythm, right, it changes the frequency in the conversation, then the communication change, and that hypercare period, and then things settle down, people get comfortable, they've been trained, everybody understands the new rhythm, and then you start something different. And, you know, so I just kind of thought about that, as you were describing it, and in change management and transformation.Bill Fournet:
Well, and that's, that's a great example and coupling rhythm with that idea of what the clear outcomes are, or the destination of outcome, what I call what does success look like? Are leaders intent? For a lot of projects and software, it used to be, you know, the purpose is to deploy the software, train people, yes, but deploy it. And what I have found is starting to shift that outcome into the outcome is we deploy, but we minimize disruption operationally. So it shifts the conversation with the business and or the users into, where do you think there could be areas of confusion or challenge that we need to address in the training or the or the rollout of that of that software? It because it changes the conversation? How do we get it to where you're not just want to use the software, and use it long term? But we did we minimize the disruption at the time of implementation? Yeah,Kris:
no, I really liked that. Yeah. And I almost think that teaching judgment can fit into that, you know, your comments about teaching judgment. That's great. And it brings inBill Fournet:
accountability, which is another topic, you know, we hear a lot about how do we instill accountability. And when you have those dialogues, like you just said, and through the rhythm of the cadence of those meetings, it doesn't put accountability on just one side, or one person or one part of the organization. It essentially says we're all in this together. So how do we work together to identify and minimize disruptive areas?Kris:
Yeah, I really like that. So, you know, I'm curious, in a sector traditionally dominated by male leaders, diversity of thought can empower innovation. And certainly we are a group of women who likes to talk about diversity of thought. So how can manufacturing companies utilize disruptive moments to foster an inclusive environment that values and promotes the contributions of women leaders are?Bill Fournet:
So my company as an example, is actually 70? Over 70, almost 75%. Female. And it wasn't something I set out and was intentional in doing necessarily, at first, I will, what I found was, it comes down to two a couple of things. One is the openness to engage, where you may check your ego, or sort of the baggage at the door. Meaning that in a lot of organizations, and this is a real interesting difference between the sports military side of the house, and the most corporate environments, in the sports in the military, they're very good at watching game film is what I refer to it as they can watch the film after the game, they talk about how do we improve, you know, what do we do differently? Without getting their egos so caught up into Oh, my gosh, you're you're criticizing me personally. Because we get what they do is they accept that we all make mistakes at times. And the question is, what do we learn from them. And we don't do that. Well, in corporate, we get it the whole way. You're calling my baby ugly kind of thing. And we get very defensive, and then we start attacking each other. And we don't get to the point of actually solving many times the problem in an open way. And so on the inclusive aspect, especially with with with women leaders, is you got to start first with questions. And a lot of teams right now are moving so fast and feel like they're reacting to change. They're drawing conclusions instead of asking questions. And one things I have found, especially with women leaders, I was actually very fortunate early on in my career, I was at MTV, VH1 and Nickelodeon. Nickelodeon was almost 100% Female management. And what I found was, it was a different feel or vibe in the culture. And part of it was because it was much more about asking questions. And so the way to increase your inclusivity, whether it's with women leaders, whether it's in diversity, whether it's in diversity of ideas, is you frame questions. As a leader, you say, This is what I want to get the answer to, or what we want to achieve. And you include people with their rank or title somewhat at the door, left at the door so that you can have an open dialogue. And then as a leader, you have to make a decision at times of which options you may want to take. But But I think the bringing in more people into the conversation early on, asking questions, and listening, to try to understand versus to respond, are great ways of dealing with this.Kris:
Okay. Yeah, I'm curious. Because the asking questions piece would feel like in corporate environments, and I, you know, I know this to be true that leaders will ask questions, how do you get all sides to speak up? Maybe the, you know, because I like the idea of questions, and certainly have seen that. But I, I have found in certain scenarios that, you know, maybe the woman responds and is not fully heard or something doesn't happen. And then the male repeats it. And we are moving on with this heard. Yes, yeah. Yeah, I'm sure you've heard of that, as well.Bill Fournet:
I've seen it. I've heard it and seen it. You're exactly. I think that part of that is shifting release generationally. That's that's one aspect. I think that you know, there's a lot of aspects that go on on the gender side of this one around. For a lot of women leaders, they will start to undercut in their own mind, at times, even though they may be overqualified or easily qualified, they'll start telling them the reasons of why they may not believe or should say something, while a lot of male leaders may get out there way ahead and start committing to things, they have no idea what they're committing to. I think as a leader, generationally, we've been seeing a much more greater openness to those dialogues. I think that the challenge in those environments as a female leader, is to not just to come to what is the current leadership, personality at times, but to start to also pull it into directions that that can get into much more of an inclusive culture. So what I've seen and at times is that you may have a woman leader who comes in who feels like she has to take on some of the male persona or attitude to be able to almost go combative at times, if that's what the that's what the personality the leadership team is. The challenge is, is to continue to open and broaden that, from that conversation. To your point about how do you get more people included in the conversations, the one of the fundamental challenges is trust. And I go into so many organizations that people are essentially papering up or not responding, because there's a fear of either not being heard, or there's a fear of retribution, if you say something that may not be perceived by somebody else in the team, as positive or, you know, or critic critical of them. And I have gone into a lot of manufacturers where trust is absolutely existing, especially between front of the house in the back of the house as far as the manufacturing floor. And the interesting thing about trust is that if you have a leadership team who is truly committed to wanting to change that trust can change can flip almost overnight, a culture I had, I had a manufacturer years ago that we worked with that in three months, because the leadership through team was truly committed. In three months, it was a completely different environment. And it's because there were a lot of conclusions or misunderstandings between both sides, if you will, say the leadership or the front of the house and the manufacturing floor, or the back of the house, that they were assuming things about each other. And once they got their dialogues about what they really believed and agreed upon, especially around the culture, it was shocking. And it's because they they actually agreed on 90 plus percent of things. And once that happened, and there was more questions coming from leadership and engagement. You saw the culture change almost overnight. Yeah. So that to me is a hard one. And it really is difficult when in the organization because what I've been seeing a lot of his manufacturers that are not breeding or growing or cultivating those inclusive open dialogue environments, they are ripe for disruption in the competitive markets.Kris:
Yeah. Great point. All right. Thank you for kind of extending on that that that question. And I love the comments about trust. I think that is so important. I know in the past I've read a book, I think it's called The Speed of Trust. I can check myself on that one if maybe you've heard of it or read it as well. Yeah. Stephen Covey, Stephen Covey? Yes. And it, it really describes in the book, some of the behaviors that take place in an organization when there is no trust. And I think that is such a valuable place. I think it's such a valuable read in understanding the type of company that you're working for. And if you have trust among the team members, and and, you know, and if not, it's something that it's a topic that should be brought up to leadership and discussed thoroughly for sureBill Fournet:
it is, and I'll give you a quick little question that leadership teams could ask that will help them to start thinking about a little differently. And that is, what do they, what do they whoever they may be, it could be your employees could be your customers, what do they say about you when you're not in the room? And how well do you know the answer? And if you know the answer, you may not like the answer. But if I know it, at least I can do something about it. Right? I can assume a lot of what they think or say. But that lack of understanding, we assume a lot about people's behavior and intent. We know what our intent is, when we say something or do something individually. We're very poor, as human beings in general have trouble understanding what other people's intent is. And so that is a challenge when you get back to inclusivity. About what was your motivator or driver on that? Asking that question of what do they say about us when we're not in the room, start to shift shape that dialogue a little differently? Because it puts us now in a curiosity and learning mindset?Kris:
Yeah, great. Well, great.Erin:
That's really, that's an impactful, this has been an amazing conversation. And, you know, it's kind of funny, because the, the, we always close our podcast episodes with a segment called, What have you learned? And I feel like well, everything now just in this last conversation, so some, thank you for that. And this has been so rich and engaging. I'd love to do it for days, but both we and our listeners probably need to to get to the next thing. So with that in mind, I'm gonna I'm gonna kick off this special segment now go right to Chris. Chris, what's something you just learned? Well,Kris:
you know, it's interesting. We just had a long holiday weekend here, and we were making guacamole with avocados. And I love avocados. Do you guys love avocados?Bill Fournet:
Same way, love. Welcome. Oh, I love avocados. Yes.Kris:
I mean, love, love, love. But I was thinking how interesting it is that when I was a child, I had no idea what a avocado was. And I never had guacamole. And I'm a Gen X er, so you were kind of describing some of our Gen X behaviors a little bit earlier. But so I went and I looked up, you know, what was the consumption in the 1980s as compared today to today of avocados? Because it's just kind of this thing that's in my lifetime. It's really been a shift, right? Almost transformation. I don't know if it's the same. I would ask you guys that too. Did you eat them when you were younger?Erin:
Yes. But I'm from the Borderlands. Okay, and so I loved Wakka moly, and it just a straight up avocado could not go near one.Bill Fournet:
I was thinking that they probably saw it saw or sold more avocado paint color than I've ever seen. Because back in that period of time, that's probably associated with it was like countertops.Kris:
Yeah, not That's funny. Yeah, and I do remember a lot of countertops be that color. But so interesting. fact here is that from the site's STATISTICA. So this is coming from them in 1985. US consumed 436 million pounds of avocados. Okay, now today, it's over 3 billion pounds of avocados. So if you're a producer, and California produces them predominantly here in the US, but Mexico is the largest producer, they're native to Mexico and Central America. So that's really where they come from. But just that's what I'm wondering. How about you? Are we good forErin:
you? Yeah. Yes, that healthy fat line? Well, this is a bit of a departure, but it kind of comes back around to one of our opening conversations. And again, Laurie, it's not really AI, but it's technology. I just learned about apparently there's some companies in China that have the US EEG and something in Cephalus something it's like it monitors your brainwaves while you work to see how productive and fatigued you are throughout the day. And there, you know, this is something that is going to be imported in the US and one of the marketplaces is parents so that they can track their children's cerebral activities to help them do better with their homework. You can guess lists, dear listener, if you're familiar with Arn, you know how I'm feeling about this situation.Bill Fournet:
That's really interesting. Well, so interesting, and somewhat scary sidebar to that is that if you saw a few years back, but Harvard, sorry, MIT, developed the device that reaches reads your brainwaves and translated it into words. So you could search the internet, using just your thoughts. And there was a 60 minutes episode that they actually covered some of that evolving technique, which is technology, which is interesting, but could also be extremely troubling in a lot of ways. Oh, yeah.Erin:
You know, it's, like a sci fi episode of talking about this stuff.Kris:
Bill, we're gonna bring you on for that. Okay.Bill Fournet:
That's great. No, I've enjoyed it. So my mind recent one is kind of a odd one, or, as a historian and love of military history, as you can tell is, I'm always fascinated by learning either a surprise or something I didn't know in history that was really remarkable. And a book I read recently, was dealing with the 1939 to 1940 growth of the American army in preparation of World War Two. And when I did not know was that there was a peacetime draft in 1940. And it was volunteer was a facility it was, we were in peacetime the people like the Hank Greenberg, who was the Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player of the Year that year, was drafted. Jimmy Stewart, the actor who was when eventually the Army Air Corps was drafted. And all of them were like, Hey, we're gonna do this. I mean, we're not going to ask somebody else to be drafted in this space. And it's a fascinating book, because it's the evolution of leaders like George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, who were very high learners, Patton was the same way, George Patton, and how they use the Civilian Conservation Corps coming out of the 1930s to prepare the American army, which was the 17th largest army in the world at the time, to be prepared for World War Two. And it's just fascinating of the insight, the the, the awareness that these leaders had, and also their ability to learn quickly, and how to take what they had was just a low budget, and non military and leverage other means to get us prepared for it. So it's just that I think it for leadership, it's really fascinating of watching disruption coming and Bing saying I don't have some of the means to be prepared. But I'm gonna make the best of the situation I've got and ultimately be very successful.Erin:
Awesome. Wow. Great, great little, a little but very, very big piece of history that you shared there. I also I always really like those stories or was like, it's seems like a you know, a minor aside, like you said, sidebar, and then it turns out to greatly influence the future. That's cool. Thank you.Kris:
Yeah. Very cool. Well, Bill, thank you so much for being here and being a guest. If listeners would like to reach out to you after listening to this, how could they do that?Bill Fournet:
Sure. So first of all, I want to say thank you all for inviting me, this has been great. You can reach out to me first on LinkedIn, under Bill Fournet. F o u r n e t. I also have my website, billfournet.com. So bi l l fo u r ne t.com. And there I've got some things like I have a free newsletter. I've also got downloads around some techniques that you can apply is part of my area called Lead For Tomorrow, which is how do we lead through times of uncertainty, high speed of change and disruption. And so it's got a lot of different tools from burnout to leading of teams and communication devices that you can apply in your organization.Kris:
Awesome, everybody in chiastic. Yeah. Thank you.Erin:
Thank you. All right.Kris:
Well, that's a wrap. We look forward to speaking with everybody again soon. Bye, everyone.