Friday, April 04, 2008

Walk the Talk

At a recent community business luncheon, a local executive told us about their training program, showing video of manufacturing simulations, showing the number of hours they give each new employee, describing the industry attention the program had attracted.

That afternoon, our firm interviewed a candidate for an open manufacturing position. On his application, the candidate indicated he had worked at the firm with the exemplary training program. Having just heard about it, I asked him to describe his training.

“What training?” he asked. “I was pretty much just put on the line, watching another guy and trying to figure it out.”

We explored this further; he had received no training at all.

Do we walk the talk?

My oldest son is currently “out-processing” from the US Army, having completed two deployments to Iraq. I phoned him this week on his base and heard a lot of voices in the background. “Yeah, I’m just waiting in line for a medical review,” he told me laconically. “I’ve been in line about three hours. I brought a book.” We chuckled about this and talked of his final days in the Army.

“Oh, Dad, I saw something you’d like here,” he told me as I started to let him go. “On a bulletin board here in this hallway is a poster about a Lean Six Sigma project. I figured you were the only person who might even understand it.” I asked him if it had anything to do with shortening the medical wait time. He laughed, saying it looked just like a poster.

Do we walk the talk?

I had a business lunch on Thursday at a local restaurant. The businessman next to me requested a “sweet potato,” placing his order perhaps absent-mindedly in the middle of an engaging conversation. The server delivered the sweet potato with the rest of the food.

“I didn’t ask for a sweet potato, I wanted a baked potato,” he told the server, though he offered to eat the sweet potato. Before anyone could say anything, the server apologized, said he’d go get a baked potato and, whoosh, away went the sweet potato. About two minutes later, a baked potato appeared. By my ears, the server heard right the first time; yet he didn’t argue and served the customer quickly and courteously.

Do we walk the talk?

When our talk goes one way and our walk goes the other, we become a headless oddity. When our talk moves with our walk, credibility rises.

The waiter had it, in spades.

I wonder how others view me.

I’ll try to keep my head.


Chet Frame said...

Great post, Joe.

Glad your son will be home soon, safe.

Brian Buck said...

Awesome post and reminder! Those in early Lean implementations have a lot of eyes on us to see if we walk our talk!

The cartoon is a great visual as well!