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Review – Reset – Renew: the 3 R’s of the Strategy Cascade Cycle
April 9, 2024
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Get to Know our Consultants – David Hall

David Hall has 20+ years of experience working in food and beverage manufacturing in New Zealand. He worked for Montana Wines and was the Continuous Improvement Manager for Australia and New Zealand at Heinz. When David was first exposed to ‘Lean’ concepts, it just clicked for him, “It lines up very well with the way my mind works.” This month, we delve into what he means when he says, “Everything is a process”, get insight into how he works, and explore his career journey. You might be surprised to learn what he did before he became a Lean consultant.


Everything is a Process

Everything that a business does has a beginning, inputs and an output, various things that happen along the way, and an end. Whether it’s making beans, approving timesheets, employing somebody, or developing a marketing strategy: everything is a process. He says, “If you can’t define your processes, you don’t know what you’re doing.”


Mapping your Processes

He states that often he’ll go into a workplace and the people will say “We want to map out our processes and make it better”, and he’ll ask, “How does it work?” Often, they don’t know. David explains that many organisations grow quickly and organically, resulting in a physical process that’s not very well planned out or doesn’t flow. Every time an organisation changes something or expands, the processes don’t get the chance to catch up. Frequently, he sees organisations with processes that are redundant or full of repetitions; that rely heavily on checklists at the end because what’s happening upstream isn’t working.


Dealing with the Root Cause

He is currently working with Cedenco Foods who have embraced Lean with some fantastic results. They started the Lean Programme a few years ago. Back in those days, when a problem would arise, they would fix the issue but would often overlook to search for the root cause. He has been working with them on how to dig deeper. For example, that motor has stopped working, and you’ve put a new fuse in, but it is going to blow again. What is happening further down the track that is causing the fuse to blow?

Like many manufacturing businesses, they want to keep the line running at all costs. But David insists it’s important to figure out what caused the fuse to blow in the first place, to establish the cause of the issue to prevent it from happening again. Time is often a factor for people. They believe they don’t have time to step away and figure out the root cause. So, he suggests a simple tool, like the ‘5 Whys’, can help an organisation identify why an issue is happening. “Just ask ‘why’ five times. This strategy works well for staff on the ground. They can do it while standing next to a machine, while the issue is happening, and solve the problem themselves.”


Concepts that Click

You’ll be surprised to learn that David was a cameraman for the BBC before he transitioned into manufacturing. But he says, “That’s what makes me a good observer.” But long hours in the film industry didn’t gel well with family life. When he moved to New Zealand, he went back to school, got a qualification in winemaking, and started his career as a cellar hand at Montana Wines. It was here he got a taste of structured Lean implementation. “I’d never heard of Lean and didn’t know what it was. This guy in a nice shirt turned up and started talking to us about bottlenecks, processes, metrics, waste, and KPIs. For me, it just made sense.”

David has an exceptional ability to understand processes. “I like to look at stuff and see how things work. I often stand in a café and examine what is happening behind the counter. I think that doesn’t work, or maybe that could be moved to make things easier. I’m a super logical person. If something doesn’t make sense, I’ll call it out. Often people have been doing a job for so long, and they’re so in there amongst the weeds, they can’t see how things could be improved.”


Black Belt in Six Sigma

He has a Black Belt in Six Sigma, and yes, that is a real qualification. Being a Black Belt in Six Sigma is all about tackling problems in a structured way, reducing variations, and maths. “When you’re a Black Belt you’re talking about microscopic variations and being super analytical,” but when it comes to process improvement tools, he recommends the ones anyone can do. “For example, if you were to map out a process you wouldn’t get straight into a computer programme, you would get out the Post-it notes. If you were going to solve a problem, you don’t leap straight to statistical analysis, you might do a fishbone diagram or just ask ‘Why?’”

David says simple is good, and he does simple well!