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As part of our series, I was able to do two video interviews with friends of mine and this blog: Karl Wadensten, president of VIBCO, and Paul Akers, president of FastCap.
You can view the interviews, each about 10 minutes, on our KaiNexus blog (or you can read the transcripts). Click on the photos to go to the pages with the videos and transcripts.
Karl Wadensten: Keeping Up The Pace of Continuous Improvement
Mark: Well, it’s such a great environment you have there, I know from visiting and seeing your people shine and showing off what they’re doing to improve things at VIBCO. But in the context of a successful fast-growing company, what are things that keep you up at night as a leader?
Karl: Number one is getting talent on board here, because as you grow you always need more human resources. You can’t work the human element out of this – but you can work a lot of the waste out. Getting human resources.
Number two is really being able to keep up the pace of continuous improvement, because this is an extremely rigorous pace. You’re really working on all the brain power and all the possible thinking that you could do in your brain, and at times it can get exhausting both for factory workers and managers – not even managers, just people that are helping lead teams and get the best that we can out of it. And the innovation: innovating every day gets taxing on you, so I worry about how much of this can we keep up, you know? How can we keep this pace? It’s a rigorous pace, Mark.
Challenges: Getting talent on board and keeping up the pace of continuous improvement
Paul Akers: Embrace Continuous Learning in a Deliberate Fashion
Mark: So how do you describe your role as the president of the company? You’re not the only one with ideas; you’re not the only one fixing things. What do you do as a leader?
Paul: Well, that’s the power of the concept of lean: that everybody’s an innovator, everybody’s coming up with improvements. You teach everybody how to do an experiment and that experiment probably fails a lot of the time, but you learn from that experiment, so we have Edison’s laboratory as we say here – everybody’s tweaking, checking, analyzing, and then they find out it doesn’t work, so they try something else, and then they find out it does work. And then we have this whole base of knowledge from all of our people, and it’s pretty remarkable.
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