Case study 3 - part 3

Case Study Business Performance & The 16 Habits of Lean Leaders

Why leaders should chase foxes and not rabbits! … and
Why leaders should not play Macbeth at management meetings!

Here is the third and final part of this case study. The previous parts can be read in my previous posts.


Quick recap. Conflicts between members of the Top-Team of a business which designed and produced specialist cleaning machines for the automotive industry. Conflicts were leading to underperformance in profitability, lead time and cash-flow.


Habit 7 The Habit of Focusing on Facts & Foxes.


Managers seem to like habit 7 the most, because they can relate to it in every-day problems at work. In a previous post I talked about the frustration and wasted time, energy and resources that go into many management meetings. Using a colloquial term in the form of an acronym, I called it BS management meetings. I will not explicitly write the full term here.

You see what was happening in this particular organisation was exactly this, management meetings by BS. The Top Team meeting between sales, accounting and production was full of non-value adding behaviours. In other words MUDA.  Information was incomplete in the form of;

…… well I checked and I don’t see where the figures come from. Or, I am sure we do it differently, I will check. Or, you said we would deliver on time, but they said we had not delivered the specification on time, or, I don’t know where these costs come from, I’m sure accounting have made a mistake. Or, we could sell more if it was not production delaying orders.

Well, I’m sure you all know how these meetings end up. They end up with the poor CEO making a decision which is not made up of facts but opinions, emotions and the old adage, “he who shouts the loudest gets their way”.

I call this type of Top Team CEO decision making the Macbeth syndrome. (soon to be released will be a series of workshops online for the 16 Habits and we are sure to go through the Macbeth syndrome when it comes to Habit nr 7).

Anyway, as you may recall, Habit 8 (see previous post) was the Habit of knowing the numbers. There the team learnt to work on numbers not opinions. They learnt to use Parteo, PDCA, OPL and in particular, the so devastatingly misunderstood tool called A3. They threw off their shoulders, hearts and minds many causes for the two main categories of problems, namely; lead time and profitability on orders and lack of team work between department heads (sales, production, accounting).

In Habit 7, The Habit of focusing on Facts and Foxes, the team, with the CEO, learnt that no team boss can afford to have an opinion when it comes to making decisions. You say, what, I can’t have an opinion Mark, what are you talking about!. Ok, let me give you an example I learnt from my sensei.

Suppose, you are the leader of a team or an organisation which is the most profitable, sustainable, innovative and also a great place to work in its sector. You make a decision based on what you heard from your disgruntled team, where inuendoes were flying everywhere. You were so frustrated and inpatient, you chose to make a business decision based fundamentally on your “final opinion and decision”, not checking the facts. A few weeks later, your boss calls you up from Japan and asks you the following question, “on what basis did you make this business decision”!.

Think about it. Think about the number of times you may have made decisions based on emotions, frustrations, on he who shouts the loudest get their way!. Yes, we have all been there, we all do it, we all disapprove when we see other managers behave this way. Simple fact is so do you. I’ve seen it in private firms, family firms and in multi-national organisations. We all make non factual business decisions at work.

So Habit 7 was introduced so that the Top Team learnt, together with the CEO, that making decisions based on opinions leads to mediocrity and like a cancer spreads across the organisational like a bad habit practiced by almost everyone. End results, poor management leads to poor performance,.

Habit 7 also teaches us how to:

  • Run S&OP meetings in line with best practices.
  • How to avoid the Macbeth syndrome.
  • What is the FOX, and why you must stay focused on the FOX and not chase other rabbits. This is a hard lesson for many managers to learn, it certainly is for me.
  • Here we also learn a great secret. Its so secret no book, blog, article even talks about it anywhere. I’ve checked. During this habit (Habit 7 the habit of focusing on facts and foxes) we learn what a leader really needs to do and the main goal of the Genchi Genbutsu.
  • We also learn, what is Andon all about. Guess what it might be a line-side visual for the supervisor but actually its so much more, you can topple or build your organisation on it.
  • We learn why we have the London Bridge syndrome and how to close that bridge so we can all cross over to the other side and get along together.

Needless to say, this Top Team learnt many things from Habit 8 and Habit 7. The results were beyond anyone’s imagination. Sales shot up, cash-flow improved, teams were fully engaged. Outside investors stated knocking on the door of the CEO. Remember, the 16 Habits are all about starting with the most challenging place in the entire organisation. From you!.

Perhaps we should call them the “16 Deadly habits of Successful Leaders” !

In the next Case Study, I will talk about how the 16 Habits are necessary for a successful Industry 4.0 transition and implementation.

Build you organisation by allowing your people to focus on structured problem solving.

What Toyota focuses on is “Developing People through Problem Solving”, with a great deal of support mechanisms around the word “support”.

In the case of this business, the support came from the 16 Habits.

I hope this case study has shown how this system works and why it work.

If you would like to know more, please contact me, Mark Forkun on: