3 Things I’ve Learned in 2014

By Ron Pereira Updated on December 9th, 2014

iStock_000025247066LargeThis article was written by Ron Pereira

I’m not sure about you… but 2014 has come and gone faster than any year I can remember!

My wife and I welcomed another child to our family towards the end of 2013 which has definitely kept us on our toes!

Gemba Academy has also had an extremely busy year! We’ve added 5 amazing people to our team and continued to crank out new content.

In fact, over the last 12 months, we’ve added 204 new videos to our Gemba Live! and School of Lean. That’s a bunch of content!

We also launched a new podcast that has continued to grow month over month. I’ve really enjoyed connecting and talking to so many incredibly talented lean thinkers.

But, most importantly, 2014 has really helped me to grow as a husband, father, lean thinker, and business owner.

What Problem Are You Trying to Solve?

Without a doubt, the most popular question we get at Gemba Academy centers around where to start. With more than 650 videos available it can be a bit intimidating for our new customers.

So, in most cases, we simply ask the customer the following question: What problem are you trying to solve?

This is normally met with silence since of most of us don’t think to ask this question often enough.

After some thought and discussion our customer is normally able to identify several problems they’re battling which then allows us to help them get started with the appropriate course or topic.

But, here’s the craziest thing. While we’re constantly challenging our customers to answer this question we’ve been forced to ask/answer this question ourselves!

Anytime we look to make an improvement or focus our attention to something new and exciting… we do our very best to ask, “What problem are we trying to solve?”

Heck, just yesterday, I was talking with Steve Kane, our Director of Sales & Marketing, about one aspect of the new Learning Management System we’re rolling out in 2015… and as we were attempting to bring clarity to one aspect of the project Steve refocused the conversation by asking a question… you guessed it… what problem are we trying to solve?

So, I’d strongly encourage you to keep this simple, yet extremely powerful, question at the tip of your tongue as you prepare to launch into 2015.

Respect for Humanity

Next, I’m almost ashamed to say this, but it’s taken me a LONG time to come to the realization that while the tools of continuous improvement (e.g. 5S, Value Stream Mapping, etc.) are most definitely important… they pale in comparison to the importance of respecting humanity.

You see, most of us (especially us men) fail to realize how powerful our words and actions can be.

We also fail to realize how terrible leaders of people – who manage by fear and intimidation – are literally killing their employees since their bad management actions create an almost non stop release of the deadly brain chemical cortisol.

And, in case you don’t know, cortisol is an oxytocin inhibitor, meaning too much of it can make people physically sick and, in some tragic cases, can even lead to death.

So, with all this said, for the last few months we’ve been busy working on a new course we’re calling “Creating a Culture of Kaizen.”

Put simply, this course is like nothing we’ve ever covered.

While we don’t dismiss the tools and concepts of continuous improvement since, like I said, they are very important… we focus nearly all of our attention on topics related to respecting humanity.

We also talk about how 5 brain chemicals basically control every emotion – both good and bad – we humans experience.

Add in other topics such as how creating strong keystone habits, and the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, and you have a course on how we believe authentic cultures of kaizen can be created.

The Power of Why

Lastly, early in the 2014 I came across Simon Sinek’s famous Ted Talk video where he talked about the importance of understanding your why… or your purpose… or your cause.

This video changed the way I looked at all aspects of my life.

It changed my personal life since I was able to really reflect on the eternal goals I have for my family and myself.

But it also changed how I approach my work at Gemba Academy.

Yes, Gemba Academy is what feeds my family. It’s my job. It also helps our other team members support their families.

So, obviously, we need to make money and turn a profit… but our “why” is so much more than making money.

I won’t get into the specifics of our exact “why” since that could be, and just may be, a topic for another article altogether.

But, what I can say is our purpose, our cause, our why goes far beyond making money.  I can also say discovering this “why” took a lot of time and reflection.  It wasn’t something we were able to whip up on a 20 minute Skype call.

What About You?

So, with this all said, I’d be interested to hear what you’ve learned in 2014. Have you gained new knowledge or insights others might benefit from?

And what about your personal and professional situation…. do you know “why” you do what you do? What’s your purpose? What’s your cause?

If you don’t, perhaps this is an excellent time to explore this on your own, with your family, and with your colleagues as you prepare to launch into 2015.

Finally, thank you so much for all your active support this past year.  Words cannot describe the deep appreciation I feel for each and every one of you.

So, thank you and Godspeed!

  1. Dale Savage

    December 20, 2014 - 1:19 pm

    Thank you for this post. It is a good reminder for us to take inventory of this past year and then make a plan for 2015. I agree that the tools of Lean are very important, but I do think that the respect for people pillar is as important. I think this is why many Lean initiatives fail. Unless we develop our people to be continuous improvement, critical thinkers and teach them how to use the tools effectively, sustainability is always going to be difficult to achieve. THEY have to understand where the Lean tools can be applied to improve their jobs and this can only come when we realize that THEY are the experts and our jobs as leaders is only to give them what they need to be successful in their daily work.

    Thanks again for sharing in 2014 and may you have a blessed 2015.

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