All posts by Rhett Simm

An Interview with Think Perform Facilitator – Kevin Selwood

Kevin’s Background

I have been a facilitator with Think Perform for over 4 years, and worked with Lean principles throughout my working career in the automotive components industry with ongoing exposure to the Toyota Production System.  My first exposure to facilitation was with Futuris Automotive as the company trained all their staff to a Certificate III in Competitive Systems and Practices, although much of my working days would be spent mentoring in the workplace.

With Think Perform I have facilitated training at companies such as Iplex, Rocla, Ferrocut, Golden North Ice Cream, Swan Hill Engineering, Alspec, Seeley, Fletchers New Zealand and also mining hospitality sites at Port Hedland and Mildura.

What would be the one thing that you hope participants take away from their Think Perform course?

For me, it is the realisation that they have the power to implement change, it doesn’t need to be big change, they just need to think about their daily work and identify “What bothers me?  What bugs me?  What can I do to make my job easier while improving efficiency and quality?”  Some of the biggest impacts have been the smallest changes because of the impact it has on the individual in reducing their frustration and improving their morale.

Simple, well planned changes that have a positive impact on the employees will have a positive flow on effect on their customers, be them internal or external, leading to improved customer satisfaction and the building of an ongoing rewarding relationship.

What are common problems that participants face when learning or applying Lean concepts and techniques? Do you have any advice to overcome this?

The common problems I see are related to change. Participants are sometimes not willing to share their ideas as they feel they may not be listened to, or even worse, negatively treated by fellow employees. This may be from previous experiences when their ideas were not supported by their management team so they feel their ideas are not valued or appreciated.

The advice I give them to overcome this is:

  • Firstly the management team is investing in the participants by Think Perform being on site, it’s just not the cost of the program, but also the time the participants are away from their workstations, the management team want to see improvements to justify their investment.
  • When they generate an idea for change, they need to word it positively by being “Above the Line” and not just to come up with an idea, but also to generate what the improvements will be, they could relate to productivity, efficiency, reducing waste, safety and employee well being.
  • The final piece of advice would be if they are apprehensive, then we can get together and I can champion the discussion with the management team for, or with them.

What is your favourite Lean/Continuous Improvement tool/technique/concept?

I have always liked 5S because it is a key concept in so many other Lean and Continuous Improvement Tools.  If you are problem solving you need to have your information organised, usually we 5S the information into an A3 or even collecting data on a chart or graph is an example of 5S with data.

Likewise visual management is linked to 5S, just a simple shadow board where tools are stored and returned to, is a great example of visual management and 5S.  My participants have shared many experiences of how they have implemented 5S not only in their workplace but also in their home, just to make things easier.

Everyone will have examples of 5S in their own home ranging from their cutlery drawers, wine racks, perhaps even your sock draw.

What is the best/most unique/most interesting way that you’ve seen clients apply lean/CI tools and techniques?

One of the best and most effective tools/techniques used was at a site which produced plastic injection moulded parts, and one of their processes was to pack boxes from a bulk container, e.g. boxes of 12 from a container of 200 parts.

The issue stemmed from safety signage which stated that hearing protection must be worn in the area, so all employees would stop and put their earplugs in whenever they entered the area even if the machine was idle and not working.

The site then conducted noise assessment testing around the area and redefined the area with a border of a blue and white line.  The signage was then update to read “Hearing protection must be worm when past blue and white lines when machine is operating”.

The solution reduced the needless use of earplugs, resulting in a cost saving to the consumables, and also proved to be more efficient for the forklift drivers, with an estimated half an hour savings per shift per day, while also reducing frustration and increasing morale.

Any last tips/advice for readers?

Make the most of your opportunities to improve, be vocal at your Toolbox meetings, but remember always be “Above the Line” don’t let yourself be the person that always complains, be the one who has ideas, solutions and reasons to improve.  Concentrate on the basics, lots of small improvements implemented over a span of one year add up to a huge improvement at the end of that year, help make your workplace one that values their employees as they strive for Continuous Improvement.

An Interview with Think Perform Course Participant Steven Allender

  1. How many and which of your staff went through a Think Perform program?

    87 people have enrolled in the course, the people were from all areas of our business. Sales, Finance, Customer Service, Scheduling and all Operational roles.

  2. What were the details of the program?

    It is a 15 month program and is being run from the region’s main production and distribution plant at Lyndhurst. The program is a business wide improvement program named Project Advantage.

  3. What made you decide to engage Think Perform?

    Think Perform program leader Darrel North was the facilitator of the Horizon program at our Western Port plant, I was lucky enough to be given a tour of the plant whilst that was being rolled out and had the opportunity to extend an invitation for Darrel to visit our site at Lyndhurst. His knowledge of operational excellence is exciting and contagious, that combined with having knowledge of our business made the decision to engage Think Perform really easy.

  4. What challenges did you/your people face when learning/applying Think Perform teachings?

    The main challenge is managing the change of behavior of myself and my leadership. The program clearly and succinctly delivers the tools to help us make improvements in our plant, but this just can’t be a fad/program, this has to be a way of life moving forward.

  5. What were the highlights/best bits of the program?

    Biggest highlight: total site engagement in the program, this has been enlightening for all areas of the business as we have worked through our process maps and have been given an appreciation of what other departments do to satisfy our business needs and customers’ requirements. This extended not only from sales to operations but operations to sales.

  6. What were the results of the program?

    The program has helped the site break down barriers across all departments within our business. One of the main objectives was to help us change our internal culture and we are slowly improving in this area, an example of this is CI Wednesday’s – on Wednesdays all shifts have agreed to stay back for 10minutes for a combined CI discussion with the incoming shift which is breaking down shift on shift barriers.

  7. Would you recommend Think Perform to other companies?


An Interview With Think Perform Facilitator Darrel North

  1. Darrel’s Background:

Darrel North, facilitator with Think Perform, has been a student of lean across many varied applications for over 15 years, facilitating both internal and external lean transformations and continuous improvement programs for retail, local and offshore manufacturing and various service based industries. Key program initiatives have focused on Product Speed to Market, Leadtime reduction and capacity increases for companies such as Pacific Brands – Hole proof, Bonds, Jockey, Sleepmaker, Sheridan, BlueScope Steel, Lysaghts Building Components, Telstra.

Tertiary qualified in both Learning & OD, as well as Lean Manufacturing, some of Darrel’s key projects and inititives include:

  • BlueScope Steel Westernport Transformation partner lead, designed and developed lean leadership programs for 650 participants resulting in ongoing annual savings of $15m
  • Led National Operational Excellence (Lean) strategy development and deployment for Pacific Brands
  • Designed, created and led major “lean office” based change management initiative across Pacific Brands for New Product Development reducing time to market by between 30 – 60% and reducing cost to serve
  • Integrated Lean Operational Excellence thinking into front end design, development and sales business processes across multiple functions for Pacific Brands Underwear Group.
  1. What would be the one thing that you hope participants take away from their Think Perform course?

One of the biggest lean misconceptions is what lean actually is, with a lot of people having had some exposure to lean tools, they think that lean is all about tools and in particular 5S. Nothing could be further from the truth, lean is all about problem solving, and applying lean tools to solve particular problems such as elimination of waste in all its forms.

5s is a prime example where people think it is about housekeeping, shadow boards and cleaning up – when what you want your 5s to focus on is elimination of motion waste – housekeeping and everything else is a byproduct of 5s – not its main objective!

Lean is about optimization of your value chain by maximizing value added activity to your customers, optimizing essential non value add support services and focusing on eliminating waste. This is done by applying lean tools and principles to do 4 key things; create uninterrupted product and information flow, standardizing processes and procedures, problem solving when there is a gap against your standards and visual management to sustain your lean system.

Parallel to this, you need to work on the organisation culture focusing on the 2 key tenets of lean – Continuous Improvement and Respect for People, within these are 3 core elements that everyone in the organisation needs to bring to the table themselves in order for a successful lean implementation to occur and be sustained:

  • Courage – ability to admit and face challenges and problems
  • Humility – understanding that you don’t have all the knowledge and answers, but can solve problems together
  • Kaizen – the deeper meaning of this is personal painful sacrifice, which entails looking at how you might need to change both within yourself and with what you do
  1. What are common problems that participants face when learning or applying Lean concepts and techniques? Do you have any advice to overcome this?

Apart from the obvious time and resources, which can be overcome by planning and not trying to work on a hundred projects at once, the biggest threat to any lean implementation is the full management support – everyone from the CEO down needs to be involved, know and understand how lean works and what their role is in a Lean organisation as distinct from a traditional organisation. Lean is a  mind shift change not something that you just delegate to your operations or warehouse manager. Lean and its key cultural principles were designed to optimize the whole of the organisation not just its individual parts.

  1. What is your favourite Lean/Continuous Improvement tool/technique/concept. Why is it your favourite?

I think a good visual management system is the key to ongoing sustainability of a lean implementation. Visual management is designed to do a couple of key things;

  1. Status at a glance: as close as possible to real time information of the operations (both service or production operations) focusing on gaps allowing for quick and timely intervention as required.
  2. Lean management system – focuses the organisation on its gaps and implements problem solving to address the issues at root cause, transparency and accountability.

It identifies and makes problems visible, provides a structure for team leaders to follow to maximize their impact (standard work) and at a shop floor level engages the shop floor in problem solving – this is the true heart of a lean organisation, transparency of problems being worked on by those who best know the processes.

What is the best/most unique/most interesting way that you’ve seen clients apply lean/CI tools and techniques?

To support changing layouts and moving both machines and operations around to create flow, some of the teams I have worked with have built scale models of their plant or office, and engaged their workforce in building them. This allows for a more visual discussion around proposed changes as part of the PDCA process.

  1. Any last tips/advice for readers of this interview?

Focus on solving problems using lean tools, not just implementing tools, and think about how you will support the cultural change required once you start engaging with your workforce. Take a long term strategic approach to your organizational lean transformation, allow for mistakes to be made in the implementation –but listen and learn from them. Find your own “true north” and stay the course!

Build a Strong Foundation for Success

As you develop your skills as a Lean Leader, you are building the foundation for success.  Success is your career and increased success in the areas you influence.

When you lead the implementation of Lead practices and principles, you create a positive influence in the following three areas:

  1. Your own team members
  2. The work climate
  3. The overall organisation

Your influence in the organisation:  Regardless of the size of your organisation, filling your position of leadership, calls for willingness to identify with your organisation’s purpose and values to support it with your attitudes and your actions, and to facilitate the positive changes needed to the organisation’s ongoing continuous improvement and success.

Regardless of the type of your organisation – whether it is a provider of services, a distributor of goods, or a manufacturer, you are expected first of all to get the best possible results through your people.  Given defined human and financial resources, you must reach certain productivity goals.  As well as inspiring and upskilling your people, you much constantly look to eliminate waste (non-value added activity or cost) through implementing Lean systems, practices and tools.

You are effective as a team leader only when you continue to improve the productivity and reduce the costs of producing your product or services.

Although your personality, characteristics and skills are important, your value to the organisation can be measured only how effectively you are fulfilling its mission and achieving cost-effective results.

Your influence on your own team members:  As a leader you must understand and embrace the needs and wants of the members of your work group.  If you concentrate exclusively on your own needs and goals, neglecting those of your team member, a deep rift in team relationships could develop.  If you’re achievement orientated, you may be tempted to boost your own self-esteem and even downplay the contributions to continuous improvement initiatives and projects made by other team members.  When other team members feel that their efforts have been ignored, or that their value is not appreciated, they can become disengaged.  Consequently, they feel less responsibility for being productive or contributing to further improvement activities and changes.   Avoid this destructive pattern at all costs.  When you and your team members enjoy the positive results of shared responsibility and recognition, you team will thrive and you will become an exceptional Lean Leader.  Remember, people go where they are wanted, but only stay where they are appreciated.

Your influence on the work climate:  When you adopt a no-limitations belief in each persons’ worth and potential, you begin coaching each team member with an enthusiasm that says “You can do it!”  Your confidence in them gives them maximum opportunity to grow, to meet their own needs and to contribute to the continuous improvement and success of your department or work group.  When you believe in the ability of people to identify positive changes and perform productively, your expectations become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

People tend to live up to what’s expected of them by others, especially by those they consider authority figures.  When you demonstrate that you believe your team members can succeed, they are willing to take more growth risks and embrace change.  A no-limitations belief in people also makes it easier for you to delegate various responsibilities to them.  When you demonstrate your confidence in their ability to perform, they will accept the challenge and work harder to meet your expectations and provide them with the required training and support.

Embracing Change for Improvement

As a decision maker committed to reducing waste through leading continuous improvement thinking and practices in your organisation, you will be embracing change on a daily basis.

Change means risk to many people and there are several pitfalls and challenges that go hand in hand with change.  However, you can avoid these if you are willing to risk disturbing your own comfort levels when choosing to change.

Listed below are a few challenges that you should consider when making a changes for continuous improvement:

It will become necessary to defend yourself against traditional ways of thinking.  “We’ve always done it that way”.  You may have to do without approval from fellow workers for a time.  You may also encounter resistance, especially if you are young or new at the job.  Not only do some people instinctively resist chance, they may tell you that they are unable to learn a new procedure or change an old habit.  When you believe in your decision to change something, simply reinforce the need to change and the benefits of the change.  Remain calm and unemotional, but determined.  Be confident and lead by example.

People will be more likely to accept change when they see you embracing it with enthusiasm.  When they see you are thriving in a change environment, they will be more willing to take risks associated with a given change.  Let your team members know that change is inevitable.  Reassure them that both you and your organisation are committed to positive and proactive change for improvement.

Sometimes when seeing the extent of the changes required, it can seem completely overwhelming.  Often the overall change cannot be made in one easy step.  Usually multiple stages of change happen concurrently or in gradual steps and it is easy to forget that in life we rarely make the entire change in one attempt.  One of the best ways forward is to break larger continuous improvement projects down into smaller projects or action steps that can be embraced one at a time.  As a guiding rule – “For most people it is easier to embrace change when that change is gradual.”

Don’t be afraid to try new ideas or processes.  However, if you fail, fail in a correct way.  In many productive environments, people don’t understand the value of trying and failing.  This is unfortunate because failure, when done properly can be a good thing.  The correct way to fail means approaching change correctly, doing it quickly, at a low cost and never the same way twice.  You don’t want to have too much money or time hinging on any one change initiative.  If you do, then failure can be harmful, taking time and money away from other opportunities.  Testing your process on smaller scale projects allows for the risks to be lessened and the flow on effect to other areas to be reduced.  Don’t forget to learn from your failures so that you don’t repeat them in the future.

Change IS necessary and it’s NOT evil.  Lean to love it and you will be in a great position to succeed.  Leadership Management Australia has a variety of complementary resources which can be used to help support any change environment.

Are You a Valuable Leader?

How can you tell if you are adding value as a leader? Have you achieved the results that you intended to?  Did you add value to your organisation?

In the pursuit of elementary waste, we look to reduce non-value add functions and focus on true value add.  As a Lean leader, are you adding value in what you do?

Have you tried to implement continuous improvement initiatives or projects?  Do you feel like you have to make too many changes all at the same time?

Good Lean leaders who know how to successfully create a continuous improvement environment understand that making the right small changes, gives them the slight edge in adding value.

The sports world provides many examples of the slight edge concept.  The difference between Gold, Silver and Bronze in swimming is measured in hundredths of a second.   The top two or three golfers in the world earn 10 to 15 times what the golfers ranked at 50th would earn. Yet the difference between them is only a little more than one stroke for 18 holes of golf.  The right small changes can give you the slight edge to improve your performance and leadership value.

Seriously consider the following 7 small changes you can make to achieve an increase in your value as a leader of continuous improvement.

  1. Maintaining a climate of open communication and a spirit of cooperation enables you to maximise the interests and strengths of each team member. Not only do good human relations skills help you prevent problems, they can help you transform potential troublemakers into team players who are personally productive and looking to find a better way to do things.
  2. Making sure that the work is done on time is one of your most important functions. A relatively small, slight edge in improvement in planning and scheduling could enable you to meet every deadline, improve productivity, prevent overtime, unjam bottlenecks, improve OEE reduce waste and reduce frustration.
  3. Controlling your time frees the critical hours required for planning and scheduling. Effective time management enhances performance, increases productivity, and allows for innovation and improvement.
  4. By improving your problem-solving skills using Lean tools, you will gain a slight edge that pays enormous dividends. A problem identified and solved when it first surfaces creates far more value than trying to put the pieces back together after a crisis. Preventing a fire requires far less time and effort than fighting a blaze raging out of control.
  5. The members of your work group, department or division bring a variety of talents, training, interests and commitment to the goals of your organisation. Learn to meld your team into a smoothly functioning unit. Striving for improvement in both their own actions and the operational processes creates a synergistic force that leads to greater success.
  6. See the big picture. When you improve your ability to think of the potential for improvement across the organisation as a whole, you enhance relationships with people at every level of the organisation. You make more effective decisions and increase the value of your contribution to the overall objectives. An important part of your contribution is your ability to train others to look for improvement opportunities and to accept responsibility for increasing the effectiveness of the team.
  7. Demonstrate in your words and actions an “Attitude of ownership” toward your work and the practices of continuous improvement. When you encourage the same attitude of ownership among employees, they gain a sense of belonging and importance. The quality of their work improves and their acceptance of positive change grows. An attitude of ownership causes you and your staff to take pride in what you do.

At Think Perform, we are passionate about developing great continuous improvement practices.

Sustainable change. Better results.

Today we are embracing a giant milestone event! We have refreshed the Think Perform brand and we are announcing the creation of Thrive Alliance, a brand joining together our group of companies.

Thrive Alliance is the umbrella brand that joins together our group of complimentary and specialised brands, all with the same purpose – creating exceptional results through people.

In itself, the name Thrive Alliance speaks to the vision for our group of companies and brands; an alliance of people, brands, products and services which empower our Participants and Client Organisations to thrive.

The launch of Thrive Alliance and the development and additions to the products and services offered, is a result of ongoing feedback from our Clients and Participants. We believe it is our responsibility as your trusted training and development partner to provide tried and tested development programs which deliver measurable results and R.O.I whilst innovating and releasing new tools and courses which satisfy a broader range of your needs and requirements. The Thrive Alliance Framework allows us to do just that.

So how does it all fit together?

THINK PERFORM – Empowering Continuous Improvement.

Sustainable Change. Better Results.

The proven best choice for empowering people to drive continuous improvement and to positively impact culture, results and the bottom line.


LMA – Leadership and Performance Development.

Empowered People. Better Results.
Leadership Management Australasia is the proven best choice for unlocking the potential in people to positively impact results and the bottom line.
THRIVE MORE – A range of best-in-class courses, tools and solutions to positively impact your people’s performance.

As opposed to the Premium Programs offered by LMA and Think Perform, Thrive More will offer short courses and workshops predominantly delivered over half, one or two days. At this stage, our Thrive More products include:

· Emotional Intelligence
· Productivity and Performance Improvement
· Lean Foundation Workshops
· Sales Foundation
· ….and many more to come


THRIVE PARTNERS – A network of complimentary trusted partners adding value to your business.

Our success over the years is because we have not tried to be all things to all people. However, we have many clients that ask us for recommendations to providers of products and services which are outside our offering. Over time, we will be growing a network of trusted Partners which can provide quality products and services to our clients when the need arises.

To find out more, call 1800 333 270 or click here to visit the Thrive Alliance Website.

There are many more improvements and new innovative initiatives scheduled for release in 2017-2018.

Stay tuned for more exciting news from Think Perform and Thrive Alliance!