Leadership : The Secret Sauce of Creating a Movement for Excellence!

Md Hasan

Sr. Manager, Continuous Improvement at Home Market Foods

Learning Objectives

Please join the Senior Manager of Continuous Improvement for Home Market Foods as he discusses building teams with a purpose to achieve business excellence and why leadership is important for Continuous Improvement.


Key Takeaways:



  • Md, tell us about your background and niche?

  • What are you passionate about CI?

  • Why leadership is important for Continuous Improvement/OpEx?

  • What attributes of leadership is necessary to create a CI culture?

  • What are the biggest challenges in the industry?

  • How Leadership can solve these challenges?

  • What could be great opportunities in near future?


"Resistance is always going to be there. The challenge for leadership is to find out what level of resistance and why..."

Md Hasan

Sr. Manager, Continuous Improvement at Home Market Foods

Transcript

Britt Erler

Hello and welcome to the Impact Operational Excellence Virtual Summit hosted on Quartz Network. My name is Britt Erler, QN Executive Correspondent. Thank you so much for joining us. I would like to welcome our executive speaker here with us today MD Hasan, Senior Manager of Continuous Improvement for Home Market Foods, as he discusses the secret sauce for leaders to create a movement for excellence. Welcome, MD.


MD Hasan

Thank you. Great, thanks for having me to that summit.


Britt Erler

Of course, it’s a pleasure to have you here and really excited to dive into this topic today. Excellent sounds like a very simple term, but in reality, it’s really crucial for businesses moving forward. Before we dive into that, if you wouldn’t mind telling me a little bit more about your background and your specialty.


MD Hasan

Sure. I’m very glad to be here in the summit. My name is MD Hasan, I’m the Senior Manager of Continuous Improvements at Home Market Food in Norwood, Massachusetts. My little bit background about the CIO role is I’ve been doing CIs, Lean Manufacturing, and organizational change management for last 7 to 8 years in my career and journey. This is a great learning for me. I started a little bit internship with a with a company called Denzel Manufacturing in Battle Creek, Michigan, where I learned about ideas of continuous improvement, engaging people, and the CI philosophy. We call that “Kaizen” in our world, which is called change for better. Excellence is in my DNA, and I love that—I am very passionate about it. And then a little bit, a bias towards action driven results driven improvement as well. That’s the snapshot for me.


Britt Erler

Very good. Thank you for sharing. It’s no secret that you’re clearly passionate about continuous improvement. How did you start? What really kind of drove you to this specialty?


MD Hasan

That’s a good question. When I was graduating from the Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, I started a job and a couple of internships in the automotive world. It comes down to not by having the solutions and the tools, but also the people that are using this tools every day to make their job better. When I see that my projects, when I engage people, it makes a huge difference just by doing the project versus engaging the team members, and building the teams with a purpose. When they see the purpose behind it, is to make their life easy, and make their job easy, and that’s ultimately helpful not only for them, for only day to day, but also for the business, because the business want that excellence and grow. Also, it creates the profitability, it also creates the community engagement. At the end of the day, the purpose of the business is to serve the community with a greater purpose. That’s where the CI and lean manufacturing and operational excellence activities come hand in hand.


MD Hasan

When I see that, it’s kind of drive me my intention about helping people. I’m always passionate about go out there, try to develop people’s skill sets, and also engaging the team members, and be really having fun about it. After my internships and when I graduate, I see that, my dad characteristics well fit with the CI world and operational excellence. Then, I decided to move my career from like core engineering to more like continuous improvement world. That’s where it starts.


Britt Erler

It’s affecting the entire business as a whole, it’s not just one department. You’re really helping grow the business forward, whether that’s culturally, organizationally, to the processes that you have in place. The main goal, which is profit, and obviously making sure that your consumers are happy in the long end. I completely understand why you view this is so crucial. I think kind of what you mentioned there really something like this—starts from leadership and trickles down into the rest of the organization. Talk to me a little bit more about that. Why is leadership so crucial for not only continuous improvement but also for operational excellence?


MD Hasan

Leadership is something like the secret sauce. The reason is like, you can have the all the ingredients, but if you don’t have the secret recipe, and the sauces to blend those together, then you’re not getting the cubed out of that and you are not getting that good flavor out of that ingredients. Leadership is something that I call is an action. It’s action driven, it’s something influential, and leadership is all about influence. The influence is something that when people see that they want somebody to go after and follow and they see that they’re acting on it, and they’re making their job easy. It comes down to not only the tools, so you got CI tools, you got business goals, mission, vision, and then you also have a strategy, but what is the binding thing?


MD Hasan

The glue between all these things that just I mentioned, is the leadership. I think leadership is really critical to make any organization successful, and make sure it is heading to the right direction, with the right attitude at the right time. I think leadership is something that we need to exercise, and also we need to learn continuously. When we call about continuous improvement, leadership is not just a textbook that you read, and you just learn and you just apply, and that’s about it, but also, it’s all about are you continually driving yourself to learn every single day, so that you make your business better every single day. I think that’s really important and I love that. I wholeheartedly have that in my mind all the time that how can I make myself better every single day, and that will make my job better every single day, and that will make my organization better every single day. I think that’s really vital and crucial to any organization.


Britt Erler

I completely agree with you. I think leaders are leading the charge, so to speak. On top of that, for any type of change, any type of improvement, you’re going to have team members who it makes them a little anxious. Any change in any company or any job is going to make people “Is my role going to change? How much more work am I going to have?” It takes leaders to come in and really say, “Hey, this is why we’re doing this. Let me show you the work that needs to put in and the benefits that are kind of come out for the company as a whole.” I think that’s such a key advice that you mentioned there. Now, based on your experience, obviously you’ve seen what works and what doesn’t, what do you believe are some of the key attributes for successful leader in this role?


MD Hasan

I think you hit really good questions about it. We call about leaderships all the time. It’s not just one thing and one here. I have heard leadership term many times in my career, and I was really juggling and mumbling, “Okay, what does it actually mean, when the rubber meets the road?” When rubber meets the road, the leadership that works and that doesn’t work, have a really distinctive characteristic. In my experience, I see really great leaders who make a really good changes. I’m learning that characteristics as well as I’m going through my progress to my career.


MD Hasan

One of the greatest attributes to that leadership is lead by example. Lead by example is something that is the top of my list, when it comes down to CI, comes down to the Lean, comes down to the change management. If I can’t make something happen, how can I expect that my team members will do that? That’s the first questions when I go out there and try to make some changes or continuous improvement projects. I want to show something before I tell somebody to do something. Showing the improvement, leading by example, goes a long way. One of the key things about it is like, “Be the leader who shows by example.” That’s one of the top contributors or attributes.


MD Hasan

The second one that I think works best is be visible and be all the time listening to your people. I think that’s really important, because seeing is believing, what I call that. When people see the leaders are not only showing by example, they’re always visible, and also, they’re listening to everybody. Listening is a very powerful skill set that leaders should have. As human nature, we tend to talk more and listen less. When I recall that in my Japanese mentor who teach me that I got one mouth and two air, so that means, I got to talk less and listen more. I think that’s the absolute learning for me because it works. When I go out there, I listen, I absorb, and then I ask. The people say, “Okay, here’s the situation, here’s the current state, we all know that.” Then, empower them, and say, “What do you guys think that we can make change that will work best for you?” I think listening, empowering, engaging people, and at the same time, appreciate them and encourage them to go even more. I think those are three really great contributing attributes that I see, in my experience, that works way better than the other types of leadership that we see around. I think those are the main key ingredients of the leadership.


Britt Erler

I completely agree. All three of those may seem very simple when you say it like that. The reality is, is most leaders don’t take the time to listen or take a walk through their team shoes. You have these incredible people on your team with brand new ideas, creativity, that may come up with something that you may never have thought of, or find an issue and a process that you have that could solve and streamline 10 other things. I think what you said there is so crucial for leaders moving forward, especially as we move into this new virtual age, where we’re not always in the office full time anymore. Taking the opportunity to call up people, listen to them more, listen to maybe what they’re going through on a personal level as well, is just as important. I couldn’t agree with you more on that.


Britt Erler

When I talk to you, I can hear the passion and excitement that you see, even at your company now. I know from experience that going through these changes is not all flowers and rainbows, there are obviously a lot of challenges and obstacles. Talk to me a little bit about that. What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced and how did you manage to overcome them?


MD Hasan

I think that’s another great question that you ask about. When we try to make changes, there is obviously—there’s a resistance. When you try to break a wall, there will be a wall resisting you and you want to have some great tools, so that you can start breaking those walls and also renovate the housing. That’s the key thing is: Resistance is always going to be there, the challenge for leadership is to find out what level of resistance and why it is resistance. There might be something that we need to investigate while people resist to change. It’s not just like, “Hey, we want to make these changes anyway,” rather we go back when we ask people that why they’re resisting in the first place. That goes back to the time of my comments about lead by example as well, because I see that when I do a project, if I don’t lead by example, sometimes what happens is like people by nature by there there are a equilibrium and their mindset. They try to resist whatever is out of their comfort zone. When you show something that is creating a belief or in them say “Hey, that might be possible, so why not we try that?” Instead of telling them what to do, showing them what to do, is a good thing to overcome that resistance.


MD Hasan

The other challenge that in the CI world or in the Lean world, with the proper leadership term, we have is sustainability. When we do CI, we make changes, we do lean manufacturing, we do all [inaudible], all for good, right? At the end of the day, when we taper off from those activities, we don’t see that it has been sustained for a long time. Sustainment is the biggest challenge—it’s the biggest challenge in the CI world. How the leadership maybe coming to the play, and then with that attitude and approach, and with the characteristics and attributes that I mentioned, will be really helpful to overcome those sustainment challenges as well.


Britt Erler

Absolutely. As we’re seeing these changes happen, even the challenges we’re facing, we kind of have a glimpse into what we can expect in the future and 5 years down the road from now, even though there may not be a perfect plan. What opportunities do you see moving forward within this industry?


MD Hasan

I think that’s a great question. Like I said, leadership is not a textbook, everyday we have to learn and we have to grow. The future opportunities I see in the CI World is, obviously, leadership’s commitment and executive education. Executive education is a huge thing. We always forget that, “Hey, CEOs or CFOs, or CEOs, they’re gonna do everything for us.” That’s the mindset that the workforce has, but we have to also understand that education to all level is really critical to moving forward and change that culture, change that mindset. Executive education is one of the key things that I think that the future opportunities are here.


MD Hasan

Other things, I believe, that the industry that can leverage is the technological revolution. The technology that’s coming out—machine learning, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality. We don’t have to be in our status quo all the time, say, “Hey, this is the old way of doing CI, but here is a new technological revolution happening.” We have to open our mind and try to see how can we leverage those technologies so that we can do a better foundation for organization, maybe streamlined process and maybe streamline some of the efficiency improvements that we might not have by using the old way of doing things.


MD Hasan

I have heard that, I have seen that before. In some cases, I see that people are resistant to accept the new technology. Think about that, always, all these are goodies, right? That mindset is there, but I think we need to be flexible. We need to say, “Okay, what’s out there? What are the things we can leverage that will fit for the business?” We don’t want to be doing anything crazy, just by not seeing that, “Hey, this is the technology,” just because we need to use the technology, we are using that. No, but we can always adapt and learn and see that, “Hey, how these technological revolutions might help us to get there where we want to go?” I think those are the key opportunities for this industry moving forward.


Britt Erler

Flexibility—really, that’s it. Keeping your mind open, as you said, and be willing to evolve and adapt and not say, “Okay, once I’ve implemented one thing, I’m done. I don’t need to do it again.” That’s not the case, and you and I know it is changing every single day. You have to be willing to continue to learn, and keep your mind open to some of those new opportunities that are out there and how they may benefit your organization as a whole. I couldn’t agree with you more. To really sum up this entire conversation today between continuous improvement with operational excellence and also leadership, all three of those are so key together, but what do you believe are three words that probably best describe leadership the best in your opinion?


MD Hasan

I think that’s a good one. I would say, our audience, that be a servant. That’s the key. When we think about ourselves as a servant, in the long run, we’re gonna be great leaders.


Britt Erler

I couldn’t agree with you. I think that type of leadership is really becoming the face of the future for any organization, does not matter what industry you’re in. Fantastic advice and great insights here for people that are whether they’re rebuilding their organization from last year or deciding just how to move forward, and this is a great stepping stone for them.


Britt Erler

MD, thank you so much for being here. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you to everyone in the audience who is here today as well. I’m sure you will have further questions for MD—not to worry—we do have a discussion forum underneath this presentation. Please be safe, be healthy, and enjoy the rest of the Impact Operational Excellence Virtual Summit. Thank you.


MD Hasan

Thank you, Britt.


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