Episode 10 - Unleash Your Leadership Superpower with Shawn Carner

10 | Unleash Your Leadership Superpower with Shawn Carner

From Operational Excellence Expert to Transformational Change Leader

What if you could have a new superpower that would unlock your leadership potential?

One that is so simple yet will amplify your impact, open doors to the C-suite, and accelerate engagement across your organization so that you deliver more business results while realizing your vision for a people-focused learning culture…

This episode of Chain of Learning unveils your superhero cape so that you can unleash your leadership superpowers today to lead organizational change.

Tune in to go beyond leadership theory to actual practice of how to pair your technical expertise with the power, influence and relational skills to become a transformational change leader.

My guest, Shawn Carner, describes how he moved from an operational excellence practitioner to a senior transformation leader at a global biotechnology company – and gives you real examples of how you can too.

What you offer when you move from a process improvement specialist to a transformational change leader isn’t just a “nice to have” for your company – it’s mission critical for your organization to survive and thrive.

By making intentional shifts from focusing on technical expertise to embodying the relational skills described in the Change KATALYST™ Model, just like Shawn, you too can amplify your impact.

Discover how you can activate this simple superpower and become a Transformational Change Katalyst™. Get ready to be inspired and equipped to step into leadership potential today!

In this episode of Chain of Learning you will learn:

The importance of a leader’s purpose in Leading to Learn®: set direction, provide support, and develop yourself  

✅ The power of daily intention setting, reflection, and journaling to unlock your leadership superpowers

✅ How to Break the Telling Habit® and the impact of asking coaching questions

✅ What Shawn learned with me on the Japan Study Trip and how he’s applied lean concepts at Genentech

✅ The value of intentional leadership behaviors to positively influence organizational culture

Dive into this episode now to discover the transformative superpowers that will amplify your impact and drive success in your organization!

Looking for more inspiration and actionable tips to step into your leadership impact? Be sure to subscribe and follow Chain of Learning so you never miss an episode.

Watch the full episode on YouTube

leadership superpower with Shawn Carner
Shawn and I in Japan 2019

About Shawn Carner

Shawn is an accomplished change agent with a proven ability to develop and implement business process transformations. He is a certified ASQ Six Sigma Black Belt and has worked for Genentech since 2005.

He has a degree in Marine Biology and an MBA. Prior to Genentech Shawn worked in fisheries research and scuba equipment manufacturing. He is also a certified Master Scuba Instructor.

He is accomplished at leading people and teams and has consistently demonstrated an ability to deliver business results.  He specializes in Value Stream Mapping, kaizen, 5S, statistics and Visual Factory.

Shawn is a longtime client and friend. I’ve been partnering with Shawn and his organization for over seven years through my coaching programs and custom leadership workshops – and Shawn was a past participant on my executive Japan Study Trip in 2019.

He is also very talented with his Graphic Design skills and he created a visual summary of my May 2019 Japan Study Trip. Learn more about my Japan Study Trips here.

leadership superpower with Shawn Carner
By Shawn Carner, Genentech, 2019

Reflect and Take Action

1 – Assess Your Transformational Change Leadership Skills

If you haven’t downloaded my Change KATALYST Self-assessment yet, go do so now  – and also listen to Episode 9 of this podcast to learn more about each competency.

Go through the self-assessment identity for yourself your areas of strength and where you need growth and support.

Choose one area that you want to focus on and then leverage the practice that Shawn shared that has been transformational for him – set a daily intention then reflect and journal it.

2 – Set A Daily Intention and Reflect

Put Shawn’s advice for setting a daily intention, reflecting, and journaling into action.

To help, you can download my daily intention and reflection journal and learn more about the practice in this blog post I wrote about intentions and goals.

You’ll be amazed at how much this simple practice of setting daily intentions for practice and reflecting can have on shifting behavior, deepening learning, and accelerating desired impact.

3 – Draw Your Purpose and Who You Want to Be

One of the practices that I introduced in the leadership workshops that I led for 100s of Genentech leaders and in the coaching program that Shawn participated in is doing a “purpose drawing”.

When we can draw and share our purpose – what is most important to us – we re-humanize ourselves – and re-humanize our teams and companies. It helps us stay grounded in how we want to be as we work together to do.

To learn more about this practice, listen to Episode 4 – Leading for Impact: The Power of Being Over Doing.

After many iterations of doing my drawing over several years, I’ve distilled my purpose down to this simple sketch.

Through multiple iterations of drawing and sharing it with people around the world, I have come to understand my purpose with clarity.

My purpose is to connect the hearts and minds of people so that we can help make the world better.  What’s yours?

Important links:

Listen Now

Listen now on your favorite podcast players such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Audible. You can also listen to the audio of this episode on YouTube.

Timestamps:

2:40: Shawn’s professional journey from technical, tool-based operational excellence practitioner to change “katalyst”
5:56: Coaching “kata” and its challenges
9:28: The power of reflection and journaling
15:26: Breaking the Telling Habit and the power of asking questions
21:16: Shawn’s leadership superpower
22:54:The impact of Shawn’s superpower on his team and organization
33:30: The power of attending Katie’s Executive Japan Study Trip and the importance of aligning lean principles with organizational culture
40:33: Advice for shifting from operational excellence doer to transformational change leader
41:55: The need for leaders to show up in a different way to impact the culture positively
43:16: The importance of intentionally building capabilities, growing people, and getting them to think

Full Episode Transcript

Katie Anderson:
How’d you like a powerful new superpower that is so simple yet will transform your impact? Open doors to the c suite to get you a seat at the table with a voice that’s heard about your vision for creating a leader-led learning culture and amplify engagement across your organization while delivering more results. Then you won’t want to miss this episode. Welcome to Chain of Learning, where the link of leadership and learning unite. This is your connection for actionable strategies and practices to empower you to build a people centered learning culture, get results and expand your impact so that you and your team can leave a lasting legacy. I’m your host and fellow learning enthusiast, Katie Anderson. In the last episode, episode nine, I shared with you my eight part Change Katalyst model that shows you how to pair your technical know how with power, influence and relational competencies to become a transformational change leader. Today, I want to move beyond theory into action about how to practically develop these skills and the impact they can make on your influence and leadership effectiveness, your career and your life. To help me with this, I’m excited to bring Shawn Carner onto Chain of Learning Shawn is the director of operational excellence at Genentech, part of the Roche Group, one of the world’s largest biotechnology companies, and he has gone on this journey of transformation with me for over seven years.

Katie Anderson:
Shawn’s worked at Genentech since 2005 and has been in an operational excellence leadership role at the Vacaville site since 2017. In addition to his Six Sigma master Black Belt, Shawn has a degree in marine biology and an MBA and is a certified master scuba instructor. I’ve known Shawn since 2017, when I was first invited to support Roche’s senior leadership team in Basel, Switzerland at a sitehead summit, and since then, Shawn and I have partnered together in many ways to help him make a personal transformation and also lead his organization’s transformation to a leaderled culture of learning. Shawn joined me in 2019 on one of my executive Japan study trips and has been part of many of my leadership coaching and training programs, and recently I helped Shawn bring in many of the messages you’ll hear him talk about today into his organization through a series of leadership workshops. Shawn is a strong link in my Chain of Learning and it’s been a pleasure partnering with him to discover his leadership superpower and subsequently amplify it across the organization. I can’t wait for you to be equipped and inspired by what Shawn did to become a transformational Change Katalyst and how it’s become a superpower for him that sets him apart from his peers.

Katie Anderson:
We started off our conversation exploring how Shawn got started in his professional journey from being a technical, tool based operational excellence practitioner with a lean Six Sigma master black belt to becoming an accomplished Change Katalyst and leader at a large global organization. Let’s dive right in.

Shawn Carner:
Genentech and Roche have been on, really the manufacturing part of the business, has been on a lean journey for the third time.

Shawn Carner:
I would say probably a lot of.

Shawn Carner:
Your listeners will connect with multiple iterations at that. So since 2017, we started this lean production system that we were going to deploy, and that was about the time.

Shawn Carner:
That I took on the leadership role here at Vacaville.

Shawn Carner:
I came from being an operational excellence, go solve the problem, fly around the.

Shawn Carner:
World for a particular problem, and go try and fix it. Right. Whether that was value stream mapping or Kaizen events, kind of your typical approach.

Shawn Carner:
And this journey that the company has been on was really meant to be.

Shawn Carner:
An approach that leaders led the way.

Shawn Carner:
So not a consultant led approach and.

Shawn Carner:
Not an operational excellence led approach.

Shawn Carner:
And so as I took on this new role as a site leader, I was starting to think, okay, how am.

Shawn Carner:
I going to show up differently in that role?

Shawn Carner:
And one of the things I wanted.

Shawn Carner:
To do was become a coach, a better coach, because that’s what I was going to do. I was going to be the primary coach for the site leaders. And I said, okay, so how am I going to do that?

Shawn Carner:
And tried to do that intentionally, first by kind of working on myself to do that. But I really didn’t know how exactly.

Shawn Carner:
I was going to do that, because oftentimes we talk about lean coaching, but what is that? Right?

Shawn Carner:
And when I came to the site, I tried the coaching kata as the primary approach to that, and we had some good success. I think people, leaders especially, found the kata questions as a way to engage in coaching, but we didn’t have the rest of the framework. And so it was a little bit.

Shawn Carner:
Strained when a leader would show up at the gemba and say, what’s your target condition? Employees look around like, I don’t know.

Shawn Carner:
Right.

Shawn Carner:
So people were doing it very robotically, if you will.

Shawn Carner:
Okay, how am I going to take this approach? And really, a lot of what we were doing was a tool forward lean.

Shawn Carner:
Deployment approach, and that also wasn’t necessarily resonating.

Katie Anderson:
Yeah. And for listeners who may not know what the kata is that Shawn’s referring to, kata is a japanese word that means routine or pattern of behavior. It’s often used in martial arts to talk about the different routines that you practice and then put together. And Mike Rother developed what he’s called the Toyota kata, or the improvement kata and the coaching kata, all about how do you create problem solving capabilities in organizations. And there are some starter questions that he has which have become really famous and known as the improvement kata, which is what Shawn was referring to. So leaders taking a card out and literally reading those five questions, but maybe it sounds like they didn’t have the context behind it about what they were really trying to do or the people they were asking the questions to.

Shawn Carner:
And, I mean, I really believe that leaders lead the way by being first. And so it’s like, okay, if I’m going to lead this, I should be.

Shawn Carner:
Good at the coaching. That was sort of the approach we.

Shawn Carner:
Were thinking at, but really using that framework to say, okay, I’m going to experiment with how my coaching conversations are going, looking at the obstacles that was.

Shawn Carner:
Getting in the way.

Shawn Carner:
And I was really trying to shrink down those little experiments. So I would put each coaching conversation down as one of the experiments that I would do. And so that was maybe the little beginning of self reflection, if you will.

Shawn Carner:
At that time, I was really doing a weekly kind of reflection, but I.

Shawn Carner:
Would look at each of these activities with a leader and say, well, how’d that conversation go? Well, I kind of got stuck in.

Shawn Carner:
The middle and so didn’t really necessarily know how to progress that coaching capability, if you will.

Katie Anderson:
As you think back about seven years now, what was that spark or catalyst that really made you realize that there was something more that you needed to do or change to be in yourself, to create the broader impact that you wanted in your organization? Yes. From moving, being more this technical, really good, expert, operational excellence person to becoming this better coach and catalyzing broader organizational change.

Shawn Carner:
Yeah, initially it goes back to when I was still a network oe practitioner and we were starting this journey down this new lean production process, and I was meeting with senior leaders, but I might fly to Germany, meet with a leader for a week on a particular project. We’d make a little bit of progress towards that trust coaching relationship, but then, of course, I’d be like, okay, this problem is moving forward. I’m off to the next one. And I was seeing that then maybe six months later I’d come back and.

Shawn Carner:
Try and redo that conversation.

Shawn Carner:
But there maybe hadn’t been progress in the interim time. And so that was also part of my impetus to say maybe if I.

Shawn Carner:
Came to a site and was the site leader for this, I could have.

Shawn Carner:
This ongoing coaching conversation. So that was the first piece, sort.

Shawn Carner:
Of, as you call it, the impetus or the spark.

Shawn Carner:
But then with my OE team here, we created a coaching program, if you will, that was maybe a little tool forward upon reflection, but we were like, okay, how are we going to do this? Because each of them was going out and coaching leaders deeper in the organization. So we needed a framework and we.

Shawn Carner:
Based it around Mike Rother’s kata approach.

Shawn Carner:
But that was really kind of, I.

Shawn Carner:
Guess, the kindling, if you will, that I was using to say, okay, I need to get better myself in how to do that coaching.

Katie Anderson:
It’s such a powerful insight, right, to know that we need to start with ourselves and have that humility to say that if I want to coach people, to be coaches, I need to look at myself and how am I doing that? Know, I was really intrigued when we were talking in advance of this recording. Shawn, you’d mentioned to me that because you have really taken on this practice of reflection and more deeply, not just those weekly reflections, but much more regular reflection, you’re able to go back and look at your notes from years ago and sort of look at your journey here. So talk about the power of reflection and writing down that intention and reflection has been for you in your own transformation journey and becoming more impactful.

Shawn Carner:
For me, it started, I had a mentor who recommended journaling, and it felt a little awkward at first, but I was like, okay, well, I can fill a page or so in a little notebook with how the week went and.

Shawn Carner:
What I was looking forward to next week. That was sort of the two questions that I would generally use.

Shawn Carner
And then as I was doing more coaching of individuals, it was a place to sort of, okay, this was the.

Shawn Carner
Conversation that I just had with whoever, right, the head of manufacturing or something.

Shawn Carner
Like that, and a place to sort of capture that ongoing conversation because as you well know, the coaching conversation spread over multiple sessions. And if you have a lot of.

[00:10:12.450] – Shawn Carner
People that you’re coaching, they kind of get jumbled together.

[00:10:15.320] – Shawn Carner
So that was part of it. But also, I was in a new role. I was now a leader, a senior leader, site leader, and I was, in a way, trying to learn about what I was doing. And for many years, I always had this sort of reflection bias, if you will.

[00:10:33.400] – Shawn Carner
And just putting it down on paper is actually very useful for exactly what you said. Looking back and saying, oh, wow, I.

[00:10:41.170] – Shawn Carner
Have grown quite a bit over time, I must say, since meeting you, it’s now been even more intentional as a learning activity.

Shawn Carner
That is the main piece. I think you always say that learning.

Shawn Carner
Begins with the reflection piece of that. It’s a tool, right.

Shawn Carner
But it is a behavior, if you will, to do well, right?

Katie Anderson
Well, we need the tools, right? The tools support the practice, but the tools without purpose or understanding of why they’re being used and what they’re used for, then that’s where the challenge comes in, as you talked about before. But that structure for practice or the tools to enable practice, that’s where the power of tools really come in. But if we only lead with tools and not all the other understanding of the reason why, then it’s like we’re just hitting the hammer. But for what reason? We don’t really need to be putting in a know. I was reflecting too, Shawn, about what you said about the amount of time it takes to really know that you’re flying around the world coaching a leader and then maybe six months later coming back. And I see this a lot in the other clients I work with as well, who especially have global sites and their coaches are spread thin. I think the power also is that you’ve been able to be there and your team there and walk by on the side with the leaders to really develop those daily practices. What have you seen as having shifted from this more sporadic flying in and out and sort of helping solve the problems and maybe a little bit of coaching to really being there on the site?

Katie Anderson:
How has that type of role shifted your ability to really influence change?

Shawn Carner:
It’s in some ways easy to look back over seven years and be like.

Shawn Carner:
Wow, we’ve come a long way.

Shawn Carner:
But when you’re in it day to day, it just seems like a constant slog that you’re not really making much progress and lots of different conversations.

Shawn Carner:
Right.

Shawn Carner:
But there’s definitely some from what I’ve had, good stories or experiences that sort of energize me where I see leaders today as, for example, creating their a.

Shawn Carner:
Three s without being asked or even.

Shawn Carner:
Necessarily supported by an OE professional. Seven years ago, A3 was a tool, a technique that was only practiced.

Shawn Carner:
By an OE professional when there was a project we’re going to kick off and we’re going to do this project charter.

Shawn Carner:
One of my employees, Jason, always talks about that a coach’s gemba is someone’s mind. And so how can you see that.

Shawn Carner:
Thinking, if you will, without asking questions? And I know, I think in Isao

Shawn Carner:
Yoshino and John Shook’s discussions around A3, they always also talk about that, right? Like, how do you know where to coach unless someone writes it down?

Shawn Carner:
So in many ways that A3 thinking approach, I think has been an.

Shawn Carner:
Artifact, if you will, of the lean.

Shawn Carner:
Culture that we’re able to see now.

Shawn Carner:
But through that period of coaching, it was really a lot of behavioral observations. My team would go to people’s huddles and count up how many questions they were asking and then come back and provide that feedback to the individual, which it originally may have seemed odd to people. And I feel like since that time, my own coaching of people has really.

Shawn Carner:
Evolved quite a bit. It’s not so mechanical in that sense, right, of like counting up the number of questions, it’s more asking good questions of them.

Katie Anderson:
Yes. And having that framework as well to how to ask questions. And some of the A3, which for listeners who aren’t as familiar with that, it’s a tool that was developed at Toyota. And A3 is just a size of paper, but really has a structured problem solving process to it. And Asal Yoshino, who Shawn mentioned, is the subject of my book, learning to lead, leading to learn, and has really helped bring that concept. And he and John shook out beyond Toyota to others as well. So we’ll put the links to the book and more information there in the show notes. And Shawn, let’s dive into this topic of asking questions. This is one of the biggest challenges that I see leaders, actually all of us as human beings with, is like, we want to help by giving the answer to be really effective and also making this shift from being this expert problem solver, either as a leader or as an operational excellence consultant or coach in an organization. We have to do what I call break the telling habit. And this is one of the things know, I started working with the very first thing with Roche back seven years ago, all the site heads in Basel and then continued to do some work with you and the team in Vacaville.

Katie Anderson:
So let’s dive into breaking the telling habit and the power of questions.

Katie Anderson:
How have you started to really break.

Katie Anderson:
Your own telling habit? And what are some of the results or impact of that that you’ve seen with yourself and the teams that you’re working?

Shawn Carner:
You know, you often talk about starting with purpose, right? Like, what is your purpose as a leader, as a person? Why are you here on this earth? And actually, I often start my coaching engagements with anyone, no matter what level.

Shawn Carner:
In the organization, with that kind of idea in mind.

Shawn Carner:
If I ask myself, what is my purpose with this individual is I want them to develop, right? I want them to find their way through life, if you will.

Katie Anderson:
Right?

Shawn Carner:
It’s not about this particular problem or this job. And so when you start there, it becomes very clear that if you tell them, I know you teach us this idea that if you tell someone, you’re robbing them from learning, right, the ability to learn. And there is that continuum. I struggled with this quite a bit, right. Because as a leader or a manager, if you will, you have a responsibility, especially from a safety standpoint, maybe in our industry, a compliance standpoint. If you see something that is unsafe.

Shawn Carner:
Or not compliant, you have to stop it, right.

Shawn Carner:
In that case, you’re telling someone what to do. But on that spectrum or that continuum, there’s also a space for learning, development and growth. And that’s where asking the questions is very powerful. I had one coachee mentor, if you will. She was an employee in my chain who gave me some feedback at one point that no one had ever asked.

Shawn Carner:
Her what her purpose was.

Shawn Carner:
And that really hit home, like, wow, this is powerful. She didn’t have an answer when I.

Shawn Carner:
Asked her, obviously, right.

Shawn Carner:
And she had to reflect on it and come back over several sessions to say, okay, I think this is my purpose. And of course, there’s tools and things we can do to explore that purpose with each individual.

Shawn Carner:
But that is very powerful when you.

Shawn Carner:
Have almost that breakthrough, because then the employee, and in this case, it’s the person, if maybe that purpose is not aligned with what they’re doing, then now.

Shawn Carner:
It’s a gap, right? They can work towards that, whether it’s.

Shawn Carner:
Development or whether it’s a new role, maybe even a new role with a company. I had a former employee who ended up taking a role in HR outside.

Shawn Carner:
Of operational excellence once we explored that.

Shawn Carner:
So I thought that’s kind of one of these key elements of asking the questions.

Shawn Carner:
And it is a habit, right?

Shawn Carner:
We absolutely have all this experience that we want to give people, but that experience that you have, you learned it by experiencing it as opposed to by being told it. I have another sensei use the lean term, right. Another lean teacher who taught me about.

Shawn Carner:
This idea of the Batari Model.

Shawn Carner:
And to me, this was a fundamental shift in my lean thinking, because this idea of culture and behaviors, behaviors are the things that we can see above the surface. But behaviors are made up of all kinds of things, right?

Shawn Carner:
Our values and our beliefs, which come from our experiences, right?

Shawn Carner:
And so that’s how we shift organizational culture, is we have a ton of new experiences, hopefully positive, because this can work in the negative as well. But if you have those experiences, behaviors change.

Shawn Carner:
And that’s why leaders need to lead the way by being first, to me.

Shawn Carner:
Those experiences, like the questioning, right?

Shawn Carner:
Having people think about their own purpose, use that example.

Shawn Carner:
I could tell them what their purpose.

Shawn Carner:
Was, but that would be silly, right? That it’s individual to each person, and.

Shawn Carner:
Then they’re also experiencing me in a.

Shawn Carner:
Different way as a leader in a different kind of context in that situation. Right.

Shawn Carner:
And so that’s also shifting the culture of the organization. Even if you think it’s just one person.

Katie Anderson:
Right?

Shawn Carner:
I’m just one person to one person. That seems, like, very slow, but it.

Shawn Carner:
Has a lot of knock on effects, kind of downstream.

Katie Anderson:
Well, absolutely. And this is like really going back to this concept of a Chain of Learning, right? So it’s maybe one person, but then they’re going to impact someone else. And this is where it grows and amplifies and strengthens across an organization to really become this mesh that’s supporting each other and going to that purpose, too. I found that if we ask people to really talk about purpose, you’ve had this experience in all the workshops we’ve done together at Genentech, we have people draw their purpose and share their purpose and talk about it.

Katie Anderson:
The very same thing.

Katie Anderson:
There’s such common themes. It’s around people, around them, their family, their community, coworkers, usually learning and growing, helping other people to do that. And so when we can kind of re anchor on that, it just helps us remind ourselves about the humanity of the role. And then leaders, too. I’ve talked about this before of leaders realizing your purpose isn’t always to have the answer. It’s about, as you said, really helping other people to learn how to get to that answer. And that can remind us to stay out of our habit of telling as well. One of the things that’s really stuck with me from a few years ago, when we talked, we were doing some shared reflection on of our work together, and you made this comment that was like, whoa, this is really powerful, where you said that you feel like you now have this leadership superpower. And it’s so simple. I’d love for you to dive into that and share with everyone listening about your leadership superpower and how that came to be.

Shawn Carner:
And really, it is simple. It refers to a little bit about the asking questions versus telling. And then also what you describe in your book that Isao Yoshino talks about.

Shawn Carner:
Right.

Shawn Carner:
Is setting the direction, providing support, and then ultimately developing self.

Shawn Carner:
Right.

Shawn Carner:
And so when we ask leaders to be lean leaders, we often say that, and then it’s just sort of ghostly. Right.

Shawn Carner:
There’s.

Shawn Carner:
Okay, what does that mean, how is that different? I’ve spent my entire career being a telling leader, right? That’s typical command and control kind of leadership. So then what do you put in the standard work, if you will, behind that? It’s as simple as that. Providing that direction. That direction is not telling people what to do, but a place to go. Because I think people get stuck in that, right? They’re like, oh, I can’t tell. So now I’m just going to sit there as a silent leader, right? Actually you still have a lot of responsibility as a leader to guide the organization through coaching, right? And this actually aligned really well with how Roche as a company was asking leaders to behave. They were saying leaders needed to follow this idea of being visionary. They needed to architect the structure of the organization. They needed to be a catalyst and be a know sort of these things all aligned in this case from a superpower standpoint right now I had clarity.

Shawn Carner:
Of what my purpose was because we did a lot of work on that.

Shawn Carner:
And from that I could go and still set direction, right? Still say, oh, we’re going to Mars, okay? But then instead of telling people, how do you get to Mars? I could ask them in your particular work, what do we need to do.

Shawn Carner:
To get to Mars, right? And obviously the answer is going to be different in different organizations.

Shawn Carner:
And we’ve started to build that into.

Shawn Carner:
The way that we set up our strategy deployment as well.

Shawn Carner:
Because now as a leadership team, we’re.

Shawn Carner:
Not telling people what to do.

Shawn Carner:
We’re setting directions, specific directions or intentions, if you will. But then we’re asking them, okay, you’re in engineering, how do you get to Mars? You’re in maintenance, how are you going.

Shawn Carner:
To maintain what engineering is doing or whatever, right? As an example.

Shawn Carner:
And so the superpower is really that clarity of purpose, the intention of what.

Shawn Carner:
It is to be a leader, to ask these questions.

Shawn Carner:
And then now a framework by which when I sit with anyone, people sometimes think it’s insane, but I have 35.

Shawn Carner:
People that I coach on a fairly

Shawn Carner:
regular basis from all levels of the organization. Clearly I have an accountability with my peers on the leadership team, but I’ve got all the way down to manufacturing and QC technicians who somehow through the work you’ve done, maybe, or I sponsor this next gen group that they’ve also partnered with you. And so that’s where some of these individuals come from. But clearly they find value in the conversations. A lot of those are like development type conversations. But again, it provides like a power, right? It makes it not easy to do the work. Right. You still got to do the work, but it provides some clear framework that you can do that. I had the opportunity to lead a couple of manufacturing groups, and that was quite a development challenge for me.

Shawn Carner:
All of a sudden, I had 70

Shawn Carner:
people reporting to me on four different shifts, 24 hours a day. And this was the approach that I went in there and said, okay, I’m

Shawn Carner:
not the expert, the process expert in this area, but I have my questions.

Shawn Carner:
So I can go in there and learn what these people are thinking, what makes them tick, but then also, how are they thinking about the organization, right. And you would think that would be the way that it should be.

Katie Anderson:
Right?

Shawn Carner:
The people closest to the work, they know their work. How can someone who worked in manufacturing.

Shawn Carner:
20 years ago come in and say, oh, you should do it this way?

Shawn Carner:
That doesn’t make much sense. And there’s a great story there where I was coaching one of my supervisors, who then took the learnings and started training his shift with this. And then one of the individuals on the shift was leading one of these lean improvement teams, and he was like, I want to use this approach with those individuals to grow them. So it really was the Chain of Learning and was very powerful because at my direct report level, he was reflecting.

Shawn Carner:
He was using the tools, if you will. And then one of his reports was doing the same. And I just happened to be coaching.

Shawn Carner:
Both of them, so I could kind of see how well the supervisor was doing on that. And it wasn’t about perfection.

Shawn Carner:
Right. It was really about having those great conversations.

Shawn Carner:
And you could see both kind of spinning up and making progress because they.

Shawn Carner:
Were having that reinforcing impact and then also having the conversation with me. And very quickly my boss was like, what are you doing in that area? I was like, I don’t know.

Shawn Carner:
I’m not doing anything. I’m just asking questions.

Shawn Carner:
Right.

Shawn Carner:
And so that’s where the kind of the superpower thing came from, because this is fairly simple.

Shawn Carner:
Why isn’t everyone doing it?

Shawn Carner:
Obviously, every leader has their own style.

Shawn Carner:
But for me, that really worked quite well and continues to work.

Katie Anderson:
Yeah, I love that story. I was so happy when you shared it with me. And one, it’s great that you had this opportunity to be an operational excellence leader, but then also moving into an operational leader role and how to apply those same skills and not knowing the context of the work. And I think a lot of leaders would feel like in a new space that they need to come in and show that they know things or assert their knowledge versus assert their. I know, this is where we need to go. But asking those questions, I don’t know if humility is the right word, but just being able to sort of reframe for yourself what a quote unquote good leader means, and that this really is that superpower that amplifies learning and results. I remember you also shared with me, though, that if I recall this correctly, that you had to be patient too, and give them space to fail. Like, you let them give space for what they thought the goals were going to be. And what they first came back with was something you were like, oh, I don’t know if that’s right, but you’re like, I’m going to let them learn.

Katie Anderson:
We’re going to just do this in cycles. What was that experience like? And maybe give a little more context, if I’m remembering that right.

Shawn Carner:
Yeah, you remember it quite well. I’d actually kind of forgotten about that story. And it’s a good anecdote to kind of talk about this because I would say it’s a struggle to go from your telling habit. It’s up here. Right. How do you set your intention? I look at that frequently to get out of your telling habit, because it’s a natural thing to come in and you’re constantly almost making critiques of what’s happening, and you have to come back to, okay, what is my intention here as a leader?

Shawn Carner:
That’s right.

Shawn Carner:
I want them to grow. And sure, I could short circuit. It would be faster for me to tell them, no, that’s not good enough. But in the situation of maybe setting goals or a development action, there’s plenty of room. We have to remember there’s room to grow. And it takes a long time for this to, even if I was reflecting the day before our conversation that I’ve been on this journey for seven plus years, that’s quite a long time. And I would say I don’t feel.

Shawn Carner:
Like I’m a perfect leader. Right.

Shawn Carner:
I have room to grow, but it’s been kind of this intentional journey. So kind of keeping that in mind and that particular anecdote you’re talking about.

Shawn Carner:
Was in a goal setting, and I

Shawn Carner:
was trying to put on the set direction, provide support, and develop self. Right. And go through the process and say, okay, the leadership team still set the high level direction of the organization, but then it was up to each sub organization to basically set the outcomes that

Shawn Carner:
they wanted for the year or for the quarter, I think is what we were doing it as.

Shawn Carner:
And the team at the time had set a fairly low bar for what the activity was, but ultimately said, okay, we’ll learn from that. And I actually kind of forget the specifics of what the goal language was.

Shawn Carner:
It’s probably not that relevant for our conversation.

Shawn Carner:
But ultimately, at the end of the quarter, they realized that the goal they had set.

Shawn Carner:
I think it was actually, now that.

Shawn Carner:
I say it was, we want perfect operating equipment, but we were a manufacturing group, and it was actually the maintenance.

Shawn Carner:
Organization’s accountability to have perfect equipment.

Shawn Carner:
So at the end of the 90 day cycle, they went, you know what? We didn’t have accountability to drive that. They did a ton of great experimentation. Right. They reached out to maintenance and tried to get better clarity about kind of.

Shawn Carner:
The pain point that we were feeling in manufacturing. But the basic learning is they couldn’t move the needle on that particular KPI because it wasn’t theirs to own, basically. Right.

Shawn Carner:
But it was a good opportunity to have questions and discussion about that. And I think it brings up a good point, is that you need to right size your learning cycles. In my own practice, I mentioned the PDCA kata process, because if you shrink them, you have multiple chances to learn.

Shawn Carner:
But if you go, I’m going to.

Shawn Carner:
Get better as a leader and make an entire year’s sort of target. You only have one bite at that learning apple at the end of the year. So if you could set daily, weekly, monthly kind of targets, you have more.

Shawn Carner:
Sort of learning opportunities, if you will, and then you can adjust.

Katie Anderson:
So much rich learning in that. And I really give kudos to you, Shawn, for I think a lot of people’s first instinct would be they kind of know their team’s kind of going off course and it wasn’t in their span of control for solving, and jumped in and be like, no, that’s not the right target. But you gave them space to learn and experiment and discover. And I’m sure they just got so much better at improving and next time and also feel so empowered that you gave them that space. So I just love that example. Yeah.

Shawn Carner:
I must say, I remember having discussions with some of the colleagues was helping.

Shawn Carner:
With sort of this strategy deployment approach.

Shawn Carner:
Like, I don’t know, is this the right thing? So a lot of times you don’t know if it’s the right thing or not, but anyone who has kids also has to think about when do you let them fail? Sometimes you just need to.

Shawn Carner:
Right?

Katie Anderson:
Yeah, well, right. And that’s. We want to help people by rescuing them, but sometimes the helping is safely. We don’t want safety issues, know, no. Goes to happen, but give them that space to fail and that time as well. I love that story. Shawn, you were pointing out some of the things behind you. You have a picture of a daruma from a workshop that I’ve had a lot of other Japan souvenirs, a daruma from when he came with me on Japan. And, well, maybe that’s a good segue. Yashank and three others from Genentech joined me on my May 2019 cohort on my Japan study trip. And a lot of people say, well, why go to Japan to learn about continuous improvement and leadership? And there’s so much. We could have a whole episode on this. But I’m just curious for you, as a lean leader, as a transformational change leader, what was the power of going to Japan and going to Japan on my trip?

Shawn Carner:
Ultimately, it felt like a trip of the lifetime from a lean practitioner standpoint, right? It’s like going to the source, really going to the Gemba, right? Go and see for yourself where lean started.

Shawn Carner:
And I really liked the sort of.

Shawn Carner:
Following the Toyota value chain as well as seeing some other companies. And it’s like, what’s the secret to this lean thing? How do they make it seem so easy? And I’d say one of my big takeaways, right, is we talked about coaching takes time to grow and build that whole conversation with someone. And the same thing from a lean standpoint is that it takes effort and time. And it’s not like Toyota just overnight.

Shawn Carner:
Became a lean company. They’ve been doing that for 40, 50 years.

Shawn Carner:
And so kind of the takeaway for me from the trip and something that you helped us explore is what artifacts of the lean culture are because of the Japanese culture. And then therefore, kind of my takeaway was, okay, how do we leverage the key principles in our culture, not try and become Japanese, but what are the things that say in the culture of Genentech or the culture of aquavel or more broadly, are those cultural elements and then align lean to that, because a lot of the things that we saw in japanese culture have direct connections to.

Shawn Carner:
How lean is practiced.

Shawn Carner:
But when we read the literature and we look at all the books, we don’t see that at all. No one starts off with like, this is the japanese culture. So this is why they do these.

Shawn Carner:
Things in the lean framework, right?

Shawn Carner:
We then see all these tools and.

Shawn Carner:
We go, okay, I’m going to go.

Shawn Carner:
And apply the tool piece of it in many ways, maybe after going to Japan, I sort of like, okay, I’m going to calm down a little bit on some of the tool side, and actually it shows up in my coaching.

Shawn Carner:
We talked about this briefly, but in.

Shawn Carner:
A tool forward approach, you might come.

Shawn Carner:
To a bunch of leaders, do a.

Shawn Carner:
Training and say, you should. All this is telling, do leader standard work. Right? And that’s exactly what we did. And then there’s always the few that are like, okay, yes, I’m going to go do it. I’m going to create my leader standard work. Can you give me a template? Sure. Here’s a template. First failure, and then from there, maybe three months later, there’s almost no one.

Shawn Carner:
Using leader standard work because they don’t.

Shawn Carner:
Have the sort of connection to the cultural elements, if you will, and the why isn’t really clear.

Katie Anderson:
Right.

Shawn Carner:
It’s a tool. And so in the coaching side of things, I often start with, what is your purpose? We explore, why are they here on earth? And then as we get deeper into that conversation, we talk about, especially if it’s a leader, what is the culture that they’re trying to create with their team or their department, depending on their level. And that might be a foreign concept to people, but trying to expose also that how leaders act and behave is how people experience them.

Shawn Carner:
And therefore that’s the culture that you create.

Shawn Carner:
This has happened 30, 40 times where then finally, after it takes three, four months, someone will come to me and say, okay, Shawn got my purpose. I know where I want to go, but I’m struggling to get it done. It’s like, oh, you know what? I have this tool for you. It’s called leader standard work. We’re going to write down all those things, write down your intention, and then you have a way to check in on that.

Katie Anderson:
Right?

Shawn Carner:
So that’s one of those wasn’t necessarily a direct learning from the trip to Japan, but it was after that where.

Shawn Carner:
I started being, oh, like, it really.

Shawn Carner:
Is about the people. I mean, even Toyota. What’s the quote?

Katie Anderson:
Right?

Shawn Carner:
We make great people.

Katie Anderson:
We make people so that we can.

Shawn Carner:
Make cars there, you know, and that’s.

Shawn Carner:
Like plastered all over the place.

Shawn Carner:
And that was kind of an aha.

Shawn Carner:
As well, that, yeah, we happen to know cancer saving drugs, but what we’re doing is developing people, especially as leaders.

Shawn Carner:
And the manufacturing of the medicine is not secondary, but is the outcome of that great activity.

Katie Anderson:
Toyd also says great thinking. Great. So, like, by engaging people, leveraging their great thinking, it’s the how. It’s the way we’re going to be able to make the cars or the cancer saving drugs, we often have it backwards in our culture, we focus on like, we need that result. But maybe people are an afterthought. So I talked about this in past episodes, too. So if you’re listening, go back and listen. I’ll link to some of those in the show notes as well. I want to point out, too that Shawn is an amazing graphic notes artist, and he has a visual summary of the trip from Japan also right behind him in his office, underneath a picture of a daruma. And I’ll put a picture of that in the full episode show notes on my website because it’s really cool. Shawn’s skills amaze me in his ability to graphically represent, making it visual of key concepts and takeaways.

Shawn Carner:
I’m a visual learner, so a, it helps me learn. But again, it comes back to the purpose.

Shawn Carner:
This is not art. This is about how to communicate in a simple way. And so that’s part of, I guess, my purpose and my approach to helping people see problems, right?

Shawn Carner:
And so oftentimes it could be an.

Shawn Carner:
Overused tool, but it is a useful one sometimes.

Katie Anderson:
All right, making it visual, making it visible.

Katie Anderson:
And there are many ways to do that and keep it simple. Right? It doesn’t have to be this whole elaborate thing. It’s like going back to the drawing your purpose or even when you’re doing a value stream map or draw what the problem is, get it out, show it visually, because sometimes the words, there are too many words and the visual can really synthesize it. And I just want to call it, too, that just for people who are listening. One of the key things about not all of Japan culture is the same as Toyota culture as well, too. So there are things that Toyota really leveraged, but there are things they had to overcome, too. So this can work in whatever culture you’re in, but knowing the history and the reason behind it really provides that richness. And it all goes back to people. The only secret to Toyota is its attitude towards learning, as I learned from Mr. Yoshino. So, Shawn, we could go on and on and talk about so many things like setting daily intention and reflection and how that’s the source of learning, and we’ll have to have another conversation. But if you think back to yourself 10-15 years ago, what advice would you give to yourself or other current listeners who are earlier in their careers and looking to make this change or this shift from being sort of operational excellence doer to really a transformational change leader, making a real broad impact with changing culture?

Shawn Carner:
I already referenced sort of this Batari.

Shawn Carner:
Model that I learned from William Bota.

Shawn Carner:
And to me, it speaks to the.

Shawn Carner:
Why of lean even, that we kind of touched on it with Toyota a.

Shawn Carner:
Little bit there in the space of culture. Again, I started probably like many people with this very tool forward thing. And even Kaizen is fun, right? We love solving problem, going out and having a workshop with a bunch of people. But once I learned that, oh, the whole point of having a kaizen and many kaizen is to have a high positive experience around problem solving and change. And when you have that in a team setting, you’re growing and developing the.

Shawn Carner:
People in that event. And depending on where they are in.

Shawn Carner:
The organization, they’re learning how to present in front of senior leaders.

Shawn Carner:
They had a positive ability to make.

Shawn Carner:
A change, which maybe was bugging them in their day to day work. And it’s that not necessarily the problem solving, but the experience that they had.

Shawn Carner:
That then gets codified into their values, let’s say, at work.

Shawn Carner:
And that shows up as a behavior.

Shawn Carner:
Which is now, if you do that.

Shawn Carner:
A sufficient number of times becomes the.

Shawn Carner:
Culture of the organization.

Shawn Carner:
And so similarly, if they experience leaders telling them what to do all the time, they’re going to check their brains at the door when they walk in every day and they’re not going to think, right? And leaders are constantly saying, how do I engage my employees? And why aren’t they thinking critically about problems? Well, that’s because you, the leader, has been essentially brainwashing them and saying, okay, sir or ma’am, I’m going to do whatever you tell me to do. Right? And it’s not intentional, but that’s what’s happening. And so telling my younger self, again, is if we as leaders show up in a different way, even one person can have quite a big impact on culture. Clearly, if you can get a majority of your leaders acting and behaving in this way, then you accelerate those kinds.

Shawn Carner:
Of changes in the organization.

Shawn Carner:
And all of a sudden you have these engaged, happy people because you’re talking about development all the time. You’re giving them projects that are focused on those things that they say they wanted to develop, too. Obviously, you’re a business. You have to do the businessy things, and you can’t just go off in every direction. But there are ways to intentionally build.

Shawn Carner:
Capabilities, grow your people. And so that’s where, again, connecting to the learning to lead, leading to learn framework is very powerful because you still.

Shawn Carner:
Set direction, then the support piece, that’s where you’re going to coach, ask the questions, and then you’re also, reflecting on your own, you’re learning for yourself and.

Shawn Carner:
Saying, okay, what did I learn? Maybe I need to ask that question a little bit better.

Katie Anderson:
Right.

Shawn Carner:
And it’s not about beating yourself up.

Shawn Carner:
That you’re not perfect. It’s sort of that growth mindset. I know you had Carol Dweck on, and I loved that episode. That was excellent because that’s something I often think about. It’s when you often tell people that.

Shawn Carner:
They don’t have a growth mindset, it immediately puts up their hackles like, of course I do. Right. Which is a fixed mindset. So it’s kind of this funny recursive loop a little bit.

Shawn Carner:
Right.

Shawn Carner:
And so the asking the questions is.

Shawn Carner:
A way to open that learning and get people to think about it without telling them that they’re wrong. Yeah.

Katie Anderson:
And that really circles back to some of the examples you gave earlier on this episode, too. So that’s great advice to me as the younger organizational change leader as well. So thank you so much, Shawn, it’s been a pleasure having you on the show, and it’s been a pleasure partnering with you for over seven years now. And I look forward to more. How can people get in touch with you if they’re interested in reaching out or connecting or learning more about you?

Shawn Carner:
Yeah, I’m on LinkedIn. I also have a website called visualgemba.com. Either of those are good ways.

Katie Anderson:
Fantastic. Yeah. You can check out more of Shawn’s amazing graphic work there as well. He actually led a class that I was participated in. I learned a lot from Shawn. So Shawn is really a true strong link in my Chain of Learning, and it was a pleasure to have you. Shawn Carner, on the Chain of Learning podcast here today. Thank you so much.

Shawn Carner:
Thanks, Katie.

Katie Anderson:
Becoming a transformational Change Katalyst isn’t a matter of gifting or luck. It’s about strategically developing yourself towards that end. It’s also about having the patience to lead that change in yourself and with the leaders you work with. If you haven’t yet downloaded my catalyst change leader self assessment, go do so now. Links are in the show notes. And also go back and listen to episode nine of this podcast to learn more about each of the eight competencies in the catalyst model. Go through the self assessment to identify for yourself your areas of strength and where you need growth and support. Choose one area that you want to focus on and then leverage the practice that Shawn shared that has been transformational for him. Setting daily intention and reflection and journaling it. Having people centered learning cultures in today’s complex, volatile world are even more essential than ever as organizations are going through changes that are literally unprecedented since the pandemic and more and more companies are working virtually and are in hybrid situations. What you offer as a transformational change leader isn’t just a nice to have, it’s mission critical that requires you to step up your influence game to help you get on that journey.

Katie Anderson:
Be sure to go download the KATALYST self assessment and you can also discover more about the leading to learn framework that has become the foundation of Shawn’s leadership superpower. In my book Learning to lead, leading to learn, I’ve also included links to other resources about how you can break the telling habit about the leading to learn framework and the catalyst self assessment, and other information about how you can effectively use some of the tools and techniques that Shawn mentioned here, such as A3 s and the cotta questions on the episode webpage chainoflearning.com nine. And be sure to also check out some of the earlier episodes of Chain of Learning where I talk about many of the concepts and practices Shawn mentioned here that I helped him bring into his practice, including the purpose drawing exercise which I talk about in episode four, and a daily reflection process and questions that I share in episode seven. And if you need support for yourself or your organization from someone like me to accelerate your leadership journey, I’d be happy to help. I love supporting change leaders like Shawn and you to discover your leadership superpowers and amplify them across your organization to create a thriving, people centered and high performing culture.

Katie Anderson:
You can learn more about my trusted advisor, coaching and learning experiences and services on my website, KBJAnderson.com. The link is also in the show notes and I also invite you to come join me for the learning experience of a lifetime in Japan on one of my upcoming Japan study trips, just like Shawn did in 2019, hundreds of leaders from dozens of countries have joined me for an immersive week of learning culture, delicious food and connections that have forever impacted how they are leading change in their companies. It’s an accelerator to becoming an even more effective Change Katalyst. When you come to Japan with me, you get curated insider access to diverse companies and unique cultural experiences that will revitalize your energy and deepen your knowledge of what it takes to create a successful culture of continuous improvement, innovation and engagement. Our focus is on people, culture and leadership, and each cohort is limited in enrollment to maximize the learning experience and discussions. Each program sells out far in advance. The next trip scheduled for this May 2024 is completely filled and I’m actively taking applications for the next experience. This year, the week of November 10.

Katie Anderson:
Enrollment is limited to 18 purpose focused leaders, so don’t hesitate. If this has been on your leadership bucket list, you can learn more about the program and submit your application for an upcoming tour on my website, kbjanderson.com slash Japantrip. The link is also in the show notes. So as we end this episode, remember, you too can easily have this simple leadership superpower and become a transformational Change Katalyst, just like Shawn. Step into your impact today and be sure to follow or subscribe out a Chain of Learning and share this podcast with your friends and colleagues so we can all strengthen our Chain of Learning together. Thanks for being a link in my Chain of Learning today. I’ll see you next time.

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