Implementing Lean Business Strategies

In this, The Faces of Business episode, Angela Thurman, Principal Managing Director, Thurman Co. LLC, shares her thoughts on implementing lean business strategies that combine the top-down focus of strategic management with the bottom-up methodology to improve businesses.

In this, The Faces of Business episode, Angela Thurman, Principal Managing Director, Thurman Co. LLC, shares her thoughts on implementing lean business strategies that combine the top-down focus of strategic management with the bottom-up methodology to improve businesses.

At Thurman Co., Angela helps small to medium-sized businesses with strategic technical project management, ensuring their projects are aligned with their business goals while staying on track. With project and risk management expertise, Angela helps businesses save millions in costs, time, and reputational damage. Angela also serves as the Treasurer, Membership Director for Women in Manufacturing Texas.

Angela has decades of experience working at NASA as an Electrical Engineer and doing high-profile projects for Williams, Sprint, and Collins Aerospace. She has participated in or led $1Billion+ projects in aerospace and telecommunications.

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Angela holds a BS in Electrical Engineering and an MS in Telecommunications Management.

Damon introduces Angela to the show and expresses his excitement for doing “some of the coolest things” in her life. The host invites Angela’s comments on her childhood that shaped her successful future.

Angela reveals that she grew up in Northwest Arkansas and attended a small, private Christian university in her hometown. Her professors recognized her talent for math and science and encouraged her to pursue a career in engineering. One even gave her a subscription to a woman engineer magazine in high school. She became the fourth woman to graduate with an engineering degree from her university and the only woman in her graduating class. She received one-on-one instruction from her instructors and had a great time in school.

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Similarly, the guest’s professor gave her a subscription to a magazine and encouraged her to pursue a career in engineering. Later, the same professor took her and other students to Ecuador, where they worked at a missionary radio station for six weeks. Angela learned a lot from the engineers at the station and had hands-on experience working with 1940s technologies, such as building a rectifier for the transmitter.

During her college years, Angela gained real-world skills while working at a shortwave radio station in Ecuador. She designed and built a rectifier and capacitor and installed them while the transmitter went live with 220 volts. She had to lay down in a cable trough and shimmy down on her back while it was all live.

Angela’s experience building a rectifier for a missionary radio station in Ecuador enabled her to create a switching power supply. This project, in turn, led to NASA wanting to interview her for a job in the power management and distribution branch for the space station, which became her first job.

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Damon praises Angela’s accomplishments. Moreover, he asks the guest to explain the project she worked on while at T-Mobile and Sprint, which he describes as impressive.

Angela lets the audience peep through her career in designing a fiber optic network that encircled Atlanta and connected Turner Field, CNN, the CDC, the upsell teleport, and several other vital customers with the fiber optic network. She negotiated the contracts for the fiber leases and brought all the parties to the table. This became a metro access network, her capstone project for her master’s degree in telecommunications management from Oklahoma State. This network is now a commonplace tool for serving large metropolitan areas.

While talking about her whereabouts in Women in Manufacturing (WIN), Angela mentions that she is the membership director and treasurer for the said association. The chapter is about to celebrate its third anniversary and has about 1000 Texas resident members, making it one of the bigger chapters. Additionally, several high affiliates have chosen to work with WIN to stay connected with the Texas chapter, even though they reside in other states.

Angela highlights that Texas is brimmed with new manufacturers relocating or adding factories. The state has a significant automotive industry, with Tesla, GM, Toyota, and Kia present. Petrochemicals are massive, with Dow and BASF located in Houston, and the oil and gas industry is widespread throughout Texas.

Additionally, Texas is an enormous hub for the semiconductor industry, with major companies such as Texas Instruments, On Semiconductor, and NXP present in North Texas and Austin. Other semiconductor companies are coming to Texas with the passage of the chips act, including Global Wafer committing to building a big factory in the state.

The guest is excited about the growth in smart manufacturing and the new opportunities it brings, particularly for women in manufacturing. She notes that these are no longer “the dangerous, dirty jobs” traditionally associated with manufacturing but rather interesting and well-paying jobs.

Damon asks Angela about her interest in lean manufacturing and what drew her to learn more about it.

The lean management guru reveals that in 1992, she created her first value stream map for an ISO certification while working at a manufacturing facility that produced optical and semiconductor-grade silicon and germanium. She enjoyed understanding the manufacturing processes, from raw material delivery to finished products shipped to customers. This was her introduction to value streams, and from then on, she has been process-oriented and focused on making improvements.

Damon requests Angela to talk about how most people are now adopting Lean Manufacturing in their businesses or if there is still a lot of opportunity to implement it.

Angela believes lean principles can be applied in day-to-day work for service providers, not just manufacturing. She mentions the concept of electronic 5S (Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain), a method for organizing data and documents. She suggests saving files on the cloud and agreeing on a file structure and individual document naming convention to make them easily locatable. Angela gives an example of how not having an agreed-upon naming convention can cause problems, such as when a customer needs a file while a team member is away and they cannot find it.

Damon quotes Karen, a Texas-based business owner, who once asked Damon about the cause of the disconnect between lean manufacturing and applying lean principles in business.

Angela points out the cause, mentioning the gap between lean principles and their application.

On Damon’s request, Angela brings to light the importance of identifying key metrics in business. She mentions that not knowing important metrics, such as inventory turnover, can affect how we run our business.

She also talks about waste, including non-value-added processes, overproduction, over-inspection, and over-processing, which can occur in manufacturing and service industries. The guest suggests that wasted time can be saved in the service industry by identifying and stopping unproductive activities like excessive reviews and approvals.

Meanwhile, Angela suggests that businesses can adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic by identifying and adjusting to customer needs and behavior changes.

The course of the Livestream furthers into an exciting phase when Damon mentions Karen’s questions about how businesses may be missing opportunities for customer self-service that could improve customer experience and efficiency.

Angela responds positively to Karen’s idea of customer self-service, particularly portals where customers can access frequently asked questions and resources such as manuals and reports. She emphasizes that customers do not want to wait for someone to call them back and that self-service options can help solve their problems faster.

Similarly, Damon asks another awesome question about defining key metrics for “new or small businesses.” The guest suggests it is important to determine the metric clearly and whether there are industry standards or company goals to achieve. She also mentions that there might be some general rules of thumb or industry associations that can help define metrics.

Agreeing with the guest, Damon reveals that his Golden Trio of metrics for clients includes knowing their top-line sales, gross margin, and revenue minus the production cost.

Damon agrees with Angela that specific metrics such as pick-to-pack time and order processing time are applicable and significant in the E-commerce industry. He also cautions against using too many metrics and emphasizes the need to determine if the chosen metrics will genuinely benefit the company or if other metrics can provide better results.

Before parting, Angela shares that people can get a hold of her via LinkedIn and visit her website.

Toward the end of the Livestream, Damon thanks Angela, “an awesome guest,” for her time and valuable insights.

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Angela Thurman, Damon Pistulka


Damon Pistulka  00:02

All right, everyone, welcome once again, this is the face of business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. I am excited today because we’re gonna be talking to Angela Thurmond today from Thurman, CO, or Yes, or micro excuse me about implementing lean business strategies. And I’m gonna tell you, Angela, I’m excited because you are an expert, a guru. You’ve done some of the coolest things in your life. So excited to have here today.


Angela Thurman  00:33

Oh, thank you, David. I’m excited to be here.


Damon Pistulka  00:37

Awesome. Well, Angela, as we always like to do on the faces of business. I would like you to start back when you were getting ready to go to school, and tell us your journey through school and kind of catches up to how you got to what you’re doing today.


Angela Thurman  00:59

So I grew up in Northwest Arkansas, the extreme northwest corner of Arkansas, home of companies like Walmart, JB Hunt, Simmons industries, Tyson’s some names you might be familiar with. And, and I ended up going to school at a very small, private Christian University in my hometown. And I was very, very lucky. In that, my professors, most of them were men that I had known from childhood. I went to school with their children. I went to church with these people.

Early on, even in high school. They supported me, they recognized my natural talent for math and science and so forth. And they encouraged me. And one of them even gave me a subscription to woman engineer magazine. While I was still in high school, yeah, well, urged me to pursue a career in engineering.

And that’s what I did. So. So yeah, I was the fourth woman to graduate with an engineering degree from my university. And I’m the only woman in my graduating class. And one of six electrical engineers to graduate from this very small school meant that I had a lot of attention, directed one to one instruction from my instructors. And I just had a great time while I was at school.


Damon Pistulka  02:53

That really, when you said, I didn’t realize until today that you went to to your college in your hometown, and knowing those those teachers and professors from a young age, and having those influences that really had to be powerful, because most kids, relatively no kids are going to have that kind of influence in their life from an early age saying, Listen, you need to do this and go, you need to be an engineer. Oh, that’s so awesome. That’s awesome.


Angela Thurman  03:28

It goes even further, because the professor that gave me the subscription to woman engineer, magazine, the summer between my junior and senior years, he took me he and his wife took me and a couple of other students from our school to Ecuador. And we worked at a missionary radio station, a shortwave radio station in these mountains. And so for six weeks there, I was in this beautiful, beautiful environment at a live working shortwave radio station.

And I learned so much hands on. Yeah, from the engineers who worked at the radio station. Things like I had to high pot all the capacitors that were in the bodega, the first week I was there to make sure that they were still working and this is 1940s technologies. These are vacuum tube capacitors. Yeah, so I’m like, I hope it doesn’t blow up. And then one day, I was given the assignment to build from scratch or rectifier that had to go into the transmitter later that day. And to keep it going to keep it going.


Damon Pistulka  04:50

Oh my


Angela Thurman  04:51

god. So I had to first of all design the rectifier and then build so here I am soldering together. You know Using real world skills, right? Soldering this, these resistors and capacitors together to build a rectifier, and and then I had to install it. And while I was installing it, they had to bring the power up on this transmitter and I’m inside of this thing. Yes. And it’s going live with 220 volts.

Yeah, that’s coming up and warm it up. And we’re gonna we’re gonna go live in 20 minutes, you need to get out. So I had to lay down in a cable trough and shimmy down on my back. Well, this is all lie. Oh, my high voltage.


Damon Pistulka  05:48

Yeah. Yeah, don’t let the Workers Compensation people see that.


Angela Thurman  05:56

But because of that experience, I, I came away with a project for the missionaries to build them a switching power supply. And that became my senior design project. Oh. And then because of that experience, my my senior design project of being being a switching power supply, that directly led to NASA wanting to interview me for the power management, and distribution branch for the space station. And that’s how I got my first job.


Damon Pistulka  06:34

That is such an awesome story. I do that you work with dead stuff, done design, the power stuff for the space station, but I didn’t recognize all the way back from being in college and doing that in Ecuador. That’s that’s so cool. So as you’re doing that now, you’re, you’re pretty humble. It’s awesome, awesome. part about you. But you’ve done some pretty incredible things. I mean, let’s talk about one thinks. Yeah, yeah, a lot of fun things.

So let’s talk about when you were you, you mentioned this before, but you did something that basically changed the way that data was handled on something in in the in the GA explain that project that you did there with? I’m sorry. You did something. And you mentioned before, when you were working for the phone company, T Mobile and sprint at the time, what what did you do there? Because that thing is that was my boy. You’re working on there? I can see I can’t even explain it. But I hear it. I go, Oh my goodness.


Angela Thurman  07:43

So um, I was working on my master’s degree, which is in telecommunications management. And at the time, I was working for a company called Williams communications. Okay, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. So my my degrees from Oklahoma State. Yeah. And so what I did was to design a fiber optic network that encircled Atlanta, and connected Turner Field, CNN, the CDC, the upsell teleport, which is a satellite teleport, and several other key customers with with the fiber optic network, and then back to our point of presence in Atlanta. So imagine that the Braves are playing a baseball game.

This is how the signal that the video the broadcast signal gets from the Braves, to TBS, and then backhauled to be broadcast across all, you know, affiliates everywhere.

Yes. So I negotiated the contracts for the the fiber leases, and brought all the parties to the table, basically. And that became a metro access network. And then and so that was my, my key, my capstone project for my master’s degree, my thesis project, basically. And then now, that’s a commonplace tool for serving large metropolitan areas. Yes, yeah.


Damon Pistulka  09:52

It’s so cool. So cool that you’re a part I mean, that’s just such a groundbreaking thing when you see how data is so important to us every day now. And how it gets more and more. And I actually, Saturday, believe it or not, I thought about this again, this project again, because I have a friend of mine who is a I don’t even know what you’d call him. He’s he is.

He teaches people how to use network analyzers, all different kinds of fiber, Ethernet and all that kind of stuff. But, but he does it globally, he use a traveler where now he does it virtually. But he has classes. I mean, they just go right. But he was telling me about the fact that these, these transportation projects, like we’re doing one up here is called the the light rail system that’s going to run north and south and Seattle, east and west.

And he’s saying what these transportation projects are doing and these tunneling projects that you see, they’ve got these huge, you know, they’ve got areas for, obviously cables to go through them. And he said, the fact that the thing that was really interesting is that there’s so many people now that need these private data networks, that they’re locked, they’re leasing either the cable, that’s all the fiber optics that are all in there, there or bigger corporations are putting their own through these, through these access ways.

Because they go right through the middle of the cities or right to the big places that they want them to go. In, he was talking about the fact of how for here in the light rail system, how much of that is actually going on now? And how he is training people that are that are doing it and doing the data, the data analysis and making sure it’s all working right. But I thought about your project because wow, is has that exploded? Yes.

Took me a long time to get there. But I was I was on Saturday. I was like, wow, that was I remember angela talking about this. But then I hear how this is going? Because yeah. Anyway, it’s just like you think about that. And then the IoT and everything, how many how much more data we move every single minute of every single day than we did before? So crazy. Did you ever think Did you ever think that when you were doing that, that this is like this could be something this this is really going to be something crazy?


Angela Thurman  12:22

No, it seemed like a one off? You know, it didn’t really seem like, like, yeah.



Yeah, yeah.


Angela Thurman  12:32

A day, we used to negotiate lease rights roof to put, you know, microwave stations on the roofs of buildings, and cable writes, to go in elevator shafts and things like that.


Damon Pistulka  12:49

Yeah. So this was like taking it to another level because of the capacity. Yeah, yeah. And, and the same, same as Mike Janaki is the guy’s name I was talking to you. And Mike was talking about how much the data needs have changed, like you said, for the Braves field or somebody like that.

Because of the the amount of not just the amount of television data going into for K and the things like they’ve done there. But he said amount of cell phone data that’s moving back and forth and has to get in and out of those places. He said there, there the the information movement is is just went through the roof, too.

So, so interesting. Well, we’re not here to talk about that. But I just thought that is such a cool thing that you’ve done. And then the other space, they should too. Okay. I see you’re the only person I know who’s done anything on the space station. So I gotta hear about it again, what you did, because I don’t I don’t know many famous people. I’m not saying in my mind.


Angela Thurman  13:57

I do have a paper on my LinkedIn profile that I wrote it that time. Okay, so if you want to know about load converters, yeah, you can read all about load converters


Damon Pistulka  14:13

are quite good goofing around here because we came to talk about implementing lean business strategies. And we got to talk about a couple other things. Now you’re pretty active in women in manufacturing. There is there in Houston, correct? Yeah,


Angela Thurman  14:26

so I’m, I’m the membership director and the treasurer for the Texas chapter of women in manufacturing. And we’re getting ready to celebrate our third chapter Versary and pretty exciting for us. We have about about 1000, Texas resident members, which is really, really cool for one of the bigger chapters obviously Texas is a great big state.

But then we have several high Good affiliate members, so members of women in manufacturing that have chosen to affiliate with Texas to stay current with what our chapters doing, even though they reside in other states.


Damon Pistulka  15:14

Awesome. Awesome. And before we got on you, we’re talking about the what’s happening in manufacturing in Texas and women in manufacturing in Texas talk about that a little bit.


Angela Thurman  15:28

Well, we try to stay current with all the the trends in manufacturing, and Texas right now is just exploding. We have so many new manufacturers that are relocating to Texas or adding new factories in Texas. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of automotive that that takes place in Texas, we’ve got, you know, Tesla, GM, Toyota, Kia, here. And then petrochemical is huge, Dow and BASF, right here in Houston.

And then of course, oil and gas is everybody knows about oil and gas. Yeah. And throughout Texas. But then something that a lot of people don’t really realize is that Texas is also a huge hub of the semiconductor industry. So we have one field of semiconductor companies in North Texas, like from Denton or Sherman, south into Dallas, and then another hub in Austin.

So we’ve got companies that you might be familiar with, like to Texas Instruments, pretty much everyone’s heard of them. But we’ve also got on semiconductor to six, NXP, and many, many other semiconductor companies and the companies that support them throughout Texas. And then with the passage of the chips act. Other companies are coming to Texas, I think global wafer has committed to build a big, big factory, a new clean semiconductor manufacturing company here in Texas as well.


Damon Pistulka  17:25

Yeah, cuz those aren’t, those aren’t. I mean, that’s not a $50 investment. I mean, that’s what you’re gonna put up a chip factory. It’s some serious zeros behind


Angela Thurman  17:33

it is. So that’s tremendous growth for our economy.


Damon Pistulka  17:37

Yeah, yeah. Well, what are you excited about as you think of women in manufacturing overall right now.


Angela Thurman  17:47

I think the growth in smart manufacturing, and the the new opportunities that that brings, particularly for women in manufacturing, because we see the growth of new areas that are no longer those dangerous, dirty jobs that you traditionally associate with manufacturing, but these are really cool, interesting jobs that pay well. And that you know, anyone would be interested in and, and they’re available here in Texas.


Damon Pistulka  18:30

Yeah. Yeah, that’s so cool. And that’s one of the things that I always always love when I see people like yourself that are involved in in like women in manufacturing or just anything I mean, manufacturing, extension, partnerships, anything because everybody looks that that hasn’t been in manufacturing that doesn’t understand manufacturing, when they say manufacturing they think of the Ford plant or something like the black and white pictures of an old steel mill or something like that.

And yeah, the amount of technology the amount of diversified skill sets it takes to to run manufacturing now everything from from computer programmers to accountants to you know, I don’t know what just it we were talking about just IT and data analyzer, just so much stuff that goes into it now. That yes, there are people making products, but there’s a whole host of opportunities around the outside of that.


Angela Thurman  19:29

So maybe, maybe your your skills are in marketing well. Manufacturing needs marketing for your skill is in contracts Well, manufacturing needs leads legal analysts and contracts analysts. There’s no matter what you do, there is a role for you in manufacturing.


Damon Pistulka  19:55

That is the case and I love I love it when we get to talk about that because there are well I get in you know, you see it you see young children, young younger people today my college and not think of manufacturing and they couldn’t be out in and they could be in recruiting, they could be want to be in marketing, they could be computers, it could be an engineering it does.

And they go, Oh, or even computer programming, they go oh, it’s like, I’m gonna go here, I’m gonna go there and they don’t consider it. And, or even people that want to go into the trade right or go into a trade site to work VT welding or symbol, whatever it is. What’s that? CNC mills, yeah, CNC machining, and there’s so much to do and, and that it’s sad to see someone graduate from high school or college and not find the kind of opportunity they want, because they didn’t understand about manufacturing and understand that.

Listen, the entry level wages in manufacturing now are so high compared to and and I could walk out with a high school degree, go into manufacturing, if I don’t want to go to college and work in really good roles and, and learn and work my way up and make a wonderful life for myself.

And it’s just something that our children need to understand younger people need to understand and and people that are looking for a new career opportunity, honestly, because it’s manufacturers now, let’s talk about that. If you’re out here in Silicon Valley, Southern California, and metal just said they’re going to lay off another 10,000 people globally.

I mean, manufacturing is on the other side of this going, Hey, we can’t hire enough people. I don’t care what you do, and we can’t hire enough people. So there’s there are opportunities out there for people that want to widen their scope and and potentially look at a new industry. Yes, yes. Yeah. Awesome. So you do some speaking for them, too, don’t you? Women are manufacturing conferences and stuff.


Angela Thurman  22:06

Yeah. In fact, I had a conversation earlier today about the AI in manufacturing conference that’s going to take place in Dallas, later this year. Awesome.


Damon Pistulka  22:21

That’s mind boggling what’s going to happen when we really see that happen? Run this stuff by itself.


Angela Thurman  22:27

Smart Manufacturing, digital transformations, that sort of thing. Yeah, it’s gonna be really, really interesting.


Damon Pistulka  22:36

Yes. So as we’re moving forward today, you know, you do talk about lean manufacturing as part of your women in manufacturing little bit, little bit. So what what drew you into, into lean manufacturing, and really learning more about it?


Angela Thurman  22:56

So, way back in 1992, I did my first value stream map for an ISO certification when I was working for a manufacturing facility that produced optical and semiconductor grade silicon and germanium.

And I really, really enjoyed that I loved walking through the factory and asking all of the workers, what do you do now and then what comes next and just trying to understand and and what happens from the point that the raw material is delivered until the finished products are shipped to the customers, and also another map for from the point that the customer makes an initial call, until the delivered products go to the customer. So that was really interesting. I enjoyed that a lot.

And so that would probably be my first introduction to value streams and trying to understand the manufacturing processes. And then from, from that point on, you know, I’ve just kind of always been very process oriented. Yeah. I’m an engineer, got to know how things work. Got to try and make improvements. And so that just was a natural fit for me.


Damon Pistulka  24:35

Very cool.


Angela Thurman  24:36

I’ve got this, this cool definition pulled up. I want to read to you. So lean management, optimizes processes by reducing time spent on non value added tasks. So maybe that’s unnecessary operations of transport, waiting, overproduction, etc. Causes of poor call quality and complications. And this method is supported by an important managerial dimension to ensure employees work in the best conditions. And I love this definition, because it dovetails in that aspect of considering your employees and not just your metrics.


Damon Pistulka  25:27

Yes, yes. And that’s one of the things that I really have always enjoyed about lean manufacturing. And then when you when you stretch that into lean, lean business, and lean business strategies, is the non value added work, part of it. Yes. And it’s you’re not expecting someone to work faster, you’re expecting to eliminate a lot of the other stuff that distracts them from being able to get the value added work done.

Yes. And I still remember to this day I was I was fortunate enough, the very first introduction, I had to lean manufacturing was someone that was was part of Ford, when they started to introduce lean manufacturing.

And this person came to us and as part of his acquisition, and and it was amazing, because I still remember they put something on the on the board and said, you know, how much time are you actually doing value added work? And how much time are you doing non value added work. And you look at it, you go and most in most situations until they’ve been optimized an awful lot.

The non value added work is the majority of the time. And I think in this case, it was 80, or 90% is non value, add work, and you’re doing 10 or 20 value added work, the stuff that really matters. And they were they sit there and they said, Listen, I’ve got 10 or 20%, over here, value added work. And I’ve got eat it and 80 or 90%. Over here, all I have to do over here on the big site is take 10% out of the 80 or 90%. And I’ve doubled the amount of time I’ve added to my work.

Yeah, that have doubled my capacity. And it was like the light bulb went off. And when you look at this in business, it translate in when you think of business process, like you said, your value stream map from customer to deliver your product, or even payment or product, I think there’s so much for us to learn in utilizing those same processes to really transform the way we do business by allowing people to do more of what they really want to be doing. And less of the non value added work.

Right? Yeah. So when you’re back there doing that first one or some subsequent things when you’ve done value value stream mapping? What are some of the things you really learned by doing that, and then working with the people through the value stream and understanding.


Angela Thurman  28:14

You can’t get a roomful of managers together and expect to get the answers, you have to get the people who are doing the work to participate in this activity, because they’re going to know where all the the hidden gems are?


Damon Pistulka  28:37

Yes. Yes, that’s a good point the managers just need, they can just stay home. They can stay home or stay on their office, because the people doing the work are the ones that know. And it’s always interesting to me how you can have two departments working side by side.

And this is in manufacturing or in business. Working side by side, it could be sales, and then customer service. Or it could be you know, a CNC machining and at some deeper assembly operation after it. And they don’t know the first operation doesn’t know that they’re, they’re causing a bunch of extra work for the second operation until you do these value stream maps.


Angela Thurman  29:21

Exactly. And sometimes it’s as simple it can be in manufacturing, it can be in a service, it can be in, you know, data management. It’s like if if only I knew this, if only I had this information, then XYZ would happen or this would be so much easier. And it’s like, well, I had that information. I just didn’t know you needed it.


Damon Pistulka  29:52

Yes. And when you look at some of the things the simple format changes or including something like you said Add that that would help the next the next step in the process. And when you add all those little changes up, the incremental change in in the what you’ve done with your business or your processes you’re working on can be pretty significant.

Yes. Yeah. So as as you’re talking with people about Lean Manufacturing, when you’re when you’re out and about, do you think that most people are now taking the lean manufacturing and moving it into their business processes? Are there still a tremendous opportunity to look at their businesses that way?


Angela Thurman  30:41

I think that there’s still, I think that there is an attempt, but there’s still a long way to go. And I think that most people still think that lane is only for manufacturing. And I don’t think that’s the case. Because there’s so much that we can do. Even if you’re a service provider, like Thurman KCO, you know, we’re service provider, we can still apply Lean principles in our day to day work.

One of the first things that comes to mind for me is an electronic five s. So if you’re going to organize this, this is a simple example. But you’re going to organize your archives of your documents, let’s say you got you’ve made example processes, or you’ve got customer information, anything at all. First of all, I would never save it on my hard drive, I always would save it to the cloud, because my hard drive can fail. Or I may need to share that information with a teammate who is remotely located. So I want to have it on on the cloud.

And I want to have it very, you know, I want to have an agreement among the team of how we’re going to archive our documents. So yes, whatever that is, whatever that looks like. But we’d have, you know, some sort of file structure? And then something as simple as individual document. naming convention. Yes. So because the very most simple thing that we’re trying to do is make those files those documents, locatable?

So if if we’re not following a an agreed upon convention, for naming these documents, how am I ever going to locate them? So that you and I were in business together, and you go on a fishing trip for a week. And you, you, you and I didn’t agree on how to name and archive our documents. And while you’re fishing, the customer needs something I can’t find your files. That customer is going to be very disappointed.


Damon Pistulka  33:27

Yeah, that they’ve got to wait, which they shouldn’t have to.


Angela Thurman  33:30

Exactly. Yeah. If we have done a five s, and we’re, and we’re the last one is sustained. If we are sustaining, then then I will be able to easily locate your dot the document you prepared for this customer and satisfy their needs.


Damon Pistulka  33:54

Yep. Yep. And that’s, that is an awesome example of two things. One is it’s not just physical, all this organization is a lot of this and especially in business and Karen, Karen’s from Texas as well. But she says what do you think the cause of the disconnect between lean manufacturing and applying lean principles and business? Think about that?


Angela Thurman  34:21

Can you bring the question up again? Yeah, well, I


Damon Pistulka  34:23

Well, yeah, it’s a good one.


Angela Thurman  34:27

The disconnect? I think that probably it’s a couple of different things. Number one is understanding what the principles actually are. And the second one is adoption, adoption of those principles for the specific application of whichever principle it is.


Damon Pistulka  34:52

Yeah, I think


Angela Thurman  34:54

it will be hard, but it can take a while. because, you know, we all are averse to change.


Damon Pistulka  35:06

Yeah. And I think that too and to answer Karen’s questions a little bit differently as well is people think that lean manufacturing is for them out there. In the, yes, that’s quite big, it’s for them out there in the plant, and then you and then you will want work in the, in all the all areas of the business. Well, that’s for them out there, because they’re doing, you know, all the spaghetti mapping and value stream and all this stuff. And we’re, we’re five assing.

And you’ve made it you made an incredible example of electronic five s which because I literally that one step alone and like in an engineering firm, or someone that’s using a lot of data could save 1000s of hours in a year, and and ultimately make their company so much more efficient.

But I think the and, and I think applying those same principles in the business setting is because the one thing you said, too, is, we may have too many managers in the business part of it, that don’t want to get out of the way and let the process get better. But it’s it’s just one of those things. I think that if you haven’t seen it happen, you do not really understand the power of it.


Angela Thurman  36:24

Well, and sometimes people think that it’s expensive to Oh, yeah, we can’t change this, or, you know, we can’t adopt this Lean principle, because it’ll be expensive, we’ll have to buy new equipment. That’s also not necessarily true. I had a supplier in the Seattle area that adopted an and Dawn system, which is just an indicator, red, yellow, green, you know, what is your status at a particular station? By distributing Solo cups throughout their plant?



How cheap is that? Yeah,


Angela Thurman  37:06

but that’s, that’s their, that was their solution. And it worked. Yeah. And, you know, they didn’t have to go and install these expensive lamps and all that, no, they just, they just gave everybody red, yellow, green Solo cups. Yeah,


Damon Pistulka  37:26

it can, it can be very simple. And like you said, when, when you’re talking about the lean business process, one of the things that I always like to see when we’re when we’re doing that with a client and I talked about before we’re on because we’ve got a healthcare client, now that we’re doing the value stream mapping of a patient journey from beginning to end.

And, and we’re seeing that the, the kind of things that you find out about your business, you will probably never discover until you do a Value Stream Map of, of something, you know, either an order running through and products getting producing or services or whatever it is coming out. And, and until you get paid.

And you will often find that there are things that are hanging you up along the way, that are that are stretching that to take tremendously longer than it needs to really take. And when you focus on those things, and when you look at trying to, to develop competitive advantages. Speed is one that is always throughout my career been something that if you can do it faster, and you do it with Lean principles in mind, and it doesn’t matter in manufacturing or in services or anything.

You by doing it with a lean approach, you’re going to more than likely because it can be without but more than likely, you’re going to have to have very high quality. Yes, simple processes. And, and with the standard work that goes across. You can do things oftentimes in significantly shorter lead times and others can at lower cost than others can.

And when you combine those two things in business, this is where I think that the real opportunity is missed by people that don’t adopt this and jump into it. Because what would it mean your company if you could go if your lead time was 30 50% less than your competitors? And oh, by the way, you can produce that, you know, the same price or a little bit less if you need to, and make more money at that. Yes, yes. And your and your margins were better than your competitors. I mean, it puts it really puts you into a situation where you every one else is going to be trying to catch up.


Angela Thurman  40:03

I completely agree. Yes, yeah.


Damon Pistulka  40:05

Yeah. So as your as your when you’ve been helping people with Lean Manufacturing, talking about it, what are some of the examples of kind of the I mean, the red, yellow, green solar COVID is cool. I wrote that down, because that’s one of the cool things have you seen when you’ve been talking to people and helping them with this?


Angela Thurman  40:26

Um, another good example, I think, would be identifying your what, what are your key metrics? What, what what’s, you know, because you’re going to improve what you measure. And so you’re going to identify what’s really important to your business? And if you if you don’t know, for example, whether, you know, your inventory inventory is turning two or three times a year? or more, or not at all, not at all.

When How are you going to run your business? Yes. Are you are you? Are you over producing something? And that can go for manufacturing, or for a service industry, too. Because, again, from the service side, if I’m producing all of this content, maybe emails or reports or presentations that nobody cares about? That’s waste, and I can stop it right now. And do something more productive.

Yeah. And then there’s over processing. So if in the manufacturing environment, you know, am I over inspecting? Am I spending a lot of time over inspecting, and over processing? My, my product? And in the service environment? Am I Am I passing this document around for review and approval and review and approval and review and approval? Way too much? Does it really need to be, you know, sent up to the third vice president of watch McCall it before it gets released? Yeah. Just say, yeah, that looks pretty good, then.


Damon Pistulka  42:34

Yes. Oh, you just hit a couple of there. Oh, my goodness, that the over processing? Yes. And the such a pointed example right there of a document that takes 47 signatures for it to be approved when one could do or you need input from 72 people. And listen, when when 71 of them don’t care, it really doesn’t need 72 people? Yes. Such good, such good stuff here.

But Karen has a couple of other great questions here. It is said that business are missing opportunities for Customer Self Service that would improve customer experience and improve efficiency. How would you sell this idea to an organization that wants to ensure customers get personalized service and are hesitant to make the transaction? Ooh,


Angela Thurman  43:28

oh, yeah. Self Service. I, I like the idea of having a customer portal and letting customers be able to have that interaction. So if there’s something where customers can can get access to frequently asked questions, recently, resources, like, you know, some sort of manuals, documents, you know, reports, things like that, where they can get access to solve their own problems. They don’t want to be waiting around for somebody to call them back either. So I really liked that. If there are other examples of that type of self service, I’m not thinking of them immediately. But I’m sure there are other examples.


Damon Pistulka  44:25

Well, it’s simple, like, those are great examples. And if you can say like the ordering of replacement product, you can use an ecommerce solution for ordering replacement product, but you made an awesome point because some people want to do that. Some people do want to talk to a customer service person. So I think for these companies that are hesitant to move that way. They it’s like it’s not all of one or the other. It’s not 100% or 100%. It’s like we give both options because honestly, the people that buy eyes are wide variety of people, some will want that some will need that kind of immediate.

And some won’t care. They want to talk to somebody or do it. But I think it’s really about giving that personalized service to the individual rather than saying, well, our customers and generalizing, like to do it this way. Yeah, they got all kinds of varied ways that they want to do it, and give them the option that suits them. Because truly, that’s what leading edge companies are doing.

They don’t care. How do you want to get how do you want to order you want to order on Amazon, you want to order from our website, you want to order from Walmart you want to order from, you know, you know, our affiliates, do you want to buy replacement parts at one of our distributors, because it’s down the street from you, you want to support them or you want to buy from us online, it’s all these ways that people are doing this. And the same thing with service and how they do it.

I just think that getting people to realize that their customers are not all the same. And if you give them more options, you’ll probably see people using them.


Angela Thurman  46:04

That that is excellent, excellent suggestions. Yeah.


Damon Pistulka  46:08

And then she had one final question. How would a newer small company establish what metrics are? Or should be? Awesome,


Angela Thurman  46:20

awesome question. So I think that, number one, is it a metric that could be defined in a specification like an engineering specification? Second thing is, is there an industry? Standard? So if you know, for example, like on time delivery? does, is there an industry standard for for that? Or does Does, does your company have a goal to set for whatever this metric is?

So whether it’s how many calls are being processed per minute in the call center? Or standard wait time to have that call answered? Or how many orders for part number XYZ 123? are being taken each month? What you know, whatever that metric is? There are some general rules of thumb. Yeah, that you can probably find, if not, there are probably some industry associations that you can look to, to try and find them.


Damon Pistulka  47:52

Yeah, and then the one thing, I’ll tell you, my, my Golden Trio of metrics that I always try to any client that we work with, they’re going to know they’re going to know, their top line sales, they’re going to know their gross margin. And, and I don’t care about what the net income is, or anything like that on metrics, because most people in the business don’t have any control over that fixed part, what we spend in administrative costs and rent and all that other stuff, right.

So we just make sure that our revenue minus the cost to produce it, we know what that gross margin because that’s what people that are going to be looking at this can actually do.

And I know this is scary to some business owners founders sometimes don’t like to share that. Trust me, if you educate people on the fact that it costs you a million dollars a month in fixed costs to run it, when they see $250,000 A month or three or $400,000 a week, or whatever they are, whatever you’re doing, they will not freak out over how much money it is, they’ll understand that this is you know,

you’re running a business, you have to make a return on your investment and educating people in your company, you will be able to share the numbers, but gross margin revenue and gross margin are the first two that we always do, because they are so important for your business long term. Because if you’re not generating enough money, you won’t be there around the long term.


Angela Thurman  49:19

Well, and that just makes me realize that different people in different parts of the company are going to be tied in to different metrics.


Damon Pistulka  49:28

Yes. And that is that is why the next ones in some of them that you were talking about are very applicable. And we see these things in in E commerce, it could be the pick to pack time. How long does it take me to get the item off the shelf and the order out the door? And that’s a huge thing in E commerce. It’s like how much you do that or you look at tack times even even when you look at beginning of orders start to end of orders start you might say that, hey, we want every order from the time we touch it until the time it’s done. Ready to Ship? How many hours?

That can be something from an operational perspective, there’s. But in the end, I keep I always I’m trying to not say but so much because I don’t want to negate well before and there’s so many other things that that you can do. We need to realize that if you get more at about four or five is too many. So you always have to keep going. Does that really going to help us? Is it really going to help us? Or are one of these other ones going to give us what we want instead?


Angela Thurman  50:32

So are there key performance indicators?



Yes. Yes.


Damon Pistulka  50:38

There we go. And I just want to say, Iris here. Thanks for stopping in de IRA.



So, Karen, thanks for the Thanks for the kind words on that. I mean, it’s it’s so much fun, having the great questions. And Angela, just being here to talk about this. But, Angela, we’ve gone 51 minutes now. And I feel like we could go I know I don’t. It’s like it’s like, okay, we’re just getting started, but we’re not.


Damon Pistulka  51:11

Thank you so much. Now if Pete, thank you so much for being here, because I knew this was going to be an awesome conversation. I knew it was going to be great. Just hearing you talk about your experience about women in manufacturing. And if anyone wants to know you are the membership director, membership director and treasurer and treasurer for women in manufacturing the Texas chapter would you’ve got over 1000 members. And listen, reach out to Angela for that if you’re interested in that. But how can people get a hold of you, Angela?


Angela Thurman  51:46

So they can find me on LinkedIn. Or they can email me at Angela at Thurman?


Damon Pistulka  51:57

Awesome. Awesome. Angela, it was a pleasure.


Angela Thurman  52:03

As well, David, thank


Damon Pistulka  52:04

you so much. Whatever you want. I mean, I knew I was excited about this. I was excited to talk to you about this because I knew you’d be an awesome guest. And you have not disappointed at all in the least.


Angela Thurman  52:19

Thank you talk about Lean some more.


Damon Pistulka  52:23

We might we might I just thank you so much. And I’m gonna thank Karen for being here asking awesome questions. Ira dropping in. And yes, we’re gearing again. She said big shout out to whimpers in Texas nationwide. And thanks so much for hanging out for just a minute. Angela. We’re gonna shut this down and we’ll talk for a moment. Thanks, everyone for being here today. Bye bye.

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