April 13, 2022

The Funniest Lean Guy - Jake Harrell

Do you like to laugh, and does your work involve overcoming challenges? Jake Harrell will help you shift your perspective while entertaining you with humor. Jake uses simple proven methods to reorient how the systems we work in the impact our thinking, t...

Do you like to laugh, and does your work involve overcoming challenges? Jake Harrell will help you shift your perspective while entertaining you with humor. Jake uses simple proven methods to reorient how the systems we work in the impact our thinking, teams, and organizations. He is also the author of “Chasing Excellence” and the Co-Host of A Quality Podcast. Dive into this episode to see why he is a regular The EBFC Show live stream guest. He can help you achieve just about any outcome.


Connect with Jake via

LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jakeharrellchasingexcellence/ Social media at https://bio.link/funniestleanguy

👆Includes links to Jake’s book, Podcast, Website, and More


Connect with Felipe via

Social media at https://thefelipe.bio.link 

Subscribe on YouTube to never miss new videos here: https://rb.gy/q5vaht 

Want More? Check out our 6 The EBFC Show Live Stream Episodes: https://www.theebfcshow.com/p/Livestreams/ 

Change Makers - Digital vs Analog

Change Makers - Change Makers - PDCA vs SAPD

Change Makers - The Status Quo Trap (Team Felipe Vs Team Jake)

Construction Change Makers - Meeting People

Construction Change Makers - OKRs

Construction Change Makers - Lean Pitfalls and Better Practices


Today’s episode is sponsored by Bosch RefinemySite. It’s a cloud-based construction platform. Bosch uses Lean principles to enable your entire team, from owners to trade contractors – to plan, communicate, document, and execute in real-time. It’s the digital tool that supports the Last Planner System® process and puts it all together in one simple, collaborative ecosystem. Bosch RefinemySite empowers your team, builds trust, creates a culture of responsibility, and enhances communication. Learn more and Try for free at https://www.bosch-refinemysite.us/tryforfree 


Today's episode is sponsored by the Lean Construction Institute (LCI). This non-profit organization operates as a catalyst to transform the industry through Lean project delivery using an operating system centered on a common language, fundamental principles, and basic practices. Learn more at https://www.leanconstruction.org   



The EBFC Show Intro Music: California by MusicbyAden https://soundcloud.com/musicbyaden  

Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0

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Felipe Engineer  0:00  
How do I say that it's gonna it's gonna stick? That's the only way I'm gonna ever say last name. How do you say your last name?

Jake Harrell  0:09  
Is Harold but almost everyone I talked to takes this weird. Oh.

Felipe Engineer  0:16  
I just lazily say, Harrell. I'm good.

Jake Harrell  0:19  
You're good. Yeah. The most southern no effort approach. Jake

Felipe Engineer  0:22  
Harrell, your tagline on your name is even better. The Lady Gaga of lean. Ah, I love that. It's like, it's such a good moniker. You know, you see it. It's your How long have you had that as your LinkedIn catchphrase?

Jake Harrell  0:36  
I've been the funniest lean guy. I've changed the funniest lean guy for about a year. But I've had the Lady Gaga of Lean for like, about a month give or take. And when I did the Justin Bieber Six Sigma.

Felipe Engineer  0:49  
Yeah, the two you're quite the pair. Jake. Where are you right now?

Jake Harrell  0:53  
I am at home in a living room. Oh, I am in Dallas, Texas, downtown. Maybe

Felipe Engineer  0:59  
downtown Dallas, Texas, powerful Texas. How did you guys do with the power outage in the blizzard last year?

Jake Harrell  1:06  
Oh my gosh, I've got videos to send you after this. The only problem is, so we were trapped for you know solid like nine days. And this is was stuck at home. I was stuck at work. So I was recording videos every day. Like how this actually went. And the only problem is I realized I have about 20 videos in every single one of them. I'm singing to her. I've got videos, but they're, they're absolutely terrible, but I'm gonna make you suffer through those.

Felipe Engineer  1:34  
Okay, yeah, you definitely send me those videos on the side. I'm gonna love to see, you know where you're at where your music selection is what I do tend towards I would just figure like you're a hip hop guy. You would be or like, or like a gangster would be

Jake Harrell  1:48  
mostly write little country. I was hoping you would never say that. Hell no. Hell no.

Felipe Engineer  1:55  
Ah to the end. No,

Jake Harrell  1:57  
I can't do it as a as a reformed Texan. I can't do it. I grew up in the woods. I grew up in the woods, and I've got a strong test and you grow up in the woods. Have you ever been in the woods? I've been in the woods. Yes. If you if you've really grown up in the woods, you've eaten Armadillo before that's the test.

Felipe Engineer  2:14  
Okay. Not have not.

Jake Harrell  2:18  
That is what you're working with right here. That is what we're dealing with is a full country bumpkin.

Felipe Engineer  2:27  
Even where I grew up in the South Side of Chicago, we still had people eating squirrel. So where I grew up, so squirrels and delicious, man, go knocking door knocking people don't judge Oh, I've

Jake Harrell  2:37  
got a special guest whenever you're ready to introduce Yeah,

Felipe Engineer  2:40  
let's hear your special guests. What do you got?

Jake Harrell  2:43  
Oh, well, where would I be without John. So when he left, when he left to Baltimore, he moved over 1500 miles away. I took a picture of a drunk with my hair, naked, covered in a blanket. And I grabbed this. And I was, well, I've been cast away. John's been gone for 24 hours. And I guessed it like that and said in the video. It's been a hilarious thing between us.

Felipe Engineer  3:12  
We just call him Wilson for short. Or I gotta go JW data.

Jake Harrell  3:16  
Yeah, absolutely. Just just Wilson, by me the audience to know that it's a

Felipe Engineer  3:21  
John volleyball, John Wilson. Yeah, well won't even talk about why he abandoned you and went all the way to Baltimore. What's that about?

Jake Harrell  3:28  
Or why that meant that my wife and the rest of society left Dallas the day that he did apparently. I'm fully cast away.

Felipe Engineer  3:35  
Fully castaway. 

Sponsors  3:40  
Welcome to The EBFC Show, the easier, better, for construction podcast. I'm your host Felipe Engineer Manriquez. This show is all about the business of construction. Today's episode is sponsored by Bosh RefineMySite is a cloud based construction collaboration platform that applies Lean principles to enable your entire team to plan, communicate and execute in real time. It's the digital tool that works in tandem with your last planner system process and puts it all together in one simple, collaborative ecosystem. This easy to use platform is available in English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and French and can be used on desktops, tablet and mobile devices. According to Spencer Easton, scheduling manager at Oakland construction, refined my site in my opinion, is the best cleanest tool on the market for the last time. Here's what our users have to say. We've looked at three other digital scheduling platforms and none compared to the straightforward approach refund my site takes from milestone planning all the way down to daily tasks. This program gives every general contractor and their trade partners meaningful collaboration, accountability and KPIs. Registered today to try refine my site for free for 60 days. Today's show is also sponsored by the Lean construction Institute. LCI is working to lead the building industry and transforming its practices and culture. Its vision is to create a healthy and thriving industry that delivers outstanding project outcomes every time for everyone. Check the show notes for more information. Now, to the show. 

Felipe Engineer  5:27  
Welcome to the show, Jake Harrell. How was that Jake? hurl Herrera. How'd you find it right for every tribal more time? We try six times and then on the seventh time, we'll get it. Welcome to the show. Jake. hurl Oh, how was that Jake? Was that better? No. Okay, that's, that's take you over here one more time. Now, you got to tell me, I got to hear. Let me watch. Harrow, Harrow? Herro? Herro. Herro, Herro Herro, Herro Herro. Hair like think barrel barrel? Oh, thank you. Yeah, thank you for the good connection in my mind so I can get your name better. Welcome to the show. Jake Harrell. Ah, feel so good. I feel like it's an accomplishment. Ladies and gentlemen, there probably been like 25 takes hurry to get the all the way from Spanish pronouncing Jake's last name to just other things that there's no explanation for why sang Harrell is has been a challenge this beautiful morning. But welcome, Jake. Love. I love love, love what you're doing on LinkedIn. I think I actually caught I got I got swept up into into your meme game, even before I realized that we had so many friends in common or realizing that you also hail from the independent nation of Texas. So I'd like you to Yeah, go ahead, Jake.

Jake Harrell  7:28  
I'm one of the leading experts in the

Felipe Engineer  7:31  
industry. Jake is very talented at titling himself. And we were talking about before the show started that Currently he is the Lady Gaga of lean. So it is a special honor for me to see the evolution of the funniest lean guy to the Lady Gaga of lean all in a short span of time. So everybody buckle in, you're going to be in for a treat. At least two people are guaranteed to laugh very hard at the show. And that's going to be Wilson and myself. Can you show us a Mr. Wilson again? There is John Wilson Thacher, ladies and gentlemen,

Jake Harrell  8:09  
John Wilson and I over x in the nose so much because if you know the guy, that's one thing he's self conscious about is he's got quite the nose. Yeah, I'm allowed to make this crap.

Felipe Engineer  8:23  
Yeah, don't worry about that auto blur. Just just camera just went completely out. Like, like Wilson just totally dominated that shot. And I mean, it stayed crisp and clear on the nose. Maybe you back up and then come forward again. Oh, that's so beautiful. To love auto autofocus technology. Here we go. And it's back. Welcome back. The Lady Gaga of lien Yes. And we're back leaves and we're back. So I want to start off Jake with giving you the ability to give me a decently give me a decent introduction. Tell the good people that UPFC show Jake, what you do now? And what led you to get so obsessed with comical lien and improvement? All right. Well, if

Jake Harrell  9:07  
you've ever listened to a conspiracy theory for more than five minutes, you'll know that for the Illuminati to accomplish anything, it takes 10s of 1000s of people to do the same task in perfect secrecy and integrate and not tell a single soul and that conspiracy group has never been broken ever. So I'm the guy who admitted that I'm the guy who got the rate of acceptance to 100% got the got the entire government all out against you without ever letting anything slip with a slightest clue?

Felipe Engineer  9:39  
Yeah, no, it's all here. Yeah, that's true is that is like It looks like you've got some background. You've done some Lean Six Sigma training. Are you have some industrial engineering training in your background as well? Or is it just all self taught and a little bit of guided teaching towards the world called the Lean Six sigma arts. Well,

Jake Harrell  10:01  
when I started my career, I was really trying to get into the industrial engineering world. But my career paced faster than my need to go to school. And I was really great innovating at the math, making stuff, make money, save time, work for everybody. But I found out really quick that really, humans don't give a damn how good or bad their processes they just really at the core of their soul, do not the way it makes us hear that trumpet in the night far off like 10%. But everybody has that. Not everybody has that. And so I found that if I can get you to smile first, I can literally feed you with any other crap ever, and you tend to buy it like your willpower is depleted. You're already laughing at what I'm saying, which means you're accepting it. And then when I introduce the deep stuff, you're on board,

Felipe Engineer  10:51  
the world is good. I love that. Like, yeah, we had Jennifer on the show. Earlier this year, we were talking about how there are many different paths to get to the top of the mountain. She is our she's going to be the resident culture warrior. And I think we definitely have our resident comedian right here, ladies and gentlemen, the trumpet sound effect that I hear that trumpet the 10% trumpet one more time.

Jake Harrell  11:17  
For in the morning, I know you

Felipe Engineer  11:19  
had definitely haunts me, and I definitely have been engaged in 10% improvements in multiple different areas. So when the trumpet calls Jake, I answer I'm glad to see that I'm not alone hearing that trumpet call. Now,

Jake Harrell  11:32  
yeah, thank you, Jason Derulo for putting that thought in our head.

Felipe Engineer  11:38  
Unexpected gratitude. I mean, it is that it is a day of thanks. And I want to appreciate that you're taking time out of your holiday season, to get on camera with me and have a little bit of fun talking about topics that are near and dear to our heart. I do want to also highlight that Mr. Harrell is absolutely talented author as well. Can you talk to us about chasing excellence the book,

Jake Harrell  12:05  
I absolutely can, because it's such a beautiful space. There it is. So these for the book, a little bit of a backstory to love to give it to you. And it started with how I met old John, thicker, co host best friend partner in crime. Government lizard by day, we work for the same company, I'll be in different warehouses and different sides of the business about five miles apart from each other. And since the business had some needs to connect, we ended up connecting over LinkedIn kind of meaningless connection. Well, he posted, hey, I'm writing a book, I would love if you actually run an operation, like you're in a leadership role for you to read it, and then give me some feedback. So I bought a book. So how to win as an operation supervisor right now, and fell in love with him pretty much immediately. So his book is just the very, very practical, pragmatic approach to hey, here's like the four or five things that nobody taught me the first time I had to lead people, like, you know how to manage behavior, how to motivate how to overcome objectives, how to actually set goals in an environment where you aren't given any. And it was beautiful. So I wrote him a big review some good stuff, some stuff I absolutely shed on. And he liked, he liked that so much. He said, Come over to my warehouse and do a training on this thing. And I came over and we've been married ever since. So I thought, take this book. very pragmatic, there's no large jargon. There's no lingo, and build on a little bit. And so I wrote chasing excellence, because everything between yourself and absolute excellence, the top of the mountain, as you phrased it, is just, there's no problems. There are only barriers between where you are now and then. So like I even go out of my way not to use the word problem in the book, like they're just barriers to excellence, like nothing stopping me from getting to the top of this mountain. And here's how you do it. And so it goes through some well understood engineering principles, as well as some special Jake flavor that's in a pragmatic, engaging story way. And then I also went back through if you see the books tiny, it's because there's no, there's no fluff. There's no filler. It's a concept of, here's a story of that concept. Here's some questions that make you reflect on that concept. And then the end of the book ends with a tool on how you could put it all together and change the way you solve problems.

Felipe Engineer  14:39  
I love that I saw on the Preview on Amazon. Ladies Gentlemen, it's available widely on Amazon and Jake, we'll put a link in the show notes so people can get their hands on it. I've seen our very own friend, the Jesse inator had a copy of your book and he actually shared with me yesterday, but I think he shared it after our live stream. He didn't actually share it and promote it during the Live stream where it would have been, you know, balls available just like even. I think I counted like, man, that would have been great to share like 10 minutes ago.

Jake Harrell  15:14  
You know, we found that, you know, we've been doing life together for about a month now. And we found that right at the end, we turn it off. We talk we review and then we say a bunch of great crap for about 30 minutes. Why don't we get this on the show like the very best of the best.

Felipe Engineer  15:28  
Same thing happened yesterday we we came off with a live and I think we we hung out for about another half hour and there were some really good some nuggets draft and we're still catching up with all the comments from the people. So I want to ask you so you wrote the book published in 2020. You met Mr. John Wilk still call him Wilson Thacker Jr. He is a junior, right? He's it is absolutely a junior. And when did you start a QP a quality podcast

Jake Harrell  15:59  
when he got the the formal letter in the mail that the government was relocating him. He came over just like for dinner or whatever, like a week before he was gonna move. He said, You know what, we're here, we're on your couch. We're working on our phones. And we're doing this. And we had always set three, four days on the porch talking about stuff life, you know, drugs, money, beer, women, but Woods mostly centered around continuous improvement and like the philosophy required to have a systems approach and, you know, make stuff better for humans. And so we just decided to record it, put it out there, it was our way of whenever he left, we'd still be able to engage in some form or function of something tying this together weekly. And that's what we've been up to.

Felipe Engineer  16:44  
And you're you're publishing sequence is every week, right? What day of the week doesn't show drop

Jake Harrell  16:49  
comes out on Sunday after John's beautiful editing work

Felipe Engineer  16:53  
beautiful. Every Sunday show comes out. I do love there is a Halloween special with the scary intro. So ladies, gentlemen, Felipe is a fan of a quality podcast, I do enjoy a good quality podcast, check those out. We'll put a link in the show notes for the podcast as well. And it is oh man, it is. It's crazy to see like what kind of things you could get into on shows like a podcast and just have longer conversations about some of these topics like the trumpet call the 10% improvement. But I want to go back to your book for just a second Jake, in chapter one. You start with this, I think something that a lot of people, I've got a library of books over my shoulder, as you can see, and none of those books. Do I see the power of what you have in your first chapter, which is starting with the self? Can you unpack that chapter one just a little bit for people?

Jake Harrell  17:50  
Well, first off, I'm just like, let me cover up what's what's off camera here for a second. I'm just in love with how you worded that, like, such a glowing fan. And thank you very much for that. You're welcome. Chapter one is called everything is your fault. And it's because humans, some humans have an external locus of control, some have an internal locus of control, where they think either happened to the world or the world happens to me, if the world happens to you, well, guess what, buddy, you don't get to be in control of your destiny. So I go through why even if something you could not control and it's outside of your control is at least 50% Your fault. And you should treat it as such, and how we're always better because of that. Whereas if we're not and saying I can't control, I can't do anything about this stuff, then we're deflecting some variety of improvement, we would be able to gain. Also in it in the very first page, I made sure to quote Mr. John Packer. And he's got a phrase he loves repeating every five seconds when you talk to him. And that's how do I get more of the outcomes I want less than the ones I don't want for the least possible resources. And that's generally the approach we take in the improvement community.

Felipe Engineer  19:04  
Oh, that is some powerful stuff, people for listening. That's almost worth like a complete recap again, hit pause, rewind and take that back in again. That is one of the places that you just just I mean, right now my mind is expanding because I'm thinking about the many times that I tried to make an improvement Jake, and I didn't even stop and realize am I working with people that think that they can change or think that change happens to them and I think that's a definitely going to flavor my approach on a go forward basis. So thank you for giving me that that holiday seasoning and cheer as I answer the call to continue to improve all the time. What What got you so addicted to this continues to prim in the first place? Let's go back to that because I don't think we've heard that yet. We're where do you put the The sequence of fortunate events that led you to becoming the late oh, it's

Jake Harrell  20:05  
unfortunate for sure. Don't Don't try and tell the audience that it's that it's a good thing. It's frickin terrible thing. I stay awake at night when I watch when I watch my wife do some some regular duty in our apartment, and I go, What if you didn't like this? Quiet that beast, like

Felipe Engineer  20:31  
you just keep that that's all stays inner monologue, no outer dialogue.

Jake Harrell  20:37  
You know, I went to an ice cream shop once, which is actually it's mentioned in the book, but it's paraphrase, attack anybody. And their register is in the middle of the assembly section with some ice cream over here from equipment over here behind them as where the silverware is. And I'm like workcell, redesigned, redesign, work, sell, redesign, work, sell. So the guy asked me what I did for a living and we're starting some basic conversation. And I'm like, since you asked, you know, and I was explaining to him how much time he could save and he was like, bro, I get paid minimum wage. I don't give a shit. I poured only energy and heart into it for somebody that just did not could not care. And that was a eye opening for me. Let's Yeah, you popped off. That was one of the beginning flavors is I need to be aware of where they currently are before I even approach improvement, or else it's near meaningless. Right? Right. So the good one that happened to me that really pushed me over the edge was my backstory before joining the government and the evil powers that be I work in the third party logistics space. We're gonna warehouse large number of people on forklifts moving freight, right. And one of the things we were almost proud of doing in this warehouse was it's a million square feet. It is a gigantic warehouse. It's like 10 Walmart's back to back and 500 people in it operating at the same time. And one of the things management loved was if somebody was caught sleeping in an aisle, because you take them off their equipment, and you give them this long walk of shame all the way out of the building is they're fired. I know that sounds like evil, right? But then you get this proud like this smoke these gates, you're fired because he slept on my ship? How dare he. So around the corner, and I find a guy sleeping in between two rows of like refrigerators backed up on his lift, so nobody could see. And my column gotta get this little sucker right here. And I walk up and he's sleeping. And one of the things we require is somebody else has to watch you, you have to have like a two eyes on the thing. So nobody says, Hey, you touched me or you hit me or something. And I'm waiting, I radioed for my backup for whatever. And I talked with him. I'm like, What would make you do this? And he told me, I have worked the past 60 days in a row on the 12 hour shifts. That was like, let's and he said yeah, like, that's the way it's been like, so like you don't sleep and prepare for that. And he said, Well, I was on nights but work changeable, you know, kind of without my permission. So they needed more people on this 5am shift. And it's really hard for me because I've been a night owl for the past 20 years. Like all right, come with me to my office. And as I'm asking him questions, I come to this like a Tiffany moment of we cause this we did everything we possibly could to engineer somebody sleeping in this warehouse, the system produced this outcome. It said, let's work a guy to death. Let's put him on shift. He's knockout you know, he's not normally comfortable with, let's have no sense of how we actually monitor people other than managers walking around the evil assholes, like, and then we built aisles that have spaces in crosses that people could hide in them anyways, like, let's just stop for a second, can I walk people out the rest of my life? And I kind of took it philosophically more than just around the job? Or can we address the systems that resulted in this guy asleep on his job? And if we do that, guess what, we never have a person sleeping on the job again, imagine in this hypothetical scenario if every time you laid your head now, like horns blared at you. Guess what, you would never have a single human being ever again. Sleeping on job right? Imagine if we didn't work them to death. Men didn't work them every day. Imagine if we let them work their preferred ship. And so the systems are just a lot more effective way of getting the answers you want. And that was the lightbulb moment for

Felipe Engineer  24:48  
me. That's incredible. And I want to just encourage you because of that story alone, Jake. A lot of people in management don't have that epiphany lightbulb moment to realize that The very thing that you said, was said by one of my mentors, often, all the time, Mr. William Edwards Deming, Dr. Deming or Ed, as he was called by his friends, this is referred to as Ed. Ed used to say, like, it's not the people and even had percentages based on his observations of working with 1000s and 1000s of people in teams. And he said that it's the vast majority, maybe at best a 5%, the responsibility the employee for the results they get, and 95%, the responsibility goes to management that set up the system that they're in. And I think, you know, when people first read that, when he first said that so many years ago, a lot of people are like, but wait, and they would try to come up with, you know, this person's just lazy or, you know, trying to blame people. But it's, like you said, and the scenario where people could sleep in the warehouse, I mean, you set the perfect conditions to ensure a human being would absolutely be tired, and absolutely have to sleep at work.

Jake Harrell  26:03  
For now, the only thing more we could have done was assigned pillows when you go, there only extra thing I can think of?

Felipe Engineer  26:17  
Absolutely, absolutely. Absolutely. Have you. Have you studied any Demings work? Or are you a fan?

Jake Harrell  26:24  
I'm not the largest dimming fan. So he has items that are points. But I think anybody who's who's like a rationalist will see that his work. I'll be some parts are absolutely amazing. Some not so much. He wasn't macro influential. I mean, there's no companies today that are going let's not have numerical goals. that not a single successful company. I know is that

Felipe Engineer  26:47  
right? Every company I know. Yeah.

Jake Harrell  26:51  
Yeah. I'm not saying that business operating system couldn't work. But when you just look, I'm just talking strictly his 14 points like quality. Like, it doesn't actually work in the real world. Now there's models and parts of it that are very useful. But it as an actual model to actually be applied doesn't doesn't function.

Felipe Engineer  27:12  
I think we just triggered some Deming, people like listening to the show, because they're the you know, the probably is still a few. But the 14 points that Jake's referring to are the 14 points for management. And Deming went on to explain that these points are not for companies outside of the US. These are specifically for companies in the United States to overcome what was being taught in mainstream business schools. They were setting so consistently setting up these organizations that could not perform or compete on the worldwide stage. Like the first point, I don't think it's going to be one of contention is to think long term.

Jake Harrell  27:51  
I do have some contention there not with oh, let's go house. Look at that, how we take it and apply it. So the problem is, the model is centered around infinite growth, right? Which just also isn't the world we live in, we wouldn't be killing the earth. If that was the case, we go, oh, well, there's infinite resources, right, it's cool. thinking long term requires also strategically, sustainably shrink when needed in every avenue possible. And we also have to do that with efficiency. Because anytime you shrink a company, there's there's like this fear of collapse. And that can absolutely happen if done improperly. But there are silos that absolutely need that. Like I'm, I'm reaching out to people online, like 1000s of people watching this. How many people do you know that their side hustle is bringing in a container of something from China and reselling it? Like a lot of people, like a lot of people and it is something that is meaningless, like baby toys, like they just will we brought in this thing, and now we're selling and making kudos to you for making money being entrepreneur, I respect the hustle 100%. But well, yeah, as a society like this is not sustainable for us to do for eternity. And we do need to think long term. But that does not mean infinite growth. That does not mean set the stage for a platform of infinite growth. This means strategically think about the future.

Felipe Engineer  29:21  
I don't remember him speaking on that point, indicating what the growth would be for the company was very context specific. But there is absolutely a predominance in western management, that if your company's not growing, you're dying. And you're completely right. I've heard only one executive in my lifetime, say that we were a better company at this smaller size than in this growth model we're in now. We had better margins at this smaller size than at this mark at this level where we're growing to, and it doesn't look like we're trending to better profit margins at the bigger size or We're getting more dollars just based on percentage. But we're capturing less dollars of profit for that. I don't, I don't think that any that's like something probably never even talked about in business school or in conference rooms in organizational meetings or even on the back porch of the mom and pop, you know, business companies that are making their plans, you can make your plans anywhere. But how many people stop and say like, what about if our business stays of the same size? Can we increase our profitability? That's, that's I think that's only reserved for the people that hear the trumpets in the night.

Jake Harrell  30:36  
Yeah, it's a it's definitely it's something that wake that wakes me up at night, because there's no company aching to go, let me just cut myself in half. So my supply chains more sustainable, like literally 0% of them. We're gonna hit legal like, I'm not like a climate change evangelist. But I'm also not a denier. But if we're going to hit any reasonable goal, we make a rational goal for the direction we want the world to go. Like, guess what large companies are the main primary driver, they got to get on board with that. It doesn't need to be inflicted, like all change, it needs to come in and up

Felipe Engineer  31:10  
and up change. That's a new one, I think we're going to have to let to get one of our friends to hashtag that in and up change. That's beautiful, like internet

Jake Harrell  31:20  
worker but with change.

Felipe Engineer  31:24  
In and Out Burger, but everyone knows the secret menu. We're all getting an animal style change in this place. It's right, baby. Lots of changes. Absolutely possible for all of us. I think that the like Jake saying this, these things are possible and see where you are, even if you're on a project with the fixed contract cost and you're hiring trade partners to come in and execute that work like we do in construction or in design as well. You don't have to put more people on it to accomplish your goal. There are methods Jake, can you share one method that you can unpack for the people listening to this can in a No jargon way, put their arms around some improvement and getting closer to what Mr. Thacker says the results more of what you want, and less than what you don't with less effort. Alright,

Jake Harrell  32:21  
we're going to take a jargon free construction focused approach. So regardless of trade, like you can you can literally make up something you can be building a marshmallow castle in the Mushroom Kingdom, and frickin Candyland does not matter.

Felipe Engineer  32:37  
That's very specific.

Jake Harrell  32:40  
We're gonna add jargon but it's gonna be candy related jargon. So what in the hell are you even talking about? Sucrose mana glutamate

Felipe Engineer  32:51  
also known as MSG, tasty?

Jake Harrell  32:54  
Yeah, monosodium glutamate. Yeah. But anyways, the first thing is you have to realize there's an objective reality out there. Let me let me start with that. Because this is a lot for humans to take in. Everybody has a 20 yard or around them. All right, every single human I'm not being esoteric. I'm not saying it's what flavor of the month you are, you're an Aquarius. But this 20 yard or is your subjective reality, the things you touch the things you interact with. In your brain, it is imperfect, it is logically flawed, everybody's mind is wrong. And that is where we act absolutely live, every human has one. And then outside of that across the whole universe everywhere is a true objective realities. Let's draw that line right there. You can have subjective opinions, you cannot think the world is objective, because it is not. It is an objective reality with facts and rules that it follows. And somewhere when you come onto a job site, these two things meet. So the first thing you have to do, and it's 9am I talk about in the book, but that's overcome your own biases, because you like to make answers because your brain is a decision making machine. It is not a thinking machine. It is built for slow decision making and fast decision making. And that is it. That is literally the scribe patterns, make decisions golf my life. That's how I survive. So in the model, you have to come to terms with objective reality. So even though we're in Candyland, and dealing with Bs, physics still apply, the fundamental rules of the universe still apply. So we engineer the least possible travel distance we engineer the least possible manual material handling, we engineer the least possible tool gathering, we engineer the least possible thinking to get the job done in all forms that that takes, and it's a complicated model. One of the things that impressed me with the construction industry is it's you know, about half as productive as every other industry. Well, when you dig into why Everyone you ask, Am I gonna put Felipe on trial here? But when you ask about different excuse for why that is, and I have the answer so, Felipe, why is the construction industry half as effective?

Felipe Engineer  35:13  
Oh, that's perfect. He's put me on the spot. He's turned the tables on me. So there are that mean, the go to everyone. Everyone always gives it this one go to answer, which is, it's a disconnected siloed industry built on traditions. That's like one of the common answers. But I think from my perspective, having been in the space for a while, I think people just don't know, they're not aware of the things that they can control and that they can't, and how much influence we actually have on our systems. Because I see time and time again, project teams, double, triple, quadruple their profit. And then the very next job they go to, they fall right back into the system, and they don't have that same success. And then I see other people can incrementally improve their profitability, reducing the effort, making job safer time and time again. And it's like saying human beings, different system, different outcome. What do you think the answer is?

Jake Harrell  36:13  
So the answer you hit on it, I'm just gonna phrase it a little differently, is you have to engineer the system to have a more productive outcome. It's literally as simple as that. If the system does not that the universe like throw a noun at me pick a noun,

Felipe Engineer  36:30  
a noun, a noun thing? Wait, let's go with the standard candy. Okay. Okay, so

Jake Harrell  36:34  
we're staying in the candy world, right? Well, standard Chocolate, chocolate bar, chocolate bar, do you know regardless of all the systems and processes it took to make it to ship it to get it to you. It is engineered by design, precisely, to give you exactly what you're eating, as you eat that chocolate bar, like precisely when you walk outside and look in nature, you walk between two trees, it is engineered precisely, to have those trees in that position where you can walk between the middle of them, right, that's just how the world works. And if you want to change the outcome that you're getting, you have to change the system that engineers the outcome, like that's just, you know, how that may be go. So the thing with the construction industry that kills me is it's not benchmarking its own productivity in any meaningful way. Individual trade partners, large general contractors, like it's not benchmarking its own productivity in every other industry everywhere, like, that's step one.

Felipe Engineer  37:34  
Step one, there was a gentleman that gave a talk at the design institute design build Institute of America a few years ago, I think this is 20 2018, or 2019. And he was talking about prefabrication, one of the first things that he showed was some parallel productivity charts from manufacturing, retail, and also agriculture. And then he showed construction, he's and he actually touched on in that talk, that we don't benchmark against how we do we have things like you and I were talking about on the phone last week, about like companies like RS means which give you data on what are known productivity rates. And they even give you factors for how to make an adjustment to that productivity rate, depending on what geographic area you are, in the United States. And even with that data, we still don't like as people bidding work, or people contracting work, or owners putting pricing out for their things that that information is ignored. And then people react after the fact to what the pricing is, and then engage in exercises like value engineering, which is just rework by a super fancy label, Value Engineering, it's just rework of something that you didn't want in the first place, or you couldn't afford, when you could have designed to exactly what you wanted for exactly the price you wanted. And there are methods that gets you there borrowing from things like product design, and we call them in construction now, target value delivery, your target value design, where there are methods and approaches to get you to exactly where you want, where, you know, the owner plays a much greater role, which to me, makes total sense. Like if you're custom building something, or you're you're buying something's custom, and you have a, you know, a horse in the race for how the outcome should come out. You've got skin in the game, you're going to be involved, you know, versus the predominant contracting methodology, which is design bid build where clients do some resource and requirements, conversations that hire one team to do that, and then they go out back out to the street to the lowest qualified design team, and they, they rebid the whole thing all over again and lose all that knowledge just because they're concerned about paying the cheapest price possible. And they want to take a hands off approach, I mean, most of the the hard bid, which is the predominant contracting model in construction, hard bid lowest qualified price, is a very hands off approach. And I think that's just a misapplication of how we, as consumers, outside of our professional world, we'd like to just show up to something and get something off the shelf. But unfortunately, outside of prefabricated or heavily engineered types of building solutions, we don't have that option. It's all custom. But you still have the ability to get involved in what outcomes you're getting, you can absolutely engineer the outcomes. 100% I agree with Jake, that that's, I mean, the like the chocolate bar, like how is it that I can buy this chocolate bar tasted in one store go to a completely different store in a completely different city, by the same company, even separated by 1000s of miles Biden to that chocolate bar, and it tastes identically the same? It's almost like they engineered it, Jake, to be the same and follow standard.

Jake Harrell  41:13  
That's crazy to think about, right like the scaping.

Felipe Engineer  41:15  
We're just missing some standards. Do you think we're Is it a standard problem of benchmarking? Let's unpack let's run pipe benchmarking into some some common terms because we hear people like in the Lean Enterprise Institute, Jim Womack has said many times, like one of the first places to not start is benchmarking. And he rather encourages people to start experimenting, when they understand the value stream that they're in, which is takes a little bit of unpacking, we won't unpack that for now. But there are people saying, don't start with benchmarking. Start with experiments. And here you're saying start with benchmarking? Let me have you unpack that a little

Jake Harrell  41:55  
bit. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. The other way around. So it's, it's a argument of terms, because I've actually heard that exact argument from that exact gentleman. And within that, within that experiment requires you to guess what step one know the lead time of every single sub three within the process, and then play with it. And my argument is that that step is benchmarking like that. Exactly. That's my only argument is the first thing you require. But so if I start something simple, like yeah, my John pack or costume is a pair of sunglasses to take me 10 seconds to put on a Shekhar that takes me a minute to light and a hat, that takes 30 seconds for me to dawn, right, and boom, I have my job tracker outfit, my total lead time 30 seconds, one minute, one minute is two minutes and 30 seconds, right? That is the given requirement. It can be as complicated or simple as that. If you have 500 streams, and each stream has a different lead time, you probably need a system that tracks with those individually types are. But in manufacturing, they've been doing that for years. And in fact, in some integrated systems, this manufacturer, the cigar can go in and change his given lead time based on today's market, he can go in and say I can't get you that for six weeks, or four weeks or three weeks from there. So nobody's surprised by those results. But once you have a system in place that you know, is okay with these outcomes. And then you build in the strategy of everyone puts in their real lead time. And then you've got a system that spits out what that actually looks like, you have to regularly benchmark against it. What are the guys out there doing actually in the field to hit an exceed that date. And that comes with you know, quite a lot of behavior, isms that leave engineering and inter psychology from there. Because once you have a clear idea of exactly how it could mathematically go, the real world doesn't follow any models, right? All models are false. Some are useful. So you know, just the real world doesn't operate that simply. But as soon as we have a mathematical ideation of how it should go, now we can get into how do I motivate gamify make the objective so well known and well understood that it is a part of the value creation process. And if we integrate that all into one step, like you almost never fail. The gun manufacturers been doing it for years and like it, my background is from mobile in the mobile home world. In a mobile world, we'll build 10 of those suckers a day. And now mobile home is fully custom. You get to choose what appliances are in it, what fixtures, what the color of the walls with a color, the outcome of the shutters, what kind of Windows you want, every individual piece is built to suit right. Every individual piece only delivered within 24 hours of the time that mobile homes getting built. In fact, the manufacturing size of the operation is roughly the size it takes to build 10 or so my mom's and they built in a day. So that tells you How much stuff is coming just in time on a needed schedule to get the items through, it can be infinitely infinitely complex or infinitely simple. And we still get it done every single every single business day, we do not not hit whatever that goal is. And that's because we have a system and structure in place that allows you to

Felipe Engineer  45:19  
that is lovely. And you touched on there is a psychological component, which we don't have done back now. Because we've got to leave something for, you know, future episodes.

Jake Harrell  45:31  
I'm bigger on that piece than I am the engineering piece, not because I want to feel good and just say, it's not about math, it's about people. No, it's absolutely about math. But getting people to come to terms with the mathematical reality is the hard part. And that requires more effort, more focus more strategy behind it. Math just is what it is. If you're smart enough, you can you know, that's the language of the universe, right? That's a that's a full thing.

Felipe Engineer  45:58  
I've never heard that. No, and I want to thank you, that take you had on the benchmarking and talking, you know, breaking it down. As we understand it, it's in the PDCA, plan, do check, adjust or Plan, Do Check Act or plan to study act, whatever your flavor is, or the OODA Loop, observe, orient decide act. Just knowing where you are in the world, your current state is absolutely benchmarking. If I know that I'm having supply chain issues, and I've got to adjust my lead times, you just do the math and figure out when to bring things when to start things you don't just keep going with the momentum of your system and over delivering something knowing that you're going to have this crash later. I mean, you could do that.

Jake Harrell  46:40  
When you combine the terms of the reality, you're living in this bubble that you've created, right? You're not coming to terms with the objective reality and adjusting yourself accordingly. That's going to be the number one factor on whether a company survive or die, who comes to terms with reality the fastest and adjusts accordingly.

Felipe Engineer  46:58  
Like my mentor says, Jeff Sutherland, adapt or die,

Jake Harrell  47:03  
now adapt or continue to just continue to survive, but the kind of shitty

Felipe Engineer  47:12  
kids we could change it to adapt or thrive. pandemics. There you go. But, Jake, I want to ask you, because I've got your brain here available to my my beck and call and I feel so blessed to have that. Yeah, it's quite, it's quite the melon, they're quite the power. There's been a lot, a lot, a lot of negative talk on Justin time and supply chain issues. And since you work in the supply chain, what is your take on what the media portrays as the failure for just in time systems?

Jake Harrell  47:46  
I love this topic. So in my day job, which I don't advertise it is on my LinkedIn, it's not something I mentioned talking about ago about I am project management, I'm in that role within the supply chain, like just within logistics. So we've got 40 billion containers at way more containers and there is water in the ocean. Like Farley, I can see this container. I don't even know anyone out there anymore. And you know, I work for the largest one on Earth. So if that tells you anything, but the number one thing is I agree with the just in time being the root cause I agree. But, but there's always there's always a but the big asterisk. No hypothesis is absolutely worse. So let's just plot it out on a map like it's actual data. Okay, once every how often is a Coronavirus happening. It's only happened once in my life. But that's anecdotal.

Felipe Engineer  48:46  
happens, an average pandemic of a global scale with these types of numbers roughly happens on a cycle 75 to

Jake Harrell  48:52  
100. So what's happening? I'm 30 years old, and I've been so my actual sample size is half of yours. So let's say one in 30. Right, even though it's anecdotal sample size of one just talking about me, even if that was the case, and every 30 years on the dock, oh, it's January 5 Time for a global pandemic and we engineered one and threw it out into the world, right? It still would not be in anybody's best interest to prepare the global supply chain for that effect. Because what you're talking about is a year's worth of stock sitting somewhere consuming resources to just stay around instead of being made at the point it's needed. Yeah, there's some delays once every 30 years. Are you kidding me? Can you imagine if any other industry said Yep, we've delivered on time, but once every 30 years, you might be a week or two behind? Can you imagine anybody would do shit? Nobody would. It just now they don't have a toilet paper or their toothbrush and they're like, oh, Justin. Would you rather the whole world have a billion toothbrushes just in a mega facility like five miles from your house and just smog In the world, well guess what? Anytime you need absolutely anything, we have a stockpile. We don't need to do that. Like that's a little overkill. Now, if we get into some catastrophic situation, where I'd say the Coronavirus was to explore global pandemics, not just the Coronavirus were to happen more and more and more and more frequently, we would need to adjust for that we would absolutely want to build in a different strategy that makes a whole lot of sense. But given that special cause variation, you don't need to spend money on special cause variation. Anybody who studies statistics will tell you that you need to eliminate all your common cause variation that happens every single day in the world. And then deal with special variation is it naturally rears its ugly, unfortunate, inevitable and

Felipe Engineer  50:48  
I love it. So you're you're on you're on definitely the side of just a time is the cat's meow what we have right now the best engineers way until we come up with something else when we need to when we have some. We got to have a compelling reason because there's that psychology piece coming back.

Jake Harrell  51:07  
Guess what, I love the ad absurdum approach. So what is the greatest possible way? I could have something like my green tea here delivered to me what is the greatest possible way? Is it made to order is it made to stock is it going buy from a store? Give me your is the year 10,000 We've accomplished every problem in the laws of physics. What is the best possible way you could deliver this to me?

Felipe Engineer  51:32  
Oh 10,000 years from now man I gotta like crack let me dial my I got a dial my No Barriers just my imagination to 11 Okay, so the best possible way is instant on demand fully Guess what? That's just in time

Jake Harrell  51:52  
with your imagination that doesn't do it justice. Your work fully custom on demand in a warehouse for later?

Felipe Engineer  52:09  
Oh, my God, that was so simple. Jake, thank you so much. It has been my honor. having you on the show dropping these these nuggets of wisdom. I need to hear about what sparked all these beautiful memes on again, that you've gotten in. Give me one of your favorite memes like paint a picture for people to understand.

Jake Harrell  52:30  
So I started probably 2014 ish with posting absolutely terrible stuff. And like Reddit, 4chan Bottom of the internet, that was absolutely offensive. And if anybody finds it, I'm probably canceled in today's climate. And that was getting millions of impressions and engagement. I'm in the absolute. If you can think of something terrible, like think of something evil in your life. I've made a meme about it at some point. And as my career took off, I'm on LinkedIn. I'm like, Well, I really don't know how to use this. You know, I fell in love. I heard the trumpet. And in the Lean community, I found that everyone I knew within this space was like a stuffy old am I allowed to say on the show Caucasian male? Am I allowed to say that stuff?

Felipe Engineer  53:15  
I won't even accept we can even accept white male, you're stuck.

Jake Harrell  53:19  
And I'm going to be that one day, and I'm going to ascend to that throne at some point. But before then I thought, what if it was actually like in this world, in the 21st century? And I said, you don't want to spend it on my brain on this terrible stuff. Like, what if I found a way to blend the two have my work personality, meet my dark off channel personality? And just started doing it? It was it took off? Like it's only been like a year and a half now. And I have like 300 people on there and I've got like 60 560 600 just means and if you said if I had to pick my favorite meme, it's one nobody else liked. But it's just a picture of the Backstreet Boys and it was like me and the guys every time there's a defect and because it's like

Sponsors  54:05  
tell me why

Jake Harrell  54:08  
I wish I could and nobody interacted with it or engage at all and I thought oh, man well there's my voice of the customer for you because the stuff that I think is funny but as I slowly like find out what they like then I can gauge a little better

Felipe Engineer  54:24  
Yeah. I love that. I mean, that means to me is hilarious because you got you got five people asking

Jake Harrell  54:35  
like fundamental things right.

Felipe Engineer  54:39  
Oh my god. We got to bring that mean back. Maybe the world wasn't ready for it at the time though.

Jake Harrell  54:42  
At least if you just ascended to the popularity throne today. They are so hot and fresh in the industry.

Felipe Engineer  54:54  
But I think they're there they're back on the road.

Jake Harrell  54:57  
A funny story there. I found online If I really want a meme to take off, it's got to be six months out from whatever's on Reddit today. So it's like you have to be old in a certain level of separation from the meme community for to actually make sense. Like if I if I do anything that's fresh right now I drop a Pepe meme race like on a unicycle nobody on LinkedIn is gonna like it nobody. Like it's dead boy, but if I do some old crap, like Grumpy Cat shows up, it's like everybody dies and engages with it. Every old man and their mother posted on Facebook. It's great.

Felipe Engineer  55:35  
So okay, so we found the the my demographic is just in

Jake Harrell  55:38  
time apparently for whatever reason that's the

Felipe Engineer  55:43  
No No. As its as the system currently is operating, so we're gonna just benchmark there's a six month lag from when those funny things in that other platform Yeah,

Jake Harrell  55:54  
yeah, it's it's a Friday at seven months, I found that if I go to Image flip, like so the websites sorted by time, and like, the further back I go, the better the engagement or whatever. Like if I post like a spider man, no way home mean, those are really popular right now in absolutely.it will absolutely die. But if I go on back and I post something from like the Avengers, it'll take off and soar. A guru I've seen that is like it's great.

Felipe Engineer  56:26  
Well, you're inevitable, Jake. So thank you for that you're gonna get the last thoughts in and the last words, and we'll play out the music.

Jake Harrell  56:36  
Well, let me start with my plans for the holiday season. So I'm stranded on an island. Don't let this background fool you. It's fake with nothing but John Wilson tacker. So Happy Thanksgiving with everybody.

Felipe Engineer  56:57  
I've actually heard John Thacker Jr. Speak. And he's

Jake Harrell  57:02  
very like gruff matter of fact guy, very intense. And one of my favorite stories from the recent years is, I was of course dressed up as him for Halloween. It's in the Halloween special. I went as John Packer for the whole weekend. And it was amazing. And on LinkedIn, live with Jesse, I started like speaking in aphorisms, which he does, because he's a really intelligent guy. And I somehow correlated the problems and continuous improvement with animal husbandry. Well, that that weekend, we recorded an episode with Jennifer Lacey who was in our tribe, who came on to the show and John who hadn't watched the live stream mentioned animal husbandry in conversation in related to something and I was like, oh my god, like do weird as minds think alike. Or I don't know what but I'm so in love that my impression that picked them on some random thing ever. Like it absolutely hit home. It absolutely did.

Felipe Engineer  58:07  
That that week that that happened, I'm, I'm watching my notifications. I'm seeing all these hits on animal husbandry of love you guys. And I'm just like, I don't know what this is about. I don't know what this is about. That means I'm just gonna leave that throw it on the ground. I'm not even gonna pull it. But thank you for demystifying what that was all based on.

Jake Harrell  58:29  
Yeah, the thing with our quality podcast it's so fascinating is we do bring someone on every week like any other podcast format, but like really the show's about us and you get to be an added flavor. Like what promote whatever you want for them, you'll see half the conversation, we're talking at each other. But like I attacked him for thought that he had. It adds an extra like, fun sense of engagement that I really enjoy.

Felipe Engineer  58:54  
Very special thanks to my guest. I'm Felipe Engineer Manriquez. The EBFC Show is created by Felipe and produced by passion to build easier and better. Thanks for listening. Stay safe everybody. Let's go build!