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Friday, November 8, 2013

No Steve, Jack or Bill, just The Caterpillar Way

How many companies get Leadership right? Do you always have to have that charismatic leader that makes us think about them before the company? Tomorrow’s podcast is with Craig Bouchard, author of the book, The Caterpillar Way: Lessons in Leadership, Growth, and Shareholder Value. If you know my legacy a bit, you understand the high degree of interest.

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe: What struck me about the book more than anything else is that there was not a Jack Welch, a Steve Jobs, or a Bill Gates. It was a credit to the entire Cat organization. Was that true? Is that how Cat is?

Craig Bouchard:  I really confess. It's incredibly true. I've been the CEO for a couple of companies. I'm the CEO of Signature Group, a public company right now, in a great company. But in the case of Caterpillar, I've never seen such a large group of people so thoroughly dedicated in increasing their revenues and decreasing their expenses as a team - which is kind of simple - but what I'm trying to say is that it's rare in real experience. That company is really - everybody is on the same page and that's a management feat of course that they've accomplished that.

Joe: Yes it's a huge management feat but not to have that person out there waving the flag just amazes me.

Craig:  Yes and when I look at Cat is and the most remarkable thing going back to the 80's. They had basically six incredibly large complicated decisions to change the company during this past thirty years. Six times, they turned the entire place upside-down strategically requiring such a flexibility of their management and their workforce - it's just really remarkable and each one of those decisions could have turned into a disaster and each one like them have turned into disaster for other companies, and Caterpillar went six-for-six. Basically with four different Chief Executive Officers through that time period responsible for those six decisions. Not only did they go six-for-six in decisions, they managed to get it right who was the right person to implement and come up with an implementation for each of them. This kind of a record is almost unheard of in terms of these types of gigantic decisions were implemented.

Joe: Did the CEOs get picked based on the needed initiative, or because they were good at, or did it happen because they were at that?

Craig:  We talked about that a little bit in the book. How much of it is luck and how much of it is that the board of directors, they had at the time, picked the right guy for the right job in the challenges that existed at that time. Between Donald Fites, Glen Barton, James Owen, Doug Oberhelman and George Schaefer before, these five guys are very different people with different skill sets. In whatever way that it was accomplished with the board of directors at Caterpillar and its succession planning is a very determined and thorough process in the company. To put in place the right person at the right time in those challenges during those thirty years and my conclusion because they got it right five times in a row - it is not luck.

About Craig Brouchard ( Entrepreneur, writer, art collector, great father and pretty good husband. Crafted the first and only "hostile reverse tender merger" ever successfully completed on Wall St and founded two public companies; Esmark and Shale-Inland.

  • 2013 - Founded Cambelle-Inland, named for my daughter Cambelle
  • 2010 - Founded Shale-Inland, named for my daughter Shale, now public in the bond markets (A3)
  • 2003 - Founded Esmark Inc., the highest appreciating stock on Nasdaq for the full year 2008

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Improving Interactions through the Lean Value Chain

Making products fly involves more than just the development team. So how do we involve, interact and improve with the non software parts of the value chain? Let Mattias Skarin walk through lean techniques and thinking that helps drive improvements across organizational borders.  Mattius is one of thought leaders of the Kanban Movement and is speaking at the upcoming Lean Kanban Central Europe Conference (It is in Hamburg, Germany, Nov 4-5, 2013). He is speaking about: Improving the full value chain & Visualization – What‘s my brain got to do with it? (Lightning Talk)

Mattias Skarin works as a Lean and Kanban coach, building systems that enables you to cut time to market and improve quality. He has helped several software teams deliver with confidence, scaled Scrum over multiple teams (cutting game cycle time from 24 months to 4) and improved life at operations using Kanban. He is an author of the book, Kanban and Scrum – making the most of both, and regularly train and coach in Lean, Kanban and TDD. He blogs on and the blog has one of the best set of sample Kanban boards on the planet.


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