Frank's blog

Growing company by growing people

At the moment I’m travelling in the US and speaking at various events, which is something I enjoy doing. My talks focus on the Ozgene philosophy on growing and nurturing its most valuable resource; people. This has generated interesting discussion and feedback, which has inspired this blog on how applying Lean can grow the people within an organisation.

At Ozgene we have a Culture Coach (traditionally titled Human Resources), whose specific role is to grow our people in order to grow our company. After all, without people, Ozgene wouldn’t exist. To do this, the company needs to instil confidence and trust within each team member. How exactly is this accomplished you might ask? At Ozgene we do it in the following way:

Differentiate processes and people. When a mistake happens or something fails, we review the rules, tools, training and processes first. Highlighting the clear difference between the people and the processes encourages the team members to bring forward mistakes and failures (big or small), and provides them with the permission to strive for better standards and fix the problem, rather than trying to work around it.

Create certainty. This involves creating a stable and standard working environment for each team member. We strive for certainty by setting up daily “kaizen” (continuous improvement) meetings for each department and the organisation as a whole. Using schedules and step-by-step processes for regular, routine day-by-day activities help to achieve certainty. This removes the stress and worry from that aspect of the job, allowing for human creativity to come through and improve systems, expand knowledge and permit understanding.

Use “technical” and “human” gap maps. Gap maps are reviewed monthly in order to grow each team member. These sessions are not your typical personnel reviews; gap maps are used as sources of empowerment to “close the gap” in the staff skills and/or knowledge and then open new ones with fresh ideas and plans.

These ideas work across all departments within the company. You can sit with your team members and build your current state by listening to them. Don't judge, just listen. Don't be fooled either. It sounds easy, but listening is very, very hard work. To extend this further, listen to your clients.

When you build confidence in people, and remove their fear of being blamed for failure, they will produce magic. They will experiment and find better ways. In actual fact, it is extremely difficult to stop them from doing so once they start.

Grow your people and your business will grow too!

- Frank, CEO -

  • Recent talks and feedback: >

    October 2014: Operational Excellence Conference, Utah

    January 2015: MBA students, University of Utah

  • “concept of total respect and humility…is both refreshing and challenging” >

    I was lucky enough to sit in a session of yours regarding inspiring curiosity at the 2014 Operational Excellence Conference in Logan, UT… the concept of total respect and humility in commercial enterprises incorporated deeply enough to represent production standards (although having been hinted at before via TPS) is both refreshing and challenging.

  • “we couldn’t wait to get back to the lab” >

    I once had the great luck to work with a dedicated P.I., working with the same underlining assumptions as you. He valued his people, supported and guided us, we all moved like a single organism, or individuals in a wave function. Our group was so cohesive and supportive, our goal so lofty, that we couldn’t wait to get back to the lab at the end of the weekend. Our goal was to curb world hunger after we cracked the code of apomyxis.

    I now know that this is a rare situation, and I was one lucky person to experience that. So, thank you for reminding me of my good luck, and letting me know there are labs still out there as exciting.

  • “Gap Maps would be a great way for us to develop a list of competencies” >

    I have worked with Lean and Six Sigma but really enjoyed your different look at the processes. I work within healthcare and think your explanation of how biology doesn’t reach six sigma is very accurate.

    One part of your presentation that I would like to further explore is the Gap Maps. We are looking to have teams create more detailed and self-guided development plans and I think the Gap Maps would be a great way for us to develop a list of competencies, have the individuals grade themselves on where they are (bike) and where they want to be (frog), and discuss a plan to close the gap.

  • “how rewarding process improvement can be” >

    I have attended each of these seminars, and this presentation, was by far the most worthwhile for me to date. I appreciated the way you articulated your solutions and your simple examples. This reminded me of how rewarding process improvement can be.

    I was formerly a technical supervisor over a number of labs. In this environment, I worked with Value Engineers to make several meaningful process improvements using LEAN principles. The project took us over a year to develop and, three years later, I hear the positive outcomes are still coming and employees have enjoyed a richer experience in their career development. In December 2013, I accepted a new job. My struggle in this environment is taking this same tacit knowledge with LEAN, and applying to my administrative team in areas such as accounting, purchasing, travel procurement, etc. My observation is that in a laboratory environment, it is far more logical to assume that application of LEAN is a best practice; but this belief doesn’t always transfer to administrative/business practices. In my business environment, I find that we largely rely on “the garbage can model” (--clinical described as), and I am very interested in finding better ways to conduct our business.

    I would be interested in learning how you have applied these principles in your business practice and/or how you have been able to convince this portion of your business to the same LEAN principles as your laboratory.

  • “by far the most interesting presentation” >

    I just wanted to thank for your presentation, I went to another two the next day, yours was by far the most interesting one.

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Frank's Lean talks

  • Shingo Institute, Logan, UT, USA
  • MBA Program, University of Utah, USA
  • OC Tanner, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
  • Ophir-Spiricon, Logan, UT, USA
  • ELITechGroup, Logan, UT, USA
  • Sebel Furniture, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  • Telethon Kids Institute, Perth, WA, Australia
  • AME Business Excellence, Perth, WA, Australia

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Proven Track Record

The team at Ozgene has over two decades of experience creating customised knockout and knock-in mice for pivotal medical research globally. Over 300 scientific publications are based on research using Ozgene mice.

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Global Client Base

Ozgene generates genetically customised mice for researchers around the world. Ozgene mice can be found in 31 different countries on 5 continents from small academic institutions to multinational pharmaceutical companies.

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Lean Management

Ozgene is applying Lean Management principles to deliver the highest quality services and shortest lead times to our customers. The implementation of Lean Culture has already seen an improvement in our processes and timelines.

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