Standing Apart

[Post by Chuck Krugh, August 26, 2022]

What makes a company stand apart not only from the competition but also in the eyes of their customer? I believe three qualities play key roles in making a company stand apart: leadership, process discipline and can-do attitude.

I want to spend some time over the next several weeks looking at these three qualities.  First, let’s get an understanding of what I mean when I talk about leadership, process discipline and can-do attitude.

Leadership: Effective leadership goes way beyond giving directions. It’s about giving your team the support it needs to be successful. It’s about influencing people to do things that you need done – key word is influencing!  Two critical tools in effective leadership are listening and following up.

Process discipline: When we build, it is imperative that we are disciplined at following the planning for the work we are doing.  The planning provides a mechanism to produce the product the same way, repetitively, over and over, each time becoming more proficient. Sticking to the plan ensures safety, quality, efficiency and repeatability.

Can-do attitude:  I have learned in my career that there is always a way to solve problems or to remove roadblocks.  Some are obviously harder than others, but there is still a way. I have seen ingenious ways that our team overcomes obstacles and finds ways to make it happen.  But, it needs to be yard-wide!

If we all come to work every day knowing we can be successful, knowing we can find a way to overcome any obstacle, then there is no limit to what we can accomplish.

By enacting these three qualities as we go about our daily tasks, we will set ourselves apart from our competition and in the eyes of our customer.

Part of my job is to make sure you have what you need to make that happen. To that end, we are putting new practices into place to help our leaders solve the daily problems that are holding us—and you—back.

Last week we rolled out a new series of daily musters to improve communication and problem solving. Four quick, effective musters pass the problems up that can’t be solved at the lower level. The expectation is to get the issue resolved within 24 hours or less – I like less.  By 9:30 a.m. every day, the senior leadership team and I are aware of the problems in all parts of the yard that have bubbled up, and we make sure the team is addressing them.

We’re already seeing results from these meetings in just these first two weeks.  People are stepping up, taking actions and closing them with solutions. This is one step in the series of steps that we need to take in our journey to set ourselves apart at the top of shipbuilding. The marathon we are on will help us earn the right to build more ships in our future and give everyone a career to be proud of at BIW.

We are here to solve your problems.  This is leadership, this is process discipline, and this is having a can-do attitude. These are the first steps to setting us apart.

President, General Dynamics Bath Iron Works

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