Most manufacturing companies don't have people dedicated to evaluating and deploying modern tools. At best, IT or HR takes responsibility for new technology and doesn't have the resources to implement them effectively.
Michael Muilenburg is the Director of Operational Technology at 3M and has learned how to leverage key personnel to create a team that successfully evaluates, deploys, and scales digital technology across the frontline operational workforce.
Join our conversation with Michael and learn how you can create your own team, no matter the company size, and have a major impact on operational success and improvements.
A full transcript along with additional resources are listed below.
- Solving The Manufacturing Skills Gap: Recruitment | Article
- AME Events & Conferences | Association for Manufacturing Excellence
- Solutions for the Shifting Industrial Workforce | On-Demand Webinar
- Why HR Shouldn't Manage Your Technical Training | Article
- Follow Michael Muilenburg| LinkedIn
Episode 8: The Voices of Manufacturing
Brian Sallee: Welcome to the voices of manufacturing. I'm your host, Brian Sallee and joining me today is Michael Muilenburg. Welcome to the podcast, Michael.
Michael Muilenburg: Thanks, Brian. It's great to be here.
Brian Sallee: Michael, could you give us a little background, tell us a little bit about the company you're with and your role with that company?
Michael Muilenburg: I'm with the 3M company, I've been there over 35 years. I started when I was very young. And my current role is the Director of Operational Technology. And that's really a role that is a team of people that, that try to generate workforce capability solutions improving operations day to day helping our workforce improve and get better.
Brian Sallee: I'm excited to chat today. We've had many chats in the past and this one's a little bit different. This is something that I think both of us have seen going on in the manufacturing industry for a while now. And you've got a particular area of expertise here that we're going to dig into, but I thought I'd open it up first with laying out the problem statement. And this is something again that we're seeing a lot of manufacturing, most manufacturers have an outdated org chart. And, I don't mean that the org charts are outdated and, Tom left the company two years ago. And the org chart hasn't been updated.
What I mean is the company the way it's structured. It's not really designed for the pace of innovation that we're seeing in manufacturing. And I think, know, if you look at a lot of manufacturers, it is still the main department that either evaluates or helps evaluate new technologies. And you really just don't have this dedicated team to evaluate new solutions that are coming into the market.
And one of the things that we often see from this is, it's really a lack of a cohesive digital strategy. And I know Michael, you've heard this term a lot, but it results in a lot of pilots and you get stuck in pilot purgatory. No one really feels confident making decisions about which investments to make, what solutions to move forward with. Because again, there's just really a lacking cohesive strategy. So let's jump into this, Michael, why doesn't this approach work? What are some of the challenges when you have, it, which is responsible for so much these days in charge of leading the evaluation or, being heavily involved in the evaluation of new technologies
Michael Muilenburg: Yeah, I think you, you bring up an interesting observation there. Innovation is often part of how you've developed products and some companies have laboratories working on stuff that's maybe a little further out. And the expectation in those organizations is a constant state of experimentation and scouting. And really coming up with unique solutions and we don't see that as much in manufacturing. We, we see tried and true methodologies and tools but it's just it's maybe not invoked to be innovative in, in that way in manufacturing and even supply chain for that matter.
And then what happens is other parts of the organization end up bearing some of that burden. Like you mentioned IT, or some of the other support services, they're left to drive the innovation, which is really separated from what happens on the shop floor. And so our approach has been lately to really understand what's happening on the shop floor. Define the problem. Understand what's really going on in people's heads and their daily lives. And innovate around that and just, pull out all the stops, let's bring the best and the greatest to our shop floor.
Brian Sallee: Yeah let's back that up a little bit there. As you're saying the, it's not a burden, but the work falls on other departments. So who in a lot of these manufacturing companies, who is typically doing the scouting, then if you don't have a dedicated team and IT just doesn't have the bandwidth or the resources to do it. What are you typically seeing from manufacturers when it comes to the scouting part of it?
Michael Muilenburg: Yeah. As you mentioned, I think IT often takes a strong role there and, anything that's digital goes through them and they would manage the scouting and the qualification and even the deployment. And again, not to pick on my IT friends, sometimes we're chasing a digital solution and there's no problem. Where we're solving the wrong problem. And so how do you create alignment between, the work that's being done, the problem that you're facing and this wonderful area of digitization and innovation in that space.
And we've bridged that gap with, what started out as a lean team, lean engineers, looking at efficiency and optimization, but more importantly, looking at the culture. And looking at the employee experience. And so our team has been built around bridging that gap, understanding the needs of the shop floor or the culture of the shop floor or the way that you would introduce new technology, the change management process. And then we certainly partner with IT and Quality and Human Resources and even communications lately to build a package that we can promote and sell. And so it really has to be a cross-functional team to make it go from pilot to deployment a lot smoother, but it's initiated by what we call an "Operational Technology Team" - technology that's focused on helping operations improve their work.
Brian Sallee: Yeah, and I've been working with you for quite a while now, and I see the value of having a dedicated team, like you do. Oftentimes you're sharing new technologies with me that I've never heard of before. Cause you guys are out there, you have the bandwidth, you have the ability to go out there and see what's in the market.
What's interesting to me is that you guys evolve from a lean group into what you are now, which is a dedicated team, with the intent, I guess the purpose behind your team is really to evaluate these new technologies. For a lot of companies, they don't have the ability to evolve. They're already behind. They need to get a team in place now. What does it look like to build out a dedicated team for this? What type of people are you looking for? How do you structure the team to make sure that you're focused on the right initiatives and you have a cohesive strategy?
Michael Muilenburg: Yeah, I think in, in many organizations you'll find industrial engineers, process engineers with different backgrounds, trying to solve that efficiency, productivity kind of problem, and falling back on traditional lean methods and lean tools. And that's absolutely fantastic, you got to do that.
But I think when you turn the corner and they start asking the question, what's really state-of-the-art? What's new in lean? What's new in technology that can support operations? And we're not talking about, automation and robots and 3d printing. Obviously, those are new technologies as well. But we're talking about technologies that can actually support the operator. You know, around predictive analytics, around training, onboarding. Around, just even an alert system to let them know when things aren't running well early on, so they can head it off. So you really have to shift that mindset.
And I think that's a leadership thing that, they have to ask their people, "Hey, where's the innovation here? What's new? What is state-of-the-art? What have you seen? What's your vision?" I use the phrase a lot, " wouldn't it be great if..." Wouldn't it be great if we could do this or that. That mindset starts with that phrase. And then I think you have to just carve out some time and say, "I'm going to dedicate X number of hours to that process."
The scouting, the evaluation, the matching the solution with the problem and exploring a little bit, even before you get into that pilot and deployment phase, you just have to carve out some time. At 3M we often call it 15% time. We can apply 15% of our time to solving problems and exploring. And I don't know whether it's actually five or 10 or 15 or 20. I think it depends on your role. But adopting that sort of a mindset giving, giving some of your existing team, the time and bandwidth to go do a little bit of that. And if it starts catching on maybe it needs to be 50% or maybe it needs to be a full-time FTE and maybe they'll develop into a team over time, like ours did.
Brian Sallee: Yeah and I think one of the things I'm hearing here, that the challenge I can imagine for a company that doesn't have a dedicated team, a lot of manufacturers don't. In a lot of companies, engineering is bringing in solutions. Training departments bring in different solutions. You have solutions coming from all these different departments. And what I heard from you a minute ago was that you have to be solving a problem. It has to start with a problem. How do you get alignment throughout the organization, or throughout these various departments, on which problems you should be looking to solve first and which problems you should be looking to solve with technology? Is there, a way to have a cohesive strategy or to begin developing that for the organization?
Michael Muilenburg: Yeah. Wow. That's a complicated question. A couple of different angles on that. One is, yeah, you do need to have a problem identification and really digging into, the facts and what's the potential benefit. And you really have to have that kind of built into anything that you do. I think the more complicated thing that you brought up is ideas coming from different areas of the company. Who coordinates that? Who evaluates it? Who synergizes it? Who moves it forward? An operator may generate an idea. They saw something on television last night that might help them in their daily work. Who do they tell? Who acts on that? IT or HR, may be pushing a certain solution, but are they really gathering that cross-functional input that we talked about?
And I think what we're learning and we're still learning is, how do you build that process so that you capture those voices, those ideas, those observations, and get it into some sort of pipeline where you can say, "Hey, that's a great idea. We'll get to that eventually." Or, "That's a great idea you should talk to so-and-so and maybe build it out a little more and we should move that forward because that seems to fit with where we're going." You don't want to say flat, "No." You want to be able to say, "I need more information," maybe the timing isn't the best. Maybe we need to build a case and get some resources. But we have a, I would say a pretty simple process that we use. It's getting more complicated because we're getting more input, more voices, more ideas coming across our desk. And it, it honestly is hard to keep up with the state of technology, innovation, and just creative people in our organization.
Brian Sallee: Yeah, it sounds like a lot of the problems, trying to understand how do you get alignment on which problems to solve? How do you identify problems? It sounds like what you're saying there, is a lot of these problems you become aware of when various people are presenting solutions to you, they're presenting a solution cause they've identified a problem in their role that, maybe other people haven't seen. So that seems like one way to identify problems. And then, it's also one way to identify solutions. And then the real challenge, it sounds like becomes, okay, which ones do we focus on?
And I'm wondering, is there a framework or what have you seen as maybe a best practice? Because at different levels of the organization, everybody's got different levels of priorities. And often what I see is those, different levels of priorities or everyone has different priorities. It's hard to get alignment on which projects to focus on. And so what are some ways that you guys have worked through that because you've had to have these challenges before I know you guys have taken on some big projects, how did you make that decision to commit?
Michael Muilenburg: Yeah, and, I had the advantage over the last number of years. I've worked closely with the strategic planning team. I've actually led our strategic planning process. So I hear firsthand from our operations people what their pain is and their strategies for overcoming that, any ideas they might have, their timelines. I think more and more, we're getting ideas coming out of the woodwork. People say, "Oh, there's a group listening. I'll just make a suggestion. I don't even need to go through strat planning.
So it's combining those two efforts, something that's a little more formal, more strategic versus just random observations and really good ideas. And yeah, some, sometimes the priority is based on, a willing participant. They have a problem. They volunteer to be the pilot. We say, "We'll try it with you and if it's successful, other people will hear about it. And they may elevate it in their priority list and say, "We want to deploy that too, because yeah, we really had that problem, but maybe we haven't talked about it enough. But we really like that solution and we can replicate that very quickly." That happened with our training and onboarding. We started with a very small group of people. We knew it was a widespread problem, but one or two sites picked it up early and the others heard about it. And they said, oh we have that problem too. And we really liked that solution. Can we get, can we get involved? Can we become part of the next wave?
Brian Sallee: In that situation, that's something where, you have this problem that you believe, is probably a problem being experienced throughout the company, but maybe it hasn't been identified at a higher level where, the company is throwing resources at solving that problem just yet. And so your team, it sounds like you guys are really providing resources and guidance. Is that right for these, individual plants or groups to evaluate these technologies?
Michael Muilenburg: Yeah I, I think we, we do a fair amount of just having dialogue, trying to understand the problem. We ask a lot of questions to define it to find maybe the root cause, or maybe multiple root causes, to a symptom that we're observing. And even, I'll speak specifically about training, onboarding, and improvement. I think that was a well-known opportunity. Everybody said we can be better at these areas, but when we started looking at the specifics, the complexity of the equipment people changing jobs rapid growth, adding new people to an organization and having to get them up to speed very quickly. Obviously, safety comes to mind. We want our people to be really safe. And we just thought that there has to be a better way to communicate the safety message the protective equipment, the practices that are going to keep them safe in the workplace. And then there's the cross-training element.
People want to grow. They want to learn, and that, that need wasn't really articulated. But if you talk to anybody individually and talk about their career path, that would often come up. And so you start molding all those things together and you, your problem statement is really, I need a system for rapidly training, keeping up with the pace of technology, with people, changes, focused on safety, focus on improvement, and it's gotta be fast. It's gotta be lightning fast. It's gotta be accessible. All these other requirements started building up. And it took a while to get our head around that particular problem statement and all those subtle little things that were going on. It's not just a training issue. It's much, much bigger than that.
Brian Sallee: Yeah. And this is a really good example because it's such a complicated, I know training oftentimes one of those areas where it's hard to justify, investments in that area. Cause it's hard to calculate the ROI on it. It sounds like your team was really helpful in helping these groups, build out that business case, that problem statement and get this project moving forward.
I guess my question here is, what happens if your group doesn't exist in this situation, then what have you seen from other companies if there's no dedicated team and you've got this widespread problem. Who's helping these groups, move these things forward?
Michael Muilenburg: Yeah. I see a lot of examples where you'll find a champion, an individual that has a great idea and they want to push something forward, and they're relying on their skills to sell the idea, to do the justification and maybe even help with the pilot and deploy. Maybe it's not even their full-time job. And so it's an uphill battle. I feel sorry for the people that are isolated like that. Some of them are very gifted at it and it's just how they work and they get it done.
But it's so much better when you've got a cross-functional team, you've got some dedicated resources that actually have the time to put into these things and ask those questions. Do the foundational work, follow the process. Run an experiment, to have it failed miserably and then go back and say, "how can we do that better?" And so again, it's been a, it's been a great experience to build the team and build those skills and build the process. My advice is you just gotta start and start small and take it away from that individual champion that's going to get stressed out by trying to do everything themselves, give them some help, give them a lifeline.
Brian Sallee: Yeah, cause on one hand, you've got a really, probably motivated employee that you don't want to overburden with another project. And so like you're saying, you need to pull that away from them. On the other hand, that might be a great person to pull into a role like this, as we're talking about. This could be someone that you could, start building a team around that's really motivated and interested in new technology solutions. So why don't we transition to that topic? If I'm a medium size manufacturer, I don't have a dedicated team in place. How do you get started with building out this team? What's some practical tips that we can share with the audience on what's the first step to getting started and really having maybe a dedicated person or dedicated team to get started. What's the process that you've seen?
Michael Muilenburg: Yeah. I'll I'll start right from the beginning as if. If you're the leader, you're the director or the Vice President, and even the CEO, you have to cast a vision for this. You have to say, this is okay, this is something we're going to do. And then start hunting for the people, the skills, and building out the resources. It could be an individual, could be a couple of people. You've been, you start building a team as time goes on. But it really has to be something from the top that we're going to do this, we're going to innovate in manufacturing operations to really help everybody do better. So in our case we had a champion that's that said, "Go do this. We'll see how it goes. You've got my support. You got some budget and by the way, if it fails we'll regroup and we'll try something different." But, we certainly had the freedom to fail.
When it comes to the team, you've got these individuals in your organization that are already coming up with ideas and trying to move things forward. I like to use the tipping point model. When I built my team, I started looking for people. That followed Malcolm Gladwell's law of the few, which is the Maven, the Connector, and the Salesman. And I think in a perfect world, you're building the perfect dream team. You gotta find those skills. You gotta find the Maven, who's a know-it-all that is well-read, is up to date on all the technologies, all the innovations, all the vendors, has all this trivia floating through their mind. Um, I really needed a Connector, somebody to connect to the resource groups, to connect to the shop floor, to be able to have a conversation with VPs in one hand and shop floor people on the other. Or the, the user with the expert with the vendor maybe. And then you've got to have a salesman.
You've got to have somebody that can really sell the solution, sell the concept, answer all the questions, have the justification at their fingertips and really convince people that we're not just selling technology. We're really solving a problem. And you put those three personality types together. And it's usually three different people. Very few people have more than one of those personality attributes. You put them in a room and you say, okay, now let's move this forward. We have those rare skills available. Let's put them to use and let's go after it. and it's our full-time job, of course. But if you even had somebody that's doing that a couple hours a week with those rare gifts and applying those gifts to this solution I think you'd be able to move things forward. So even if it's a part-time thing, you might have a part-time Maven, a part-time Salesman, and a part-time Connector. They can work together.
Brian Sallee: Yeah, no that's great. And that's really interesting the way you thought about building out a team and what characteristics you were looking for. Because I think one of the things, from the companies I have seen that do have maybe not a team that's dedicated to this, but they're starting to build it out. They've oftentimes are looking for somebody who, has experience with technology. And I think a lot of times I see companies that are overemphasizing that experience with technology.
So maybe they worked previously for a software company or maybe they came up through IT, but it seems like one of the challenges there is you're missing out on having any manufacturing experience. You haven't actually been on the shop floor. Kind of You were talking about the, the salesman you need to have that person who can go in and connect with people on the shop floor and the VPs. And so I guess my question here is if you can only hire one person, to start this team out, what's the most important, characteristic or most important background that you're looking for.
Michael Muilenburg: According to Malcolm Gladwell, there is no most important one. There all, you got to have all three, if you're going to create a tipping point. My experience is that the connector is really the one that has to be firing on all cylinders. Connecting the solution to the people, connecting the people to the people. Getting the word out and letting them know what's available and "Hey, you should talk to so-and-so and you should meet so-and-so and they can help you." And really introducing all the interested parties to one another and bridging that gap. I think that's the glue that holds it all together.
Brian Sallee: Got it. And when you mentioned that, the first kind of role that comes to mind is, someone who's got that continuous improvement background. you know, Has maybe been in a CI role before and has already been working with various plants and various folks throughout the organization. Is that like the type of person that you would have in mind for maybe that first kind of hire?
Michael Muilenburg: Yeah, I think that's an important set of skills that experience, moving ideas through the organization as a CI person is definitely one of those skills. I also if I would look to the person and say, have they led a team? Have they been part of either leading a technical group or maybe more importantly leading a shift, being a shift supervisor, a shift lead, a general supervisor because they're managing both the hitting the output, hitting the targets, being very conscientious about meeting the goals of the day, as well as dealing with the people side, listening and scheduling people and onboarding them. And so I think that's a great group of skills to have as well, usually comes out of being a shift supervisor.
Brian Sallee: Yeah, that's great. Let's go back just for a minute here. Cause I think this is maybe one point that I think a lot of people in the audience are going to be, this is going to be the most challenging point. How do you get management on board? As you said, management has to buy into this. They have to have the vision. But I see it a lot where a lot of management teams are so focused on the day-to-day. That they're not thinking long-term and they're not thinking about the future vision. Where do we want to be in 3, 4, 5 years from now, what technologies are going to enable us to get to where we want to be? They're not thinking that way. They're again, very day-to-day focused.
So how does somebody who, maybe is that person who wants to see more change at the company and is really motivated to drive that change? How do they go about getting management on board and getting management to at least consider developing this type of team or position?
Michael Muilenburg: Yeah, I think there's a couple of different approaches there. One seeking out, higher-level support, finding that visionary leader. if it's not obvious who they are, you may have to go find them and introduce yourself. Talk about the things you're working on. Try to get them excited about this area of innovation and operations. You may or may not find that person in your organization. I think they're there. You may have to coax it out of them a little bit.
You know, the second thing is, this is going to sound very much like an engineering approach, but having your benefits quantified, being able to manage, measure the benefits and articulate that, just tell me what the benefits of the organization is. Give me an example, give me some numbers. Easier said than done, but the more of that you can build, whether it be intangible or tangible savings as the promoter is the leader of this effort, you really have to have that at your fingertips. But I think the most important of the of these. If you have a sponsor and an upper management leader, that's great. If you've got numbers and savings and benefit. Yes, that's great.
What we found is if you go right to the shop floor and you pilot a solution and you get somebody excited and you get them engaged in the process and and you just listen to their reaction. And when you hear people say, man, this is really helpful. I never thought I'd see this, or this is fun. I can't believe this is fun, but this is really fun. I'm excited to be part of this, this pilot of this new technology. And then you bring those quotes, those reactions from the shop floor, back to your leadership team. And you said this is what people are saying. Now we're talking about employee engagement, commitment, excitement it's beyond the numbers. It's beyond, a mandate it's saying no, the people really want this and they've seen the benefit.
And boy, they're excited to participate too. They don't feel like it's being done to them. They want to be part of the solution. They want to get involved. And that's what we've really found when you get that going and you bring those voices to the leadership team. It gets their attention.
Brian Sallee: Wow. This is a great breakdown. And I'm just going to recap real quick here. You've got to build essentially your business case. What's the impact of a solution like this on the company, whether it's a cost savings or, you know, ability to increase production. Or whatever it might be. You've got to build your business case. So you've gotta be good at that.
But then this other part, which it seems nuanced is, Getting the people on the shop floor, excited about it. And being able to take their excitement and share it with upper management, what's like a tactical way to do that. Is it just like sharing quotes? Are you like recording videos? Like how do you go about, taking that excitement and really transferring it to the management team so they can actually see it firsthand.
Michael Muilenburg: It definitely starts with the salesman on my team who can talk to anybody and, bring forth the numbers and the quotes and. All that information secondhand, but you hit on a couple points. We have made little testimonial videos, we've done some interviews and gotten video quotes. And we embed that in our presentations. Say here's what they're saying and we just play it.
The best example I can think of is we actually brought a couple of vice presidents to the shop floor. And we had a couple of users demonstrate a solution, by the way these users didn't even have a lot of experience. They felt like they were a little bit put on the spot. They weren't super confident, but they're like, "We like it. We want to learn more. And we'll happily, share our thoughts on this and demonstrate how the technology was being used." That was a powerful moment. Those leaders walked away saying we just saw this in action. We saw the reaction. We saw the smile on their face. And we can do the math and we can figure out the benefit in our head, but what we took away from it was just this this wave of enthusiasm and excitement about this technology. We really are solving the problem.
Brian Sallee: Yeah, no, that's, I think that last point there actually getting management on the shop floor to see firsthand, that definitely seems like the most compelling way to to get them involved and get them on board with the project. Well going from here? I think, just kinda wrap it up, you guys obviously have a dedicated team for this. You've seen the benefits. We've talked a little bit about, how do you get management on board? How do you go about developing this team? What are the characteristics you're looking for in the people that you're hiring, from your perspective though, you've been doing this for a while. What has been the impact for you at 3M? You know, you guys have had this team in place, technology is innovating at an incredibly fast pace. What's been the benefits for you guys so far at 3M?
Michael Muilenburg: I think early on we saw the business benefit. It wasn't it wasn't just intangible. We saw improvements in productivity and yield and rate and maybe even just stability in our processes. We observed that early on with multiple technologies. Whether it be training and onboarding, whether it be sensors and real-time feedback on a new piece of equipment.
Whether it be even some of the autonomous work that we've done, having operators doing some of the maintenance on their own lines. And not really fixing, repairing, or, complete overhauls, but just checks and small things that they can do to keep the line running in tip-top shape and, empowering them to do that. You know, we saw benefits right away. Sometimes hard to put a number on it, but we knew directionally, we were going the right way. A thing we also learned early on is that rarely does any innovation or technology solution kind of work on its own. And so we felt like we had to combine a methodology. Yeah, a way of working with this new tool, this new cool thing with some sort of follow-up a feedback mechanism.
The solution is not the final solution. It's just a step in the right direction. And that improvement process was really important. And so again, a side benefit, measurable or not is how fast is your improvement cycle? If you start connecting a way of work with a technology and then you give the users a way to improve it every day, you can measure that cycle of improvement. We have one case where we measured 200 improvements in 180 days, and that's no small feat. That lit up our continuous improvement engine. And it wasn't just one solution. It was them looking at a variety of things and combining them and saying I can make that better and we can add to this and we can take that away. And ultimately it's gonna, it's going to deliver a better value. And so we let the system evolve, with those improvements suggestions.
Brian Sallee: Yeah. That's really interesting. I think the other question I have for you then is, as time has gone on. You guys have obviously probably gotten better at evaluating technologies, implementing technologies. Are you guys at the point now where, you're implementing it at a speed that's, much faster than previously, because you have so much experience now and rolling solutions out to the shop floor.
Michael Muilenburg: Yeah. I get asked that question a lot, do you feel like you can accelerate this process and. You know, You have a couple of wins under your belt and you say, okay, now I can conquer the world. I can move really fast. And yet the reality is you have to move at the pace that the organization is willing to change and maybe temper that enthusiasm a little bit. And it's also maybe don't know how to say this, it's it would be easy to get caught up in the thought that you can evaluate stuff very quickly without a lot of effort. And there's some bias there. I think you think, you know it, you think you've seen it all. Let's just, let's just pick the winner and let's move forward and that's not the case. So I think we force ourselves to slow down, take a deep breath. Let's really dig into this. Let's complete the evaluation. Let's dig into the details and not jump to conclusions or just. And um, so that's again, a word of advice to myself and my team. Sometimes you got to go slow to go fast.
Brian Sallee: Yeah, that's great. That's a great quote. I think I heard that in one of those kids' movies, cars, or something like that. I think that's, it came from, yeah no, this has been great, Michael, and I think, you're really well connected in the manufacturing industry. And, as we wrap up here, any resources or organizations that you want to share with the listeners that you think they should be connecting to, or at least be looking into?
Michael Muilenburg: Obviously, historically there are vendor shows, there's technology expos, conferences, and certainly that's changed a lot since the pandemic, but that's a great place to, to look for information and, get names and get demos going and stuff. And that hasn't really changed. What I found is, find a local peer group, find other manufacturers in your area that you can network with, partner with, share information. Non-compete situations. We have a great one here in the twin cities that represents I think almost 500 companies. And so I got involved in that several years ago and I, I just learned every time I talked to these people and keeps me very open-minded, it gives me a help chain. So that's one thing. Find your local manufacturing consortium within arms reach. And then on a national level, there are several organizations. There are Lean conferences, there are manufacturing conferences, and you can just, you can Google, top manufacturing conferences and they're all good. They all offer something for you as you're undertaking this process.
I've been working with AME for a couple of years. That's the Association of Manufacturing Excellence. And they're one of the biggest organizations and they go from just good old-fashioned lean to some of the technology and innovation stuff as well. So I think you get broad exposure to lots of good information. World-class thought leaders and companies that may be on the same journey as you, maybe they're even just one step ahead. And that gives you an opportunity to connect with them as well. You've got to look outside your own sandbox. You gotta, you got to go experience it, go see if you can get a factory tour. If you can talk to their teams, their operators it's gonna help, help give you the confidence. Get your own effort way.
Brian Sallee: Yeah, I love that tip, by the way. You know, find somebody who's one step ahead of you. They've already made the mistakes that, you'd have to make if you went out on your own. Think that's a really great tip. Well, Michael, thank you for joining us today. I think this is a really helpful episode and hopefully get some of our audience members to, maybe rethink how the organization is structured, how they're evaluating new technologies. So thank you for your time today.
Michael Muilenburg: Yeah, thanks, Brian, always an engaging conversation. Love discussing these topics with you and the team. So thanks again.
Brian Sallee: Excellent. Thank you, Michael.