top of page

#39 How Passion for Continuous Improvement wins Shingo Prizes, with Jim Glover.

Proudly brought to you in association with S A Partners, a world-leading business transformation consultancy.


Jim Glover, Shingo Award Winner and Group Continuous Improvement Manager.

Mr Jim Glover has been involved in Enterprise Excellence for over 30 years, coaching and leading organisations to Shingo prizes. Jim's team is now focusing on building a stable platform to support everyday continuous improvement. Let's get into the episode. Jim, thank you for joining us today.


Jim grew up in the 1970s in Birmingham, UK, and a big part of the culture was the automotive industry. His parents were involved in the car industry; his Dad, his hero, in personnel (we would call this HR today). Jim remembers his Mum's hands smelling like the sump oil they were working in all day long. They pushed Jim to complete an industrial apprenticeship, which cemented his early learnings: being disciplined, predictable and programmed. The factories that Jim worked in supplied parts to car manufacturers - Toyota being the one that captivated Jim, and he credits them for changing his career. Toyota supported its suppliers, inspired them to get the most out of work, and mined their ideas.

Jim talks about the effect that outstanding leadership can have on their organisation. Leaders who look to reinvent themselves to understand their people. Standing toe to toe on the Gemba, being present and listening to them can create magic when it's authentic, genuine, regular and consistent communication. People can get excited about continuous improvement and change.

The three steps for achieving a continuous improvement culture.

  1. Daily visual management system. Visual information and systems that people have to tap into and interact with to make better decisions.

  2. Problem-solving on root cause at all levels. Identify waste and problems and root cause to find the systemic reason for the occurrence of the waste, gaps, loss.

  3. Creating standardised work.

If you're looking through the lens of standardised processes, the waste will jump out. Allow the employee to find the waste and to learn how to improve their work. Inflate your employees and their ability for them to buy-in to their work every day. This culture for continuous improvement is Jim's ideal.

Example - eliminating spoilage from the shop floor.

Jim gives a recent example about trying to eliminate spoilage from the shop floor. In collaboration with a General Manager, they began every day on the Gemba, looking at the movement of products across the factory. They captured the waste and worked with the frontline employees working with it. Together they would problem-solve each wasteful action, think about the root causes for the problems. This guided a daily visual management system. Over time, employees began to notice the consistency of leadership in their space, giving them support, care and coaching. The persistence over time, the financial benefit, but also the cultural shift was profound.

John Shook's, "Act Your Way to a New Way of Thinking" is highly recommended reading by Jim. You have to get in and get your hands dirty. You become what you practise each day.

What stops organisations from achieving continuous improvement?

Jim is convinced that being on the Gemba will reveal ways to improve.

Unfortunately, leaders are often stuck in the boardroom, looking at budgets and statements, and making preconceived notions of how frontline workers are. Leaders have lost the opportunity for Gemba, and have lost connection with their employees.

Jim and Brad finish the chat about the greatness of sporting coaches, on our children's sporting fields, and in the big league. Why can't we have more inspirational coaches in business? Power to us to learn to get better.

Key Takeaways

1. Recognise the power of learning by doing at the front line where value is created.

It doesn't matter if your front line is a sales team, finance team in an office, software development or warehouse team; the same applies. Spending time where value for customers is created and learning by doing with the front line team is extremely powerful. Jim gave some great insights on how to go about this; making it visual, understanding the root cause, standardising work and coaching and practising with the team as frequently as possible focused on a challenging goal.

2. Learning from inspirational sporting coaches and applying the same principles to business: challenging goal, helping each player, teamwork, culture.

The second key takeaway for me was the conversation with Jim on the quality of some of our sporting coaches, both in the big leagues and also weekend sport with our children. The skills these coaches have built to focus their team on the challenging goal motivate them towards this. Learn by observing where the sport is being played and helping each player reach their potential to help the team ultimately—leading culture and behaviour both good and bad to sustain and improve teamwork. It is awe-inspiring; there is so much we can learn from these coaches that would help us in our organisations.



I suppose in many matters, Toyota saved my life or saved my career. They were the ones that were, in fact, they were brutal. They were insistent about continuous improvement and standard work, and those basic fundamentals of stability were just drummed into everybody who provided parts to them. So I learned so much. They simply dragged me through Just in Time, TPS, to always standardise and always improve, to banish waste, understand what it is.


We've all got a toolbelt. We all know how to do value stream mapping. The tools are out there, but it's the leadership that makes everything change. It inspires everything. It can inflate people. It's like the best teachers. Leadership can bring this stuff to life. And if they don't, they miss an opportunity to really connect with the people who work so hard.


Every day, presenting live visual information to people, having them actually tap into what happened. What happened yesterday? What's going on? What can they impact? That's so important. Information needs to be brought to the people who can do something about it. So, visual systems, a visual factory to identify how people can make better decisions, is the first thing.


I have a bit of a saying that it's like a bit of a tripod. Three things. Daily visual management systems. Problem-solving on root cause at all levels. And then the absolute importance of creating standards - standardised work and its everyday confirmation. That as a lens, then for further improvement.



Brad is proud to support many Australian businesses. You can find him on LinkedIn here. If you’d like to speak to him about how he can help your business, call him on 0402 448 445, or email Our website is


Jim’s LinkedIn Profile:


5 views0 comments


bottom of page