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Enterprise Excellence Episode 10: Bob Simpson


Welcome to episode 10 of the Enterprise Excellence Podcast. I have with me today Mr Bob Simpson, a leader of business improvement and cultures of excellence across a wide range of industries. Bob is currently a Defence Business Advisor in Australia, helping suppliers of defence improve and grow. Bob has lead a career focused on helping people at all levels of organisations, find purpose, build teamwork and culture and improve to create a better future for themselves and others.


Bob Simpson during this episode explores his background growing up in many country towns throughout Australia and how this influenced his approach to leadership and inspiring others to achieve greatness.

Bob talks about his involvement with the Bushmaster military vehicle at Australia Defence Industries (ADI) and some of the amazing outcomes this purpose lead vehicle has achieved. Bob talks about some of the early challenges working within ADI and how he went about turning a highly disgruntled unionised site into an engaged, purpose lead improving team.

Bob outlines similar stories across his time working within food processing, furniture manufacturing and other industries. He highlights the importance to treating everyone with respect, placing yourself in others shoes and engaging them to bring out their best.

Bob is now taking this approach for the Australian Defence Industry, helping to develop cultures of continuous improvement within defence suppliers to create a better future.


Bob can be reached through his LinkedIn account


· 0417776022 (Mobile)


Summary Keywords

people, vehicle, unity, bob, support, workforce, leader, role, australian, australian defence, create, defense, industries, work, australia, career, chicken, ammunition, workplace, bullets


1. Well, it It took an event where even before the vehicle was formally introduced into the service, the conflict in East Timor case came along, and there was a need for that vehicle type. So two vehicles were sent to each team or to assist with the operations over there. And following up from that the the people that use that in the armed services were absolutely ecstatic about about its performance. And that was the start of a total turnaround and general acceptance of the vehicle with the defense forces.

2. The just cause that we chose wasn't hey, we're making a great vehicle to get people aligned. It was hey, we're saving lives. And that has ensued to the present day.

3. So my life has been characterized by this constant change, which of course, I thought was normal. And the country towns, everybody is so friendly and accepting and you just think that's the way things are. So that's what I took to the workplace.

4. So when it wasn't that that way well... When I eventually took over some leadership roles, and there was this adversarial context to that, that really surprised me but my openness and willing to support helped us overcome that.

5. there are formal leaders in the workplace; part of the organizational structure, and there are informal leaders and people in roles that have expectations of them. So it was to work out personally who all those those people were, and then focus the relationship and what their role was also at work and change those expectations to be consistent to be supportive of everybody at work in the work role.

6. But basically, if someone does something wrong, it's understanding why. Try to support them to go from where they're at to where you want them to be. Pass some responsibility on to say, well, what are you going to do about it? And by the way, if you do that, we'll help you just along the way.

7. It's a hard thing to step into a munitions factory and see that everything that's designed and done there has a purpose and that's to kill humans. So the, if you don't do anything about that, that's how people will perceive it. So we did spend some time after I recognized that this was playing a lot of people's minds and I was helped out with people from Department of Defense to say, hey, we might be making all this stuff but part of defense is if you've been threatened and someone wants to hit you. And you say, hang on a second, before you hit me Be aware that I'm pretty well armed as well. And, and I will respond and hurt you back. But that changes the context altogether. And that aggressor may not hit you at all. And that's why it's a Department of Defense. And as simple as that may sound that resonated with all the workforce as well that that we were part of the defense of the nation, not attacking others.

8. So once again, it was about how can I bring this this group together? And what I saw with manufacturing guys was a fantastic group of people doing a wonderful job and capable of processing 100,000 chickens per day. So that's obviously 500,000 per week. And so, so it was like okay, one chicken feeds about four people. So about four meals in the chicken.

So what we're doing is in a week, we've we've provided 2 million meals. So now we're feeding regional Victoria.

9. So then they start coming back with ideas to say, hey, we should do something here because this is happening. And that can get overlooked. But that starts to happen all the time. And that's continuous improvement; no formal program all that. It's just focusing on the bigger cause, and people work up some some motivation towards that, and they start finding their voice and talking.

10. So you better make sure that what you do adds adds greater value because if you're not here, things will things will still happen.

11. Unity is a great position to start developing that trust and it's a bit like the, what we're using now you'll hear that we're all in this together is once again is trying to, to create unity amongst amongst people so that they help and assist each other towards the goal.

12. Right now I'm back working in the defense sector. So my role at the moment as a defense business advisor is working with the Commonwealth to support the Australian Defence Forces, and through ensuring that businesses that are in the defense of supply chain so those sovereign capability businesses, receive support. So that their businesses are robust and resilient. So that when Australia defense forces calls on that supply chain, their defense ready.

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