My Official Bio
Kevin McManus, otherwise known as "The Systems Guy", can't get systems out of his mind. In fact, he loves them so much that he formed a company that focuses on building better work systems. His undergraduate (industrial engineering) and graduate (business) degrees are coupled with 30 years of experience in various business settings to fuel his efforts in organizational change and continuous systems improvement.
He worked for eighteen years in manufacturing, with five different companies, and for five years in the service world (with the most excellent Oak Harbor Freight Lines carrier). He also served a brief stint as Executive Director for the Association for Quality and Participation (AQP) after serving as an AQP National Board member and officer for ten years.
He continually seeks out opportunities to learn, write, and speak on topics related to personal, team, and organizational effectiveness. For the past eight plus years, Kevin has served as a certified international trainer for the TapRooT® root cause analysis process. He spends a lot of time training people around the world in the use of this process, which he considers to be superior to the more basic fishbone diagram, 5 Whys, and fault tree root cause analysis tools.
In 2006, Kevin published his first book, entitled "You Can't Win Indy in an Edsel - How to Develop a High Performance Culture." He has also published two workbooks that managers and supervisors can use to prepare for the high performance workplace, entitled “Avoiding Extinction -- How to Provide Value in a Changing Workplace” and "The Fundamentals of Lean Tools and Concepts." He is also the author of the “Developing Skills for Judging Team Effectiveness” trainer's sourcebook and the “Make Your Team an In-House Champion” workbook, which are available through ASQ.
Kevin is in his 14th year of serving as an Examiner (1998), Senior Examiner (1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003), and Alumni Examiner (2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013) for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Kevin has also served as the VP of Continuing Education for the Institute of Industrial Engineers. As a member of the Association for Quality and Participation, he served as a chapter president, a regional director, and national Treasurer, Vice President, and President of the Association. He is also a member of Toastmasters (ATM-S), IIE, ASQ, ASTD, and the World Future Society.
The Unofficial Version
My goal in life is to make work a better place. Why such a singular focus you might ask? Well, to begin with, that is where we spend the bulk of our waking hours. Secondly, work in most cases is neither thought of as being fun or even in a very positive light at all. Finally, it is not a singular focus. It is my belief that by making workplaces fair, fun, and focused, the resultant impact will have a positive effect on life in general. How many people simply see work as a way to fund their true passions in life? Too many, and I simply don't think that is right.
Even though I do not have that much of a risk-taking personality, I made the decision to go out on my own. Over the years, I have had the chance through AQP, the Baldrige Quality Award process, and other associations to work with a variety of groups across the country, including manufacturing and service industries, health care systems, and school systems. I believe that the Baldrige criteria provide the perfect framework for performance excellence, but like any tool, they can cause damage if they are misused.
I believe that every employee in a given organization has something to offer and that every person has undeveloped potential. I also believe that none of us are better than any of the rest of us - each of us has one or more special skills that we bring to the team. In general, it is poorly designed, restrictive, and unfair systems that hold back human performance. I have been called an idealist, so it is okay if you think it - I don't mind, because visions are powerful! Plus, I have personally witnessed, on multiple occasions, the sustained success that high performing organizations (probably only 5-10% of them all) have achieved in multiple areas of importance, and I have learned much more about the great management systems that produce such results.
You may notice a hint of Deming in my beliefs. He is one of the three "gurus" that have influenced my thinking the most. Along with Dr. Stephen Covey and Peter Senge, the philosophies of these three men intertwine to support the beliefs I stated above. I also believe we have three choices in life -- live with it, change it, or leave. That belief also comes from someone who has had a lot influence on me, even though he has never written a business book (my best boss Don Huddleston). If you find yourself challenged in life, apply this "three choice" test to explore your options.
I don't just go around spouting beliefs however. I have consistently been able to get better results through the consistent application of these beliefs along with team facilitation and process improvement tools. More importantly, I have seen the people who worked and learned with me go on to achieve similar successes in other organizations, on often grander stages.
I have had the privilege in life to serve as an Industrial Engineer, Industrial Engineering Manager, Training/ OD Manager, Production Manager, Plant Manager, and Director of Quality. More than anything else however, I love facilitating groups and helping others improve. Instead of teaching people a lot of concepts that they will probably not remember, let alone use, I try to teach people the basics and let them practice working together to apply them. If you have not guessed it already, I think most formal training is a waste of time when it is conducted in the manner that is dominant today in business. Lecture results in minimal retention, and overcomplicated concepts are rarely understood.
I could go on, but few of you have even made it down this far on the page. If you want to try out my workbooks or have me work with your people, let me know. I will provide you with a lot of value (you will get a lot from the time we spend together at a low cost). I also speak to groups as a keynote speaker. Thanks for reading, keep improving, and feel free to share your thoughts. Work will be fair, fun, and focused some day.
Kevin McManus, the Systems Guy
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“The only thing I know is that I do not know it all.” -- Socrates