Q&A Paul Jones, General Manager at Morgan
After his recent return to Morgan as their new General Manager, we sat down with Paul Jones to discuss the industry and his plans for the company going forward. He brings with him a wealth of knowledge and finely tuned expertise that will cement their role as industry leaders.
Paul first started at Morgan on an industrial placement programme in 1999, as part of his Furniture Production Management degree. After 11 years as their production manager, driving adoption of an award-winning Lean and Continuous Improvement Programme, he stepped away to work as a consultant to a range of sectors. Then earlier this year, he was delighted to return to Morgan as General Manager. He said of his return: ‘I enjoy working with an inspirational team, building upon the business’ success and revelling in the opportunities that lie ahead.’
Outside of work, he loves to keep fit. He has had a passion for running since he was a schoolboy. Growing up and training in hilly Durham has given him a competitive advantage so prefers cross-country races. For Paul, there is nothing better than an early Sunday morning group run.
1) The Manufacturer Magazine recently recognised you as one of their Top 100, could you tell us more about how your lean and best practise experience led to your nomination?
UK manufacturing is my passion. Throughout my career I have consistently applied the first and last of the ‘Lean Principles’: value and perfection. This has involved constantly questioning current processes, from receipt of order to customer payment, and ascertaining if the customer is prepared to pay for that process. If not, we work to eliminate or reduce resources that process requires. We should remember that perfection, by definition, will not be achieved. Therefore a continuous improvement culture throughout the organisation to constantly strive for perfection and value can only result in a stronger, healthier and happier customer-focused organisation.
2) Your ‘people and process’ focus was the reason why The Manufacturer Magazine also named you on their Exemplar Top 20, can you explain more?
It was my ‘people and process’ belief that attracted the judges. When things go wrong it can be all too easy to blame the person, however, this seldom solves the problem long-term. My approach is to challenge the process; if it’s been followed and the desired output not achieved, then there is a problem with the process. The team working with the process are best placed to suggest possible improvement. Along with facilitating the best result, it’s empowering and promotes engagement.
3) Why is momentum and determination such a key part of your process?
I am a great believer in the adages ‘procrastination is the thief of time’ and ‘don’t let perfection get in the way of progress’. I enjoy working with an aligned management team because when we commit to deliver, we deliver. While we are always chasing perfection, we all know it’s unobtainable. So let’s accept that, spend less time in meetings discussing the ‘how’ and more time learning through the ‘do’.
4) After returning to Morgan why did you decide to begin with an employee survey?
It was key that I understand the ‘current state’ through the eyes of the whole Morgan team in order to benchmark ourselves. All too often, management teams don’t truly understand the state of play in the business. At Morgan, we can follow the ‘golden thread’ throughout our visible strategy deployment, ensuring we are fully aligned.
5) Why has it been so important to set targets and measures for the year ahead and how have you made these visible within throughout the company?
Data drives continuous improvement across Morgan. I am a great believer in visual management, being able to understand the ‘state of play’ at a glance. We all need to know our targets, understand our performance against them and agree how to address any variance. We have a very open in-house culture, so we can all visually see current state and continuous improvement across the business.
6) How is sustainability addressed at Morgan? What have been Morgan’s key improvements and initiatives when updating your ISO 14,001?
Sustainability is at Morgan’s core. ISO14001 can be a box ticking exercise for some, but at Morgan you will see how we bring it to life and incorporate its true continuous improvement drive into our everyday. We welcome that the new ISO14001 standard drives continuous improvement by using the ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act’ cycle. This approach is common LEAN best practice so fits Morgan well.
Thank you to Paul for taking the time to answer our questions.