Enterprise Excellence Episode 17: Jon Lindsay

Joining up the organisation to create alignment, flow and performance


Welcome to Episode 17 of the Enterprise Excellence Podcast. I am so pleased to have Jon Lindsay as a guest. Jon helps Business Leaders develop Flow, which he defines as, “talking about the right things at the right time with the right people taking ownership”.

Jon was one of the early adopters of the enterprise excellence model, introducing Lean to the insurance business he ran in the early 2000s. In recent times Jon has used the concept of “Joined-Up” to reflect the need to respond to all stakeholders of an organisation, based on the principles of clarity of purpose, simplicity and consistency to deliver value.


Jon Lindsay has had an expansive career covering many of our finest education systems. Jon has led one of Britain's oldest textile companies and lead one of the first continuous improvement journeys within a finance company.

One of Jon's first jobs was as an engineering apprentice for an instrument maker in Luton, UK. He sat with various departments - one of them being next to the expediting department. He would make a call for a spare part, and would be told, "I'm afraid we won't be able to supply that part until you have paid your bill". John embarrassingly would reply that he would talk to his superior.

During his engineering degree, Jon learned about the high principles and standards that were applied to engineering. He went into project management travelling across the world and quickly realised that he would have to rely on himself to make critical decisions, rather than head office. Jon created a visual management system: a massive chart on his wall, with the entire schedule of materials, allowing him to know precisely when to pull the project forward. Jon then had to think about more seriously about his career and joined the Harvard Business School. He was given many case studies and decided that leadership is about making good decisions. Organisations that survive need leadership; decisive leadership that empowers and encourages people within the organisation.

Jon next moved into industrial textiles and read the book "The Goal" by Eli Goldratt. He asked Eli to work with them applying the concept of "The Goal" to their organisation and spent a lot of time with Eli. Eli influenced Jon to look at leader at coach, root cause, cause and effect, and to stop dealing with all of the symptoms. It is the one book that Jon would recommend that everyone read to learn about optimising the whole system. Tencel, the man made fibre was developed in Jon's time. They were being squeezed on price at the bottom of a most impressive, but wasteful fashion supply chain, who all wanted to add their price to the final product. Textiles were being moved offshore, and Jon had to then move to a different industry. See this video of Jon detailing the supply chain!

Enter, the financial - credit insurance - servicers with Cardiff. Jon was employed because of his understanding of the customer and supply chain. This job allowed Jon to develop a thorough understanding of enterprise excellence. The business had a matrix structure; one part of the organisation looked after risk, and the other looked after the client. They were completely separate parts of the organisation, and the risk side of the business did not report to Jon. He was losing clients because although they were good at managing risk, did not give them the quick answers they were searching for. They hadn't seen how their clients were moving and changing in their own businesses. Jon looked to bring the client and risk teams together to talk about the voice of the customer and improve the process of delivering value to the customer. It worked beautifully. Retention rate went from 75% to 85%, a saving of $10million.

Upon further education, and reflection, Jon realised that by changing his leadership style, he could have had much more of an impact in his managerial roles. Jon has consolidated his learnings and developed the 'Joined-Up' approach to Enterprise Excellence. The system connects the three fundamental key stakeholder groups of an organisation: customers, the owner, supporter or sponsor, and employees. These groups have to be satisfied in order to create a sustainable business.

What satisfies customers? This is the output of the business. A product, and a method for delivering that product that aligns with their ideal customer values. Customers appreciate an emotional connection with your company, which is in effect the brand. Employees provide input with behaviours and action and are satisfied with job fulfillment by having an inspiring set of values and business model to follow.

Owners provide the inputs; proposition, values and a business model to sustain a competitive future business advantage. They need to engage, empower and align their people to the executive vision, objectives and goals, as well as lead and develop a culture focused on the critical behaviours for success. In return, they look for impact within their industry, and profit.

He believes fundamentally that if you make a change in one part of the business it will have a knock on effect on all other inputs and to the output to the customer.

Looking to the future, Jon is focused on working with leaders at all levels of industry and government to make better decisions. To help them define their objectives. join up their organisations and create a better future.


LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/jonroolas

joined-up.com.au (Company Website)

tec.com.au (Company Website)

Phone: +61407799875 (Mobile)

Email: jon@roolas.com.au

Twitter: Jonroolas


05.05min I had on my wall an enormous chart, with the entire schedule of all of the materials, and plotted exactly when we needed to call it forward. And I didn't wait for head office to call it forward. I made sure that it was actually screened, and I actually had visitors who came from the UK and visited my site, and they said, "Gosh, that's impressive". And I think that's what you call visual management, isn't it?

12.49min the advice to anybody who's basically running a business is somebody has to believe in it, heart and soul. There's no half measures. You can't half run a business. You've got to be in it or not.