Fiber Optic Cabinets, Cables, Pedestals and Terminals

Business, Approaches, words, Clearfield

Robert and Isaac are a study in contrasts, and similarities.  Robert, our Director Quality & Procurement, is a man of few words. Succinct might also be a good way to describe his calculated and systemic approach to quality control and procurement.

Isaac, a Business Process Engineer, is clearly passionate about the virtues of the Six Sigma process for continually improving business practices.  And he’s not reticent about it.

It could be the difference of baby boomers vs. millennials. But we like to think that it takes all kinds of people, personalities and talents coming together to create the best possible outcomes.

Robert is “one of the originals” at Clearfield, starting with us more than 15 years ago.  Isaac started working on our production line two and a half years ago. He progressed steadily, and now focuses on process improvement.

What Do You Do?

Isaac: “I turn strategic company goals provided by the directors and executive leadership into specific tactical projects and manage those projects to completion using the Six Sigma methodology.  Sometimes the projects are initiated because of a customer requirement, and sometimes the projects are initiated to create efficiencies and streamline processes.”

Robert: “Ensure product quality and material availability.”  (Like I said, succinct.) Ok, he also said he is involved in sourcing suppliers, as well as working with the field engineers on performance issues with our customers.

Clearfield Culture

Isaac: “Clearfield’s culture is unique in the sense that ideas can be brought up to any level of management or any department without fear of ‘stepping on someone’s toes.’  Everyone at Clearfield is here to improve the company and is open to hearing and working with new perspectives on their processes.  I would describe the culture as collaborative and family-like.

Robert: “We are a team.”

Listen Up

Which of Clearfield’s core values (“Listen, Recognize, Understand, Collaborate, Deliver, and Celebrate”) resonate the most in their day to day jobs, Robert and Isaac agree.

Robert: “I would have to say listening. You have to shed your preconceived notions to really listen.  I try not to hear what I want to hear.”

Isaac concurs. “Listen most resonates with me.  I feel that with good listening the rest falls into place.  If you are truly listening, then you recognize and understand the other person’s point of view very quickly.  Once you come to an understanding with someone, collaboration happens naturally.  Collaboration of people with differing ideas naturally leads to exceptional results and delivery.  So while they all are important, it all starts with listening.”

In Actual Practice

As an example of how listening is particularly critical in the area of quality control, Robert cited: “There was one time when there was a quality issue and our team listened, understood, and then helped the customer through the situation.  We apologized for the inconvenience, but then the customer thanked us.  He said he was very pleased, and thanked us on how responsive we were to their issue.  This was one of my better days at work.”

Isaac went so far as to say, every successful project starts with listening.  “From implementing processes to meet Telcordia GR standards, to improving the customer returns process to help customers exchange products easier and faster, to creating a new product to fit a customer’s unique problem, they all start with listening.”

High Water Mark

Interestingly, while they have been involved in some impressive advances in the field of fiber management, both consider their best work-related moments involved helping others.

Robert: “One of the things I am proud of is helping a coworker out with a tough situation when some people were on vacation.  They sincerely thanked me for the help.  This was a very rewarding day.   I have varied experience and can solve a variety of problems. “

Isaac: “One of the projects I am most proud of is creating the process for sending product change notices to customers.  This was a project that was purely driven by communication with a customer.  Within weeks our cross-functional team with product management, engineering, document control, sales and quality got the process up and running.  While this was by no means the largest project, it is a great example of how quick every department is to collaborate together to help a customer.”

The Clearfield Difference: People

Robert:   “I enjoy my co-workers.  We make a good team.  We also have a lot of people with a terrific work ethic.  And a few have a great sense of humor.”

Isaac: “I love working with people that are so open to change and improvement.  The culture of Clearfield leads to everyone approaching things with an open mind and realizing that it doesn’t matter what we are doing, we can always improve.  It’s great to work with a team of people that strives to do better daily.”

How do You Spell S-U-C-C-E-S-S?

Isaac: Clearfield is so successful because we set things up that make sense instead of following standard templates.  Six Sigma and Lean methodologies are often implemented poorly because people think that putting the tools in place for every process is how you drive improvement.  Both Six Sigma and Lean boil down to ‘Identify the problem; do what makes sense; and reflect on your successes and failures.’  Six Sigma and Lean have a ton of tools to do that, but how they are implemented and what tools are used is completely different for every project.  Clearfield is amazing at understanding what options are available, and picking the blend of the options that work best.”

Robert: Hard work and smart work by a lot of people.

Both make excellent points. (Robert just uses fewer words.)