Successful Digital Adoption Requires Patience and Purpose 

Episode: 2  |  Featuring: Paul Nadolski, Continuous Improvement Manager at Kerry  |  June 21, 2022

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Digitization Mavericks is a podcast taking a closer look at the paperless transformation in manufacturing, construction, and beyond. Our host, Chris Krnezich interviews industry leaders to discuss the challenges that persist across the frontline, and how organizations are using new technology to improve efficiency for common workflows like abnormality reporting, BBSOs, 5S, inspection scheduling, and more.

In this episode, we are joined by Paul Nadolski, Continuous Improvement Manager at Kerry. Paul talks about why it's important to build good habits before implementing technology, why defining the problem is the first piece to coming up with great solutions, and the importance of empathy and soft skills in manufacturing. He also discusses how he and the Kerry team are approaching digitization including implementing tiered meetings, problem follow-up cards, and creating boards for everyone in the plant to access. Beyond that, Paul talks about how taking a long-term approach can help drive your overall strategy and why it's an exciting time to be in food manufacturing. Listen in to learn about successful habits in continuous improvement and food/beverage manufacturing. For more episodes and resources, visit or join our group on LinkedIn.

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Transcription is automatically generated. 

Paul Nadolski (00:00):
if you're in a continuous improvement manager role, you're not an expert. You need to be the person who knows which expert to go to. Cuz it's like, you know, the knowledge is a mile wide, but a foot deep instead of, you know, the foot wide and a mile deep. So like if we're going to look to do like automating a, like a packaging of a line, I need to make sure I get the right engineer. I need to get the operators who will be working on that line. Like what do you need to make this successful?

Announcer (00:31):
Welcome to the digitization Mavericks podcast. Here we take a closer look at digital transformation and automation and manufacturing with the stakeholders who are working hard to make it happen. Our host Chris ick interviews, industry leaders, to discuss the challenges that persist across the front line and how organizations are using new technology to improve efficiency for common workflows, like abnormality reporting, BSOs fives, inspection scheduling, and more, the status quo is no longer acceptable in manufacturing. So this is a podcast for the digitization Mavericks, the employees who care deeply about their company and wanna elevate the quality of their work environment.

Chris Krnezich (01:10):
Welcome to another episode. It's Chris here and today I'm joined by Paul Nadolski continuous improvement manager at care. Thanks for making time to join us today on an episode of digitization Mavericks. So as we get started, let's wind it back for a second. So listeners out there get to know you a little better. What brought you to manufacturing and how have you found your way into your current role at Carey?

Paul Nadolski (01:33):
Yeah, that's a good question because my original undergrad is in journalism, so it is kind of weird that I wound up in manufacturing. So I guess the, kind of the long story short of it is I was in the army national guard and I did a deployment. And when I came back home, I saw what journalists were making. And then I was offered a position of manufacturing and I kind of weighed the pros and cons and I decided to kind of pop into manufacturing. It had a lot of similarities, you know, there's a lot of SOPs in, in manufacturing. So I was kind of already used to having a rule book. So and I get reminded on a monthly basis from a lot of people like, Hey, you know, former military does well in ops. So I'm like, oh yeah, that's me. I understand. I get what you're get what you're saying. So that's kind of how I got, I, I kind of got into ops. It was like it kind of made sense. I, I felt like where I was in my life, I was at a point where I wanted to make a little bit more money than I would've right. Outta college. So I was like, let's get into manufacturing.

Chris Krnezich (02:35):
Awesome. So yeah, non nonlinear path, but a lot of transferable skills. That's awesome to see. How have you seen technology improve the common workflows in continuous improvement and have those lead to advances in manufacturing in your career?

Paul Nadolski (02:51):
Yeah, I, you know, I've seen technology help a lot in, in manufacturing, but I want to take one step back and just say, I think building skills helps the most. So if you bring in a new technology, you have to make sure you understand why you're bringing it in first. Cause if you just bring it in and you haven't built a skill set or you haven't built like good habits, then the technology's not gonna help you. So technology can help transform the workplace. But if you don't build the habits and you don't know why it's there, then it can actually be a detriment. So you have to make sure you're following a good implementation process and you have to have the idea behind why. And like, for example, when I was at a previous position, we were implementing a total productive manufacturing process, and we didn't have any of the information we needed digitally.

Paul Nadolski (03:52):
So I had to form with the team to figure out how to get our operational equipment efficiency. So that would be three metrics where we have to get availability. We have to get quality and we have to get performance. So we figured out how we wanted to get all of those, those metrics. And eventually about 18 months later working with our it team and all of that, we were able to get it all done digitally. So every day we didn't have to, we didn't have to record it in books anymore. We had it all ready for us. It saved us a ton of time, but if we didn't do all that work up front and we just had somebody come in and make us a program, if we realized we had the wrong data or we didn't, we were grabbing the wrong subset of information, it's a lot harder to change code than it is to change what you're recording on a piece of paper. So I guess that's kinda like my cautionary tale is it will help you, but you need to know what you want it to do first.

Chris Krnezich (04:49):
Yeah, absolutely. That, that why, and then linking the use to that benefit is huge in adoption. I think you hit it nail on the head there. So having said that what's the ultimate worst nightmare for someone in your seat as a continuous improvement manager?

Paul Nadolski (05:07):
Well I guess there's the number one thing for me when I think of continuous improvement, it's really about people and processes. So for me, my number one nightmare would be if there was a team of people who were unengaged with wanting to make any sort of change and were uninterested in it and you know, even you could follow all the techniques, you know, follow all of those good communication styles. But my nightmare would be if I had a, a team that was unwilling to listen to any of those things, cuz you can find ways to get the data you need. You can find ways to get the tools you need, but it's a lot harder to find the right attitude.

Chris Krnezich (05:52):
Yeah, you got it. So you must hate hearing. This is the way we've always done it with no further explanation. Why,

Paul Nadolski (06:01):
You know, I'd never like hearing it, but it is funny. The older I get, the less, it irritates me as it did like five, six years ago. Cause I guess maybe it's just as you get a little older, you're like, ah, I understand that, you know, there are things I just don't wanna change, but I've just accepted changes a part of life. So, you know, if you make it personal to people, cuz really, I mean as more technology comes in, then I think the number one skill set in leaders is really gonna be empathy. If you're not able to relate to people and to explain to them why you're doing something, then it's not gonna get done. So if you can give those real life examples, maybe not always work, but how change can be beneficial. That's how you can try and get those people on board.

Chris Krnezich (06:45):
Yeah. It's a lot hard. They say it's a lot harder to train an old dog new tricks. So I think you're right. The empathy and how to get everybody involved with that is key. So as a manager, have you guys shifted to digital for areas like training assignments and tracking who's been trained on what within the plant or are you still managing that through paper and spreadsheets currently?

Paul Nadolski (07:08):
Yeah, so really like the core training that like everyone has to do that is, you know, throughout the entire Kerry company that is tracked digitally, we have a system people log into it. It tracks if you have done the training or not. So for the, the full blown, you know, we have the trainings built for it. It's tracked like that. Then there are other trainings that are very site specific. And what we'll do for those ones is there are gonna be sign in rosters. Now most of the time we're gonna implement that into one of our tracking systems. So that Kerry corporate and anyone can see who's completed the trainings, but the, those aren't automatically done, like for the ones that are, you know, completely company wide.

Chris Krnezich (07:56):
Got it. So site specific thing will still change a bit, but corporate wide for any standard training that's already standardized.

Paul Nadolski (08:05):
Yes. Yeah. We have the, a standard tool that we use. Like we just had a, a new hire start this weekend on Monday. She worked from home to do all of the standard training. That's gonna be, you know, recorded through that system.

Chris Krnezich (08:20):
That's awesome. So cutting that onboarding time in, into a small fragment of probably what it was before.

Paul Nadolski (08:27):
Yeah. And then also why make that person drive into work to sit in a room by themself yeah. Yeah. They can do that at home. You don't have to, you don't have to come into work to do that. So it's kind of like a nice first day cuz that's like, oh I can make a cup of coffee. I can relax and you know, talk to a couple HR reps, but you know, I'm getting all my mandatory trainings done.

Chris Krnezich (08:49):
You got it. How did you first get introduced to the idea of digital transformation term, which has become so popular today as a result of paperless SOPs automation and continuous improvement goals? When did you first hear that?

Paul Nadolski (09:04):
Yeah, I mean it would probably have been around five, six years ago when I was at a another flavor company and we really, you know, that's one, the term like internet of things and all of that started to become all of the, you know, the buzzwords and, and the catch phrases. And we were trying to figure out what can we do to reduce how much paperwork we have on the floor we're asking operators to do, what can we transfer to our, you know E R P system, what can we do to make it? So it's not as manual of a process of, you know, they have to mark this as they move along. So that's kind of when I, I first heard of it.

Chris Krnezich (09:44):
That's awesome. So when you've identified a need for technology, cuz the current process, like you mentioned going paperless is no longer cutting it. How do you go about looking for an option for that change? What's your process look like there?

Paul Nadolski (10:00):
Yeah, generally speaking, I will always wanna follow like some sort of eight step, you know, problem solving process, you know, whichever company I'm at, I'll kind of morph to the one that they have set the standard for or when I'm really lucky, I might be at a place that doesn't have a standard, so then I can get to create it, which is even more fun. But I like to, you know, what's the actual problem, make sure we define the problem. The biggest I don't wanna say mistake, but the biggest thing I see people do is they have a solution in mind and they haven't defined the problem. So maybe that solution is going to create more problems. So it's really okay. We need to define the problem. Do we have the correct people together to solve that problem? Let's use some problem solving tools, whether it's a, if it's a fish bone five Y or pick whichever one is your favorite, do that. And then, you know, I also love an impact, an impact effort matrix what's the most we can get with the least amount of effort and then use that to then decide what we're gonna do. It doesn't have to be a long drawn out process. Just follow the steps, make sure you don't skip a step so that you can ensure that you're making the best decision that you can

Chris Krnezich (11:17):
Got it. So if you indicate that there's a gap where your existing solutions don't fit in and you're looking for a new solution that you can create, that you can develop, what's the process look like once you've identified that problem and you've figured out what we want to achieve, how do you go about finding that solution?

Paul Nadolski (11:35):
Yeah. Well I'm the number one thing. I think everyone always needs to accept when they're in this role is they're not an expert. If you're in a continuous improvement manager role, you're not an expert. You need to be the person who knows which expert to go to cuz it's like you know, the knowledge is a mile wide, but a foot deep instead of, you know, the foot wide and a mile deep. So like if we're going to look to do like automating a, like a packaging of a line, I need to make sure I get the right engineer. I need to get the operators who will be working on that line. Like what do you need to make this successful? So it's really, it's getting the, the right people in the room after doing that problem solving step. And then if it's gonna, you know, you need to figure out the cost, you know, each company has its own threshold.

Paul Nadolski (12:26):
Is this a capital project? Is this something I can just go put on the company card? Is this that we can fix it in a week a month? Do I need to do a return on investment? So you need to know your own, your own threshold. You know, if your company says 10 million is capital, okay. If it's under 10 million, there's another process. If it's under, you know, a 5,000, you can just go buy it. So make sure, you know, your company's outlines and then learn how to learn what they want as an ROI. But those would be all kind of those next steps.

Chris Krnezich (12:56):
Absolutely. So engaging with those subject matter experts switching gears here a bit, do you have an abnormality reporting approach? If so, what do you classify as an abnormality and how do you train staff on how to tag them?

Paul Nadolski (13:13):
So just for clarification, do you mean like when an abnormality happens, like out on the production floor to make sure we're aware of it or a different style of reporting the normal?

Chris Krnezich (13:24):
Exactly. So like if an operator sees something that's out of spec and they wanna report this so that somebody can make a change, how do, how do they indicate that right now? Okay. Or how do they track that?

Paul Nadolski (13:34):
Yeah, no. So well what we have now, we've recently in the last three months have implemented just kind of a standard tier process system. So each department has its own tier one meeting, which is like the startup meeting where people, you know, see how the results were from yesterday, get the plan for today. But we, we also have our, what we call problem, follow up cards. So what those are is when an issue comes up, that's an abnormality. They, it could be written on that and escalated to the correct person if they weren't able to solve it on the floor themselves. And each blending room also has its own like attainment to plan board where they're writing, you know, Hey, every two hours we're expecting to get this when it misses, they write the reason down on that board in a little four C section, you know, to see like where they are in the problem solving process. So we also then do daily floor walks to check on those boards to make sure that those things are being addressed and raised to the proper people. And then, you know, we have the tier two meaning, which is the next level of leadership, the supervisors. And then we also have a daily tier three, which is the plant leadership meeting. So those things should be moving up and down throughout the plant. So as they're being raised, we find out about it and then we can bring the solution back down to them.

Chris Krnezich (14:56):
Awesome. So at the very core of that, when the operator first finds that issue, how do they initiate that workflow? Is it they'll make a tag and then bring it to that board? Or how does that process work?

Paul Nadolski (15:07):
Yeah, the board is directly outside their work area, so they just walk out the door and then they can write it on the board. So that's how they would start the process or if it was something that didn't shut their room down right then and there. And they just had a good idea, the tier one boards and prom follow up cards and all that is on the main floor where their startup meeting is. So if they needed to walk over there and grab that, we are trying to make sure the tools are as close to the operators as possible so that they can report those issues. Because really at the end of the day, like if I'm not here for a month, the production should still run. Like the core of what makes Kerry money is the production team. Not anything, you know, I hopefully make it a little better, a little more profitable, but they're the real, they're the ones doing like the, the real work and they need to make sure that the tools are right there for them.

Chris Krnezich (16:00):
You got it. So you've got multiple boards that makes it really easy for the operators, for somebody in your role or somebody in the quality role, they have to walk around and see all the individual boards to get the full picture.

Paul Nadolski (16:12):
Yes, right now it would be walking to each room, see where those boards are at, you know, do a loop around the whole production area to kind of get that full picture.

Chris Krnezich (16:22):
Got it. But like you said, the main thing is to make it easy for that operator, the front line worker to, to get that information and escalate it up the chain easily.

Paul Nadolski (16:31):
Yes. And what I would, you know, love to see in the future is it would be nice to have it digital with the updates, but, you know, we just started all of this, like I said, three months or so ago. So what I would like to do right now is take these next five, six months, build the habit we've already identified on those boards. Things we'd like to change. And these boards were purchased a little bit before I started and no, the boards are a little over a thousand bucks. So I'm like, I'm gonna buy markers, maybe magnets and cover up the stuff we wanna change. So like when this does, and that's goes back to my previous point, I do wanna eventually have everything digital, but right now we can make whatever adjustments we want to these boards. So let's get 'em right.

Paul Nadolski (17:21):
Let's make sure it has the information we want to have. And then it would be great to have a spot where they can update it. And they're, you know, we can look at it anywhere that not necessarily have to walk on the floor, but there is a part of me that believes in having the manual process of writing it and forcing people on the floor to see it. It's the whole idea of gemba, you know, on the spot. Cuz sometimes if you make it easy to not go out there, you won't go out there and you lose focus of where the company is making money.

Chris Krnezich (17:53):
Absolutely. And in your picture of your future vision of how this works, you're on step one. And I think what you're talking about there is like step three or four. So you have to get the process going before you can start introducing these changes to improve upon it.

Paul Nadolski (18:08):

Chris Krnezich (18:08):
For sure. Aside from those boards, what else do you use in your role to detect inefficient processes?

Paul Nadolski (18:17):
Well, that is a really good question. So give me one second to think about that one.

Chris Krnezich (18:23):

Paul Nadolski (18:24):
So I think the number one thing we can do is one engage with the operators. And I don't mean just through the board, go out there and ask them, Hey, when you're doing this, what do you run into? So that could also just be observing the whole process. I want to go watch a changeover from start to finish. What is running? What are you running into as a problem? So that part with operator engagement, finding those problems, that's very time consuming, but it's very beneficial to building the relationships. Then there's also the, the data aspect of it. If we can go look at, Hey, here are all the clean and all the changeovers for the past month, where are the outliers and dig into why those are outliers and, and figure those out. So that those outliers get fewer and fewer, you know, that's another way to go about it. Just the classic, you know, data analysis. So that's probably two of the ways that I like to go and kind of find those problems without it just being raised through the tier system.

Chris Krnezich (19:31):
No, I, I agree. I think that one on one interaction where you build that relationship, you can uncover further details than you'd get just by looking at a piece of data. And I think both of those are really important to understand the qualitative as well as the quantitative measures there. It seems like your team at Carrie is hiring right now. So this is a question you might get asked during the interview process. What's your take on people losing jobs as a result of tech, as someone who understands the role that technology's playing in the workplace?

Paul Nadolski (20:02):
Yeah. That's a really good question. And I think it's a question that has played humanity throughout history. You know when sewing machines were made, some people didn't want to use them cause they were like, well, what are the people we've hired to sew going to do? But I think what some people also don't think about is what are the new jobs being created by that technology? I mean, 70 years ago there wasn't an it department now there's it there's coders. There's what we're doing right now. So there, yes, maybe one way of doing things isn't done that way anymore. But that means that there'll be a new opportunity cuz with every new technology comes a new opportunity and we just might not know it yet, but it's going to, it's going to appear.

Chris Krnezich (20:55):
Yeah. So I think the old saying goes that every robot you put on the floor takes away one job, but it creates two cuz now you've got a robot tech, you've got a controls engineer, you've got a mechanical designer. Mm-Hmm it just changes what those roles are.

Paul Nadolski (21:09):

Chris Krnezich (21:11):
What excites you about working in manufacturing today?

Paul Nadolski (21:15):
Oh no, that's an excellent question. And I think it's really like, I'm very excited to be in the food industry. I kind of, I, I had like a little break in the F from the food industry. So I I worked at a flavor house for like five years, went into paint for a little bit. And then I was like, I want to get back into food and came back to a flavor house. And I, there's just something about working on the product that, you know, all everyone's gonna use there, isn't a people are, you know, what we make here is, goes on to meat. And even if you're a vegetarian, we make the stuff that goes on like veggie burgers. We also make the stuff that goes on snacks. So if you're ever eating any of those, if you like stuff that are cheese ates or Cheeto esque, or if you ever buy meat products, we're making it.

Paul Nadolski (22:10):
And it's like that that's really cool. I can go to the store and I can be like, Hey, you know, this came from our plant or it came from the Kerry family. And I don't know, it's just seeing just in my limited time in manufacturing I've, I've almost had a decade into it, but just seeing the changes and really it it's, it's really, it's really interesting. It's, it's fascinating just seeing how much more automation is coming into it, how much more it's now people focused, you know than it used to be used to be more, we just need headcount now it's no, we need to actually build relationships with people and make sure that we're, you know, keeping the people who, who are, are doing well. So I think that's probably what, what draws me to it is the ever changing environment and the ability to, to meet a lot of people cuz I'm I'm an extrovert. So I love that I can go out on the floor every day and talk to people all day. So I that's probably the two biggest ones just seeing the rapid, the rapid changes and the ability to work with a lot of people.

Chris Krnezich (23:25):
Yeah. And I think you mentioned it earlier, like the gratification of feeling like you're a part of this in seeing that like when you see that product on the shelf or you're consuming this, you're like, Hey, I helped build this or I helped do this. I think that that's awesome as well. Mm-Hmm are there any particular companies that stick out to you as digital transformation leaders, either ones you have worked at or ones that you have heard about through the industry?

Paul Nadolski (23:48):
So like the first one that comes to my mind for as far as digital transformation and maybe this, I mean that doesn't actually show my age in a bad way, but you know, I signed up for Netflix when it was DVDs and I thought it was cool to get a DVD mail to me and now it's streaming and now there's a streaming war, you know? So we'll see if Netflix survives, but that's one of the big ones, you know, I think of, cause it took out blockbuster, which was one of my favorite stores to go to when I was growing up and you know, red box probably helped with that too, but I don't even really see those anymore. People are just finding whatever streaming platform they can get things at. And then as far as in manufacturing to me kind of whether it's digital or just CI, there's a lot to be learned from Toyota.

Paul Nadolski (24:46):
I was fortunate enough to be able to visit one of their plants and just the way they have things set up, they still have their manual boards for the operators, but the management team can also get everything that they need, you know, at their fingertips digitally. So they found a really great blend of, Hey, this is how we're gonna manage the floor and it's gonna be kind of analog, but we also need to make sure all of the key information needed for the strategic decisions is digital. So I I've always been impressed with, with them. And I was, I really relished the opportunity I got when I was able to visit their site.

Chris Krnezich (25:24):
Yeah. And I think I've been to a couple Toyota facilities as well. And like that really resonates with what you said earlier about how they focus on building out that process and why they want to do it before they actually implemented something, as opposed to just implementing something for the sake of doing it.

Paul Nadolski (25:38):

Chris Krnezich (25:40):
All right. Last couple of questions. Where can our listeners find you if they'd like to connect or apply for one of the various positions you're hiring for at Carrie?

Paul Nadolski (25:49):
Yeah. I mean, if anyone wants to find me I'm on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn, I it's me. So we just have to look for Paul Naski P a U L N a D O L S K I and you'll be able to find me for Carrie, if you go to our main website, and go to careers and then search for us, Wisconsin steward of it, you'll be able to see the openings we have here. But I mean, if anyone saw this and was interested and you sent me a direct message on LinkedIn, I'd be able to get you in contact with the right person here, you know, for whatever opening you may be interested in.

Chris Krnezich (26:29):
Well, that's awesome. Thanks for joining us today, Paul, that pretty much wraps up this episode of digitization Mavericks. Thanks Paul for your time. And looking forward to seeing you guys at the next episode.

Paul Nadolski (26:42):
No thank you for inviting me. And anytime, let me know if you ever need me to come back.

Chris Krnezich (26:47):
Absolutely. Thanks.

Announcer (26:49):
The digitization Maverick podcast is powered by Weever, a platform that automates every critical process. So you and your employees can focus on delivering value. Use digital data, capture, workflow management and realtime reporting tools to dramatically improve operational efficiency and employee engagement. Visit to see why so many of the world's manufactured leaders like Kellogg's and Unilever. Use Weever to optimize standard operating procedures.

Chris Krnezich (27:13):
Hey, this is your host, Chris. Again, I have two quick asks for all my listeners to help the show grow one. If you got value from this episode, please subscribe to the podcast on apple or Spotify and leave a review, letting us know why two, if you are interested in appearing on the show or making a guest suggestion, please email podcast, We'd love to hear from you. Thanks and see you. You next time.

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