Reducing the Impact of Constraints to Problem-Solve More Strategically, with Dan Staresinic


Weak links and constraints are unavoidable as your operations adapt to the changing business landscape. But how do you find the most effective and efficient way to move forward?

Dan Staresinic, VP of Marketing & Communications at Siemens U.S., brings an engineering mindset to effectively problem-solve for growth.

Listen to this episode of The Intent Data Exchange to hear:

  • Examples of how Dan applies the Theory of Constraints at Siemens
  • Why identifying a constraint can be a challenge to answer
  • How to make collaborative problem-solving work for your team

Welcome to the intent data exchange, a Bombora podcast. This is a show for sales, marketing, publishing and data professionals seeking the latest insights from the B two B marketing ecosystem. You're about to hear a conversation about solving customer problems, reinventing demand generation, leveraging intent data, executing account based everything and much more. Let's get into the show. Find the businesses who are ready to buy before your competitors do, connect and sell using the industry's most comprehensive and privacy compliant buyer intent data. To learn more, visit Bombora DOT com. Hey everybody, welcome back to the intent exchange podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in today. I'm your host, Mike Burton. I'm a CO founder at Bombara and the PODCAST, as it is all the time, it's brought to you by Bombara. Here at Bombara, we're an intent data company in the B Two b space and we help our customers understand who's already researching their products and services so that they can point their sales and marketing efforts towards that demand and help it create meetings and revenue and more efficient marketing. Um So, like we do often here we're trying to interview leaders from the B two B sales and marketing space, uh, and a lot of the customers and partners and other constituents that kind of come across the Bombara sphere. And today we're we're really, really excited. We have Dan Stress Nick from Siemens, and Dan's a vice president and marketing communications at Siemens and he heads up Um, the support of one particular business unit in one particular region. And you know, the conversation was really interesting and it inspired me to to really look at some of the processes and the way that we prioritize things even at Bombara Um. So I hope you enjoy the conversation and uh, it sparked some thought about how you create alignment Um in your organizations and think about, you know, how you decide exactly which are the big problems that everyone should ban together to solve. So I hope you enjoyed the talk with Dan. Hey, Dan, how are you? Thanks again so much for joining the show. I'm doing great, Mike. Um, it's a pleasure to be here. I've been looking forward to this great. Yeah, no, it's awesome, Um. And Yeah, I think you know, it's always probably best to get folks oriented to kind of the work you're doing today, the role you're in today, Um, and that can kind of give us some context for the rest of the discussion. Okay. Well, Um, Mike, Siemens is a big organization. We're about seventy billion dollars in revenue last year and three hundred thousand souls working for US globally. And UH, my corner of Siemens is the US and it's in a group that we call digital industries, which provides industrial techno, industrial Um, automation and software in support of manufacturers. And my role is communications, on the head of Communications for Siemens digital industries in the US. and Um, I tack onto that title Strategic Marketing because it's it's a historic, uh, let's say structural situation and semens that we literally do not have a marketing function that stove pipes to the top of the organization. And yet we all know there are strategic marketing issues that come up every day that deserve attention, and so we've settled into a pattern where, Um, you know, I and my team look after a lot of that as well. So this is interesting structure so is the idea that up. I like this term of stove piping up to the top.

Is kind of a traditional communications group. But then these individual regions and business areas, they're making their own decisions as it relates to marketing strategy, marketing, vendors, budgets, it's, etcetera. Is that a fair characterization? It's it's close. It certainly approximates it. I'd emphasize the word collaboration. First. There is really good collaboration between our global colleagues and the regional colleagues. Um, the global team does a lot of work to understand, you know, where our technology is taking the market and how to articulate that. What are key topics, you know what the key pain points are that we're trying to address, and so they create a very strong platform. But then, yes, it's it's very well understood in the company that each region, you know, each country, has a different markets situation. They're facing different priorities or challenges. Their customers are facing different political environment even, and so the regions do adapt and and shape the marketing strategy and the communications strategy to fit. Got It into kind of like dumbed down, for lack of a better term, the the actual offering. It sounds like your customers are customers that manufacture things, that build things, and you help them automate that, uh, and then you have software that accompanies that automation. Is that also a fair kind of dumbed down? It's it's a fine place to start, Mike. Absolutely. You know, I think Um, the way, maybe even a little bit more of semens history would help, Um, help refine that. So we tend to talk about the three contributions that semens has made in its roughly one D and seventy five years to the industrial environment, as electrification, automation and now we're entering the age of what we call digitalization. So, you know, electrification, which is like from the eighteen fifties on through let's say thirties, forties, fifties, fifties. Um, it was about, you know, transitioning away from steam powered factories and being able to distribute and control safely electricity throughout the plant to generate all the movement that that's needed in order to produce you know, you name it small things, large things or whatever. When, when that first wave matures, Um, you're you're very you've got motors everywhere and you want to turn them on and turn them off, and so you have manual ways to turn them on and off, but you're in some pretty big factory settings now. So so you actually want a touchless way to do that. And and I'm just oversimplifying just talking about the motors, but this is where automation begins. So in the late fifties, early sixties was really the beginning of industrial automation and certainly it's been the core of our offering for industrial manufacturers since then. But you know, now, as automation matures, we're producing so much factory data on a daily basis and you know this is the big data challenge that we all started hearing about ten or twelve years ago, and so we entered what we call the the third wave digitalization, which is where we capture, an align and make sense of and make optimal decisions from all of that data. Thank you. That was, in a very good way, more than I bargained for and I feel like I understand something a lot better. So thank you. And just to illustrate the breath and just the mass scale of this business, I'm pretty sure you also make my tooth brush. Well, Um, certainly the... that that we sell to our customers get used in making your toothbrush Um. So super cool. Thank you. And then so you guys have this. It's interesting structure that we walked through, and so you, for this region and this part of the semens business, are synthesizing all of the great work that the central calm stove pipe delivers and all of the amazing positioning, product marketing calms, Etcetera. But you're then, it sounds like, leading the support of sales for that region, that product, the marketing decisions, marketing priority within that product. Yeah, I love when you say it that way, place of sales, because that's exactly how I think of it. Um. You know, there is a all, there's a thing I learned a long time ago. There's really too to Um two bodies of knowledge that I think have made a big difference in in the way I approached the work. Um. One of those is called the theory of constraints, and we don't have to go down the rabbit hole there, but basically it's a problem solving framework and it it forces a reflection on what is the goal of the system. So in this case, let's say our digital industries business, in the US and and what is constraining it? What is the and you usually there's only one that that you want to talk about, that you want to define what is the constraint to making more progress towards that goal. So, being a publicly owned company, you know the goal has to be to make our shareholders wealthy. That that's our obligation. Um, one of the levels we have is to make more money. So if if we could only make more money from our business in the US, we could presumably, you know, it adds up. We make our shareholders wealthier. So the making more money part, you know that you've got two levers there, right, you reduce costs or you increase the top line. And and the lower cost gets, the tougher it is to take the next, next cost step. But we have a vast market for automation in the US. It's the world's largest automation market, and so we're much more interested in looking at that market growth as the constraint we want to break. So so it's it's quite obvious, you know, it's the sales people that we have to bend our will to do whatever we can to help the sales people sell more. I don't think if you looked in quote the book, you'd see the definition of communications and Siemens is to help sales sell more. But this is kind of that tacked on strategic marketing part that you know we discussed briefly before. Um. That's where I see the challenges and and so Um, that's that's what we spend really most of our Um discretionary time trying to do, is find ways to make it easier for our sales people to have better leads and to Um to act on those, to activate on those. Got It, and so the your line of thinking there's really interesting. So maybe we could spend a little time on it. This idea of it. You're like, well, let's focus on one constraint. And is that Um, because that's what smart, a smart process, would ask you to do, focus on one constraint. Or do you think it's a mistake that's made where, you know, folks try to solve for all the constraints at the same time? Is that a personal philosophy or is that just kind of a hardened, you know, best practice? Uh, it's so cool that you're interested in this mic Um and the way you outline that is actually creates a brilliant question too. We have to go back to basic manufacturing one of one to to to address this,...

...and so you've got to stop me if I started speaking out too much on this. Um at its simplest, you know, making your toothbrush, you might imagine there are three unit operations in a row that have to happen. Okay, one of them is the the shell of the tooth brush has to have electrical components inserted in it. The second one is the two halves have to come together and be fused, and the third one is it has to be packaged. Okay, so just say those are the three Um A. I mean it's mathematically provable and mistake. The inclination of an engineer, a manufacturing engineer, could be to perfectly balance those. I want all three of them to run at exactly the same rate all the time. It sounds perfect right, except in the real world there's fluctuations, you know, things shut down and when one shuts down it takes all three down if they're perfectly balanced. So the flipping that in a different direction is this what I consider to be very pragmatic, very realistic theory of constraints. When you really look at it, one of those three machines proves itself day in and day out to be less capable than the other two of generating it's throughput and and that's your focus point. Then if if you want, and this is a very, you know, Reader's Digest version of the theory of constraints. But what you find out is if you let that unit operation, the most constrained, the least capable unit operation, be the centerpiece of your strategy for how you're going to manufacture, how you're going to schedule, how you're going to align your workforce with the factory, you get a far more consistent you get higher throughput and a far more consistent throughput. And so then, does that make sense? I think, to put it take a crack at it. It would be. If you've got three things, take take the thing that's kind of like the Um most bleeding open wound, that's your biggest problem, and focus all of your strategy, not to say you're ignoring the other two, but make the core of your strategy optimizing that the biggest problem. Is that fair? You subordinate everything else to getting the most throughput through that constraint. So yes, right, it's funny when you use the word subordination right Um, because it doesn't mean that the other two unit operations are no longer important. It just means they need to first and foremost consider what their duty is with respect to the constraint. So then to spin it into our world, at least, I think yours is brought of the mind, but it'd be like, Hey, I'd love to have perfect site personalization, I'd love to have perfect email nurture, but if I fail, that nothing. It's getting the sales people into more really qualified at bats, optimizing their sales process with the right messaging, etcetera. Is that? That's exactly right. So you translated it perfectly. As far as I'm concerned, if I waste if if I want to view the sales people, is the constraint, and like not in a negative way, right. The constraint is the most important. It's your most precious asset. If I if I want to view the sales people's time, you know there are hours in a day. As our most precious resource, I quite naturally want to do anything I can to make sure not one minute at that time is wasted on a bad lead. And Yeah, I'm going to get off this in a second, but it's really interesting this how... high the stakes are in deciding your number one constraint and what your North Star is, because I think a lot of companies struggle with different stakeholders having a different answer to that question and a different approach to solving the problem. But boy, if if everybody could agree on what the core constraint is. Uh, it feels like there's a lot of efficiency in that. Mike, you're you're an UNCANNILY perfect guy for theory of constraints. You, you, you jump to exactly the next issue or the next important conclusion very, very quickly. I'll tell you what's interesting, though. Thank you. But what's interesting is I have a background and improvisation and an improvisation we we have the opposite philosophy. What we say an improvisation is don't focus on what's not working, focus on what's working really well and do more and more of it, and that will leave you less time and less mindshare to have those bad things happen and it and an improvisation in the world of art. I think that might be true, but you're making you're making me rethink it a little bit. I think in manufacturing or maybe in sales and marketing. This theory of constraint, it resonates strongly with me because I talked to so many customers that maybe don't have that North Star. But I wonder if it's the same in artistic pursuits. Well, I remember where this started. Is What's the goal of the system? So the goal of the toothbrush making system is to make, you know, the right number of toothbrushes, make more toothbrushes so that we can, you know, meet market demand. But that's not necessarily the goal of an artistic Um proquestion right, it's maybe you want to make more people laugh, um or or you want to charm more people with beauty, and so you definitely end up with a different um point of view on where the constraint is Um when you start with the goal. Yeah, it's awesome and this was Um. I don't think we planned to go so deep on this, but it's like a great takeaway, I think, for folks. As you know, ask if your organization agrees on the constraint Um. So thank thank you for for going deeper on that. I think it's a unique viewpoint, but I do want to make sure that we get a little bit into your personal journey. You know, we described your role at seamans. It's pretty, you know, pretty big job. So kind of how how did you get there over time? Maybe, you know, take us backwards a little bit. Okay, well, I can take you back a long way. Um, I I am a chemical engineer and that probably describes a lot of the things that I get interested in. Um, but I'm a chemical engineer and my first job out of school was with procter and gamble as an engineer. And I was at proctor and gamble for twenty years doing various you know, production management jobs, engineering jobs, supply chain management jobs, you know, literally on the other side of the desk from where I am today. Um, and boy, that was just a tremendous place to be. Um. You know, I know it's it's storied for its management talent, but but the reason it is is because proctor and gamble has such a strong development program I mean, once you step through the door you're basically in the procter and gamble NBA program and that's where I learned theory of constraints and you know, I mentioned there was a second body of knowledge that that really kind of took over for me and that was the seven habits of highly effective people. But these are the kind of things that that were put in front...

...of all the entry level Um talent to walked through the door. And and that's just the tip of the iceberg. I mean the learning environment was phenomenal there and UM, so. But you know, after about twenty years now we're in two thousand, the world had really changed and dot com was happening and online was becoming a bigger, bigger part of every business model and I got charmed by that a bit and explored some opportunities to go off and get involved in that world. I always loved computer program I don't know what it is, but when I was you know, when even when I was picking up this chemical engineering degree, you would have thought I was picking up a, you know, programming degree, Um, but so, so that was very attractive to me and I set out from procter and gamble and the first step was into Motorola and that actually was a marketing and strategy role and Um, I spent some time in a company called Commerce one, which you know, maybe a lot of your audience is familiar with that company. A lot of people aren't. It wasn't around very long, but it was. It was one of the e business exchange companies, like a rebound and so on. And how do you how do you do it right? So how did the people at Um Motorola, Hey, you're an engineer, full of engineers? Yeah, they were full of engineers and Um, what they actually were trying to do was create a venture firm of their own so that they in order to be successful at their own Dot Com vision, they felt they had to separate it from, you know, the big Motorola and they literally created a venture. They put up the venture funding, but a venture funded unit to try to introduce a completely different business model. Um. And they, you know, Motorola being Motorola and they had a high respect for engineering thought processes. Um. But I wasn't steeped in their environment, right, I didn't know mobile phones at all. I could make you a box of soap but um, you know, I didn't know, UM, their business. And so I guess it was, you know, a good blend of background and experiences and capabilities, Um, to to insert into that, you know, presumably fast moving new business model. And did you feel like both sides were taking a bit of a leap of faith, of like I love this idea that, hey, I can make you can make you a Barrus soap, um, but like you're leaving that behind. Um, you know, motor role is moving in this new direction. You're moving in this new direction. Did it feel like a big leap? or it was like, I don't know, this is the same principles, the same kind of brain process that I've been using? Did it did it feel, you know, overwhelming? I was overwhelmed. But, but, but it was the culture that overwhelmed me. Well, I spent twenty years in a culture that I only partially described, but that becomes your entire knowledge of of how you relate to your work and how you relate to your company. Motor role was a radically different kind of company than Procam Gamble. So the work itself, the day to day it wasn't. It was like, Hey, you could take these principles from your engineering world, you're making the soap. You could translate those over pretty easily into this new role, new functional area. But it was like, Hey, you've almost been institutionalized at this other place for twenty years and now you're going to learn a whole new work life, exactly exactly.

But the solving of the problems was not the hard part, and we talked about this little. We've talked about this in the past a little bit of like this idea of solving problems. And you know, as I'm doing this, I'm learning, I'm learning about this background and how unbelievably useful it is. But it feels like there's this common denominator, this problem solving mindset that you've carried through, and I'd love to hear what was after commerce one and keep us going here, but it seems to be the common theme is, you know, big gnarly problem, you know, applying a certain mindset and a certain process to solving that problem kind of no matter what functional area you're in, that's that's right. Like, Um, the best bit of evident our best bit of advice I I think I've ever taken up on. Problem Solving is pretty simple to say, but it's not always as easy to do in your life. And that is more than half of solving any problem is cisely defining it. Um, it's you know, if you have a job, you know your an employee, you have a job description. Um, you're you're measured a certain way, you're rewarded for certain things and Um, the inclination, the natural inclination, is to solve the problems that that fit in your old descriptionum, it gives you a bit narrower view of what the problem might be, and I'm not doing a very good job of describing what what where. I want to get to here. So let me let me take it a slightly different way. Like Um, if if we can't agree on what problem we're trying to solve, then you in your job and I in my job, are both we're going to see it through our own lens and we're gonna each we're not going to be solving the same problem. You know, you're going to be solving it from a marketing point of view and I'm going to be solving it from a sales point of view. And we talked about collaboration and we want to collaborate. But, um, what we really need is to define the problem in such a clear way that we can both look at it and actually both feel a little bit uncomfortable because it doesn't squarely fit into my into my zone, and it doesn't squarely fit into your zone. But it actually, in fact is the problem that needs to be solved. So I think we're back to the theory of constraints in a lot of ways right, agreeing on what you know. In this case we're talking about solving a particular problem, but we talked earlier about organizations that can agree on the constraint or or what problem a particular initiative is aiming to solve. Yeah, and there you go again being um so fast and ahead of the curve. The person who actually gave me that bit of advice was Ellie Gold Rad, who is the author of the theory of constraints and the author of the book the goal. This guy was brilliant. Anybody who's listening to this, I mean I'm sure some people know Ellie Goldratt Elaya, who gold red Um, but some I'm sure don't. M I do a lot of mentoring with some of our early career talent and semens and I take them through all this and Um, for the most part, people don't know theory of constraints. Never heard of it, gold rat don't even know the seven habits, the covey stuff. So it's great to be able to bring some of that forward, you know, because it's still relevant. But but yeah, you're right. The the issue. You will not find everybody agreeing on where the constraint is. It's a function of big companies and it's a function of, you know, big companies being broken into pyramids that that have different you know, like the Marketing Pyramid and the Sales Pyramid and the Finance Pyramid and the Operations Pyramid, and they've all got their own way of interpreting the world and...

...that their own understanding of what their job is. And in fact it's it's hard for everybody to agree that. Okay, the constraint is in sales. Sales doesn't really want to feel like they're the constraint, you know, and and and marketing doesn't necessarily want to give that, you know, give that one. No, it's we're we're, you know, the stuff we do is necessary for sales to do what they do, you know. And so yeah, this is absolutely fine that they don't agree on the constraint. This is where the breakthroughs are. I can because I see it. We're we're fifty people, but we see it even with ourselves. I mean it's it's not like, Oh, just this is just a big company problem. I think it's it's almost a human nature problem and I know we've taken a bunch of your time and I think we made it like it's kind of like headline the your your personal journey. It started as an engineer, took that same problem solving mindset and brought it up into sales and marketing and Um an injured role at semens, and so I think that's you know, I'd love to spend another hour and go deeper and deeper into how exactly you got there, but I want to respect your time as well and I really think it's been a great conversation that will be helpful to folks. So so thanks again. Well, I hope so. Mike, Thank you very much. You're you're a tremendous interviewer and even even beyond everything you just said, I look forward to maybe a private chat with you about how we take theory of constraints further in your world, in my world. Amazing. Yeah, thanks. Thanks again, Dan. Have a good one, all right, have a great thing. Find the businesses who are ready to buy before your competitors do, connect and sell using the industry's most comprehensive and privacy compliant buyer intent data to learn more, visit Bambara Dot Com. You've been listening to the intent data exchange a bombarder podcast. Keep connected with us by subscribing to the show and your favorite podcast player. If you like what you've heard, please rate the show. That helps us keep delivering the latest in the B two B marketing ecosystem. Until next time,.

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