1st Edition

Learn to See the Invisible How to Unlock Your Potential as a Leader

By Michael Bremer Copyright 2024
    168 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    168 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    Most improvement consultants say improvement efforts must be led by the CEO, and that is certainly ideal. But the actual reality is most CEOs do not actively drive/guide improvement. They want it to happen, but they focus most of their energy on other issues. According to surveys from Gallup and others, the number one reason people say, “I am not engaged” is due to the behaviors of their direct boss! Those leaders (in the middle of an organization) have a tremendous amount of leverage, first- and second-line leaders directly touch 80% of the people in their organization. They have a tremendous amount of influence and more power than they might realize. This book focuses on that demographic.

    This book describes four key foundations and 25 different actions leaders can practice to become more effective in training their eyes to see things tomorrow that are currently invisible. It helps leaders and managers become better observers of their current reality by practicing getting better at getting better. The goal is to get better in the way we lead, the way our team performs, and the results we accomplish. If done in the right way, visually posting your improvement targets is the key to driving more personal growth, as well as, more cross-functional collaboration and cooperation in your work activities The most unique aspect of this book is that it suggests leaders use visual tools.

    Visual Leadership is the fourth foundational element the author encourages people to practice. The primary purpose of visual performance metrics isn't to make sure things are working well in your department. It’s to create a thinking environment that makes it easier for multiple departments, teams, and groups to work together. It is relatively easy to come up with performance metrics for your team, but what about metrics that help ‘us’ to work more effectively together? Good visual reporting practices create ‘information democracy, they eliminate filters that obscure knowledge between layers of management and between departments. They help to create an environment that is much more robust and open, making it easier to be in touch with the ‘actual reality.’ And perhaps the most exciting of all visual tools can help an individual learn to lead more effectively. The power of using visuals in this way is underutilized in most organizations.

    Whatever new behaviors a leader is trying to accomplish, visual reporting can facilitate progress and ensure accountability in developing those new habits.


    Thanks and Acknowledgements

    About the Author

    Chapter 1: Introduction

    Chapter 2: Reflect on Your Current Reality – Change Your Perspective

    Chapter 3: Define a Unifying Purpose

    Chapter 4: Elevate the People Around You – Build Relationships

    Chapter 5: Visual Leadership -- The Glue that Pulls it Together

    Chapter 6: How do you change a habit?


    Michael Bremer has held many positions including director of the information systems for Beatrice Foods, Chief Financial Officer and Board member for the Association of Manufacturing Excellence (AME), and President of the Cumberland Group in Chicago for 28 years (global consulting company). Served as adjunct faculty for the University of Chicago’s Graham School for 15 years and also served as a senior mentor at a new business start-up incubator focused on manufacturing (mHub Chicago).


    • 2016 Shingo Prize Research Award for How to Do a Gemba Walk.
    • 2019 recipient of the Mac McCulloch Lifetime Achievement Award from AME.

    Author of four books:

    • Six Sigma Black Belt Handbook
    • Six Sigma Financial Tracking & Reporting
    • Escape the Improvement Trap
    • How to Do a Gemba Walk

    Current activities:

    • Serve as a volunteer V.P. for the Association of Manufacturing Excellence Award --  activities included managing a network of 50+ volunteer assessors and leading a site visit team to Malaysia in 2022.
    • Moderate Global Issues discussion group for Dominican University’s OLLI program..

    Feel free to connect on LinkedIn, Twitter @michaelbremer, or [email protected]

    This book is not just another leadership book. It’s a book about how to produce excellence in a profoundly challenging world by respecting, developing, and utilizing the intelligence of all employees. Michael’s deep immersion in lean leadership, and awareness of Toyota practices, has given him invaluable expertise that he now generously shares with you. Gleaned from acutely sensitive observations of work – and the people who do it – Bremer’s wisdom shines through in this valuable resource for anyone who wants to be a better leader.

    --Amy C Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership, Harvard Business School; Author, Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well 

    Michael knows his way around the Gemba better than anyone I know. And he knows what he’s looking for. He’s visited with our teams more times than I can count, and he always comes back with great insights. His knowledge and experience are shown in this book. As I read it, I repeatedly thought, "These are the things managers need to be doing. These are the things I would tell them to do." Pick a few of the suggestions and begin improving your leadership!
    -- Gary Peterson, EVP Supply Chain and Production, O.C. Tanner Company

    We used this book as a basis for a 12-week experiment designed to combine learning and action. With a handful of factory leaders, from a variety of positions within our organization, we walked with them through a journey of discovery about the actions they could take to be the leader they wanted to be and help their teams be more successful. Michael’s book provided real-world case studies, practical tools, and thought-provoking questions. It was amazing the difference we saw over 3 months! The participants were taken aback when they reflected on how much had changed during that time and how much better their areas were operating. One leader said, “Before I read this book I had several lines that were not meeting their numbers. I practiced a couple of ideas from the book, and now we consistently exceed our performance targets.” We believe the content found in this book, when applied, will support any leader in delivering consistently better results. So, the question is, “What are you waiting for?”

    -- Cindy Hinds, Global Director of Enterprise Excellence & Jim Gunville, Director of Operations for North America Water Treatment, A. O. Smith Corporation

    Michael brings a lifetime of lessons from working with high-performing teams and helping others get there. The wisdom shared is concise and filled with practical ideas that can be tried tomorrow. Read and apply these lessons and your work life will be enriched, and the teams you lead will thank you for making important changes to your leadership efforts.
    -- Richard Sheridan, CEO and Chief Storyteller at Menlo Innovations; Speaker, Author of Chief Joy Officer and Joy, Inc.

    In various sectors like tech, bio-tech, and heavy industry, everything from regulations to market access is uniform within each sector. However, outcomes vary greatly. The few best dominate their field by huge margins, top performers excel in all aspects by consistently implementing Michael Bremer's ideas. This involves leaders actively participating in the work process, engaging with the workforce, and fostering widespread capability development for continuous problem-solving from diverse perspectives. 

    -- Steve Spear DBA MS, author of The High Velocity Edge and Wiring the Winning Organization; MIT Sloan School of Management, senior lecturer

    Michael is the go-to person for best practices in leadership and respect for people. His book is not your typical leadership book. Michael shares how to “train our eyes and ears to see things tomorrow that lie invisible today.”  In it, Michael shares his experience and research in a thought-provoking style and challenges readers to strive for excellence. He provides real-life actionable insights that resonate with anyone on their journey to excellence. Readers will learn to operate at a championship level of leadership performance. Michael’s foundation of Reflection, Unifying Purpose, Building Relationships, and Visual Leadership empowers leaders to grow, transform, and improve.  Michael's book challenges us to be a better leader. 

    -- Kim Humphrey, President/CEO, The Association for Manufacturing Excellence