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Ep.109 Managing Expectations Part 2

By March 2, 2021April 17th, 2021No Comments

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About The Speaker:

Casey Kleindienst is an expert at Supply Chain Management and current serves as a Management Professor @ Cal State Fullerton

Episode Resources:

Check Casey out on LinkedIn:…

Episode Transcription:


Nickolai Walker: [00:00:08] Hello, hello, thank you again for joining me here in the studio, I am your host, Nickolai Walker. We are joined again today in studio by Casey Kleindienst, who is the director of Supply Chain Management. And I want to start off this interview by asking a very direct question. This is part two of managing expectations that we were talking about last week. So, Casey, if I can just use that example of Six Flags that we talked about last time, and ask you to apply it to, say a business that is going to sell eggs So they start by buying the chicks. They can’t possibly know when the first egg will be laid. Am I right?


Casey Kleindienst: [00:00:48] Sure they do. Because chicks reach a certain age, through observation, and they lay eggs. They know exactly how long the chick has before he lays an egg.


Nickolai Walker: [00:01:02] You mean when she lays an egg, right?


Casey Kleindienst: [00:01:05] It’s a she?


Etienne de Bruin: [00:01:11] Well, they don’t know how many of the chicks are hens and how many are roosters.


Nickolai Walker: [00:01:15] True. That’s very, very true Etienne. Good point.


Casey Kleindienst: [00:01:20] You know, they look under their drawers. haha. I want you to have tools. I don’t want you to be helpless, especially around people.


Etienne de Bruin: [00:01:39] I think it’s a challenge of where the expertise lies and even in the technical space, as we talked about hiring people that are smarter than you. How do you hire people who are smarter than you, but don’t give your power away?


Casey Kleindienst: [00:01:56] You have no power. There’s your power. Your power is in the power of your thinking and nobody can take your thinking away. That’s where your power is. If you don’t feel you have any power, that means your mind is telling you don’t have any power. Power cannot be given. Power has to be taken. So any time you feel you don’t have enough power, go grab some, because nobody can give it to you and they can’t take it away from you either. So the worry about power, that’s in your head.


Etienne de Bruin: [00:02:35] So if I have a subject matter experts who tells me it’s going to take three months to accomplish something, I can’t just say to them it’s going to take two months. They are the subject matter experts.


Casey Kleindienst: [00:02:44] No. If you respect these people, and I know you do because I do. Then we say, tell me what it would take to get it done in two years.


Etienne de Bruin: [00:02:57] So there is, yeah, I think it’s a question of leadership. I think it’s the basics of leadership, you know.


Casey Kleindienst: [00:03:07] Yeah. I know that we really didn’t talk about that word, but yeah, it’s all leadership.


Etienne de Bruin: [00:03:14] Instead of saying, hey, team, how long is it going to take for us to get this done? We say, hey team what would it take to get it done in this time?


Casey Kleindienst: [00:03:23] Yeah, you know what, I want this done in these days and how do we get there?


Etienne de Bruin: [00:03:28] I don’t know.. when I’m with you, I just feel like I don’t know anything.


Casey Kleindienst: [00:03:32] But you see how it doesn’t just reveal itself. You know, there’s some work that’s involved in it and, you know, in sticking through the problem. And who knows, you know, what the solution is?  I could not, in the first minute, have said what I said in the 90th minute, you know?


Etienne de Bruin: [00:04:01] Yeah, it’s an excavator. And also, the reveal doesn’t come in the first minute. You know, it takes this kind of process to get to maybe what is going on.


Casey Kleindienst: [00:04:13] Yeah, because a lot of doors close, you know, and it’s like, no, that doesn’t work. That doesn’t work. And it’s you know, it’s just kind of this idea of back and forth. But I’ve confronted the same kinds of things you’re talking about, except in a different medium, you know, different settings, different technologies. But that’s, you know, that can’t be said about a lot. Although there’s nothing similar to coding. Not accounting. There’s research and development probably that arches to some degree. Although there you have conventions. You have coding conventions and and coding rules. But it’s the complexity is mind boggling. I know, just by sitting in these CTO meetings on Wednesday morning, I start to see what I’ve never seen before.


Etienne de Bruin: [00:05:52] I mean, that’s why the thing that they’re talking about now didn’t exist six months ago or 12 months ago and probably won’t exist in this form two years from now.


Casey Kleindienst: [00:06:04] And it’s dwarfing technology leaders.


Etienne de Bruin: [00:06:09] Absolutely. And the the technology world that 7CTOs was birthed in, it doesn’t really exist today. They just don’t do things.. I mean, yes, Google and Amazon still exist, but that’s about it. They’ve all come up with new services. I don’t think anybody even talked about Google Cloud and Kubernetes didn’t even exist. Dev Ops was a concept, I don’t know that’s crazy.


Etienne de Bruin: [00:06:46] Casey, I want to do this more. I want to sit at your feet.


Casey Kleindienst: [00:06:54] I wish we could get together, but we’ll get past this one and we’ll get together.  I’m happy with what whatever I can get, you know. If this is how we communicate, I’m happy.


Etienne de Bruin: [00:07:16] And that’s why it’s so hard to measure our ROI, because the things that they would have taken away from their investment didn’t happen, so their investment grew. How do you measure ROI on the invisible?


Nickolai Walker: [00:07:39] Let me just take a stab in the dark here as a novice, but I’m going to say you’d measure that in dollars.


Casey Kleindienst: [00:07:46] Yeah, dollars.


Etienne de Bruin: [00:07:48] That engineer didn’t quit because they love working with you. I mean, OK, right. What’s the ROI? Well, I mean, no one quit?


Casey Kleindienst: [00:07:57] Yeah. And then we develop metrics around like employee turnover. So, you know, the fewer people that turnover, you know, the better it is for the organization versus kind of a belief that that’s true. I know it’s true when I’m around really seasoned people within the company that know where everything’s hidden, you know. Then they leave and the new person comes in and there’s no way to replicate them. All that tribal knowledge goes with them. Even if they had two weeks of cross training, nothing gets transferred. So we recognize that, if your people stay, that’s probably a good thin.  But that is not true for managers. That holds true for task and knowledge value workers, those people that actually perform the job that the company gets paid from customers. Managers really don’t do anything. There was a time when I had a secretary and I literally didn’t have to do anything, and then someone brought in a dumb terminal that was tied to some server and had Microsoft Word on it. And that was the last time I had a secretary. But here’s what I found out about middle managers. There was a movement in the early 80s to get rid of the middle layers. See,the fewer layers you have in the organization, the more efficient and effective communication is up and down.


Casey Kleindienst: [00:09:42] And the ideal number of layers in any company is five.  Don’t go past five. But managers were they were laid off and they came up with an organization model called self managed work groups. And every quarter, one of the people in the work group would be the 90 day supervisor and that would rotate through. Well, this thing fell apart because the middle managers had all the knowledge. The C level guys didn’t know anything and the workers didn’t know anything. The managers had all the knowledge so they brought the managers back in. But managers of today have to be able to do something. You can’t be a manager and just have meetings. You have to be able to do something. You’re that guy. Obviously, I became that person too. Otherwise, I wasn’t going to have a job. And that’s the big thing. It’s that you can’t just pontificate and make two hundred thousand dollars a year. You got to know how to make something and to build something. That’s doing. And so that’s the work of management.


Casey Kleindienst: [00:11:06] So when you plan for the organization, like how you want to grow the organization, make your planning horizon the exact amount of time that it takes to implement the biggest project that you would have authority over. So maybe that’s three years. So you’re planning horizon should be three years. You should be able to vision three years in the organization. But you’re a CEO also. You’ve been the head of your own company. And CEOs are expected to be able to see further out than three years. They’ve got to be able to see five years out. And so the way that you develop that ability is by just by stretching yourself, you know. If you can see three years out, then go four. Because you see, why do they go only five years out? Because they are in charge of initiatives that take five years to accomplish. So if you never plan longer than the amount of time it takes to accomplish the initiative. So if it takes 30 days for you to do something, don’t plan a year in advance. Always stay thirty days ahead of it. That’s how you scale how far out you need to plan – how long does it take to accomplish, right?


Etienne de Bruin: [00:12:37] Yes. That’s not just some arbitrary…


Casey Kleindienst: [00:12:39] No, if you’re too short then you’ll miss the window. If it’s too long, then you’re going to have a faulty forecast because the longer your vision is, the longer you’re planning horizon is, the more errors are going to be in the forecast. The shorter you can make the planning horizon, the forecast is more accurate. And that’ll keep you steady.  And the other thing is try to match resources to be perfectly aligned to demand. So make supply and demand equal each other in your enterprise. That means that every dollar of resource converts to at least a multiplier of one on the income side. So that’s break even. As high of a multiplier as you can get, but don’t have resources in excess of demand. And that with people. That’s with facilities. That’s what happened in supply chain. That’s what we taught all those supply chain managers, is that you make supply equal demand and then run that supply chain fast. But guess what disappeared? Warehouses. So as soon as the economy came to a halt, there were no commodities because it relied on motion on the supply chain. That’s how fast the supply chain is operating. So in grocery stores, when they went to empty aisles in a matter of days, then it was a matter of trying to get the supply chain back. So that is kind of the risk in managing supply chains. What if your supply chain is interrupted? Well, we’ll have an alternate or a contingency, but nobody forecasted this contingent.


Nickolai Walker: [00:14:55] Friends. Well, thanks again for joining us here in the studio. A big thank you to Casey Kleindienst, director of Supply Chain Management. He’s also a professor at Cal State Fullerton. We thank him for coming on the show and talking about managing expectations. This was part two. Now we have one more interview scheduled with him. And it’s going to really address a topic, I think, that’s near and dear to all of our hearts, which is why we ran out of toilet paper during Covid. If you would, please subscribe to the podcast here in iTunes and do check out Casey’s LinkedIn and We’ll see you again next time.

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