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If this is the first time you’ve heard the name David Dibble, or his company, Dibble Leaders, then you’re in for a treat. David is one of our industry’s foremost thought leaders when it comes to systems optimization and leadership development. He has worked with many companies, both in our industry and in the medical field. From starting his own PCB company and growing it into a successful firm, David has a record of success. I thought it would be interesting to have a talk with David and learn more about him and his company and more importantly, to hear how he can help companies in all industries be better, particularly the PCB industry.
Dan: David, it’s great to finally have a chance to talk with you; thanks for doing this. For starters, please tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your background?
David: My pleasure, Dan. Out of college I started a PCB company with $5,000, in an old warehouse. Over time we built the company to about $10 million in sales, doing mostly milspec and technically challenging commercial work. In the process, I became an expert in systems/process optimization and was one of the pioneers in the quality movement in the early 1980s. Since 1990 I’ve been consulting and training, helping leaders solve problems and improve their businesses. My work with companies is usually twofold: We take a systems-based approach to improving the parts of the business that will deliver the greatest ROI while assisting the CEO to expand his or her skill sets—be a better leader.
Dan: Fascinating, from PCBs to systems expert. How did you come to start Dibble Leaders?
David: I saw basic flaws in both process improvement and leadership. Programs such as Six Sigma, Lean or Lean Sigma have, in most cases, underperformed and in some cases outright failed to produce on their promise. Sustainability has proved elusive. I also saw few leaders who were even close to being systems thinkers. Leaders, in general, were focused on the wrong things in attempting to solve problems or grow their businesses. I created Dibble Leaders as a consulting and training company that addressed the two equally important halves of the integrated whole we call systems-based leadership—systems optimization and systems thinking in leadership.
Dan: I like that. I agree that those systems, although useful, are not the complete solution. So, you saw a need and filled it. Were there many challenges in getting started?
David: Oh my, yes! First, the tools used for systems optimization are often difficult to use for non-technical people. I’d watch frontline workers’ eyes glaze over when teaching even elementary SPC [statistical process control] tools. I spent almost two years reworking these tools to make them easy to use for almost anyone—even those for whom English was a second language.
An even bigger challenge was finding leaders willing to grow beyond whatever thinking was creating the problems their company was facing. Einstein reminds us that we can’t solve our problems with the same level of thinking used to create them. It’s amazing how many leaders unconsciously keep doing the same things over and over while expecting a different result.
To read the full version of this interview which appeared in the May 2017 issue of The PCB Magazine, click here.