CV #19 Tuthill: How We Help our Team Members Come Alive & Wake the World
TUTHILL AT A GLANCE
Founded: In 1892, James B. Tuthill started a business to manufacture and sell common brick to Chicago construction companies as they fueled the city's rapid expansion. Fast forward 126 years to 2018 and the company has evolved to manufacture industrial process equipment such as pumps, blowers, vacuum systems, and meters. They have facilities located in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, with its headquarters located in Burr Ridge, IL.
Tuthill’s journey to becoming a “conscious company” began in 2005 and in 2011, they hired their first non-familial CEO, Tom Carmazzi. Today, in addition to manufacturing industrial process equipment, Tuthill is on a mission to “wake the world.”
Revenue: $200 Million | Employees: 600+
TUTHILL’S COMPASS: “a beacon of alignment behind everything we do.”
Purpose: To wake the world. (We invite a powerful aliveness. We make space for hearts – the original pumps-to thrive. When we come alive, the world comes along).
Vision: A legion of like-hearted people with astounding impact.
Our Mission: Making real things that really make a difference.
Our Way (values): Curiosity, clarity, grit, grace, gratitude, and love.
Our Brand: It’s who we are, what we do and what we say.
Community: While Tuthill is working on rolling out a robust community service program, they currently have a strong partnership with Team Rubicon, a veteran-based disaster response organization. In the past two years, 45% of Tuthill’s team members have supported Team Rubicon by volunteering at 22+ events in nine communities and donating over $50,000. To encourage community engagement, Tuthill provides team members two paid volunteer days a year.
LET THE TOUR BEGIN
Tuthill is located off a private drive in Burr Ridge, IL. They are surrounded by lush green grass, tall trees, and a peaceful lake. Inside the company is parallel in its beauty; downstairs a small waterfall trickles softly and can be heard throughout the building; while high ceilings and big tall windows invite the sunlight, and the stone and wood walls reflect the natural environment outside.
Beyond Tuthill’s beautiful interior is its rich history. In most recent years, this history includes their journey of becoming a “Conscious Company,” which began in 2005 with Chairman Jay Tuthill (then CEO). Jay invited senior leaders on a retreat to learn about conscious and radical leadership. As defined by Radical Leadership Founder, Therese A. Kienast, “The Conscious Leader is fully aware and awake to what is, while completely responsible and at choice or creating what she or he wants.” In other words, conscious leadership is about leading from a place of awareness.
With senior leadership fully bought into the philosophy after the retreat, they began their journey of transforming Tuthill into a conscious company. This journey included hosting leadership retreats for all team members, starting an internal university on conscious leadership (Awaken-U), and creating their Compass, which guides them in their daily behaviors and decisions.
While visiting, I had the opportunity to spend most of the afternoon with CEO, Tom Carmazzi, whose title recently transitioned to Chief Aliveness Officer. I also had the opportunity to meet with three leadership team members: Don Mack, Director of Vision Cultivation, Anthony Belmonte, Chief Foundational Integrity Officer, and Chad Gabriel, Sherpa of Purpose. Here’s what I learned:
The Path to Aliveness: Awareness –> Responsibility -> Aliveness
What does aliveness mean? To Tuthill, aliveness is about uncovering the things — whether they are activities, people, roles, or all of the above — that give you energy and bring you to life. They think about aliveness in five categories: purpose, connection, energy, present & engaged, and the full spectrum of human emotions (sad, angry, scared, happy, excited, tender). To help team members discover what brings them alive, Tuthill hosts a series of three, three-day retreats, for groups of 11-12 team members from various levels of the organization.
The results of these retreats have been incredible: saving marriages, saving the company millions of dollars, and initiating job transitions. Because Tuthill wants their team members to join the retreats with open minds, I can only share a general overview of how they uncover aliveness. Here’s how it works:
Retreat #1: Focusing on Self-Awareness
This first retreat is about equipping team members with powerful tools to increase their self-awareness and to help them understand & clarify what brings them alive. In other words, uncovering their “aliveness statements”.
To kick off the retreat, key leaders in the organization will perform their aliveness statements and by perform, I really mean, perform. I was lucky enough to see Don, Chad, and Anthony, —three members of Tuthill’s senior leadership team—courageously perform their aliveness statements, which included elements such as playing guitar, baseball games, and family. Their movements mirrored the content of which they shared and their voices escalated in excitement. They were very alive. It was powerful to see three grown men demonstrate what mattered most to them in life. According to Don, this is exactly the reason that senior leaders share their aliveness statements in the beginning: by having leaders show their vulnerability in the beginning, team members are more likely to be engaged and to participate.
Retreat #2: Focusing on Responsibility and Team Impact
The second retreat takes place roughly six months later (often mixing participants from previous retreats to deepen additional relationships across the organization) and is an opportunity to check-in on the progress, since the previous retreat. There is time for reflection and discussion about the impact the tools have had, as well as any challenges team members are facing.
This second retreat focuses on first taking responsibility for your actions and then secondly, the impact your actions have on your team members. Responsibility is step two in Tuthill’s journey of helping team members to come alive, because it empowers team members to take ownership of their thoughts, actions, and building the life they want to live. By taking responsibility for your thoughts and actions, you’re able to notice negative patterns and break out of them. For example, Chief Aliveness Officer, Tom Carmazzi shared that he is a “recovering hero”, where he tries to fix things for others before giving others the chance to do it themselves. By recognizing this pattern of behavior (self-awareness, step 1), he’s able to take responsibility for it (step 2), and prevent himself from continuing the pattern, which relieves him of the burden, and empowering others (impact, step 3). After this retreat, participants will have an accountability buddy for six months to hold them accountable for the impact they strive to maintain.
Retreat #3: Focusing on Community Impact
Tuthill believes that the sum of the parts is greater than the individual, which is why this third retreat will focus on community impact. In vein with Pablo Picasso’s quote “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away”, this third retreat will focus on how to use your aliveness statements to positively impact others. After this retreat, participants will have an accountability buddy for six months to hold them accountable for the impact they strive to maintain.
2. Pursuing Purpose Outside Of The Workplace: The Search for Aliveness Documentary Series
Waking the world is an ambitious purpose that extends well beyond the workplace. In pursuit of their purpose, Tuthill is creating a documentary, The Search for Aliveness, about aliveness with the goal of answering the question: What do people do to come alive? Tuthill is currently searching for a diverse mix of people to tell their stories, along with thought leaders who can contribute their expertise on aliveness. You can check out the project here.
In addition to this docuseries project, Tuthill is working on launching an external curriculum on conscious leadership called Awaken University. By starting with the communities in which their manufacturing facilities reside, they strive to teach people conscious leadership tools to help them realize their essence statements and come alive.
3. Helping Employees to Feel Seen: Eliminating the 3 Signs of a Miserable Job
While realizing essence statements are important to Tuthill, it’s also crucial that team members feel seen and appreciated in their day to day roles. This means addressing Patrick Lencioni’s 3 Signs of a Miserable Job, which are 1) Anonymity 2) Irrelevance 3) Immeasurement.
As a manufacturing company, Tuthill practices TBS: Tuthill Business System, which is similar to Toyota’s “Kaizen” or Lean Manufacturing. According to Tuthill’s website, “TBS is a commitment to listening to the voice of the customer to determine what they value and remove all waste that hinders the delivery of that value.” TBS also eliminates anonymity, irrelevance, and immeasurement by rigorously tracking manufacturing production times. When a team member hits their production time, they place a green dot on the production chart. They are then recognized and rewarded for hitting their times. When a team member misses a time, they place a red dot on the production chart. However, instead of being reprimanded for this, they are asked to be a part of the solution by sharing why they think this happened and how it can be fixed. As CAO, Tom Carmazzi, shares, “Red dots are pearls, not screw ups. Red dots mean we want to figure it out. It’s a learning process.” TBS eliminates anonymity and irrelevance by rewarding performance and actively engaging team members in solutions.
As you can likely imagine, TBS takes a lot of trust. As Sherpa of Purpose, Chad Gabriel shared, “sometimes continuous improvement means reducing the number of operators working in a cell. It takes trust and courage for Kaizen participants to focus on what’s best for our customer and for Tuthill. We have to be clear that we will not reduce headcount as a result of continuous improvement. We may shift work areas and responsibilities, but we won’t lay people off.” Tuthill creates a safe space for team members by rewarding team members with other opportunities if they continuously improve their way out of a job.
4. Helping Employees to Share Honestly: The Power of a 3 x 5 Card
To promote a culture of transparency and trust in their corporate offices, Tuthill often begins meetings with a simple 3 x 5 card with a powerful, open-ended question on it. Common questions include: What are we doing well? What are three things we could do better? What is the trust level in the room and how can we get to a 10? As part of the meeting agenda, leaders will take the time to write their responses and place them in the front of the room. One by one, the group reviews the answers to the cards and asks team members to elaborate using clarifying, non-leading questions or probes such as “say more”, or “what do you mean by…”. By starting the meeting with an opportunity for open and honest dialogue, they start on the right foot for their meetings and have more productive and transparent conversations.
Tuthill has weathered the ups and downs of business for over 126 years. While for most of their history, they shared a top-down leadership philosophy, the last 14 years have been a transformational journey to becoming a “conscious company.” With their newfound purpose to “wake the world”, they are making strides to do this both internally and externally, while keeping sight of how to recognize and improve team members day-to-day lives and their communities.