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Replacing Yourself

By C. Scott Ellis

May 17, 2022


It does not matter if you just got hired to run the bailer or you are finalizing your succession plan in the corner office. Leaders replace themselves. They are not concerned with hoarding information to ensure security. They know the judgment that comes with experience will bring opportunity.

During your first week on the bailer, you learn all you can to understand the job, the equipment, and your customers. As you gain experience, you look for ways to simplify and improve the process. Then you find ways to better serve your customers, such as setting aside sheets of set sizes that can serve as dunnage for various machines. Finally, you save the knowledge in notes or other documentation so that you are ready when you can train someone else and move on to your next challenge. So, in short:

  1. Study the job, the equipment, and the customers.
  2. Improve the process and better serve customers.
  3. Codify the new process.
  4. Be ready to train your replacement.

To ease your way in orienting and equipping your team members, I have worked with AICC to provide a growing cache of resources.

Training Tracker

We built an Excel-based tool for members that do not have their own learning management system but still want to invest and track education. This can be used for career-pathing an individual or ensuring compliance across multiple departments. It is useful for tracking completion of the 100-plus courses in AICC’s online catalog, including industry-specific topics.

Packaging Math Quiz

Provided by Liberty Container and modified for availability online, this math quiz assesses entry-level skills. When a refresher is in order, the online course Packaging Production Math addresses common math skills used in production.

Carton Style Catalog

In the near future, a Carton Style Catalog will be added to this list. It will include descriptions and 3D renderings of the carton styles commonly used across paper-based box manufacturing.

In February, the Machine Primer launched with the help of many OEMs and contributing boxmakers. This resource provides exposure to a wide variety of equipment types. Even those with industry experience will find value in the interactive plant floor map, including everything from papermaking to converting with three print methods. This fictional facility provides a description, a diagram, and a video of the machine making product.

These resources will make your job of self-replacement easier. Combined with the encouragement of knowing someone is investing in their career, team members will gain competence more quickly and stay engaged as they gain experience. Self-replacement is essential for creating an engaged and capable workforce in which team members act like they own the place.


Scott Ellis, Ed.D., delivers training, coaching, and resources that develop the ability to eliminate obstacles and sustain more effective and profitable results. He recently published Dammit: Learning Judgment Through Experience. His books and process improvement resources are available at AICC members enjoy a 20% discount with code AICC21.




Related AICC Resources

AICC members can access the resources mentioned in this article, as well as all of AICC’s other valuable resources, at