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Change Management

PART II. 

 

Abandoning what has worked in the past is not easy. It requires • an understanding of the marketplace and technologies to know when to quit pursuing efficiency of the current process and create a new one. The achievements of the old ways and old wisdom should be recognized and celebrated...and then overtly set aside so that they do not clutter the blank page of new paradigm creation. To combat the natural fear of change, the greater risk of not innovating and not changing must be identified and understood.

Moreover, it is not just the top management or middle manage­ment who need to understand. These changes in technology and processes affect every level of the organization and, when prop­erly applied, reduce the number of levels. Who would be left out of the drive for quality in the products and services an organization provides? Once the people who comprise the company's army understand the need to go to war, to innovate and change to remain successful, they need to be motivated and inspired. Successful change, even in small units and pilot processes, provide the adrenaline to charge up the troops. By maintaining a continuous challenge to the status quo the organization can remain adaptable and flexible to change.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Harley-Davidson hit rugged terrain. With intense overseas competition flooding the heavy­weight motorcycle market, a recession that caused sales to plummet and execution problems on the inside, Harley-Davidson found itself racing toward extinction. The company simplified operations to the bare, customer value-added activities, improving quality and compressing cycle time. Today, the company is once again ahead of the pack. Their workers' attitude is one of continuous improvement rather than complacency with their recent success.

At its Ingleside plant, Kraft General Foods Canada (KGFC) produces natural cheeses. As product prices increased in line with costs, KGFC recognized the risk of losing market share to competitors with lower priced products. Kraft General Foods Canada worked to rethink Ingleside's current operations to achieve significant reductions in operating costs, manufacturing leadtimes and inventory levels while empowering the existing plant leadership to pursue a continuous improvement strategy. The delegation of responsibility and authority have built a contin­uous improvement culture and positioned KGFC to be a compet­itive force in the 1990s and beyond.

One of the world's largest PVC resin/compound producers, the Geon Vinyl Division of BF Goodrich, supplies over $1 billion of materials annually. To strengthen its market position, the com­pany wanted to redefine itself from a supplier of commodity resins to a make-to-order, value-added specialty compound supplier. The Division set out to create a seamless flow from order entry through process control to shipping—without unneeded paper or approvals. The program used a pilot approach driven by plant teams to reduce inventories, cut lead time and increase efficiency producing millions of dollars in annual savings.

These few case examples demonstrate the enormous benefits to ••' be gained by fighting the battles to create an adaptable, change oriented culture. Companies who continue to challenge them­selves to reinvent their business as their markets and customers change can achieve and sustain a leadership position and make millions of dollars in the process.


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