Taking a cross-section of one of these silos, it appears like a
personality sphere that we remember from Psych 101. The layers
represent filters of information coming into the sphere. (See Figure
2.) These filters are the way we perceive our environment. Our
perception may not be reality. The filtering process compounds the
chaotic state of competitive pressures internally. An example of
this is a game we used to play in grade school. The game was to
whisper a phrase or a sentence into the ear of the individual next
to you and then go around the room one person at a time. The last
person would state what had been said to him or her. Chances are it
had little resemblance to what was first said. This is the political
environment that we live and work in.
Now if we take these spheres and let them represent the departments
or functions of the company, we can see the problem of operating
through vertical and horizontal filters of a perceived nature, which
may or may not be reality. (SeeFigure 3). To help make this point
let's see if we can define filters in more realistic terms by
comparing Ford with Toyota.
THE PROBLEM FORD
1. TWO ENGINES PER DAY PER WORKER
2. 777 SQ. FT. PLANT SPACE PER WORKER
3. 3 WEEKS OF INVENTORY BACKUP
4. 200 LABOR CLASSIFICATIONS TOYOTA
1. 9 ENGINES PER DAY PER WORKER
2. 454 SQ. FT. PLANT SPACE PER WORKER
3. 1 HOUR INVENTORY BACKUP
4. 7 LABOR CLASSIFICATIONS
Two engines per day vs. 9 engines per day per worker. Is someone
trying to tell us something? 777 sq. ft. vs. 454 sq. ft. of plant
space per worker. How about the 3 weeks of inventory backup vs. 1
hour of inventory backup? The most interesting point is the labor
classifications. Can you imagine the differences in the
administrative cost? Layers and layers of organization continually
reduce the flexibility and adaptability within our manufacturing
companies. This condition in turn, produces waste in every dimension
of our business activity. Layers also ensure slow communication and
difficulty in getting to the facts.
Strategic vs. Tactical Thinking
In a community not far from where I live, there is one manufacturer
who recently pulled the plug on their MRPH project after four years
of trying to make it work. After spending several million dollars
they have reassigned their project team and assumed it cannot be
done. Another local manufacturer started out with a bang,
broadcasting their intentions of moving into the nineties with
automation and formal systems and after several years and millions
of dollars you dare not speak of it. It died and has not been heard
of since. These scenarios are not unique. They are happening all
over our country. What's the problem? Who's to blame? Unfortunately,
the only one to blame is ourselves. The reasons for failure can all
be traceable to one core problem—flawed values.
Having worked in manufacturing environments for the better part of
the last two decades the most common complaint I hear is "Our
management doesn't take the necessary leadership role to implement
new management approaches." Or "Our management can't seem to focus
on one thing at a time." In my opinion these complaints can be
combined into a common problem that appears all across the country
from all different types of industries. It is a result of years and
years of management style built up into what I like to call "Leap
Mentality." That is a very fragmented shortsighted view of our
overall business activities. We want immediate results on our goals
and objectives, but with this fragmented shortsighted view we tend
to leap aimlessly at our targets with disappointing results.
Typical American manufacturing organizations force us to focus on
tactical issues with little since of responsibility for the results
produced when all the functions interact. We are trained to be loyal
to our immediate area of responsibility with no thought of the
strategic view of the larger enterprise. When the results are
disappointing with our very narrow view its hard to see why. All we
can do is protect our turf and point fingers, "someone screwed up."
Without ownership and a holistic view, learning is once again
skirted. We find ourselves in the same spot again and again.
Akio Morita, co-founder of SONY says, "Americans think only in terms
of ten minutes, while we Japanese think in ten-year terms. America
assuredly faces gradual decline." We, as professionals in our field,
have learned that a short planning horizon reduces our flexibility
and adaptability to change. Deming said that it will take the U.S.
30 years to catch Japan. Japan says the U.S. turn around should only
take 5 years; not the 15 years the Japanese took because they
fumbled around a lot.
The real challenge for the "Nineties" is to create an environment
where excellence is possible, that is with
• shared leadership
• open communication
• the ability to openly admit our mistakes without fear of reprisal
• empowered employees focused to strive for solutions.
This is critical to even be able to compete in World Class
competition. This is the "Learning Organization."
To be Continued
For balance of this article, click on the below link:
Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 02
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