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Manufacturing Change

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Rising to the Challenge

With "time" as the currency for the 1990's, every passing moment impacts our ability to become formidable champi­ons in the World Class competitive arena. An essential resource, people, is still being touted as the critical ingre­dient for successful companies. Yet the transformation process agents such as empowerment, channeling "intel­lectual energy" and overcoming the mundane is creeping along at a snails pace in most companies.

onsequently, companies are not exploiting the many talents that people can bring to the table. Individuals are still servants of the information processing function rather than using infor­mation to assist them in decision support (what percentage of time is the corporate employee body spending in data manipulation, leafing through paper reports and conduct­ing information due diligence "research projects" versus decision making and execution?).

The challenge for those companies who are serious about exploiting the full spectrum of employee talent base relies upon an inherent change in the culture of the company structure. In addition to transforming performance mea­surements from the hierarchical to process orientation, the identification of every individual's contribution compe­tency must be defined. The mundane tasks people are performing, which could be much faster performed by computers, will be an essential ingredient to create the time needed to conduct the necessary skills inventory and deploy individual talents currently unexploited into their areas of interest and strength.

We continue to recruit without identifying if, per chance, the skill needed already exists within our existing unexploited talent base. Our recruiting activity is still technical and skill focused rather than team player fo­cused, causing continual disruptions to the value of exist­ing talent base. We can never recover from wasted and/or passed time which has not taken advantage of every employee talent asset. The companies who are postured to exploit the full complement of skills for the entire employee population will surface as the performance leaders as the 21st Century dawns. Our window of opportunity narrows with each passing day.

Our teams tend to flounder as they await senior manage­ment priority in defining the policy latitudes from which the team's decision authority is to operate. Consequently, symptoms of procrastination permeate the effectiveness of the team deliverables. Procrastination is the death of "fast cycle" responsiveness. Removing decision barriers is an essential ingredient in Top Management's new job descrip­tion. Radical progress is needed to allow cross-functional decisions to become fluid and transpire as a normal course of daily business. Management must aggressively transi­tion from being the bottleneck in the decision process toward driving the decision authority to the lowest operating levels.


A "visionary company's" quest for the remainder of the 1990's should demonstrate the following . . .
• A passion for Quality
• Responsiveness to the customer (customer centered vision)
• Agility and Flexibility
• Continuous improvement driven
• "Fast Cycle" adeptness
• Ability to change, and, do it quickly

The management leadership may be challenged and the company's viability placed at risk if change does not occur quickly. Thriving on change will require the management team to demonstrate unparalleled mastery of...
• Leadership
• Information tools
• Productivity improvements
• Process performance measurements
• Agility and Flexibility
• Customer centered responsiveness

We are at a critical juncture to inspire the radical changes needed which will allow the U. S. to surface as a world leader in manufacturing again. The key to the future is how we handle the change in light of a "faster, better, cheaper" theme.

For balance of this article, click on the below link:
Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 02


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