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It's difficult today to pick up a periodical, a newspaper, or a trade magazine without reading something about the concept of team building. Some companies refer to the concept of teams as total employee involvement. Others call it corrective action teams. And still other companies simply refer to it as empowerment, self-directed work teams, or self-managed work teams.

It is the contention of this author, however, that whatever you call the teams, the operative word has to be productive in that if your work teams are not helping to make your business be more responsive to the customer, more flexible, more profitable, have an improved bottom line and a positive return on investment, then your teams are not effective.

end. When, in fact, utilizing teams to improve the business becomes a way of life and not a singular in dependent event.

As we look to what needs to be done, the key word to focus on is productive. To begin, let's define the term Productive Work Team.

Productive Work Teams

Productive Work Teams are a formal structure that enables companies to carry out an incredible number of improvements at an incredible pace.
Shouldn't Your Work Teams Help Make Your Business...

• More Responsive
• More Flexible
• More Productive
• More Profitable

In a study done in September of 1992, Boston University chartered a study of the five hundred top U.S. manufactur­ing companies and asked them the question, "What are the key strategic actions that you see yourself undertaking from 1992 to 1995 to help make you be more competitive?" The results of that study in 1992 bear out exactly what we've seen since that time, that is, three of the top four responses all deal with teams. The number one answer was interfunctional work teams, number two was worker train­ing, and number four was worker empowerment.

Top Five Action Plans 1992-95: U.S.

1. Interfunctional Work Teams
2. Worker Training
3. Linking Manufacturing & Business Strategies
4. Worker Empowerment
5. Statistical Quality Control

The question one might ask is, "Why haven't more compa­nies been successful at utilizing a teaming process to increase the profitability of the business?" This author contends that too often companies approach a teaming process as a program that had a defined start and a defined end


Each improvement positively impacts the bottom line and contributes to achieving the company business objectives .A Productive Work Team is, first of all, a formal structure. A work team is not an informal, haphazard, random collec­tion of individuals. It is a formal structure made up of players with defined positions, just as there is on a sports team. The second part of the definition states that a Productive Work Team enables a company to carry out an incredible number of improvements at an incredible pace. The objective is not small, incremental change, but major improvements. A Productive Work Team focuses on mak­ing improvements that help the bottom-line profitability of the business. For an organization, or specifically a Produc­tive Work Team, to make progress very rapidly there need to be some rules of operation as well as skills necessary to make it happen. In fact, there are six basic convenants of Productive Work Teams.

The 6 Basics of Productive Work Teams

1. Values, Vision, and Mission Must Be Shared
2. Management's Paradigms Must Change
3. A New Methodology Is Needed
• Specific Objectives
• Team Skills
• Business Improvement Knowledge
4. How Adults Learn Is Important
5. Performance Measurements Drive Improvement
6. A Powered Start Is Critical

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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