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Company Values, Vision, and Mission Must Be Shared

Teams in business can learn a lot from teams in sports. Many of the attributes of a successful sports team need to be mimicked or copied by teams in business. Let's take an example. Have you ever heard of a winning sports team where everyone did not clearly understand what the vision and the mission of the team were? If it's baseball, it's winning the World Series. If it's football, it's winning the Super Bowl. If it's basketball, it's winning the NBA Championship. Manufacturing teams as well must have a common vision and a common mission that everyone clearly understands in order to be successful. This is much more than slogans in the cafeteria or a large banner displaying the company mission. Everyone needs to understand how they directly contribute to accomplishing the organization's mission. What every person works on, every hour of every day, must be consistent with and in harmony with the company's vision, mission, and objectives.

Management's Paradigms Must Change

In many organizations, management is looking for the million-dollar solutions. In fact, in many organizations, that's exactly what the suggestion box system is for. That is, looking for that one solution that's going to save the company a million dollars. The dynamics of that sugges­tion box process require that management be the expert. Management sorts out the suggestions from the suggestion box and determines what are the good suggestions and what are the not-so-good suggestions and, in fact, rewards people for making contributions that management per­ceives are congruent with management's objectives (what­ever those objectives might be).

For many years it has been management's job to look for the problem, study the solution, determine how to implement the solution, and then direct the implementation of that change. Management is not used to asking people what they think.

Management has neither the time nor the ability to imple­ment all of the solutions that need to be implemented in the competitive arena of the 90s. In fact, management doesn't even know what all the problems are. The new paradigms of Productive Work Teams are that we have to recognize the workers really are the experts. They're the ones that know what the detail, underlying, day-to-day issues are. They are also the ones who can best analyze the alternative solutions and then implement the ones that are most appropriate to the situation. The way to make money in the 90's is to implement hundreds of one dollar and five dollar solutions, and not wait for that one big million dollar solution.

A New Methodology Is Needed

A. Specific Objectives

The more specific management objectives can be, the more specific the results will be. One of the major failings of teams over the years has been that management has not provided to the people on the teams what the objectives of that business and the team were. As a result, the accom­plishments of teams in companies that have been disap­pointed amounted to identifying the need for new lines in the parking lot, or more tables in the cafeteria. Objectives must be clear, concise, and understood by all.

B. Team Skills Are Required

If the objective of Productive Work Teams is to implement a large number of solutions at a very rapid pace, then teams must have both team and individual skills in order to get that done. Just as the members of a softball team possess specific skills, a manufacturing, team requires skills as well. Those team skills are:

1. Participation Skills
2. Meeting Management Skills
3. Process Thinking Skills
4. Problem Solving Skills
5. Presentation Skills Participation Skills

People on teams need to understand the roles and responsi­bilities of each member of the team. They need to understand how to deal with different personalities, how to use conflict constructively, and how to reach a consensus as a team. The confidence of the team as a whole is a direct result of each individual team member knowing what to expect and how to participate as a member of an effective team.

Meeting Management Skills

The ability to plan, organize, and conduct a team meeting is critical for the work team to make effective use of their time. They need to understand how to develop and follow an agenda, how to conduct a meeting, and how to conclude a meeting by publishing concise meeting minutes with action items and responsibilities for each individual team member.

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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