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Performance Measurements Drive Improvement

The appropriate performance measurements drive the appropriate behavior. In order to drive significant im­provement in operating results, metrics need to be in place to monitor progress toward the specific goals. The metrics must both encourage and measure the team's achieve­ments. It is often said that management gets what it inspects, not what it expects. This has never been more true than in a team environment, where for the first time in many companies' history, decision making and the respon­sibility for improvement is being moved out to those folks who are closest to the issues. Two kinds of metrics are critical. The first is to measure the effectiveness of the work team process. This is oftentimes measured simply in terms of the number of solutions that are implemented by each team. The second type of performance measurement should measure the work team's progress toward their selected objective or goal. For example, if setup time reduction is the specific objective of the team, then there must be a metric to both track and post accomplishments toward this goal. If lead time reduction is the specific objective of this Productive Work Team, then the measure­ment of that reduction needs to be measured and posted for all to see. In most cases, the team itself can help identify those metrics that are appropriate to monitor their progress.

A Powered Start Is Critical

Management has some questions to answer to initially kick off a Productive Work Team's process.

1. When does education begin for management, supervi­sion, and the teams?
2. Will team membership be voluntary or mandatory?
3. What is the new role of the supervisor?
4. Who will sponsor each team?
5. How and when are the teams recognized and rewarded for theiraccomplishments?

Education is the catalyst to a powered start. Up front education eliminates the fear and misunderstandings of what the whole team-based management process is about. Up front education must occur top down. The first folks who need education are top management and then super­vision as their roles are going to change more than anyone else's. In order to address the adult learning issues, all education must be application based and apply directly back to each individual's experience and work environ­ment. Education must occur early, must occur often, and must occur in small doses. Education also provides the background for management and supervision to under­stand the work team's process itself so they can be support­ive of it.


Productive Work Teams provide a balance of management direction with worker autonomy. Management's and supervisor's jobs are to be the coach, the visionary, the guide, and the communicator. Management provides the Productive Work Team structure, the specific objectives, the new knowledge or application skills, and the individual team participation skills. Management's responsibility is to show interest, to be enthusiastic, and to generate excite­ment. Teams then are prepared to accomplish those specific objectives of management. The teams will set more detailed clear and specific team objectives to support the company goals. They will select specific problems that need solving and they in turn will solve those problems after analyzing the multitude of potential solutions. As problems get solved and solutions get implemented, teams will be able to contribute to refining the company goals, increasing expectations, and setting higher and higher targets. A Productive Work Team structure can be at the
root of changing a company management culture from management by directive to management by setting objec­tives. Many positive results occur, from the acceptance of individual responsibility by each team member to a phi­losophy of continuous improvement for the company. A Productive Work Team's focus in a company should pro­duce significant measurable results in the first 60 to 90 days. The need for continuous improvement via a Produc­tive Work Team's process has been well documented in the literature. In fact, without it, it will be difficult for a company to compete in today's marketplace. The Produc­tive Work Team process and strategy described in this paper is the vehicle to activating the total people resource in a company and is the answer to attaining and maintain­ing a competitive edge.

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


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