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Lean Manufacturing, Basics, Principles, Techniques

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SPONSORSHIP AS LEADERSHIP

Sponsors need to remain focused on the project. They must

     understand the change

     manage the change

     deal with people.

Understand the Change

A sponsor leads the change effort by ensuring that the desired state has been defined as much as possible in both numerical and behav­ioral terms. The sponsor needs to ensure that the desired state is un­derstood by his/her direct reports and that a strong consensus exists. At the same time, the sponsor identifies the changes required by man­agement required to achieve the desired state. Once consensus has been achieved with his or her direct reports, the sponsor works with the management team to build and strengthen that consensus through­out the organization and the extended enterprise. While building this consensus the sponsor will identify and communicate what is firm and nonnegotiable and what is open to refinement. The business case is explained at all levels through many different approaches. It is tied to the enterprise strategy and all the other changes that are going on now or have preceded it. The sponsor will speak of the change often and with passion. There are many things that only the sponsors can say about the change and provide the needed impact. The sponsor must also show an understanding of the impact of the change on the enterprise and the people in it. Finally the authorizing sponsor and all the other sponsors must commit to dealing with resistance as it emerges throughout the process.

Manage the Change

The sponsor manages the change by ensuring that the appropriate re­sources are available. The sponsor acts as a leader by doing what is necessary to help the change be successful. The sponsor will allocate dollars, people, and time to the effort. If resources are not available when needed or the sponsor cannot provide the time, then the reasons should be explained. The sponsor will ensure that the appropriate change systems are in place and help identify and empower the change agents. He or she will also identify the acceptable productivity impact that will be encountered during the delta.

Deal with People

Finally the sponsor as leader needs to deal with the people side of the change. He or she needs to exhibit empathy and understanding of the difficulties of changing. The sponsor needs to understand the target's perspective and relate to that perspective. Communications about the movement from the current state to the desired state and how it will be accomplished during the delta stage are delivered from the target's perspective. The sponsor will also share their personal target issues. At the same time sponsor communications about all states in terms that relate to the target's perspective.

THE REENGINEERING PROJECT-IMPLEMENTATION OF LEAN MANUFACTURING

The Implementation Process

In Ford, as has already been mentioned, we are rolling out the Ford Production System at all locations worldwide. This is being achieved using small, dedicated teams at each location, who are learning and then passing on that learning by teaching, coaching, and instructing all activities in the necessary techniques and practices to move us toward our ultimate goal. We do not expect to get there overnight, but our ability to be nimble and to accelerate the implementation process will give us the cutting edge we are looking for.

With the help of people who have worked in lean organizations, we have devised a five-phase implementation process that essentially started at the shop-floor level. This was a deliberate strategy aimed at producing some early results that would capture the attention of senior management with the expectation that they would be pulled into the process. Employees in work groups are learning the basic techniques and methods that help to develop stability in the workplace such as the use of visual management, the application of error-proofing devices, quick changeover, and application of a quality process system.

This stability at the shop floor level is important in order to be able to apply some of the more sophisticated techniques in the subsequent phases of the implementation process. There are many more techniques and lean tools, including material logistics systems, interrelated order­ing, and scheduling systems to be implemented in the later phases. It is not expected that we will become fully lean for some considerable time. The length of time it takes will vary from location to location around the world for a variety of reasons, including the physical manu­facturing environment, the employee relations environment, the extent to which management is committed to make the necessary changes in operating practices, the strength of local and corporate culture, and our ability to change these so that they are compatible with the new way of operating. All of these features and many more will influence our ulti­mate ability to become lean.

The Current Status

The corporate FPS office, using an assessment process that is geared as much to identifying opportunities for progress as it is to simply check­ing the progress made, is monitoring the implementation process. Al­ready there are plants that have made much more progress than others, but all plants are progressing. One of the key issues here is concerned with the extent to which the senior management group, and particu­larly those at plant level, has become involved in the implementation process. In many plants in the early stages of implementation there was little recognition by plant managers and their direct reports of the extent to which they personally would need to involve themselves or the extent to which they would need to reflect on and change their leadership approach.

Consequently, in the early stages the plant implementation teams have experienced a wide range of difficulties. Often the necessary resources

to form plant implementation teams were not put in place. Early progress would quickly be lost as employees reverted to the old way of doing things. Some plants struggled to get to, let alone beyond, first base. Most of the situations that arose could in some way or other be traced back to the extent to which the local management was committed to the change— the implementation of the Ford Production System.

Sponsorship Issues in the Implementation Process

Implementation started in Europe in January 1997 at 35 sites. Progress has been varied, but at the lead implementation site in Saarlouis, Ger­many, significant progress has already been achieved. During the first year, all plants were able to report improvements to the bottom line that they would not otherwise have achieved. Beneficial results were also reported at all locations at the end of year two.

It was considered, however, that one of the inhibitors to obtaining the level of results that are achievable through adopting lean principles was the commitment and involvement of senior management, particu­larly in the plants, to drive the process.

It needs to be remembered that Ford has had a very traditional orga­nizational structure and a very directive style of management. These aspects of organizational behavior have been the subjects of leadership development programs for some time. However, the reality was that until the advent of Ford 2000, virtually all our senior managers had worked for the company for many years and consequently it has been difficult for them to let go of these learned behaviors. This raises two issues for management. The first is to understand lean manufacturing well enough to become committed to its implementation. The second is learning, understanding, and then practicing the new behaviors that they need to adopt in order for them to be able to lead its implementa­tion successfully.

The key now is to get management involved in such a way that they learn and understand the principles of lean manufacturing well enough for them to be able to drive the process.

 


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