Manufacturing Change Initiatives




Change and flexibility is the cornerstone for businesses surviving the challenges of the 2000s. Complacency in their attitude toward change is still the watchword for many companies. The emphasis upon gaining short-term results frequently compromises the investment in intellectual energy needed to effect changes that allow a company to become a World Class performer. There have been few companies who have clearly demonstrated their ability to be agile, flexible and change direction and focus, at will.

The objective of this presentation is to relate how manufacturing management must become change oriented to compete in a World Class Marketplace. The fast cycle mindset has still not taken hold and American manufacturing companies are leaving change on the table for other countries to nibble at. Fast cycle and agile are key words in describing the attributes of the captains of industry in the future. Visionary companies will become postured to instigate the necessary change to stay abreast of world competition. The change agents discussed in this presentation include: Customer Centered Responsiveness, Process Performance Measurements, A Changing Role for Leadership and Rising to the Challenge. Fast Cycle oriented change must become second nature to every employee if the company is to survive world class competition in the long run.

Customer-Centered Responsiveness

Customers today are becoming more sophisticated and many are looking for business partners who are committed to continuous improvement and who are willing to pass along the savings. Passing along savings has not been the traditional operating practice of companies. Instead, the marching orders, in many firms, has been to use these savings to recover from past competitive pressures.

Not only do world class competitors of the future need to be cost conscious, they need to be looking for opportunities to drive costs down and utility of deliverables up. This requires a distinctly different leadership style. High performance oriented companies must be market driven and flexibly responsive. This requires an entrepreneurial acuteness. This also translates into a thinning of the organizational bureaucracy, which, through approvals and any number of delaying tactics, cause the organization to take an inordinate amount of time to get throughput. In the past, this lethargy has been packaged under titles such as complexity of the product and customers willingness to forgive. However, in the future, as world class competitive pressures increase, this waste will not be tolerated.

Leadership must surface that is aggressive toward market needs and on the leading edge of cost control without compromising quality, delivery or product value.

Process Performance Measurements

Establishing proper performance measurements is essential to any organization. The financially driven measurements of the past prevent the majority of the organization from focusing in upon the top management goals, simply because the critical mass cannot relate to how they contribute toward goal attainment. A much better approach is to define goals and objectives in the form of internal customer and service provider built around business


If these business process centered goals, objectives, procedures and job outlines are properly engineered, every employee can relate to how they personally are contributing to the profitability of the organization. Once every individual is focused upon their contribution to profitability, the organization is reaping the benefits of synergy by all individuals.

Imagine for a minute how a shop floor machine operator would respond to a question such as: How are you contributing to the Return on Net Assets for the corporation? Not only would the operator star gaze at the question, he would either feel that management was crazy or that they deemed the machine operator position as menial. A much better approach is to align performance measurement along natural business processes that have been engineered to eliminate waste and whose customers and suppliers of services agree upon the quality, delivery and time investment goals.

Process performance measurements must be developed with agreement from the internal customer and their respective supplier of services. An overall guideline may be beneficial to define the breadth of tolerances and tie to the pertinent policy guideline. However, the measurement itself must be hammered out by those in the trenches who have to perform the duties on a day-to-day basis.

Accountability and empowerment must be taken and cannot be given. Responsibility can be assigned, but accountability must be championed by every individual. Therefore, to more easily gain ownership of the process and its measurement, each individual must participate in the design of the process and respective measurements, if true accountability is to be attained.

Peer review should be an integral aspect of the process performance measurement. If peers are involved in the design and measurement criteria and peers are the process owners, then the standard will result as meaningful and embraceable by those living with the results.

These process oriented measurements must be developed by all facets of the business. If designed properly in the trenches, it will result in higher level process improvements. If continuous improvement guidelines are championed, then these process measurements are being continually challenged with waste removed, bureaucracy being compressed and approvals decreasing over time.

To be Continued

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