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Manufacturing Change Initiatives

 

PART II. 

 

A Changing Role for Leadership

Management must be the champion of the change process. A change revolution is needed to pave the way for a new entrepreneurial spirit to be breathed into the organization. Without management instigation and daily involvement in the change process, the results will be lukewarm at best.

Management must relay its vision to all segments of the organization, help ensure that goals and objectives are clearly defined in terms understood by every employee, then ensure charters are developed and executed. Management must be the torch bearer, cheerleader and barrier to success remover if this change process is to occur within a reasonable time period.

Change must be inspired and leadership focused. Implementing change involves a financial investment, therefore determining the cost of this cultural change is essential to prudent management.

Management must provide an environment conducive to empow­erment, and, then, they must become cheerleaders, motivators and barrier to success removers so as to support the empowering process.

A significant empowerment issue is conveying to the empowered employees that management leadership is truly committed to passing along the authority. This barrier will take more than words to overcome. In practice, this can only be overcome by manage­ment living the example, being a fire-breathing advocate of the process and cheering on the successes in a very visible fashion. Cheerleading, in this regard, is more that just accolades. Cheer-leading is a day-to-day commitment to seek and destroy all barriers to the success of the process, to the extent that, a significant part of top management's job becomes championing this transition process. The premise also assumes that all members of the executive staff participate in the championing process. This cannot be delegated to one executive only, unless that one executive is the chief executive, in which case, by definition, it is practiced by the CEO's subordinates.

To lead the transition properly, the following Critical Success Factors are needed to help ensure proper priority is maintained:

• Expressing a sincere desire to change

• Defining specific measurable goals and objectives

• Developing a time-phased action plan

• Continually expressing confidence in the ability of the organi­zation to change and do it quickly

• Demonstrating absolute determination that displays to the organization that change is imminent

• Top management functioning as the daily example reinforcing that the change has been breathed into their practices and consequently will be fulfilled throughout the organization.

Rising to the Challenge

With time as the currency for the 2000s, every passing moment impacts our ability to become formidable champions in the World Class competitive arena. An essential resource, people, is still being touted as the critical ingredient for successful companies. Yet the transformation process agents such as empowerment, channeling intellectual energy and overcoming the mundane is creeping along at a snail's pace in most companies. Consequently, companies are not exploiting the many talents that people can bring to the table. Individuals are still servants of the information processing function rather than using information to assist them in decision support (what percentage of time is the corporate employee body spending in data manipulation, leafing through paper reports and conducting information due diligence research projects versus decision making and execution?).

The challenge for those companies who are serious about exploit­ing the full spectrum of employee talent base relies upon an inherent change in the culture of the company structure. In addition to transforming performance measurements from the hierarchical to process orientation, the identification of every

individual's contribution competency must be defined. The mun­dane tasks people are performing, which could be much faster performed by computers, will be an essential ingredient to create the time needed to conduct the necessary skills inventory and deploy individual talents currently unexploited into their areas of interest and strength.

We continue to recruit without identifying if, per chance, the skill needed already exists within our existing unexploited talent base. Our recruiting activity is still technical and skill focused rather than team player focused, causing continual disruptions to the value of existing talent base. We can never recover from wasted and/or passed time that has not taken advantage of every employee talent asset. The companies who are postured to exploit the full complement of skills for the entire employee population will surface as the performance leaders as the 21st Century continues. Our window of opportunity narrows with each passing day.

Conclusion

A visionary company's quest for the remainder of the 1990s should demonstrate . . .

• A passion for Quality

• Responsiveness to the customer (customer centered vision)

• Agility and Flexibility

• Continuous improvement driven

• Fast Cycle adeptness

• Ability to change, and do it quickly

The management leadership may be challenged and the compa­ny's viability placed at risk if change does not occur quickly. Thriving on change will require the management team to demonstrate unparalleled mastery of ...

• Leadership

• Information tools

• Productivity improvements

• Process performance measurements

• Agility and Flexibility

• Customer centered responsiveness

We are at a critical juncture to inspire the radical changes needed that will allow the United States to surface as a world leader in manufacturing again. The key to the future is how we handle the change in light of a faster, better, cheaper theme.


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