What Does It Take to Get There?
In Time-Obsessed Competition, Peters
does an excellent job laying out the following 10 must-dos to
compete in time as follows:
1. The application of information technology
inside and outside the firm.
2. A revolution in organizational structure—make
it a flat spider-web-type network.
3. Total horizontal process revision.
4. Make time the basis of measurement ahead
of profit, quality, service, innovations, and cost (which will
all follow in its wake).
5. Wholesale empowerment and trust of
front-line people to facilitate real-time decision-making.
6. Decentralize information technology—power to the people.
7. Transform from adversary to partner
orientation inside and out.
8. Eliminate blinders caused by job-description thinking.
9. Think in wholes, not parts.
10. Make time-obsessed competition a way of life. Although we
will not discuss each point, we will highlight a few that relate
to systems and discuss how we feel the proactive approach can
The application of technology inside and
outside the firm to link everyone to everyone else ... all
information literally must be available to everyone in the
organization on a real-time basis.
We believe that while this is important, you
need to go further and have a proactive approach where the system
(as the ad says) does a reach out and touch someone when a problem
is detected. It is no longer sufficient to have data even on-line
and real-time, because it still requires people to remember to
look for it.
Here is a cost-accounting example to expand on
this point: Although a traditional cost accounting system may
enter, validate and make available details in a real-time fashion,
it typically does not analyze and report the variances until month
end or at best, job end. A thick report is created at month end
that is either too ominous to tackle, or too late to be useful in
determining what caused the problems. An improvement here is to
have a proactive system, where management sets key controls,
flags, and indicators ahead of time (e.g., "tell me when
there is more than a 5 percent variance on an operation").
The system then constantly monitors operations (similar to the way
statistical process control works). Once an out of tolerance case
is determined, the system immediately notifies the responsible
supervisor. In this way, the cause can be determined while people
remember the circumstances. This empowers front-line people to
participate, find solutions, and make real-time decisions (must-do
Another proactive example is the reporting of
nonevents, things that did not happen that should have. Again with
indicators and acceptable tolerances, if a certain part is off
schedule by a predefined time period, the supervisor is notified
via an E-mail message. This again empowers corrective action to be
initiated while it still makes a difference.
Reduce the numberless trivial delays with wholesale total
horizontal process revision.
Again, we believe that traditional systems
cause a lot of the trivial delays that must be eliminated. More
importantly, the proactive systems approach is a new paradigm that
actually facilitates reengineering of the process. Proactive
systems can be used in an inductive way to facilitate breakthrough
thinking while reengineering the business processes toward
competing in time. The inductive process presents new solutions.
Your challenge is to then find the problems to solve. This is as
contrasted to the traditional deductive systems approach of
identifying the problems you think you have (based on a
traditional view of the business) followed by finding solutions
that supposedly fit.
The Never-Ending Journey
We have attempted to illustrate a new systems
approach that supports doing business on a proactive, real-time
basis to achieve a true time-based competitive advantage.
Contemporary concepts from industry experts laid the foundation
while actual case studies referred to real-world results achieved
from this approach.
Proactive systems search for problems, events,
and opportunities and notify you immediately so you can deal with
them. This approach was contrasted with traditional systems that
assume you know what data you are looking for and how to look for
them. Traditional systems also assume you will remember to look
for information in order to find and fix problems.
World class competitiveness is a journey, not a destination.
Creative people with the imagination to explore a better way
always seem to create new TLAs (three-letter abbreviations) in an
attempt to name and perhaps simplify their concepts. We believe
the proactive approach outlined here makes TCM (Time-Critical
Manufacturing™) the next TLA to follow in the footsteps of such
greats as MRP, JIT, and TQM. No doubt, TCM will be destined to
improvement, at some point in the journey, by yet another TLA—TBD
(to be determined).
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