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Reinventing Manufacturing 


PART II. 

 

3. Customer-driven, anticipate customer needs

4. Involve customer early in the process

Find out from customers/prospects what they want. Ask them before they tell you what they don't like, or worse yet, take their business elsewhere. This is mysterious and frightening to many internal employees who wouldn't know a customer if they were bitten by one. Take employ­ees out to meet customers, or customers in to meet employ­ees. Have them talk on the phone, exchange views. It usually improves both sides, and forms valuable bonds. Involve customers early in the process to build "owner­ship," and to avoid false starts.

Find out what your successful competitors are doing and see if it makes sense. Don't slavishly copy it—leapfrog it. There may now be better ideas or new technologies that you could use. Try looking at how companies in other indus­tries solve analogous problems. For example, an aircraft parts supplier made great improvements by first studying LL Bean, the renown outdoor goods supplier.

Better yet, think of something nobody has thought of yet. Overnight air delivery of packages, disposable razors, and eyeglasses in one hour, were all breakthrough ideas that made fortunes and thrilled customers.

Do this before you do your expensive BPR program without sufficient improvement criteria. 

5. Achieve continuous, rapid improvement— gradual improvements may not suffice

The Japanese Kaizen, or continuous improvement philoso­phy, is an extremely powerful concept, and it has taken them, and others who practice it effectively, a long way. But, if you're ten years behind, Kaizen won't even maintain the same gap. Stronger medicine is needed. Business Process Reengineering can be such a tonic, to allow huge leaps forward, and can be used in conjunction with Kaizen. Even if you're not ten years behind, maybe BPR can be a way to get ten years ahead.

How could one suddenly leapfrog another company to become more successful? ... by making accelerator pedals instead of buggy whips. By doing something not just better, but truly different.

6. Challenge existing approach

Start out with an assumption in the back of your mind that the old way can be improved enormously—the odds are with you. Allow yourself to be proven wrong in some areas, but don't count on it. This forces more critical thinking. Compare the results of the current process to your ideal mission statement and note the differences. Then brain­storm how it can be improved significantly.

It's hard to get people to challenge existing approaches, unless you:

A. Remove possible threats to them for doing so. This can best be done by demonstrating that company people can do it and survive. Ensure that people are re­warded, not punished for making improvements. One company encountered was in the habit of laying off team members after improvements were made. A real motivator.

B. Expose teams to alternative models for doingbusiness. This can be accomplished through education, site visits, reading, participation in professional societies, and group discussions.

C. Assign leadership or lead the charge yourself—set the example by challenging the status quo and soliciting better ideas. Encourage others to do this as well.

7. Use benchmarking, get ideas from other industries

No need to be totally original in your thinking. Find out what "best practices" are in your and other industries with transferable concepts. Possibly even collaborate with other companies in developing better processes (void where prohibited by law).

8. Define product/process relationships, avoid functional "silos"

Try to disregard the existing organization structure when developing the ideal process. Look at the objectives that need to be accomplished, the processes that are needed to support it, and finally, at the resources (including organi­zation) needed to accomplish them.

To be Continued


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