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The Manufacturing Zone 


PART I. 

 

During the last decade, most companies have responded to the competitive wake-up call. They are serious about raising their level of performance. It's more than lip ser­vice. They are searching for a better way to run the business. Look at just a few of the proven concepts they have learned:

• Eliminate non-value-added activities

• Quality at the source

• Quality is free

• Integrated plans

• Valid schedules

• Make only as much as you need

• Supplier partnerships

• Empowerment

• Re-engineer processes

• Concurrent product development

These are the things the typical company knows. Yet, as we tour these same companies, look at what they do:

• Take physical inventories

• Inspect everything

• Produce long runs of the same item

• Buy boatloads of the same item

• Approvals mandatory for everything

• Expediting is a way of life

• Long lead times are accepted

• Focus is on minimizing purchase price variance

• Maximizing equipment utilization is a condition for employment

• Plans are floating on separate islands

In short, there is a big gap between what they know and what they do. Why? We believe a major reason is that a lot of hardworking, dedicated, loyal people are trapped in their comfort zones. Why are they trapped? Because they feel safe and confident in the old habits. And after all they have been successful in the past. They are uncertain about the new concepts or unaware that alternatives even exist. The attempts at new ideas in the past often fizzle out. They are skeptical about management commitment to follow through. And the track record supports their apprehension. "This too shall pass" is often the unspoken sentiment.

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Good ideas continue to come and go and the gap widens as the masses are anchored in their comfort zone.

If we are to close the gap between what we know and what we do, we must overcome these obstacles.

Successful Comfort Zone Shifts

Remember when the word processor was brought in to replace the electric typewriters and the bottles of White-Out? Remember when the CAD system was brought in to replace the drawing boards and T-squares?

Remember when the numerical computer controlled equip­ment was brought in to replace the manual adjustments to set up machinery? The secretaries, engineers and operators resisted with a vengeance! Many of them fought hard to avoid moving out of their comfort zone and use the new equipment.

But try to go back to the old equipment today! If you think it was hard to make the change before, can you imagine the resistance to go back now?

We can't mandate that people move out of their current comfort zones to new ones. And we can't simply throw money at the problem and buy a jet-propelled ticket to the next level. It's not that simple.

Fortunately, many companies have successfully moved their organizations from the old comfort zone to the new one. They've experienced significant paradigm shifts in how they run the business and get people to do their jobs. We have learned a lot from these "paradigm pioneers."

Here are the key characteristics that allowed these compa­nies to get a jumpstart to their new comfort zone:

To be Continued


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