The Manufacturing Zone 



1. First explain why

The current business processes simply don't give us the level of performance necessary to compete in today's global market. Competitors, frequently new upstart companies here and abroad, haven't read the rule book. They were ignorant to all the reasons that service and products couldn't be delivered faster without defects and with more variety. Double-digit improvements in everything they do is commonplace. If we continue to do more of the same, we'll only get the same results, and we won't survive. Look at the giants of many industries that are on the front page of the Wall Street Journal everyday announcing more and more cutbacks, loss of market share, loss of prestige, loss of profits, and loss of people. The issue at hand is survival.

2. Change is non-negotiable

We simply do not have the luxury of debating whether change is necessary or not. The successful companies didn't leave the necessity of changing up for a vote. Key leaders at the top mandated that change was inevitable to not only survive but prosper. Jack Welch at General Electric is a good example.

3. Minimize transition time to the new comfort zone

During the transition, there will be a lot of disruption and loss of effectiveness. We can't stretch out the transition time and let it evolve at a slow pace. How can we minimize the time? Climb the ladder with our eyes open. Anticipate the inevitable, normal human reactions and become proactive in minimizing them. During the transition we'll frequently find some questions and issues arise that don't have immediate answers. There will be some distrust. Many people will be looking for proof. They will be confused about their roles, the new terminology and suspicious of hidden agendas. Early successes and open dialogue will dilute these roadblocks.

4. Quickly reach a consensus vision

I don't mean the vision statement that is in the Annual Report or that's framed in the lobby. Those vision state­ments are valuable, but we need to go to the next level of detail. We need everyone in the organization to clearly see where we are going. They must understand what this business will look like and how it will be run.

The vision doesn't have to be achievable or even practical. We're not going to measure the success or failure of reaching the vision. We are going to set goals and measure success as achieving the goals. The goals will be consistent with the vision.

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5. Overcome the paradigm effect

Many people are often stuck in their comfort zone because of the paradigms that filter new ideas and blur their vision that the new ideas will work. They often respond with "Impossible." Joel Barker points out that when there is a major paradigm shift, everyone goes back to zero. The skills and ability that enabled a lot of people to get raises and promotions become worthless. Picture the Purchasing Manager who was promoted from Buyer because of his or her ability to play hardball negotiating and now we're asking that they become part of a friendly partnership! How about the Shop Foreman whose strength is maximiz­ing utilization, and keeping everyone busy who is now asked to empower the people, letting them make the decisions, and his job now is to "facilitate!"

Many of these people have not had an opportunity to be exposed to new concepts and ideas. For example, consider the laborer in the field digging a two foot deep, three foot wide ditch for a hundred yards and we ask him, "Why aren't you using a backhoe?" His response, "What's a backhoe?" Give the same individual a backhoe demonstration, an opportunity to learn how to use it, and they'll gladly lay down the shovel. The same holds true for the Purchasing Agent, the Shop Foreman, and a host of other people that we're asking to make a paradigm shift. An initial invest­ment in making key people aware of new ideas, i.e., educating, is essential.

6. Minimize risk consequences

Remember the grandiose promises and high expectations when we brought in the first computer system? Remember Quality Circles? Remember a long list of other great ideas that now reside on Boot Hill? And what happened to the people associated with each of these? Some aren't even here any longer. Others had their careers tarnished when they were associated with the "failure." This long list of "mis­fires" make them skeptical.

7. Focus Resources

"So much to do and so little time"—The most common complaint I hear.

How do we get more done? We aren't going to add more people. We probably have too many already. We aren't going to get the people to work more hours because they're already working six or seven days a week. The answer is to raise the effectiveness. How do we do that? Focus on doing a few things really well. The challenge becomes picking the right few.

To be Continued


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