The Manufacturing Zone 



8. Concentrate on meeting strategic goals

"Lack of top management commitment." I've heard it a thousand times. It's a major concern as people think about climbing the ladder to the new comfort zone. Many fear they will hear a chainsaw half way up! At the same time, we hear executive management voice deep concern and frustration about the organizations' resistance to change. Something's wrong with this picture!

The overwhelming majority of executives are fully commit­ted. Yet, the perception that they are not lingers on. Why? Many times the troops are asking for support and commit­ment to fix problems that aren't connected to reaching the strategic objectives of the business. Executive manage­ment is responsible for using the total resources of the e business to satisfy the customer and maximize shareholder return. How can they be committed to specific projects that don't have a clear connection to achieving the strategic goals they're responsible for? They can't. The answer is to focus on tasks that directly contribute to the strategic goals of the business.

9. Early victories

Conventional wisdom encourages us to work on the big opportunities. We have traditionally been taught to focus on solving the few problems that will provide the maximum return. Unfortunately, the big opportunities also represent the biggest risk, will take longer to solve, require more approvals, and larger teams of people to work on them. Success breeds success. Initially, we need successes. The initial objective is to build momentum. Focus on small, not global, issues. For example, improving inventory turns is too broad for an initial objective. Initially focus on improv­ing record accuracy in the raw material warehouse, reducing changeover time in Department 45, reducing lead times from two or three key suppliers. Concentrate on tasks that can be done in 90 days or less.

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10. Think horizontally

In previous newsletters, we discussed the Silo Effect. We have traditionally organized our business by dividing up the duties and assigning people into functional silos. Yet the objective of this enterprise is to satisfy customers, and that requires high quality performance in a series of activities that are linked together to form the best business processes. We need people to view their responsibility in the business to serve the internal customers well and support their internal suppliers. The individual's objective is not to optimize sales, manufacturing or the balance sheet. Ask yourself the following questions:

1. Who are my internal customers?

2. What are their expectations?

3. Am I meeting their expectations?

4. What is the internal customer's perception of the first three?

11. Better yardsticks

A few years ago, a survey conducted by Boston University cited... "performance measurements currently in use may be the millstones around corporations neck."

As long as we keep measuring and awarding people based on their silo performing well, they will concentrate on doing whatever is necessary to get their silo to perform well, even at the expense of the horizontal business process. Perhaps we should begin using the internal customer's measurements of their internal supplier for individual promotions and raises, rather than the boss's. Depending on the boss to evaluate the individual causes people to look vertically, not horizontally. For example, when the manufacturing is evaluated on minimizing unit costs, maximizing efficiency and utilization, the players in the manufacturing silo won't be too excited about making the specials and wide product variety that Sales is selling.

Climbing Safely

Competition has mandated that we get better or get out. Change is non-negotiable. Change is also something we can't mandate, purchase or just wish it will happen. Change is the result of a well planned and executed process.

Do people resist change or fear failure? I believe it is the latter. Their comfort zone is a safe haven from failure. Moving to a new comfort zone and then to another new comfort zone and another... is a skill the World Class competitor must master or face the inevitable consequences. World Class Performance means constantly improving faster than your competitors. It means a series of constant journeys to new comfort zones.

The path, the proven process to climb the ladders to new comfort zones, has been blazed. It is exciting and worth the trip!


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