Industrial Production, Innovation, People Management – Interim Result and Outlook

Schraubendreher Schrauben

Concepts of Continuous Improvement in production from the Nineties are currently scrutinized, a little sceptically so. This does not mean rejection, but sooner disillusion. One simply “cannot hear it anymore”.

Let me illustrate some specific experience from consulting, training, and shadowing various change processes. Direction was CIP, and the industries were electrics/electronics-, automotive and mechanical engineering industries, started in production and went on to production support functions, on to biz admin, and in the end to sales/service. (R&D is a different animal, and only much later were approached, utilizing SCRUM methodology.)

CIP/KAIZEN and semi-autonomous teamwork were often tightly intertwined – the one pulling the other with it. Process / work flow orientation was the main context and starting point in manufacturing and related departments; one cannot really speak of organisation of manufacture without referring to this.

This requires great responsibility of workers for process control and performance provision. More and more they developed competencies for their further development, instead of leaving it to Industrial Engineers, managers, or organizational specialists. CIP has a bundle of instruments and methods on offer.

Bottom Line is split, according to my experience

A Model of Factory Organization and People Management

Real target agreements on team level form the basis – a task for leadership. Groups conduct CIP to reach these goals in direct responsibility and accountability. they act on the formation of internal personal relationships and solve conflicts internally at first; team meetings and team speakers are institutionalized. They are supported by means of team trainings und coaching.

The scope of resonsibility of teams is widened more and more towards”white collar functions”, like internal logistics, control, time recording, goods receiving, shipment. Goals can become more complex, thus: meantime between failure, delivery capycity devided by storage, cycle time of new product introduction, etc.

Hierarchies get and remain as flat as possible, Elected team speakers, department heads for several groups with disciplinary competence, head of production in factory executive management. leadership includes strategic concept development, general regulatory and physical design, team line-up, target agreement, supervision and coaching, Coaching, progress control and feedback, decision in case of escalation, moderation of severe conflicts.

Repetitive and regular “walk around” of management is a well-proven instrument of leadership; one after the other teams present their current statistics (like MTBF), improvement initiatives, successes and failures or problems. managment offers immediate feedback, meets decisions on the spot if necessary and agrees support or practical help if necessary.

Product innovation is not the manufacturing teams’ responsibiliy. Mastering the innovation process – introduction of new products and technologies in the area of responsibility / section of production – is a major part of the responsibility and competence.

Key is further development of teams’ own processes – on a higher level. They also have increasing resources at their disposal, e.g. for small jig design and construction. They set their own thems/topics, but others are also set/agreed by management – during target agreement meetings or “in between”. Follow Up and implementation on initiatives is monitored much more strictly than before by all parties involved.

Board, relevant department heads, and important specialists form a support committee to remove barriers, defines topics and initiatives, offers new methods and approaches (e.g. out of the Six Sigma spectrum), assesses/values improvements and translates these in remunerations. This panel also initiates best-practice-sharing between teams or departments and standardisation/consolidation of  implemented improvements.

Holistic Production Systems

Thus, the approach follows the concept of Holistic Production Systems. these try to integrate and further develop any experience into standardized, complete compilations of methods. Any pretension on relationship levelremains somewhat implicit; yet, the further development of social competencies is an integral part of our concept.

Kontinuierliche Verbesserung