Quality as the Engine of All Activity
William Edwards Deming established that the key to performance and market share is quality. All our efforts should always consider top quality as the engine that will provide all the good results we may expect. Managers are not exempt from this golden rule and should keep it in mind at all times. To achieve top quality in their management functions, executives at all levels must understand that their mission is to produce, preserve, and promote the right environment where all their associates feel supported and motivated to focus their efforts in the common vision and mission of the enterprise, whatever its nature. All this quality does not come cheap or easy, it demands a serious commitment, but it produces countless savings, satisfaction, and profit.
Where is Support to Come From?
It is common knowledge among consultants, successful managers, and other lean-manufacturing professionals: Projects don’t succeed unless they are completely supported by all levels of management. Unfortunately many members of the management team in most companies have the idea that all the efforts to run a lean operation should be solely developed by the people on the floor.
Wrong! Lean manufacturing must be a collective commitment in order to become a complete success, and the new culture of the whole enterprise. Only those companies where everyone from the top and from the bottom are informed of the benefits and therefore become clear supporters of the movement, can see real results and an abundant ROI.
SLIM as the Catalyzer
That is when (SLIM) Supportive Leadership Improved Management also called Supportive Leadership Integrated Management comes handy. It is a Revolutionary New Management Style. SLIM is not only to improve the manufacturing operations. SLIM has a broad focus and can also apply as...
One of the first manifestations of this is definitely the improved evolution of TPM that we recently introduced to our members and readers: TPR (Total Process Reliability).
Management is the Key
Management (I should emphasize “effective management” or at least “well informed management”) involvement will become a key element to really produce the results that the current competitive environment requires from each one of us.
Since I began my career as a consultant, more than 20 years ago, I could see the need for the management groups to urgently make important changes in the way they do their jobs. Not only Change Management is needed to handle the natural challenges we face day after day, but now I strongly recommend Management Change! This is to reflect the need for attitude change so that managers start getting “connected to Earth” (or to "Ground").
Follow - Up or Don't Expect Success
Something very important that in most lean implementations is quickly forgotten, is the "Follow-up". A formal Steering committee must be set in place and develop a real awareness in each of its members about how critical their function is. This committee should be comprised of people from different layers in the organization. One of the basic parts of the effort in these projects for implementing SLIM, is to prepare the committee members so they know exactly how to provide the best service.
As we said at the beginning, all of this is about a serious commitment to quality in everything we do. It is not easy but it is highly profitable! The involvement and support must be sustained, so that the SLIM structure really works in favor of the implementations. We are seeing many companies succeed when they accomplish the correct, balanced support from every individual. We know that management is the key group to create this new revolution in the way we do our work. This authentic support must be considered one of the best investments that the company will ever make. This is the task of the Steering Committee.
Quite frequently, when I visit a new company, managers give me a description of their process and the working environment. Later I go visit the plant and realize that many of those managers have not been in touch with their people, process, and reality in recent days, weeks or even years.
I know that political, financial, and business issues are critical too, but the main source of wealth is the production area. Letting it run without paying enough attention to it leads to a very poor performance and lower-than-potential profits.
Connecting Management to Ground (or Earth)
And, how does that “Earth connection” get established and sustained? Simple: common sense, the least common of senses.