Despite the huge pressures on manufacturers I am amazed at the lost potential that exists in our UK factories. As an external trainer and facilitator supporting people to make change happen, I am in a privileged position. I do not have to lead the teams that appear in constant turmoil due to the dictates of retailers and the vagaries of the English weather.
I get a huge buzz out of helping people to that 'light bulb moment' when they can see a better way of doing things; their enthusiasm and pride as they recognise that they can actually make a difference. The buzz is greatest when the organisation also recognises the need to take collective action.
To take your team to the next level of world class manufacturing requires a look beyond a set of tools and a dig into 'lost potential' from a people perspective. The very best world class initiatives employ a few well-used tools and loads of attitude that really taps into the spirit of 'ordinary' people.
An operator perspective
As an operator, I will do things differently if:
I am asked for my opinion on an issue and I have a say in the solution
I get feedback on the result
I am given time to do it
I receive the necessary training and support.
A leader perspective
As a leader, the key to this will be to develop a team with the following attributes:
A desire to challenge and improve
A real interest in performance
Visible leadership and decent teamwork
Consistent use of data to check understanding and target improvement effort
Team-based working and geographic improvement zone ownership
Focus and enthusiasm
Ability to take action and be accountable
Dedicated improvement time.
The first three of the above are non-optional attributes; you must give an absolute commitment to allow them the time to make it happen. Without this there is a real risk of the changes not being sustainable.
Andy Spooner Director, Suiko-WCS http://www.suiko.co.uk