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道,领导也。领导必需要不断呼唤,教导下属以及以身作则。下属的过和错皆因领导懒惰。

 
 
 

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Chapter 7: Likeability  

2012-06-20 11:53:01|  分类: 7 Deadly Mgnt Be |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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I have noticed recently that people like to work with likeable people, even if these nice people do not know very much or produce much value or are simply, incompetent. This probably explains why most companies do not do well.

If you look at the major car manufacturers in the world outside China, Toyota Motor Corporation is the only truly outstanding car maker. Its profit margin is higher than the combined profits of all its competitors. The Toyota Production System is one of the reasons for its excellent profitability.

The Toyota Production System has been well studied by many great manufacturing companies all over the world, but surprisingly only few companies outside Japan have implemented it within the last fifty years.

In 1985, Professor Daniel T. Jones spent US$5 million and five years to study 90 different car factories in the world. In 1992, he published the book, “The machine that changed the world”. He used Toyota Production system as the reference for Lean Production System. Lean in this context means there is little waste in the production system.

It has been almost two decades since the introduction of the generalized concept of Lean Production System[1], yet the wide spread implementation of this system has not really taken off. It has not been able to get a foothold in many companies. One of the main reasons why CEOs of most manufacturing companies do not favor the idea of implementing the lean production system is because they do not want to be seen as a nasty boss. Everyone wants to be a likeable manager or a nice CEO. Let me elaborate on how the elimination of seven wastes[2] is prevented due to our instinctive desire as a human to be someone who is likeable.

Waste of Over-production

When one produces something that will eventually be sold, one tends to over-produce. Conventional wisdom suggests that it is best to keep enough inventories of finished goods so that if there is a sudden increase in demand, it will avert an out-of-stock situation. An out-of-stock situation is undesirable because the company is going to lose the sales.  And it is unpleasant to be in a situation where you are the guilty person. The sales and marketing department do not like this situation to occur. So does the CEO. Thus, the easiest way to be likeable is to over-produce.

Waste of Inventory

With the advent of computers, changes to a production plan can be executed by a few keystrokes. Order changes can be disseminated to all the affected work centers fairly quickly. However, the production planners do realize that changes to the production plan can cause a lot of trouble for the production people.

To accommodate a production plan change, machines have to stop producing a particular product, and WIP is moved aside to make way for the new order. This WIP becomes dead inventory for that time being. Whenever there is a change in the production plan, more WIP will be pulled aside and accumulated at every available production shop floor space.

Production folks dislike the hassle if they have to keep on switching products. In order to be nice to the production folks, the production planners plan for large batch for each product run. This keeps the production people happy because of infrequent switching.  However, the increased inventory level is a form of waste that ties up capital dollars.

Waste of Transportation

In NatSteel Ltd, the general manager of the technical division bought an overhead crane to transfer the billets from the billet yard to the reheating furnace of the rolling mill. The crane costs a few hundred thousand Singapore dollars.

A young engineer studied the handling process of the overhead crane and found that it was extremely slow and inefficient. He suggested installing a roller conveyor that links up the billet casting machine and the reheating furnace of the rolling mills to save the energy cost used to reheat the cold billets.

The operational manager stopped him from implementing that idea. He said that proposal would make the overhead crane’s function to be redundant and that would cause a loss of face to the general manager. A good idea was killed just because the operational manager wanted to be someone who is likeable.

Waste of Motion

If you tour a typical assembly line, it would not be surprising that some production workers carry out a lot of unnecessary physical micro-motion in the eyes of a trained industrial engineer. Why is that so? Does the current industrial engineer not carry out his time study properly and train the workers well?

The real situation is not that simple.

After a short period of job familiarization, a production worker will know how fast she can get the job done. If her production supervisor gives her a job that takes her eight hours to complete, she will do it with the least motion fearing that she might not be able to complete the task in time. If the production supervisor assigns her only a task with four-hour worth of work, she will add a considerable amount of unnecessary motions and maybe, slow down her pace too. Why is that so?

That is because she does not want to be seen as the only worker to finish the job in half a day while the rest of the workers are still trying to complete that day’s workload. She does not want to be disliked by the rest of the workers for inviting the production supervisor to put pressure on them. She wants to be a likeable fellow worker.

Waste of Waiting

I have a Malaysian friend named James Ho who migrated to Australia. He set up a Compact Disc stamping company for the local market. He had to import the blank CDs by himself. One day he went to the cargo hanger to collect the blank CDs.

The airport worker who was driving a forklift was in the process of unloading the pallet of CDs from the cargo plane. The whole pallet was already raised off the cargo floor. For no reason, he stopped the forklift engine, got off the driver’s seat and walked away. James waited for quite a while wondering where the driver had gone to.

James lost his patience and went over to ask an officer why that forklift driver made the job left unfinished. The officer replied that the workers went for their tea break at 3pm sharp and would only be back in half an hour.

James asked, “Couldn’t he just finish loading the pallet into my truck before leaving for his tea-break? It might just take him another minute to do so.”

The officer smiled and replied, “Hey! You never understand what it means to be respectful to your fellow worker’s right.”

It is sad to hear such a response. This is not a question of respect but rather a wide-spread behavior of trying to be someone who is likeable. The worker unions in Australia are very powerful. None of the officers want to be reported for being nasty. This is one of the reasons why very few multinational companies want to set up a subsidiary plant in Australia – which is a great economic loss to Australia.

Waste of Processing

In Archive Singapore, the first pass yield for computer tape backup drive was 60%. 40% of the drives had to be sent to the ‘pile of bones’ for rework.

The root cause of the low yield was that the screw was too short to tighten the nut. There was only one and a half turn of the screw thread available which was barely sufficient to provide enough grip to secure the read-write head into position permanently.

The rework process was a form of waste of processing that does not add value to the product. However, the Quality Director did not want to make his American counterparts - who did the design – upset with a constant stream of feedback on the same quality issue. So, he just kept quiet. But the price to pay for this likeable behavior was four years of low first pass yield.

Waste of Quality

According to Statistical Process Control guidelines, whenever an out-of-control situation occurs, the process owners need to investigate the cause immediately. In an American MNC that I once worked for, the process engineers found it very frustrating to stop doing a task on hand to attend to the out-of-control situation.

Thus, in order to circumvent the common industrial practice of responding immediately to an out-of-control situation, the engineers innovatively added a diamond box in the response plan flowchart. The diamond box reads, “3 Consecutive points OOC?” If “Yes”, call engineer. If “No”, resume production.

 

Figure 2: American MNC’s unique response plan

Assuming the process is already out-of-control, it has shifted away from the process mean; let’s say, producing defects at 10% rate. This means there is only a 10% chance a point plotted on the control chart is out-of-control. The chance for the next point to fall outside the control limits is also ten percent. It is the same for the third data point.

What are the chances that three consecutive points will fall outside the control limits? The answer is 0.1% (0.1 x 0.1 x 0.1 = 0.001) which is much lower than 0.27%[3]. The response plan has effectively mitigated the need to call the engineers to go down to the production floor to perform an investigation even though the process is indeed already running out-of-control at a 10% reject rate.

The production operators noticed that the number of rejects was increasing and they had to perform a lot of unnecessary re-screening and subsequent rework. The statistician was called in to answer whether it was acceptable for non-investigation of repeated out-of-control situations.  Could the production of rejects be stopped in time?

The statistician knew there was nothing wrong with the control charts. She knew it was the response plan that failed to get the operators to alert the process engineers, but she kept quiet about it. If she pointed this out, she would incur the wrath from all the process engineers. She chose to be a likeable person.

Conclusion

The above examples explain why very few companies adopt the lean production system. Even if a company hires a lean manufacturing consultant, it is not going to be easy for him to overcome the resistance to change from the entire workforce; especially when everyone is so fearful of being disliked.




[1] The Toyota Production System is more than the lean production system. It has two other core fundamental elements not found in the lean production system. They are industrial engineering and the ‘just-in-time’ philosophy. To learn these two additional elements, please read the books, “The Untold Secrets of Lean Sigma” and “The Untold Secrets of VSM” by the same author.

[2] To understand how the author made quantum leaps in improvement in each of the seven wastes, please read section 2, ‘Eliminate 7 wastes’ of the book, “Visual Management” by the same author.

[3]           According to SPC methodology, 99.73% of the area under a normal distribution lies within ± 3σ of the mean.

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