Individuals Make a Difference

August 31, 2009

23 years ago to the month, I led a labor-management group to a major American motorcycle company to see first-hand collaborative labor relations and just-in-time manufacturing. They were the place to go to see how to fight off foreign competition and be re-made into a quality-first organization. This week I got to return the favor by addressing the entire manufacturing management group at the very same company on lessons learned about continuous improvement at other companies. What I found fascinating was the innovative spirit that drove their continuous improvement and labor relations got lost in the very success they achieved. Over the years, new managers came in only knowing the successes. Stories and practices of the past paled in light of pressing production needs and the very practices that turned them around in the 80’s fell victim to decisions of the new managers. An individual set the vision that turned their quality and business around and an individual set new priorities that returned them to old practices. Individuals count. As the boss, we can have visions that drive people to continuously excel or we can succumb to daily pressures and practices that are expedient today but cost us our competitiveness tomorrow.

How do we keep the edge?

· Constant vigilance during the good years, always attentive to being creative around the World-class Operating Principles and Social Principles.

· Knowing that an inflection point is in our future and that the world can change very quickly.

· Using the good times to improve our operations so that we are ready for the lean.

Stay vigilant to improving!


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