The company was in search of an operations leader. Historically, they had hired OEM retirees or family referrals. The company was in trouble. They needed a take this project seriously. They needed to improve their project management. This time the Owners were going to take a project approach.
This time they were going use a search firm. The job spec prepared by the search firm was a sprawling list, perhaps too long. The list included Supply Chain, Finance, Operations, Labor Relations, Customer Relations, Family Relations. The Company was in trouble, their performance was poor, they were on ‘New Business Hold”. Their previous leaders were incapable of managing these diverse issues. A second-generation firm, with two very different operations. One machine intensive, the second labor intensive both were represented work forces. The Owners, Brothers originally three, were as unique as the plants.
The initial four-hour meeting yielded an initial fourteen -day consulting assignment. This initial phase included an in-depth assessment to understand the current state of the business. One brother shared his frustration with his Team, “I’ve asked them a number of times to reorganize, to fix this mess…No results”
The fourteen-day assignment yield some findings and we created some initial plans. The first assessment was the Team. We believed that this group wanted to change. This group knew their current methods were not winning. We learned a few needed to be won over, maybe a few exit, but the best practice is a good team.
The leadership team at the labor-intensive operation was a veteran group wanting to perform well and satisfy the customer each in their own space. The first findings revealed a number of discoveries that started to focus the view. There were a number of hot lists. The three supervisors on the processing floor owned the whole floor, rather than unique lines. The scheduling office automatically printed every order when it was received.
The Team exhibited, “The Five Dysfuntions…”
- Absence of trust—unwilling to be vulnerable within the group
- Fear of conflict—seeking artificial harmony over constructive passionate debate
- Lack of commitment—feigning buy-in for group decisions creates ambiguity throughout the organization
- Avoidance of accountability—ducking the responsibility to call peers on counterproductive behavior which sets low standards
- Inattention to results—focusing on personal success, status and ego before team success
Part of the solution included a number of uncomplicated and straight forward steps:
- Ownership and accountability
- Plant floor was divided into: Focused Factories
- There was a “Gate Keeper “who reviewed and created one hot list
- Orders were printed on demand
- Metrics- The plant had 27 metrics suggested at times by various customers. The goal of this first phase was to help the Team “Focus” and be held accountable. The new metrics were five. Safety, Quality, Human Resources (attendance and turnover), On-Time shipments and Stock-out counts.
- In this phase we wanted to attack “The Five Dysfunctions…” and help the Team:
- 1. Trust Each Other
2. Master the Art of Disagreement
3. Fully Commit to an Agreed Plan of Action
4. Hold Yourself and Others Accountable for that Plan
5. There’s No “I” in Team: Focus on the Collective Result
The best practice is a good team. A lesson to consider is the creation of a Team. What do we need to do as Leaders to help good people form good Teams? This is an item that should be reviewed at the creation of each and every new project, THE BEST PRACTICE IS A GOOD TEAM.