Let’s take a break from the usual format. The problem, alternative solutions and a well-researched and statistically derived solution are not systematically laid out herein. You may consider this document to be lean, but you can be sure I will not utilize LEAN or any other flavor of the month technique. Instead, let’s think of ourselves, our day to day work, and the company we work for or own, and the interaction of all of us in making our lives and organizations more successful, enjoyable and rewarding. There are many questions that all interrelate. No one question posed should be considered in a vacuum, rather let’s try to focus our perspective globally, comprehensively, on business organizations and our “work” as services, products, or extensions of ourselves, of who we are and what we do, and what we should accept.
As “managers”, we set specific priorities in an individualistic way. How much time do we spend discussing and sharing ideas with our coworkers, subordinates and bosses? Systematic responsibilities, time constraints, bureaucracy, job descriptions, policies and procedures, standards, quotas, data, and deadlines clog our thought process, so there is little time for filtering, processing, creating and passing on information. As managers, we devise the course and motivate the staff by discussing as much as we deem necessary to get their piece of the system working. But why? A better way is to go from your gut, without input, see how that works and then just try something else until you find the formula that works for the specific situation. That’s like being an infant all over again. Maybe, solve this problem and create a different one. Throw darts! Really, the best ideas come out of group discussion. Two or more heads are better than one, but what about 1,000? How do you get employees spread out in different functional parts of an organization on the same page? The degree of success of a “machine” depends upon the proper functioning of all of its parts. To reach our “common goal” we cannot just depend on the proper performance of defined tasks (i.e. – the seven steps of cleaning), we must have the collaborative contribution of group idea development and buy in. Performance will follow. This is not a new concept, just a poorly employed one. How many times have you heard your “boss’ say, “If you think your idea will make this a better organization, then just do it.” Why have we not been able to successfully utilize and include the ideas of our employees?
Do we need discussion, or will airtight systems suffice? If you have the right systems in place, all you need is the right quality and quantity of people to get the job done? Just plug the resources into the system. Quality is easy to define. Count the “passing” widgets. Pass, or fail! You find a person who is experienced or trainable to perform her specific task. Is that all it takes? Just do it. Availability of human resources is relative to the location of your business and the number of available people trainable or experienced in the tasks we need performed. If we open a plastic components manufacturing plant in Maine, we may have trouble finding some, or any, experienced plastic component machine operators. The hourly rate for this job may not be high enough to entice trainable people into the organization who will stay long enough to make the learning investment pay off. Maybe we can hire “experts” to recruit for us the right people at the right price — is that the link to the success of our systems? Do you match the components to the system or vice versa? Or, must there be one answer? Should our vacuum packed management team create fabulous layouts for doing specific jobs that are so trainable that we can almost consider having a “quiet”, robotic transient staff as a rule of thumb? I actually discussed this possibility with the President of a successful national company. He actually thought that a transient staff wasn’t a bad idea. “All we need are good training manuals”. Wow!