“Take away my people and leave the factories, and soon there will be grass growing on the factory floors, but take away my factories and leave my people, and soon we will have bigger and better factories.” – Andrew Carnegie
Last week, we discussed the differences between organizations implementing traditional lean versus holistic lean. One of the critically important factors in the holistic methodology is People. Some manufacturers underestimate the importance of people and instead focus on technology investments – and are disappointed when money spent does not return the expected benefits.
Let’s think about it: Is it wise to invest in machinery when the organization hasn’t planned to invest in the workers who will operate the machines? Investing in the employees is better in the long run because this will not only ensure that they know how to properly operate the machinery, but it will also increase their involvement and promote continuous improvement throughout the organization.
Recently, a new plant manager at Bristol Myers Squibb was determined to save his factory from a possible shut down. He led a lean transformation that resulted in not only saving the plant but also achieving industry-wide recognition for the company performance. The plant manager empowered his people to design Lean processes leveraging outside consulting expertise and software tools to implement demand-driven pull replenishment. The empowered employees improved the company’s performance.
How have you empowered your employees? What “people” programs do you have in place to ensure the company’s overall success?