The three outcomes we identified were 1) the need for increased training of the workforce to be able to run Epsilon, 2) the need to keep the equipment running reliably, and 3) the requirement that each and every one of us change our work habits. Each of these outcomes had associated with it potentially negative impacts which we had to consider and address.

  1. We needed to conduct a lot of training but we had little experience. With Epsilon being run on Line #1, the need for additional train-ing of both operators and maintenance mechanics was critical. If we couldn’t provide proper training, it would be impossible to keep the line repaired or permit the operators to perform their job adequately — a serious negative impact on all of us.
  2. With Line #1 exclusively producing Epsilon, the other lines would need to be more flexible and reliable if we were to be able to produce Alpha, Beta, Cappa, and Delta to meet our contractual commitments. We needed to make certain that our reliability efforts didn’t fail or the negative impact would be disastrous.
  3. Last but not least, everyone would have to change the way they worked and, even more so, the way they thought about equipment reliability. Failure to change our mindset would result in serious problems and a failure to achieve our initiatives, goals, and ultimately our vision. We needed to have people who understood the importance of proactively keeping the lines operational. The impact of not making this change would be to slip back into the Mike Kane mode of operation, with disastrous results.

The first two outcomes — training and reliability— were already included in our other initiatives or in activities associated with Line #1’s conversion. Number three was different and needed to be addressed. Many of us in the room understood that there were still people in our plant at many levels in the organization who liked the Mike Kane mode of operation — rapid response to real or perceived emergencies and instantaneous reward, the old “pat on the back.”

Before we could rush off and begin planning the Line #1 conversion, we needed to address the Mike Kane mindset that still existed within the plant because it had the potential to ruin our efforts. Therefore, I introduced TAN’s corrective action checklists. Of course, I didn’t tell the team how I acquired the list. I just indicated that there was a list I had available to help us work through this issue. Fortunately no one asked where I got it. Working through the check list took the rest of the after-noon, but it was well worth the effort. The results and how we planned both to identify and to correct our people problems as they emerged.

  • What is the negative impact we wish to correct?
    People are not willing to change and, as a result, the effort is undermined.
  • Who is impacted?
  • How are we going to correct it?
    First we have to identify the problem. When we recognize it, we need to work with those involved to understand why they refuse to change. We can then help them to understand the value for everyone if they do.
  • Who needs to develop the corrective action plan?
    The steering team
  • Who needs to support the action?
    Everyone on site needs to recognize and support the change as the new way we do our business. Those who don’t support it are hampering our ability to change the way we work. Everyone needs to have this mindset.
  • How will we communicate the corrective action and to whom?
    Use communication initiatives such as town meetings, etc.
  • How will we audit that the new work culture we have in place is working?
    The work culture and overall mode of operations will change. If we pay careful attention, these changes should be fairly obvious.

Tip from The Journey To Improved Business Performance by Stephen J. Thomas

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