Workers-Gathering-Items

Who's in Charge of Continuous Improvement Efforts?

Imagine the heated discussions that occur when a plant calls asking for corporate help. "Hey! That is a quality problem, we should take the lead." "No, we need to do a full Six Sigma analysis, we will take the lead!" "Wait a minute! This problem is driving non-value added activity. The lean production group should be in charge!"

Earlier in my career, I had the opportunity to visit the corporate headquarters of a major manufacturing company. The company directory at the entrance revealed a concern that may explain why this particular company’s improvement efforts were struggling.

The directory showed that there was a corporate quality department on one floor and a corporate Six Sigma group on a different floor. There was also a corporate manufacturing engineering group, as well as a lean production system department (and yes, they were in different parts of the building as well). A corporate operational excellence group also was listed.

Imagine the heated discussions that occur when a plant calls asking for corporate help. “Hey! That is a quality problem, we should take the lead.” “No, we need to do a full Six Sigma analysis, we will take the lead!” “Wait a minute! This problem is driving non-value added activity. The lean production group should be in charge!”

Of course, each of these departments will want to take credit for any cost savings that might be realized in order to justify their existence. This is bound to create a lot of confusion and resentment out in the manufacturing locations. The plant leaders would probably think twice before calling the corporate office.

More on continuous improvement on IndustryWeek.

IndustryWeek is an NED companion site within Penton’s Manufacturing & Supply Chain Group.

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