Manufacturing... It's Not Just About Production Anymore

Frederick Parker published a book titled Strategy + Teamwork = Great Products: Management Techniques for Manufacturing Companies, and it's quite different from most books on manufacturing in that its primary focus is not production -- Parker emphasizes techniques for excelling in engineering design, marketing strategies, and customer service inside a manufacturing company. He posits that managing a successful manufacturing company in the current competitive global economy requires teamwork between the those disciplines -- It is no longer enough just to be efficient on the production floor. 

Recently, I spent a few minutes speaking with Frederick and asked him why he took this approach when writing this book. Here is his complete answer:

I always viewed management as an art form and tried to perfect it. During my 40 years in leadership roles, I saw many dramatic changes in manufacturing and realized that the old techniques do not work anymore. We need new thinking and new approaches to manufacturing management in the 21st century. There are several reasons for requiring that: the rapid changes in technology, outsourcing of nonessential processes or components, automation, Lean manufacturing, and supply chain management. There are books written about all of these new trends, but my book is unique because it combines all of them into an overall strategy and concludes with this thought: 

Historically the most important task of manufacturing executives was to make the production floor efficient. In a modern manufacturing company, the emphasis must be changed into fostering teamwork among manufacturing, engineering, and marketing because these areas are now the center of profit. The importance of manual labor in the cost of the product is diminished. The cost and quality is determined by the design for manufacturability and the cooperation and teamwork between the manufacturing staff functions.

When I became CEO, I quickly realized what a difference leadership makes in the success or failure of a company. Leadership has changed in the 21st century. The old autocratic ways of management are dead. The management staff has to work as a team and CEOs must listen to them when they set goals. Current executives are much more highly educated and most are specialists in their field.  If you set goals for them that are too high they will not even try to achieve them. Attainable goals is one of the principles in my book. 

Manufacturing strategies in the book include outsourcing, investment in automation, continuous improvement, training and team building. These are the modern tools of manufacturing executives. 

You cannot expect to hire people from different backgrounds and different company cultures to work together as a team without guidance. My book describes various techniques for building your own company culture and fostering teamwork. I hope that documenting my experiences and the techniques that I developed and successfully implemented will help manufacturing executives to be more effective in their jobs. 


What Makes a Systemic Approach to Management More Effective and Appropriate for Current Organizations?

“But can you see the big picture?” That might be the most important question currently asked of leaders within organizations. 

An engaging new book that just hit the market, Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization maintains that many organizations are still very much trapped in an outdated paradigm of silos, fragmentation, conflicts, and a zero-sum game, and their leaders end up creating unhealthy corporate cultures through outdated thinking. 

I recently spoke with Domenico Lepore, Angela Montgomery, and Giovanni Siepe -- the authors of this book -- and asked them: What makes a systemic approach to management more effective and appropriate for current organizations? Here is their complete answer: 

When we begin to see that the everyday tasks of business are all connected at a deeper level, then we begin to see the power that those actions can have for a much bigger picture. And for that we need a “Theory of Everything for Management.” 

For decades now, people have been hearing about ideas such as the “butterfly effect” where the notion is that small causes can lead to big effects. This is just one evocative example of what we may call non-linear reality. In other words, we have come to understand the world in a radically different way to how we understood it one hundred years ago. Back then, the kind of mechanistic models that came from Newtonian thinking were applied directly to labor and production. Everything could be safely divided up into separate boxes and commanded from on high through a vertical hierarchy. That is why organizations were created with levels of command and separate departments. They even had to adapt accounting methods to report on this box-like “reality”. 

Today, instead, science has been telling us for some time that reality is non-linear and that we must understand new models based on complexity and that means understanding interdependencies and networks. So what does that mean for business? We need only look at the global crises we have been living through to see that a huge shift is happening and that many failures are due to a lack of understanding of how reality actually works today. It is no longer adequate or appropriate to divide organizations up into functions/silos that have difficulty talking to each other and that squabble over budgets. Not only do we need to see organizations as whole systems, we must work with whole supply chains, and beyond that, to how organizations impact all their stakeholders and their environments. 

 In Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization, we describe a “Theory of Everything for Management” based on the work of W. Edwards Deming and the Theory of Constraints. These combined bodies of knowledge provide all the philosophy, method and tools for managing in our age of complexity. We explain organizations at their most fundamental level, how to see them as systems and how to organize work as a flow through a pattern of all designed interdependencies to satisfy a common goal. When we talk about work in any organization, essentially we are talking about processes and projects. We describe an effective way to design those processes and manage projects successfully in a systemic way with Critical Chain Project Management. 

Change is a challenging process and we dedicate an entire chapter to it. We need to understand the human needs and the cognitive leap it takes to work in an organization fit for the 21st century, with no artificial barriers and that engenders the desire to continuously improve and innovate. Working in a systemic organization means constantly working on the cognitive challenges, overcoming conflicts as they arise and strengthening the emotional intelligence required to live with uncertainty. We provide details on the Thinking Process Tools from the Theory of Constraints that provide the support for the new skills – cognitive, creative, emotional and logical – needed to keep pace with rapidly evolving markets. 

We show how change can be also highly positive for those who work systemically, eradicating unnecessary barriers and tasks, creating opportunities for real empowerment and self-development, and finding more unity between who we are as people and what we do on a day to day basis. Thinking and acting systemically means having a practical way to overcome the zero-sum game that keeps business stuck in the win-lose mindset that has caused so much havoc in the markets and can only lead to more polarization. Working systemically is all about finding win-win solutions upon which we can build sustainable prosperity, for ourselves, our customers, our suppliers and all the stakeholders. 

Everything moves so fast now. Executive heads are rolling for not knowing how to cope in our new digital era. In spite of all the shifts happening, including the digital challenge in particular, most business schools continue to teach pretty much the same things as 50 years ago with a few new programs added on. We dedicate a whole section of the book to outline a program for business schools that is up to date for our era of complexity, from strategy to accounting.


Pascal Dennis' New Book -- Andy & Me and the Hospital -- Addresses Healthcare Challenges

One of the top Lean thinkers and coaches, Pascal Dennis, just published a compelling new novel titled Andy & Me and the Hospital: Further Adventures on the Lean Journey . Continuing the story established in his Shingo Prize-winning book Andy & Me, this latest book shows how Tom Papas and his sensei, Andy Saito, face perhaps their greatest challenge yet – a major New York City hospital.

I had the chance recently to ask Pascal some questions, so I’ll reproduce them here followed by his answers:

Why continue the story of Tom and Andy in a hospital/healthcare setting?

Health care represents Lean’s "undiscovered country." In fact, I spend much of my time coaching senior health care executives. In the book, Tom Papas calls health care a "dark realm" – full of risk, but also full of opportunity. If we don't get health care right, it could bankrupt us. But if Lean thinking and methods take root here, we’ll greatly improve people’s lives.

Given Tom and Andy’s background in manufacturing, how can they function in a major hospital?

Every industry entails a series of processes. Health care value streams, for example, typically begin with Registration and conclude with Discharge with various process flows in between. 

Flow depends on standards, connections and pathways – which Tom and Andy are adept at seeing. Their challenge is to learn the language, technology and culture of healthcare, and to translate Lean thinking and methods in a way that’s understandable and motivating for hospital leaders and team members. Translation is a central theme. What does Flow mean for an Emergency Department? What does Quality in the Process mean for an Operating Room or a Pharmacy? What does Strategy Deployment mean for a major hospital?

Why this book in particular?

I want to answer some basic questions. What does a Lean transformation in a hospital feel like? What overall approach should we take? What kind of leadership and behavior change is needed? How do we develop and engage people? How do we improve processes? How do we build a management system? How do we translate what Deming called the "profound system of knowledge"? 

At the same time, I want to provide a clear and simple guide to Toyota thinking and methods, how they fit together, and the spirit that animates them.

Why a sequel to Andy & Me?

Readers seem to connect with Tom and Andy. For me, they’re real people with problems, doubts and weaknesses. Transformation is hard, life is hard. Tom and Andy struggle with difficult problems and they only partially succeed. But that makes all the difference. Another of the book’s core themes is that the sensei has to grow and change, just as much as the deshi. Tom and Andy’s journey and relationship are hopefully a useful metaphor. 

For those who have read Andy & Me and the Hospital: Further Adventures on the Lean Journey: Feel free to post your comments.


Why Process-Improvement Initiatives Can Fail

An insightful new book titled The Basics of Process Improvement by Tristan Boutros and Jennifer Cardella just recently hit the streets. Process improvement, as most know, can be quite a complex topic, but this book shows organizations how to achieve success by fixing basic operational issues and problems using a broad and wide-sweeping process-based toolkit. 

I recently had an enlightening talk with Tristan, and I asked him: What causes many process-improvement initiative to fail? Here is his response:  

In the current economy, many process and quality organizations are looking for opportunities to elevate their departments to become true business enablers. Unfortunately, even the most sought-after business process improvement projects can fail. Here are four common reasons that these efforts fail: 

1. Lack of Management Support - Regardless of organizational size, attempting to initiate a process improvement effort without clear and publicized support from management can make improvement efforts challenging. As process improvement projects are often difficult, reinforcement from management that improvements are necessary and appreciated is critical to any team's success. 

2. Organizational Resistance – In many organizations, corporate culture can also make process improvement efforts difficult. Given the fact that process improvement efforts have the potential to uncover individual or system weakness, or even departmental challenges, it’s common to find resistance when improvement efforts are undertaken. 

3. Lack of Involvement or Representation – Improving a process without ensuring that all of those with a vested interest are represented during the effort is sure to bring hurdles. All stakeholders from each part of the process should be invited to participate, as end-to-end understanding is needed to properly make recommendations for improvement. 

4. Overemphasis on Technology - Although technology is playing a larger and larger role in process improvement efforts, the outcomes need not be about technology at all. In many cases, simple training, activity, or culture improvements are all that is required. Properly leveraging technology in ways that optimize a process is key towards true improvement. 

In any environment, taking slow and deliberate steps towards improvement can help ensure your project is a success. Ensuring leadership endorsement in place, being inclusive, ensuring your projects consider all areas of improvement, not just technology, while also ensuring the importance of your project is communicated throughout the organization can make all of the difference.  

I'd surely like to hear from those who have lead or participated in a process-improvement initiative and have stalled because of particular problems. Were they like those that Tristan described?


Implementation of Training Within Industry (TWI) at Autoliv Poland

For this latest blog entry, I'm turning over the reins to Bartosz Misiurek, author of Standardized Work with TWI: Eliminating Human Errors in Production and Service Processes, and Iwona Diug who present a great case study of  Training Within Industry (TWI) implementation at Autoliv Poland. It provides some very interesting insight on just how this automotive supplier drastically improved quality and safety after the success of this program.

The article describes a case study of the implementation of the Training Within Industry TWI program in Autoliv Poland LLC Company from Jelcz-Laskowice (later referred to as Autoliv). The article includes findings both the employees of Autoliv and  the consultant, LeanTrix Company, who supported the implementation of the program.

Autoliv Company
Autoliv Company was founded in Vårgårda in Sweden in 1953. Since its beginning Autoliv has been engaged in the production of complete safety systems for cars (Figure 1). Autoliv's vision is to significantly reduce the amount of road accidents, injuries and deaths on roads. In order to fulfill its vision, Autoliv Company designs, manufactures and markets cutting-edge security systems for vehicles. In short Autoliv is:
    • A leader in the technology and sales of safety systems - with total revenue from sales equal to 9 trillion dollars.
    • A supplier for all leading car manufacturers.
    • A holder of 80 production plants in 29 countries, 10 technical centers in 9 countries and 21 tracks for crash tests.
    • An employer who employs more than 64,000 employees, including 4,000 employees in the area of R,D, and E.

In Poland, the Autoliv Company has four manufacturing plants: two in Olawa (AEP and APT) and two in Jelcz-Laskowice (APR and APA). The factories in Jelcz-Laskowice have been producing safety belts since 2002 and airbag modules since 2010. A total of over 1500 employees are employed in Jelcz-Laskowice.

Figure1. Autoliv Poland Company in Jelcz–Laskowice

The implementation of TWI program was launched on selected production lines of airbag modules in the APA production plant in Jelcz-Laskowice.

Why the Training Within Industry (TWI) Program?
The Training Within Industry Program (TWI) is a comprehensive program to develop the skills of forepersons, leaders, and managers in the areas of instructing employees (TWI IP), building good relations with employees (TWI RP) and improving working methods (TWI MP). 

The TWI program was originally developed in the US during World War II in order to help leaders to effectively involve people in industry, especially those who had never worked in this field before - mostly women and young people (Graupp, Wrona, 2006). Implementation of the TWI program in American industry brought tremendous benefits and contributed to the victory over Hitler's armies. The success of the program was based on the fact that each of its methods was constructed on the basis of the PDCA cycle (Misiurek, 2016), which was developed shortly before William Edwards Deming formed the TWI program. After World War II, the TWI program was included as a major aid program in Japanese companies, and a short time later gained such respect that it not only became a method of improving productivity, but also became the culture of operations in Japanese companies. To this day it is believed that the TWI program was the foundation of the creation of the Toyota Production System and later, Lean Manufacturing (Liker, Meier, 2007).

Implementation of the TWI program in manufacturing companies corresponds with the improvement of their key performance indicators (KPIs). These include, among others: productivity, failure frequency, timeliness, quality and safety. Losses in these areas are often directly caused by human errors. According to Lean Management method, the effective elimination of problems occurs when their root causes are eliminated. In the case of human errors, the root causes include (Misiurek, 2016):
    •      A lack of or poorly executed on-the-job training.
    •     Failure to obey job standards by employees due to their bad development. 
    •      A lack of the process of auditing employees.
The TWI program is focused on the elimination of the root causes of human errors by providing thorough methods for effective on-the-job training, auditing and the improvement of working methods (jap. Kaizen).
Implementation of the TWI program in the Autoliv production plant in Jelcz-Laskowice aimed to eliminate specific manufacturing problems related to:
    •      An increase of employment (more than 300 new    employees planned for 2016).
    •      Frequent employment of temporary workers.
    •      High exchange of staff between production lines.
    •      Slow implementation of new employees to work.
    •    A lack of ability to transfer the experience of employees (tricks, facilities), which corresponds with a longer implementation time of a new employee.
    •     A lack of telling new employees the reasons that precisely describe why work should be performed according to the agreed standard (a lack of awareness among employees).
    •     A lack of willingness to use instructions by experienced employees (instructions often did not reflect the real production practice).
The development of competences in the TWI program
During implementation of the TWI program, the development of competences among employees who are involved in this program is the most important. Competences should be seen as a combination of three main components: knowledge, skills and responsibility. 

In Autoliv the development of employee competences was based on the PDCA cycle. Training of employees (Plan Phase) aimed to build their knowledge about the TWI program. After that and through the practice of this knowledge (Do phase) employees began to acquire skills. When they obtained certification and started to independently use the methods of the TWI program, they then gained responsibility (Check phase). The last phase was to train internal experts who not only had experience in the TWI program, but were also able to teach others (Act phase). This process is shown in Figure 2.

Figure. 2. Levels of the development of employees involved in the TWI program
(Based on Misiurek, 2016)
Between the training phase (1) and certification (3) is the area of practicing methods (2). Often when training companies are asked to conduct training (1), they receive a goal from top management: to build the awareness and commitment of employees. This goal is not feasible! The awareness of people is only built up from the moment of licensing (3). Only after the training phase (1), a desire to use the methods and tools of Lean can arise among people. However, awareness is born when something is practiced. The TWI program usually dies in companies due to the lack of the practice phase (2). This mostly happens because people do not have objectives set before their training and do not have designated time periods to complete these objectives.

The role of top management in planning the implementation of the TWI program is crucial as the most difficult phase of employee involvement is practicing (2). This process is best explained based on the example of teaching new drivers to drive on Polish roads. A person who takes theoretical training in the training room gains level (1). When a person learns to drive a car under the guidance of a Sensei, he moves to level (2). The process of practicing can take dozens of hours, which even translates into a few months of learning! At this point the person is not allowed to drive a car independently - and in terms of a 0/1 rating, has a rating of "0". A license (certificate) is obtained when the trainee passes a practical exam and skips to level (3). In the future, if he decides to become a trainer (in this case, driving instructor) he must then pass another exam and get a diploma, skipping to level (4).

Strategy of implementing the TWI program in the Autoliv production plant in Jelcz-Laskowice
The process of implementing the TWI program in the Autoliv production plant in Jelcz-Laskowice ran exactly on the basis of the PDCA cycle. Table 1 describes the exact scenario of this process with the key points, justification and description of the specific actions taken in Autoliv Company.

Steps of implementation
Key points
Description of actions taken in Autoliv Company
1.Planing the implementation (PLAN)
1. Selection of the pilot area
1. Gaining practice and learning from a dedicated process so that the subsequent implementation throughout the entire plant will be effective.
Several production lines of airbag modules, which are crucial regarding the quality and impact on the final customer, were selected for the project.
2. Selection of an implementation group.
2. People who posses extensive knowledge about work (experienced operators and leaders) should be chosen for implementation of the TWI program. Only then will standards created by them reflect the real way of working.
An implementation group with the greatest experience in the selected production lines was defined.
3. Determination of goals.
3. It is important to define measurable goals before the practical workshop. People will then participate more consciously in the workshop.
Selected people from the implementation group received a clear goal before the workshop in the practicing phase (Do). It was the execution of standardized work instructions for specified operations.
4. Conducting the practical workshop.
4. Theoretical and practical knowledge is passed on to participants during the workshop. In addition, standardized work instructions are created under the supervision of a TWI expert.
The practical workshop lasted for two days. During the workshop 5 standardized work instructions were developed. Each participant had the opportunity to play the role of a TWI instructor. A consultant from LeanTrix company supervised the whole process.

2. Practicing knowledge by people from the implementation group (DO)
1. Planning time periods.
1. People involved in the implementation of the TWI program should have time to practice skills (also when creating standardized work instructions).
A selected group of 4 experienced leaders worked on computer posts and had the necessary time to develop all the instructions regarding the selected production lines.
2. Consultations with a TWI expert.
2.Questions and inconsistencies often arise during practicing. It is important for the TWI expert to support practitioners during this process.
A LeanTrix consultant was available for the implementation group. There were numerous phone calls to precisely clarify any doubts in the area of creating standardized work instructions.
3. Licensing of people from the implementation group (CHECK)
1. Verification of the developed instructions by a TWI expert.
1. A correct standardized work instruction is the key to successfully carry out on-the-job training in accordance with the TWI IP method.
A LeanTrix consultant during the audit process and before on-the-job training verified, together with people from the implementation group, their developed standardized work instructions.
2. Verification of the way of conducting on-the-job training by people from the implementation group.
2. Theoretically, the TWI IP method is simple, however in practice it causes many problems. This is because it is contrary to the habits of the majority of trainers. This is why several verifications of whether leaders correctly apply the TWI IP method are important during practicing.
Each of the four people selected from the implementation group passed the practical audit on real production processes conducted by the LeanTrix consultant. In all cases, two audits were enough for practitioners to achieve TWI instructor certification.
3. Certification for a TWI Instructor
3. It is a formal process that confirms that a person is able to develop standardized work instructions and conduct on-the-job training in accordance with the TWI IP method.
After completion of the audit, a LeanTrix consultant gave TWI instructor certificates to a group of four people selected from the implementation group.
4. Development of experts - the Train the Trainer program (ACT)
1. Selection of a candidate for a TWI trainer.
1. The TWI trainer is a person that is not only a practitioner in the field of the TWI IP method, but can also teach other employees (jap. Sensei).
One person was selected from the group of certified TWI instructors in order to undertake training to become a TWI trainer.
2.Train-the-Trainer course
2. The aim of the course is to teach selected TWI instructors how to teach other employees who have not yet heard about the TWI program.
During the TtT course the LeanTrix consultant, together with the selected TWI trainer candidate, developed a presentation dedicated to the company about the TWI program, practiced the way of conducting a workshop and also developed an instructional video to show during the workshop.
3. A practical workshop conducted by the candidate for a TWI trainer and a TWI expert.
3. The role of the TWI expert is to support the TWI trainer candidate during the first practical workshop about the TWI program.
A one-day training was conducted for a group of experienced employees who did not know the TWI program in practice. The training was divided into 2 parts: a theoretical part conducted by the LeanTrix consultant and a practical part conducted by the TWI trainer candidate.
4. Certification for the TWI trainer.
4. Certification for the TWI trainer with an obtained diploma is the result of the ability to conduct a practical workshop about the TWI program.
After conducting the workshop, the selected person received a TWI trainer diploma. It is confirmation that the TWI trainer can independently, without the support of a LeanTrix consultant, lead practical workshops about the TWI program, certify TWI instructors and support practitioners in the field of TWI.

Table 1. Scheme of the implementation of the TWI program in the Autoliv production plant in Jelcz-Laskowice

The benefits from the implementation of the TWI program in Autoliv Company.
The TWI program has been in the process of being implemented in the APA production plant in Jelcz-Laskowice since July 2015. Currently, the program covers nearly 20% of airbag module production lines. It will ultimately be implemented comprehensively in both factories in Jelcz-Laskowice. The first actions related to the implementation of the TWI program have already been undertaken in Autoliv factories in Olawa.
The first benefits from the implementation of the TWI program can be seen in the behavior and attitude of employees to their work on trial production lines. In the TWI program, the major emphasis is on explaining key points at work and the reasons for these key points so that employees begin to understand the essence of their work. Awareness of work is crucial for employees because it has a huge impact on the elimination of human errors, which mainly occur due to a lack of knowledge. Currently,  it is difficult to find an operator on trial production lines who can sufficiently answer the question: Why do you perform this operation this way? The most common reply is: Because my manager told me to.  
Each employee must understand why he has to do the work in a certain way and how it affects the process and the final customer. If the employee does not remember something he can always refer to the standardized work instructions, which the TWI Instructor trained him by accordingly. We believe that this approach to training employees will in the future result in the improvement of the KPIs in the company.
Figure 3 shows how work instructions have changed due to the TWI program for an exemplary operation. They are now more transparent and understandable. In addition, they contain reasons that teach people awareness. These instructions, called standardized work instructions, are used by TWI instructors to train employees with the use of the TWI Instructing Employees method.

Fig. 3a. Instructions Before  the implementation of the TWI Program

Figure 3b. Instructions After the Implementation of the TWI Program

At Autoliv, we believe that it is not the employees, but processes that should be blamed for human errors. Designing and defining processes is the responsibility of managers and leaders. These leaders must take responsibility for potential human errors. The motto of the TWI Instructing Employees method is: if an employee did not learn, it is because the teacher did not teach. This motto is a foundation for the development of competences of employees in Autoliv Company. Respect of employees, expressed through their effective training, is one of the most important values of Autoliv Company.

  • Graupp P., Wrona R.J., 2006, The TWI Workbook: Essential Skills for Supervisors, Productivity Press.
  • Liker J., Meier D., 2007, Toyota Talent: Developing Your People the Toyota Way, McGraw-Hill Education.
  • Misiurek B., 2016, Standardized Work with TWI: Eliminating Human Errors in Production and Service Processes, Productivity Press.

About the Authors
Iwona Diug
Head of Production Area APA at Autoliv Poland Company. Associated with Autoliv Corporation for 10 years.
Bartosz Misiurek
CEO of Leantrix Company, which supplies computer systems that support the implementation of Lean Management. Currently supports the Cooper Standard Company (Automotive) as the TWI Lead Coach for Europe and is responsible for the implementation of the TWI program in dozens of factories in Europe. In the Lean Enterprise Institute Poland since 2007 and until 2015 was responsible for the transfer of the TWI program from the United States and then its development in Poland. Worked as a consultant of Lean Management, TPM and TWI for more than 150 production and service companies in Europe.