The Importance of Supportive Management

Published: Monday, October 23, 2023 – 12:03

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John was dressed in his black slacks, white shirt, and tie. He was the manager of “Industrial Engineering” and was adamant that this scheme would tank the metrics of the company. The oven was the bottleneck, you see. Unless it was heavily batch loaded, then it would throttle the plant’s output.


The Importance of Supportive Management

Another tale from the past

I’ve seen this before. The pushback from the shop floor has often been less of, “We don’t believe this will work,” and more of, “We don’t believe management will support us as we try to make it work.”

As an aside, I’ve been in a lot of industrial facilities. This is the only one where I actually felt in danger. I kept my head on a swivel at all times—perhaps another symptom of management pretty much staying in their offices.

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منبع: stood up to engage him—and keep him from derailing the rest of the team—and slowly moved the conversation out of the room. I was dressed in heavy work clothes, metatarsal protective boots, carrying a hard hat under my arm, heavy gloves inside it. I didn’t work there.

This was not a function of machine capacity. I had that math, too, and at the time was surprised that he didn’t. I was still new at this. Today I wouldn’t be surprised if management didn’t know theoretical or expected capacity. But the bottom line was simple: There isn’t going to be any output if there’s no input.

I was pretty new at all of this. We were partnered with consultants that we paid for with the idea of eventually learning to lead these events on our own. What I was supposed to be learning was how to find opportunities, plan, and facilitate kaizen events.

Beginning midafternoon on Monday and continuing into Tuesday morning was “walk the process”—mainly looking at material flow, where things bunched up, and things that wasted people’s time (there was no shortage of that). By Tuesday afternoon the team was being guided through the process of developing a “vision”—a fairly idealized version of what would be possible with some changes.

But even then, I was starting to question whether kaizen events alone, no matter how many or how quickly they were run, would actually create long-term significant change. We need to work on the culture, and the things that drive the culture.

I got the impression John couldn’t respond because he rarely, if ever, ventured into the actual plant. It was some distance from the office building, and it was loud, unheated in the winter (and cold), hot in the summer. Simply put, he wasn’t dressed to go out there.

After that presentation, though, John came in. (I’m calling him John.)

Published Aug. 28, 2023, on