I have been doing customer trials in a 1000 places around the world.
After many years I can already tell after 5 seconds of contact with people if they want it to make it happen or not. Are they open for new ways of doing things or not…
Sometimes bosses enforce trials upon their people and they should know this will never work. New stuff brings operators – people – out of their comfort zone, so they are not always enthusiastically waiting for me.
As an example, I was in Russia and I needed to do a trial on the corrugator. They had massive hotplates that take about 20 minutes to cool down. I received a window on the corrugator of 5 minutes, so obviously the test failed.
But when the senior VP of Walmart wakes up one morning with a vision and says ‘I want to reduce packaging consumption with 20%’, then corrugating plants have to follow
In order to meet the new Walmart standards, corrugators will not only need to run their equipment in optimal states, they will need to adopt the state of mind of their operators as well.
One cannot make an omelet without breaking eggs. Change means disruption.
We may understand this, but the challenge is in transmitting this message to the operators who often consider us as the ‘bad guys’. We ask them to run faster, we ask them to run more difficult stuff, we ask them to have less cigarette breaks…
I strongly believe that we need to involve them a 100% in the change process, even the lady cleaning the floors should be involved as she is as important as the guy adapting the software of the million euro equipment. Training is the key; people have to feel confident in what they are doing.
In a well-organized project, there is special attention for change management. I can only plead to carefully plan the change management for your teams running the corrugators.
And when it comes to teams… Is your night shift running the same final quality as your day shift? Do you sometimes hear statements like ‘I hope that this combination is for the other shift’. Do your shifts communicate with each other? Do you create the opportunity to allow them to communicate? Do your shifts compete on waste and starch consumption?
Competition isn’t a bad thing, but should be positive. Your teams shouldn’t benchmark against each other but against achievable new standards. Sometimes it is just about changing your communication style and which graphs you post on the whiteboard. Don’t make them run against each other but provide them with a common enemy. Make sure people focus on achieving new quality levels instead of beating the other team.