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Implementing Changes in Production without Creating Chaos

(December 2008) posted on Wed Dec 03, 2008

This month, Roberts offers some non-threatening strategies and solutions that new managers can use to implement necessary changes throughout the shop.

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Follow some jobs from the moment they become your responsibility to the point where they are shipped to the customer. Get a large piece of paper and map out a flow chart of everything that could potentially happen to any order. Include as much detail as you possibly can. Computer programs are available to help you do this, but I believe that the physical effort you put into transferring your hard work onto paper will give you a solid, tactile grip on the problems you face. It also looks good hanging in your office. One exception to this rule is, of course, when you see potential safety and health risks. Don’t do anything else until you can ensure that the work environment is safe. Make sure employees wear goggles when necessary, chemicals are stored safely, and that your workforce observes safeguards and safety rules.


Find the right place to start

Once you have a solid grasp on how things currently are being done, it’s time to figure out where to begin making changes. It’s tempting to tackle the biggest problem first, but it’s not always the best route to take. Pinpoint some things to change that will cause the least amount of upheaval, while giving a demonstrable improvement in productivity and alleviating some worker frustration. Attempt to show early on that your improvements will benefit your fellow workers and your bottom line, and your staff will be much more willing to tackle the more difficult projects that come later.

Make sure whatever you change first will work because, as we all know, starting with a failure is a very difficult situation from which to recover. Often, I have found that simple things like buying a squeegee sharpener or implementing some needed changes in the screenmaking process leads to fewer breakdowns on the press, better prints, and a smoother work day. Once you have a few small victories under your belt, it will be much easier to inspire your workforce to take on the serious problems that will ultimately result in your biggest gains. Use the data that you compile on day-to-day production goals to demonstrate to both your coworkers and upper management that things will turn around. If those figures don’t improve, use that knowledge to find another solution.


Make change a permanent part of the workday


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