Modern Machine Shop

DEC 2016

Modern Machine Shop is focused on all aspects of metalworking technology - Providing the new product technologies; process solutions; supplier listings; business management; networking; and event information that companies need to be competitive.

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Page 42 of 164

40 MMS December 2016 COMPETING IDEAS Columnist Companies today are faced with the need to change. Whether it is streamlining current pro- cesses to get lean, reorganizing the management structure to become more customer-focused, introducing new product lines to meet or exceed competitive offerings, or modifying procedures to obtain a new qualit y management system certification, change is required. I have found change to be hard for some people to deal with. Due to its very nature, change removes people from their comfor t zones. If changed, something that was once understood and routinely accomplished might be completely different and therefore confusing and unattain- able, and some fear how this change will affect them. As some companies tr y to bring about change, roadblocks sometimes appear seem- ingly out of nowhere, understanding suddenly transforms into misunderstanding, facts get distorted and plans to implement change quickly go awry. Hundreds, if not thousands, of publications addressing change have been produced, each offering advice to help people and organizations cope with change. Unfor tunately, there is no clear-cut recipe for change that works for every organization. Instead, introducing change and making it stick is somewhat of an art that requires recognition and management of a number of variables within the organization, including: • employees (skill levels, longevity, security, ability to learn/retain new tasks) • work environment (space, organization, cleanliness, process flow) • products/services (life cycles, features and benefits, performance, uniqueness) • technology (current versus alternative pro- cess capabilities, data acquisition/generation) • business climate (competitive pressure, cus- tomer expectations, cost/availability of materials) • company/management philosophy (required margins, return on investment, low cost versus high value add, customer satisfaction). Depending on the change, some of these variables will receive greater attention, but all should be considered in the "ar t of change." Answering three questions will help assure that sufficient consideration is given to these change- impacting variables: 1. How will this change help us? This is usually an easy question to answer if the change has been carefully evaluated. After all, if we don't know how a change will help, why are we even pursuing the change? The best answer to this question should include a reference to custom- ers. Whether it's improvement in service, quality, pricing or anything else, any worthwhile change needs to have a positive impact on customers. With so many companies taking steps over the years to drive the importance of customer satis- faction throughout the organization, most employ- ees today can relate to customers and understand that satisfying customers benefits everyone. An answer to how this change will help may be: "Changing this process will reduce our lead time from eight days to five days, allowing us to ser vice our customers more ef fectively." With such an answer, we certainly have focused on the customer and, as a minimum, have considered the business climate (customer expectations), The Art of Change The answers to three basic questions should help organizations adapt and cope with necessary change. WAYNE S. CHANESKI EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CENTER FOR MANUFACTURING SYSTEMS NEW JERSEY INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

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