Modern Machine Shop

SEP 2017

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36 MMS September 2017 mmsonline.com COMPETING IDEAS Columnist I think it's fair to say that most of us tr y our best to do things that will help our organizations. Unfortunately, at times, the best plans can go awr y and lead to unintended consequences. Here are a few of the more interesting examples of unintended consequences that I have encoun- tered in working with different companies: The New Performance Review Plan. One organization spent a great deal of time and money developing what it thought was an excellent performance review system. Documents were created to allow management to capture the critical aspects of an employee's performance over the course of the year. This was a great idea on the sur face, as all employees should know how they are per forming so they can work to expand their strengths and improve any areas of weakness, and this system provided a stan- dardized means for achieving this. Unfortunately, the review documents were so detailed and ex tensive that they required approximately 8 hours for a supervisor or manager to complete for each employee. As a result, supervisors and managers spent a great deal of their time com- pleting these documents, and had less time available to actually work with and develop their employees. The system frustrated many and did not demonstrably improve employee performance. The Maintenance Department Work Hours Plan. Like many, this company had dif ficulty hiring skilled maintenance mechanics, especially for second- and third-shift operations. As a result, most ma inte na nc e, including muc h-ne e d e d preventive maintenance, was performed on the first shift or occasionally on weekends. Although it was not an ideal arrangement, the maintenance mechanics for the most part were able to keep up with both routine and unplanned maintenance issues. In an attempt to spread the maintenance work over multiple shifts, the company decided to implement a rotating-shift system for all main- tenance mechanics, as this was deemed the fairest way to accomplish an around-the-clock maintenance goal. None of the maintenance mechanics were happy with this change in their work hours. Because this company was not the only one of its kind in the area, within one month, half of the maintenance mechanics left to work elsewhere. Equipment downtime soared and preventive maintenance was "temporarily" halted, with the result being an increase in the number of u n p l a n n e d m a inte n a n c e inc id e nts (a re a l Catch-22). Changing work hours to get better coverage produced the unintended consequences of alienating key employees, reducing overall maintenance effectiveness and making it even harder to hire new skilled employees. The "Super" Production Specialist. This produced custom products in a wide variety of capacities with numerous options. For years, the company staffed its workforce with special- ists for each product line. These specialists could build any product within their lines efficiently and with the highest level of quality. When products shipped to customers, they were right. The busi- n e s s wa s ve r y c yc l i c a l, e s p e c i a l l y b et we e n product families. It was common for one line to be producing at a high rate while another was experiencing periods of slow demand. Conse- quently, some specialists were busy while others Unintended Consequences Although well-intentioned, companies sometimes make moves that have unexpected negative effects. WAYNE S. CHANESKI EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CENTER FOR MANUFACTURING SYSTEMS NEW JERSEY INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY

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