Vision and Ethics
The way I see it is...
Before reading further ask yourself this question:
Q. As a customer, do I think that the quality and service I get today is as good as the quality and service I used to get?
This can apply to any situation you like.
During my years of working in 3 main industries (Aero Engineering, The FMCG production industry and the Estate Agency and Insurance Services industry) I have seen many different business styles.
However there are some things that always remain quite constant and sometimes easily forgotten in the race to meet ever increasing order lines and profit margins. Don't get me wrong, volume and margins are of paramount importance in any business, but there must still be a place for quality and customer satisfaction.
Trying to balance these four things can sometimes seem near impossible. The customer is chasing on time delivery with the best quality, and the businessmen and accountants are demanding ever lower cost, increased productivity and efficiency. More people are set the task of measuring productivity and producing quality scorecards and yielding systems, which nobody is actually taking any notice of because they are still under the pressure of chasing their seemingly impossible 4-plate balancing trick.
The simple truth is that most businesses do not look to the strongest source they possess to meet these demands...their staff. The fact is that over the last 26 years that I have been working, from tea boy to Group Manager, I have seen a decline in the use of skilled and specialized staff and an increase in unqualified, partially trained people in industry. This has arisen, I think, for a few reasons:
1. Cost reduction
2. Lack of available skilled people in the work pool
3. The belief that we can control process to the degree that a monkey could do the job
Let's look at each of these in turn.
Cost reduction. A must at any time. A business must always seek ways to reduce the cost of its output as this will increase profitability and give that advantageous competitive edge.
Lack of skills. A most unfortunate circumstance which has been brought about by politicians endless and mis-guided interference in business and education. Unfortunately there is not a great deal we can do about this one, as all political parties believe that intervention is called politics today.
Process control (and quality control). Oh, now here we go...don't get me started! With good quality and accurate measuring techniques, and the correct analytical features, this is one of the most powerful tools any business has for achieving good quality production and cost reduction as well as the opportunity to empower and up-skill its workforce. To coin a phrase 'Continuous Business Improvement' (CBI).
It is necessary however, to be sure that when we improve process we do so in line with the improvement of the workforce through up-skilling and education. All too frequently we believe that if the process is robust enough, then error cannot happen and we look at possible ways to down-skill and save money.(The perfect process probably is possible in some industry types, but not many. To develop this kind of process control through machinery deployment is extremely expensive and pushes the cost of quality too high, so we are therefore back to being reliant on people once more.) This in turn has the unfortunate effect of providing a false sense of security that leads us to believe we can literally pit any unskilled and unsuspecting individual against the process and the process will provide all the protection for the part and the customer.
This situation invariably leads to a lowering of quality against expected standards and in turn this increases the stress on manufacturing of meeting on time delivery and customer expectation due to the fact that more unplanned rework and scrap places higher demands on production to meet targets. This sounds a bit of a catch 22, and the only way out of this is to train and develop workforces to naturally manufacture required quality into the job.
We have seen this failing in many industries over the years, and this is why I pitted the question at the beginning of this subject. When we bring alteration and improvement to process and environment we automatically bring improvements in quality and we must not undermine our ability to do this by de-skilling the work force for short term financial gain.
Why train your staff?
Success in business
Success in business means providing quality work and great customer service at a good price. It means keeping up with technology and staying ahead of the competition. To do that, you need skilled staff who are full of ideas, know the job and understand business priorities. That means they need quality training.
A skilled, trained workforce can dramatically improve bottom line performance, adding value to products and services and making it easier to compete internationally. Satisfied and motivated workers also mean higher levels of staff retention, lowering the costs of recruitment.
Who needs to train?
Everyone needs to improve their skills - whether it's a young person just starting out or an old hand with many years' experience.
Sir John Harvey-Jones
Leadership is the priceless gift that you earn from the people who work for you. I have to earn the right to that gift and have to continuously re-earn that right.
Basically I try to jolly things along. After all, the problems can only be solved by the people who have them. You have to try and coax them and love them into seeing ways in which they can help themselves.
'It is the responsibility of the leadership and the management to give opportunities and put demands on people which enable them to grow as human beings in their work environment'
'I've spent 30 years going around factories. When you know something's wrong, nine times out of ten it's the management - in truth, because people aren't being led right. And bad leaders invariably blame the people.'
'Successful industry is about change. If it isn't changing, it's dying.'
'Planning is an unnatural process; it is much more fun to do something. And the nicest thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise rather than being preceded by a period of worry and depression.'