Point 11 – Arbitrary Numerical Targets

 

Is your management review a continuous improvement tool or an arbitrary numerical target?

Management Review – a Continuous Improvement Tool or Generator of Arbitrary Numerical Targets

 

Eliminate arbitrary numerical targets
Eliminate work standards that prescribe quotas for the work force and numerical goals for people in management. Substitute aids and helpful leadership in order to achieve continual improvement of quality and productivity.
Dr. W. Edwards Deming

Doing it Wrong – Management by Arbitrary Numerical Targets

I think the key phrase is “arbitrary numerical targets”. Various companies I
worked for over the years have had management goals and objectives. Sometimes
the managers chose them, sometimes we were guided in them, and at a few it was
just an outright order. At one particular company we had to find either a 10%
increase in productivity or a 10% reduction in costs each year. To the outside
world we were setting our own goals. In reality we were working to arbitrary
numerical targets. The glossy projection sheets and plans appeared to be the
desires of a motivated workforce. We were motivated alright, we either
delivered on the arbitrary numerical target or lost our jobs.
The reason these goals were arbitrary numerical targets was they were identified
using the wrong method. Management did not sit in the management review and
look at the reported performance, and ask the staff to participate in continuous improvement. They looked at how much money they needed to bring in
to be a hero and then told everyone to deliver on arbitrary numerical targets.

Doing it Right – Management by Continuous Improvement not Arbitrary Numerical Targets

There was one company I worked for that did this right. They decided, from the data
in the management review, which was the worst performing press in the plant. It
was one of those bad economic times and no one had money to replace the
machine. Management built a team of operators, mechanics, supervisors and
engineers and turned the machine over to them. They didn’t set an arbitrary
numerical goal, they asked “what would you do to make this run better?”
The team cleaned the machine and then ran an order. Any place there was an oil leak,
they fixed it. They figured out why the leak had occurred in the first place
and where necessary made improvements in replacement parts like bearings and
seals. Once the machine was functioning as designed, they implemented the
Plan-Do-Check-Act process. They analyzed the production on the next order and
tweaked the machine and tooling. They adjusted gages so they were easy to read
and ran another order. By the time they got through, the machine was producing
at 130% of design with a part-time operator. No arbitrary numerical target
would have set the goal this team achieved.

Which Way Are You – Management Review to Eliminate Arbitrary Numerical Targets

A key tool in eliminating arbitrary numerical targets is the management review. If done well, it leads to aiding the improvement of quality and productivity. If done poorly it leads to arbitrary numerical goals. Look at how the process is managed. Are reports put into place to pass the audit or are they a tool to identifying problems and solutions? Who contributes to the reports? Is this a “dog and pony show” or are
employees encouraged to talk openly without fear of losing their jobs? If a
company wishes to create continuous improvement, to stay in business and create
jobs, then the first place they need to look is the management review. So what
does your management review generate; continuous improvement or arbitrary
numerical targets?