Application of Leadership in a Small Company

Article

Rosensteel, Douglas R.   (1998, ASQ)   Classic Industries, Inc., Latrobe, PA

Annual Quality Congress, Philadelphia, PA    Vol. 52    No. 0
QICID: 10692    May 1998    pp. 259-266
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Article Abstract

Deming's system of profound knowledge and Senge's disciplines of the learning organization provided the structure for quality improvement at a small manufacturing company. This two-year application of leadership helped the company overcome its lack of focus, its fragmentation, and its emphasis on putting out fires. An early step was to have management spend several months discussing the purpose of the business. This led to mission and vision statements. To transform the vision statement into shared vision, an informal dialogue with employees slowly allowed them to feel involved. Employees also benefited from replacement of a point-based profit sharing system by an equal sharing system. This provided the opportunity to replace performance appraisals by personal development plans. Another improvement effort studied data on customer complaint response time. By defining responsibilities and writing procedures, the response time was decreased from 65 days to 3 days. However, an effort to eliminate complaints about mixed components shipped to customers could not be handled by a group of managers and engineers. When shop-floor workers attacked the same problem, their process analysis identified the root cause. Operators accepted new workflow patterns, and the mixed component problem disappeared. Lessons learned from such improvement activities included seeing the work atmosphere as being created by top management and knowing the power of leadership.

Keywords

Deming, W. Edwards,Case study,Leadership,Learning organizations,Profound knowledge,Quality improvement (QI)


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