Any major initiative, whether implementing ISO, lean manufacturing or introducing a new product, requires culture change. How this change is managed will be the difference between success or failure of the project. This column will offer some fundamental elements that will help navigate your next major implementation by shifting the culture.
I was enjoying a fine cigar and cognac with an old friend a number of years ago when the discussion turned to the challenges of initiating a major change like implementing ISO. I asked my friend, whose opinion I greatly respect, “How do I begin to steer a company in a new direction that is so transformational it is sure to meet a heavy dose of resistance, skepticism and attitude?”
My friend said, “You have to change the culture; and that is no small task.” He went on to say, “Steve, have you heard the definition of insanity? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
As he has a talent for, my good friend had distilled a very complex issue down to a single, critical point: culture shift. As the evening wound down and we began to go our separate ways, I said, “Good talk, Al. By the way, how’s your theory of relativity thingy going?”
Why is organizational change needed? Because in America, people tend to accept that a certain amount of error is normal. You expect the plane to be late. You expect some mail to get lost. You expect consumer electronics to break down right after the warranty runs out.
This translates to our manufacturing operations as well; we expect a certain amount of our process output to be defective, and we plan for it. This mindset extends further into our quality systems, where many times the focus is on detection and not prevention. Quantum operational improvement requires a cultural shift that not just expects, but demands, exceptional quality to be the norm, with perfection as the goal. As the great Vince Lombardi once said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of The PCB Magazine, click here.