Shop Floor Super Bowl: Five Fixes to Do Right Now!

Feb. 3, 2014
Walk through your factory and give your performance initiatives a boost.

You’ve started the year off with a strong strategic plan. That plan is only as good as its implementation. Take time, right now, walk through your shop, and give your performance initiatives a boost. Management By Walking Around (MBWA) has never been more important!

1. Walk the Perimeter

You swore that this would be the year of 5S implementation and visual management improvement. The first place that waste and extra material start to appear is the corners of the shop. Are there extra mops or brooms leaning in the corners, away from where they should be? Are there extra waste baskets and unwanted or unused pallets sitting in an undesignated place? Point them out and drive home the need to show discipline in the face of a waning 5S program. The fact that a senior executive notices such things helps teach employees to “see” the problems in the future.

2. Energize Your Team

How long has it been since you met with your team leaders to recognize results of their kaizen teams and performance improvement initiatives? Take time to ask each of them for an update. Listen carefully to their results. Praise their successes and encourage further improvement. Ask them about their barriers to further success and surprise them: Actually do something to eliminate the barriers! This will not only energize the team, it will drive further improvement and help increase profitability.

3. Look at the Scoreboard

How visual are your KPIs (key performance indicators) to the team? Have they been updated recently on your bulletin boards? Take time to notice. Check in with those appointed to post such metrics and ask when the newest data will become visible to the team. Ask your controller or financial team to do some analysis of the numbers. Give a report to your staff to let them know you understand and care about their specific results.

4. Scout the Competition

Share competitive information with your operations staff (blue-collar and white-collar employees). Let them understand who they’re up against. Make their competitive juices flow. Let them internalize and make the competition real for them. Share with them your biggest wins and disappointing losses. Let them know what it would have taken to win and what was key in the decision of those who chose to buy your products.

5. Take It in for the Score

Internally and externally commit to revisit your KPIs, teams, and competitive landscape on a periodic basis. Create a ritual within your organization today, and you can create a culture of concerned employees driving performance improvement. Make sure everyone knows that this isn’t just important…it’s critical!

By taking these five steps today, you can drive performance improvement throughout your organization and reach the results you planned for at the outset of the year.

Jason Piatt is president of Praestar Technology Corp., a provider of consulting and training services to manufacturers in the Mid-Atlantic region specializing in lean, Six Sigma & strategy formation.

About the Author

Jason Piatt | President

Jason Piatt is cofounder and president of Praestar Technology Corp.  Prior to founding Praestar Technology, Jason held various tactical and executive positions in engineering, sales and marketing, and program management with a leading power transmission component manufacturer.  He has served as a member of the faculty at Penn State University and has taught at Pennsylvania College of Technology in electrical and mechanical engineering technology, mathematics, and physics.

Jason earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering with minors in mathematics and physics from Bucknell University. He also earned a Master of Science in electrical engineering from Bucknell and an MBA with honors from Mount Saint Mary's University.  Jason earned an executive certificate in technology, operations, and value chain management from the Sloan School at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  Jason completed his Six Sigma Black Belt training at the University of Michigan as well as additional graduate education at the Wharton School - University of Pennsylvania.

Jason and the Praestar Consulting team have assisted numerous manufacturers in the areas of lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, sales and marketing management, and strategy formation.

Jason has received numerous awards and recognition including senior membership in the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and membership in Sigma Xi Research Society.  He is a monthly columnist for and has been referenced as an authority on manufacturing competitiveness by the Wall Street Journal Radio Network and other leading publications.

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