Words Of Wisdom

Dec. 21, 1997
Some selected bits of advice from the 1997 Best Plants winners.

On Training

"Train more than you think is needed. Train even when it is viewed as a necessary evil that takes away from 'real' work." -- Alcatel Telecom

"We found that most employees in the organization were not well equipped to handle the level and magnitude of the change we were [making]. Typical roles vanished and the need for additional training became quite evident." -- EG&G Astrophysics

On People

"Invest in your people. Allow for multiskilling. Provide ample opportunities for employees to use their minds as well as their hands." -- Lockheed Martin Pike County Operations

"When recruiting employees at any level of the operation, given that a basic skill set exists, look for shared/common values, leadership, and initiative, not specific job experience." -- Cooper Automotive

On Teams "Cross-functional teaming produces high-impact solutions and minimizes tunnel vision. It benefits the company not only in production and support-staff areas, but in leadership roles as well." -- Halliburton Energy Services

"New hires go through an interview process by which each team member evaluates the candidate with the aid of a checklist. Each team member . . . is involved in the decision process on whether to accept a candidate on the team." -- Varian Vacuum Products Lexington

On Continuous Improvement

"The more steps there are in any process, the more opportunities there are for error. Even though the savings from eliminating steps may not always seem significant, each step eliminated reduces cycle time, inventory, and one degree of difficulty from the process." -- Senco Products

"Growth, coupled with internal process and product improvements, yields long-term stability and health to an organization." -- Aeroquip

Documenting Progress "Take pictures of your operations to document progress as changes are made. What was once new becomes routine, and these changes are difficult to communicate through tables and chairs." -- Cooper Automotive

On Benchmarking "Benchmarking can open your eyes to what seemed impossible before and propel processes to greater achievements." -- Alcatel Telecom

"Someone always has a better idea. Learn from others through frequent benchmarking and networkingactivities." -- Halliburton Energy Services

On Driving Change "Recognizing people who support the vision is a centerpiece to success. What gets recognized gets repeated." -- Lockheed Martin Utility Services

"Changing the culture causes more problems than does a lack of skills. Skills can be taught, but culture change is obtained from repeated shared experiences and must be reinforced daily." -- Alcatel Telecom

"The need to communicate cultural expectations is fundamental. Defining both the expectations and characteristics of [the] desired culture facilitates effective employee involvement." -- Senco Products

"The first change necessary [is] the elimination of an us-vs-them mentality." -- Tenneco Automotive

On Goals "Selectively choose a few key goals where the means to achieving the goal are in reality more important to the development of the organization than the end goal itself. Striving for [an award] will drive changes through the organization far beyond the scope of the original goal." -- Cooper Automotive

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