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Implementing Changes in Production without Creating Chaos

(December 2008) posted on Wed Dec 03, 2008

This month, Roberts offers some non-threatening strategies and solutions that new managers can use to implement necessary changes throughout the shop.

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In my last column, I examined some of the problems that a reader faced as he took the management reins in a print shop that his company recently acquired. His mission was to quickly turn around the inefficiencies and the poor management practices that put the new business on the auction block in the first place and to make some key equipment investments geared towards the goal of bringing the shop back to profitability.

I talked about the importance of taking time to simply observe how things are done and avoid the danger of jumping in and making changes without first having the big picture clearly in focus. I also touched on ways to get the staff to work with you and not against you. Now it’s time to formulate a successful plan that will help implement some very necessary changes. Before we get started, let’s consider what our ultimate goals are beyond the obvious ones that we have already discussed.

I have observed during my many years in the screen-printing industry that you can gauge the level of efficiency by gauging the amount of manic activity that you observe daily in the workplace. If the production process is out of control, you will see workers’ tempers flaring, equipment breaking, fingers pointing, and overtime required to simply keep afloat. If the process is under control, on the other hand, you’ll see efficiency, a calm workforce, and a get-it-done attitude that sometimes borders on boring. Don’t worry, in this business we all know it will never, ever get boring; nevertheless, it’s the goal that we will work towards.


Do everything you can to avoid chaos

At this point, it’s very important to resist the urge to fix everything at once. As soon as you begin observing the production floor, you’ll notice that things that need to be changed, and you will be tempted to jump in and start fixing everything. Don’t do it. Stay detached until you have seen how the entire process works. Allow yourself time to understand how your changes will impact the way things function further down the line.


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