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Leadership’s Role in Developing the Organization

By Jerome Kelley

Have you ever seen an organization that was so focused on meeting the schedule requirements that they took their eye off the quality and performance requirements?  One company was so intent on shipping on time, that they actually shipped incomplete assemblies to their customer, on purpose. When it came time to ship, they accumulated all the left over parts and stacked them in containers and shipped the incomplete assembly with parts to the customer. Every month they asked the customer to complete their work and paid the customer to do so.  Every month they reported 100% on time delivery.  Everyone in the organization knew this was wrong, but everyone followed orders.

The impact on the financials of the organization were devastating, by the time they paid late penalties and paid their customer to complete their work they were manufacturing for free, actually at a great loss. The impact on the human side of the organization was even greater: loss of respect and frustrated employees.

This isn’t a ship without a rudder; it’s a ship with a captain with no sextant. Quality and performance are never achieved by accident.  They require a vision of what the end state should be, they require a plan that is well communicated and understood, strict requirements and attention to details, a philosophical orientation that everyone buys into, and the tools and training that allow employees to execute to their best ability. No one ever achieved zero defects without being smart about what they are doing and without having made a commitment to get there. Quality isn’t an accident.

Eventually the leadership had to come to terms with the situation. They changed the metric to ‘on time and complete’ and began a process improvement program, implemented Quality at the Source, No Defect Forward, and began an analysis of each operation to understand what was required at each step of the process and why they were having problems.  They began to earn the trust and respect of the employees, and worked hard to support the employees with the tools and training they needed to do a quality job.

Very soon the morale and profitability of the organization improved and the leadership began working on an overall comprehensive improvement plan in all areas of the organization.

Jerome Kelley
President, Kelley Lean Consulting, LLC
NGS Faculty