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We Tried That, But, It Didn’t Work

We Tried That, But, It Didn’t Work


As you look at your organizational challenges, do you have some nagging issues that you can’t seem to resolve? One manufacturer shared they do a good job of implementing process improvements, but, they don’t seem to “stick”. Another said the operators don’t follow instructions.

Often during discussions around potential resolutions to these issues I hear, “we tried that but it didn’t work.”  Perhaps you have heard that phrase as you work to resolve your organizational challenges.

Over the past few weeks, I have been discussing the programs within Training Within Industry.  The first three programs, Job InstructionJob Methods and Job Relations provide tools to help people learn to do their jobs quickly, improve how the jobs are done and effectively deal with conflict that arises along with way.  Each of these programs can effectively be applied to individual manufacturing plants.  However, at some point, there are some challenges that are unique to a particular plant or company. So, the last program contained in Training Within Industry is Program Development which is defined as “how to address a production problem through training.” The program includes defining the production problem, developing a specific plan, putting the plan into action and then checking to ensuring the action has the desired results.

When defining the problem, it is helpful to gather evidence and underlying causes for the specific issue.  This data can help determine if you have a training issue or perhaps a different production issue. All too often the problem isn’t fully defined before implementing a quick fix resulting in a nagging organization issue.

Following this process may take a lot of time, a precious resource in most organizations. But, before deciding that you don’t have time to utilize this program, ask yourself, how much is this issue costing my bottom line?  If I don’t address it, am I willing to live with this ongoing problem?  If you decide that the organization needs to address the issue, follow the process outlined in Program Development.  I am confident that you will be able to make lasting improvements to your organization.

For more practical tips for manufacturing professionals to attract, train and retain your hourly workforce, go to

Cooking and Process Improvement

Cooking and Process Improvement

Tips to Enhance Employee Involvement in Process Improvement

I enjoy trying new recipes but if you know me at all, I’m not very good at following instructions.  So, the first time I try a recipe, I will try to follow the instructions and for the most part, use the specified ingredients. If a recipe proves to be worth trying again, I will begin analyzing the instructions in order to find a more efficient way to prepare the dish.

I am sure that the creator of the recipe came up with the process based on the skills and equipment that she had, but, my kitchen set-up is different and as a result, I’m sure I can find a more efficient way to achieve the same results.

The Job Methods program within Training Within Industry has a similar goal but on a much larger scale.  This program was developed to teach employees to understand and improve their work and to sell their improvement ideas to their supervisors, peers and upper management.  The goal is to give plant personnel the tools they need in order to produce more products in less time with the same level of quality while utilizing the available resources.

If you believe that your plant has opportunities to enhance employee involvement in your process improvement initiatives, I would make the following suggestions:

  1. State the organizational goals and how improving the process of how things are done will help achieve those goals.  Make sure these goals are congruent with the workforce goals, i.e. increased profitability.
  2. Give employees the freedom to question how things are done.  Don’t allow the phrase “but we have always done it that way” to be used.  Perhaps set-up a friendly fine for the person who expresses that sentiment.
  3. When looking at ways to improve a process, utilize a Job Methods Breakdown sheet in order to capture all the steps in the process and then question every step.  Ask Why? What? Where? When? Who? How? as you work through each of the steps.
  4. Provide employees a method for making suggestions for process improvements.  I have often heard employees say that they have made suggestions but no one ever accepts them.  But, in order for a process improvement idea to be made, it needs to be well thought out and presented in a setting where constructive feedback can be made and received.
  5. Make sure employees receive recognition for their ideas.  The more recognition they receive; the more ideas they will generate.

Employee involvement in continuous improvement activities is an important key to the success of manufacturing companies.  But, without the proper training and support, employees may end up feeling disconnected from these activities.  Effective communication, robust training and an open and supportive workplace will go a long way towards achieving your productivity goals.

For more practical tips for manufacturing professionals to attract, train and retain your hourly workforce, go to

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