David’s Strategy: Quality vs Quantity Part 2

To expand further on my previous blog about quality, I wanted to brazenly delve into what I would suggest in how to implement the “ownership” mindset within your team. But, different circumstances (a.k.a age and size of the manufacturer/company) will demand different strategies in order to be successful. Since my gills are still a wee bit green, I’m going to start with (what I assume is to be) the easier scenario (i.e. small and start-up) and then take a stab at the more daunting one, (i.e. well-established and international). Shall we?

If I were, say, a home-brewer that wanted to start sharing my concoctions outside of my garage I’d need more hands on deck to endure this journey. I would also imagine I would want to play it safe and assume that any one I was able to hire at the starting wage I could offer wouldn’t know a single thing about determining the quality of beer at every point throughout the process, (I mean I don’t yet either and I’m suppose to be running the show). So the first assignment I would give to the new employee would be to start out with something small and easy to relate to in their new environment. For me, it would be the actual end product for this process or something to do with the carbonation step what with my Ramblin’ Wreck background. Being flexible with your employees and their current abilities to ease them into a new environment would help shake the “first day jitters” and encourage them that they can survive in their new job.

Then day-by-day, I’d check in with their progress on the duties they can currently accomplish while adding in more and more duties for them to attempt to accomplish and perfect. That way the employee is understanding the process like the back of their hand, which leads to more confidence in making decisions that are better for the company as a whole and it creates autonomy that employees can be proud of themselves and the company for. In the check-ins with all employees, questions are usually the go-to assessment tool for tutors and mentors to gauge how well the pupil is absorbing the knowledge. Though I do not want to write-off this method immediately, I do think the tactic can be manipulated slightly so that not only is the mentee learning something new, but the mentor will remain open to new ideas in improving the process. Instead of always asking, “how do we do this task?” rather it would be more beneficial for all parties to ask, “why?”

“Why do you think we do it this way?”
“What’s the purpose in doing the task THIS way?”
“Why couldn’t we do it a different way?”
“Can we do it a different way?”

I’ve mentioned before about the most financially-successful company I’ve worked for had the best training program I’ve seen in any manufacturing or other business. They devoted the first six-months purely to training manager trainees on how a factory worked from receiving to shipping and everything in between. And I mean everything. Though I did not finish the program, I gained a valuable lesson from the experience: act like a 5-year-old.

Not completely, but I’m sure you have seen or even participated in the “why” game. If you haven’t, the basic run down is that whoever has decided to victimize you must always respond to whatever you say by asking, “why?” Professional problem-solvers prefer to call this process the “5 Why’s” where we limit the amount of times you can ask, (whew! Thank goodness!). However you decide to call this process, the answerer is left to describing the most minute details and reasons to whatever the problem, question, or explanation that was stated at the beginning of the game or problem-solving practice.

Even though the practice of asking “why” is not exclusive to smaller and start-up businesses, from what I’ve seen in bigger companies is that “why” is asked less frequently and, (heaven forbid), almost discouraged. Granted: bigger and well-established manufacturers have more resources, (time spent, personnel, and technology) to devote to problem-solving issues and justifying the “why’s” without having to change their current process compared to the little guys. But, we don’t get better if we don’t learn and it starts with the willingness to learn, right? In my next blog, I’d like to discuss the strategy I would have to discourage that behavior and mindset in bigger companies with attempting to make them think “small” again.

Please tell me about your favorite craft beer and/or a time you had a great mentor at work through a structured program or other means.

Picture Credit: http://www.hadeninteractive.com/david-goliath-websites/

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