Lack of Accountability
The engine line followed the new procedures for about a week, and then problems started to arise. Although the line was much more organized and the workers had all the tools, parts, and documentation they needed, the line was performing poorly. Operators resisted the implementation of standard work and the requirement to work at a more productive pace. They complained about the expected pace; the old line had allowed them to work at whatever speed they wanted to, as well as take multiple breaks. They became stubborn and did not want to work as a team. What’s more, the production supervisors did not enforce the new procedures, allowing the operators to do as they wanted. The new standards made this behavior readily apparent, and decreases in productivity, volume, and quality were easily visible.
The new engine line was designed to produce 65 units a day, which equaled a 6.46-minute takt time. In fact the engine line was averaging about 55 units a day and getting increasingly farther behind. The blame fell on the kaizen team, the manufacturing engineer, and me. As a team, we again presented the facts to our management, clearly showing that the line leads and production supervisors were not holding operators accountable or holding them to volume and productivity standards. Blame always fell on the support staff. Clearly, there were commitment issues with upper and middle management.
In an attempt to break through these culture barriers, I scheduled numerous meetings with the necessary people. Sometimes, these meetings were canceled because of lack of attendance or because participation was unproductive. Participants failed to follow up on their action items. Things were quickly falling apart, and I was becoming worried. In addition, during this shaky transition the plant manager was already discussing the next round of kaizen events. Although I am an advocate of continuous improvement, I felt that we needed to resolve the culture issues on the line so that the company could begin seeing quantifiable results. But upper management decided to stop focusing on the engine line because it wasn’t making progress. The managers tried to redirect company efforts toward the next kaizen event, and the engine line was left behind and forgotten.