2016 Smart Manufacturing Summit: Solutions Exchange Takeaways and Best Practices

Manufacturing CEOs came together at the Smart Manufacturing Summit to discuss the challenges they face on a daily basis, including recruitment, automation and other systems advancement, such as Internet of Things, Robots and 3D, as well as ways to generate growth, including sales improvement strategies, lean, continuous improvement and more. Here are summary notes from these private meetings.


1. Defining “Winning” and establishing clear expectations was the most important place to begin any engagement

Without a tangible set of success criteria or alignment of employees with the business strategy, any program would be wasted energy and time. However, the farther employees are organizationally from the strategies and business plan, the more difficult it is to make the connection for them. However, this was not an excuse for not making that connection for all people in the organization.

2. Some form of quantitative and qualitative measuring of engagement is essential for any program. There are a number of very specific areas of measure being used as the focus of measuring and surveying.

They include:
• Leadership quality and how they engage the workforce.
• Depth of connections between peers in the organization.
• Strength and eff ectiveness of communications processes.
• Having the right tools to do the best job.
• Leadership removing obstacles to engagement.
• Driving more ownership for work and output down the organization.
• Creating genuine connections between people across the enterprise.

3. The group wanted to leave the session with some ‘tools’ they could go back and begin to implement quickly and with limited resources. Each participant spoke to one or two things they were doing that others could share. Those included:
• Measuring yield as a leading indicator of engagement among the manufacturing workforce.
• Using internal and external (benchmarking) surveys on a scheduled basis to determine the level, direction and areas of ‘heat’ for engagement work.
• Using ‘third party’ (e.g. Kenexa, Gallup) surveys.
• Asking people what they need to be able to do their jobs better. Usually with a focus on some local issues that are more important, like safety and quality.
• Having quarterly ‘Town Halls’ where people can ask questions and engage in dialogue with leaders on business challenges.
• Spend more time talking about the ‘win’s than the ‘failures’.

Focus on the positives.
• Post scorecards around the facilities that show performance on key metrics.
• Conduct ‘stay’ interviews to find out why good employees stay with the company and then using that insight to build engagement programs and practices.
• Host lunches that are connected to key initiatives like Lean and recognizing KPIs.
• Get out on the floor more often and listen, talk and sense what is going on.
• Have leaders do the teaching for other leaders and employees on topics related to culture, leadership and values.
• Focus on the Human Elements: Knowing what people need, creating more connections, connecting people to the mission.
• Live by the principle that “You don’t have to be bad to get better”. Get ahead of the curve on making improvements and getting input before a problem surfaces.
• Value failure and promote the principle that there is more to be learned from failure than success.

Facilitator: Hank Provost, President and Founder, Organizational Strategies

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