Take a Spin with Toyota–Dickeson

Even when a new top dog takes over or a merger occurs, the culture of the company goes on, just as it has, for years. It’s tough, and takes time to shift the way people have made decisions. Mergers quite often fail to achieve synergies planned because of the entrenched cultures of disparate companies.

Do You Know Jack?

Take Jack Stack’s scheme of involving plant people in the financial reporting of companies. Think you could get that idea across in a printing company? Especially a company run by an old guy who’s held the numbers close to his vest all these years? Or a company run by the child or children of the founder who have that parent for a model?

And how would a press feeder suddenly feel if given the monthly income statement and balance sheet of his company? Would the feeder know how to make a better decision? I believe he would after several months’ indoctrination in the relationship of numbers in financial statements—several months! People are smarter than we give them credit for being.

And how would the estimator in a printing plant feel if you showed him or her that budgeted hourly rates had only traces of reality. It’d take months, if ever, to bring him/her to the realization that hourly costs of a job don’t relate to the income statement.

Okay. Follow Jack Stack if you will, but be prepared for a year or two to change the culture of the company. And answer the question of whether or not you want people to rely on budgeted hourly rates in making decisions.

Or, let’s say that you believe in the logic of a Toyota system and want to follow it in your plant. Before you make that first move, I strongly suggest that you read “Learning to Lead at Toyota” by Steven Spear in the Harvard Business Review of May 2004. Follow Bob Dallis, a highly trained and experienced man, through his three months of training to become an upper level manager of a Toyota plant in this country.

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