For those of you who know the Rockefeller Habits – you know that one of the critical components  of    the  planning process is using Themes – either quarterly or annual to get people in the organization engaged and on board.

And that’s what the folks at Superior Tube knew as well.  Last week I blogged about their annual theme of “Journey to Excellence” and how they were picking a different issue each quarter to focus on, make improvements and rejuvenate Pride in the company.  (They learned about the “Habits” through the Mid-Atlantic Employers’ Association program BTW…)

For the first quarter of 2011, the issue that they’re focusing on is late orders.  They’re off to a great start with a kickoff lunch for the whole manufacturing facility AND a great mural painted by some local college art students to keep people inspired and remind them every day when they walk in the plant.

But what about the rest of the plan for keeping them on the journey? 

Well – Dawne Wentzel and Kelly Mest came up with several key ideas

1.  First, they blew up the mural and made it into a poster.  Then, they hung it up where they do their Tuesday “huddles” so that it would be visual reminder.  The visual illustrates the number of late orders from the prior week through different colored rocks which are blocking the entrance to the tunnel.  The “rocks” symbolizing the roadblocks which need to be eliminated while the colors of the rocks reflect different root causes of the late orders.  The overall goal is to work together as one team to reduce the number of late orders week to week.

“It’s a great reminder to the team,” says Dawne.  “And, we have charts hung up as well to help us see the trends and track our progress.”

2.  Second, they’re holding All Employee Discussion Meetings the first week of the month.   The meeting isn’t just to communicate business issues, but to have open dialog with all employees to discuss what we can all do differently to improve our results for the next month.

 “This process supports our continuous improvement efforts by routinely checking our plan and making the appropriate adjustments to improve.”  From the meetings, each employee understands that they impact the overall success of the company.  That’s a big deal in a production environment but the management team at Superior sees it differently…

“It’s extra time off the floor but it helps the employees to really understand what they can do differently as an individual and a member of the team, to help solve the tribulations,” Dawne shares.   “As an organization, we feel the benefits of employee education, improved ownership among the workforce, and 215 individuals problem solving as a team, are much more valuable than the minimal loss of production time each month.   This process definitely aligns ourentire organization.”

3.  They follow up after each meeting as a management team to determine what went well and what needs to change for the next meeting.

“The follow up helps us to stay on track and make adjustments as we go.”


 And Fourth …of course…REWARDS and RECOGNITION…

Quarterly the organization sets up a three tier point system which relates to a % improvement in the focus area, over the current state.  If the improvement % meets or exceeds the target, the entire organization is offered a team bus trip to a fun event for recognition to all employees (and one guest) for their hard work.

 BUT that’s not all…

 Annually, based on the results each quarter, the organization accumulates points, which are turned in at the end of the year for a celebration party.

“It could be something small if we don’t make as much progress as expected or a big party if we do,” Dawne says. 

What’s next?

If enough progress is made on improving late orders, they’ll pick a new issue to focus on next quarter.

For now, it’s one step at a time…on the Journey to Excellence!

(And I’ll keep you up to date on their progress…)

And if you’d like to join us on our “Journey to Excellence” – please plan on attending our Fifth Annual Growth Strategies Breakfast at the Union League on Tuesday, April 5th !  Invites will be coming out shortly but if you want more info, click here!

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