A Better Idea

A Better Idea

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Petersen, Donald E. | Hillkirk, John Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992
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IN THIS SUMMARY

Many American companies are in trouble because they have traditionally used top-down management that leaves little room for the average individual to be creative. As a result, corporate leadership cannot take advantage of the insights and solutions that those doing the actual work can offer. Companies that operate in this manner eventually become second-class competitors.During most of Ford’s history, the company placed too much emphasis on management control. By the beginning of the 1980s, Ford was rated lowest among the Big Three automakers. The situation prompted Ford to seek the help of Dr. W. Edwards Deming, American statistician and management consultant. With his guidance and support Ford began to train the entire work force in the use of statistical process control. Next, Deming talked about the need to eliminate fear in the workplace while giving workers an opportunity to do their best. He then schooled the company in the idea of continuous improvement. The first step in revitalizing a work force begins with an employee involvement (EI) program that takes advantage of everyone’s know-how. To get ideas from all 370,000 employees, Ford encouraged the formation of EI teams. Ford expanded its EI program from the factory floor to every facility in the company. Ultimately, this was one of the major contributors to the company’s comeback. Human beings need positive reinforcement, especially during difficult times. This was particularly the case in the U.S. auto industry throughout the early 1980s. A pattern must be established of taking time every day to do something to boost employee morale-this is the most important time in a manager’s day. If one routinely comments in favorable ways, it makes it easier to offer constructive suggestions/criticisms.America’s greatest strength lies in the value placed on individual freedom. Harnessing the benefits of individualism with the power of teamwork can garner tremendous improvements in this nation’s institutions and economy.