Leaders risk initiatives
Hank, a manufacturing service manager of chairs for a dental equipment manufacturer, told Session 3 of the Leadership Development Lab (LDL):
“In the late 1970’s, I was working as a warehouse supervisor for a dental equipment manufacturing plant in Newberg, Oregon. I was in charge of taking yearend inventory of approximately 6,000 to 10,000 parts. The inventory had to be done in three days. I had to rent scales and borrow 30 to 35 people from the plant to help complete the task on schedule. We would begin in the morning by giving everyone my quickie “How-to” inventory course. Throughout the day, I would check on everyone to ensure my instructions were affective. It was always a mess and I hated it as did all the rest of the employees who worked in the warehouse.
“I felt there had to be a better way. I attended a one day seminar on cycle counting. The approach they taught was supposed to increase inventory accuracy and eliminate the need for a yearend physical inventory. Our existing inventory system had only been 50% accurate and it needed to be 95% accurate if we were going to maintain a level of inventory within budget while ensuring timely customer service. This was going to be a challenge, but I set up a cycle counting system following the design taught in the seminar. We began identifying, tracking and correcting problems that caused our inaccurate inventories. When the yearend inventory came near, I told my boss I was going to see if the auditors would exempt us from taking a physical inventory. He told me they would never let me do that. Now I was even more determined to follow through with my plan to secure exemption.
The auditors came in and I made my presentation. They went to the warehouse and counted a number of parts and left about three hours later. We were all very nervous. We had worked so hard, it was a complete team effort. Not having to take physical inventory would be a dream come true. When we got the word that we had succeeded, it was one of the greatest feelings and successes of my young career.
“The lesson I learned from this experience is to never let anyone, not even my supervisor, tell me something is impossible. If I am told something cannot be done, I will accept it as a challenge and look for a better way to continually improve the performance process.
“The action I call you to is to find something in your life you haven’t done because someone told you it couldn’t be done or that you couldn’t do it, set yourself a goal, and go for it.
“The benefit you will gain is the most rewarding feeling you can ever have. Once you have done it, you will never let anyone tell you it can’t be done again.”
High per formance, Turbo- charged organizations are made up of members who willingly and routinely take risks for the sake of the betterment of their team.
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