Turbo Leadership Systems

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Issue 27 To our clients and friends February 15, 2005
Drill Down to Find the Real Reason Mistakes are Made
Larry W. Dennis, Sr.
Turbo Leadership

Strong relationships solve problems at the source

Carla, a draftsperson for capital equipment manufacturer in Springfield, Ohio, told Session #5 of the Leadership Development Lab.

"I had just taken over the engineering responsibility for our 150D sideshifter production a few months earlier when I was called out to the ship floor to look at a production problem. A 150D unit that I had engineered was at final assembly and there was a problem. The backrest couldn't be added because the holes were drilled too deeply. While I was standing there trying to figure out what I did wrong, the guy who had drilled the holes came over (from the other side of the building). He looked at the unit and said, "You didn't adjust for the heavy duty forkbars. That hole depth is supposed to be (and then he stated the correct dimensions, and the correct depth). I was so mad because he knew all along that there was an error on the print but he didn't take the time to bring it up to me and say, "I think we have a problem." He just blindly followed my print even though he knew it was wring. Did he want me to fail, us to fail? Was he trying to prove something? Was he mad that a woman had come up through the ranks and became an engineer?

The lesson I learned from this experience is to do the best job I can of building relationships with everyone on the floor especially

those who manufacture the products I design.

We need each other. I need their help, I need their support. We can't operate as if we live in different worlds, work for different companies and be successful... I learned that I have to earn the respect and support of the team member who manufacture what I design.

The action I call you is to take the initiative in building strong relationships with everyone on your team, especially those upstream who provide you with information or material and those downstream who are your customers. Who are your partners in the creation of what you produce to create value for your external customers.

The benefit you will gain is greater ease in your daily life. You will get your job done easier, faster, and it will get it done right the first time. You will eliminate the cost and frustration of rework."

The action of the machinist in this story borders on sabotage and is completely inexcusable. Yet, if you over-react, you run the risk of creating a situation where people potentially will do what he did and not admit they knew better, so your job as an empowering leader is to be proactive in building relationships, creating open doors of communication, relationship and understanding.