I had the pleasure earlier this week of meeting with a highly impressive Operations Director, as we toured his plant in preparation for hosting a best practice visit next week. As always, we got to talking about what makes an excellent manufacturing business, and it turns out that we share many common beliefs about this. Not surprisingly, they all revolve around concepts of value. I firmly believe that value is the key to business success, even more so in the current economic downturn. For manufacturers this translates into Value-Driven Manufacturing, which is based on three simple beliefs:
- The Goal is to maximise the value of the business
- This can only be achieved by delivering maximum value to the customer
- Success requires effective leadership, based on strong values and beliefs
Those are pretty strong statements so if you’re still reading at this point, I’ll assume that you don’t entirely disagree! Let’s look at what this all means in practice:
1. The Goal is to maximise the value of the business
Anything else is either subsidiary, irrelevant or “nice but useless”. Maximising value requires an excellent operating / management system. We’ve all heard of Lean and the Toyota Production System but many manufacturers don’t realise that this is only one part of the Toyota Management System. Here’s a challenge for you – put yourself in the position of a potential purchaser of your business, and walk the plant, trying to see everything through their eyes. Of everything that they see, what would genuinely cause them to pay more for the business?
2. This can only be achieved by delivering maximum value to the customer
Let’s be controversial – too many manufacturers are still internally focused and cost-driven, led by accountants who “understand the cost of everything and the value of nothing”. They use Lean and Six Sigma primarily as cost-reduction techniques. Do you understand your customer’s business / market / industry as well as they do? Do you understand how they add value for their own customers? Do you fully understand their needs and wants and are all employees engaged in delivering value? Do you regularly undertake “value-add” visits to your customers, and do you take your engineers and operators with you?
3. Success requires effective leadership, based on strong values and beliefs
Great leaders are believers – they passionately believe in what they’re doing and they inspire others with their values and beliefs. They’re humble, keen to learn and they expect excellence where it matters. Great leaders are rare but they exist in all walks of life and in all areas of business, at all levels. They need to be encouraged, developed and trusted to excel.
You can find other blog posts about Value-Driven Manufacturing here on the Manufacturing Times blog (helpfully categorised under “Value-Driven Manufacturing”!), and you can find out more about Value-Driven Business at www.ValueDrivenBusiness. co.uk.