Strategy Alone Won't Make a Winning In-plant
In order to win games, a football team has to not only come up with great plays, but accurately execute those plays. At the same time, the team has to try to avoid costly mistakes and penalties that can cost it the game.
While the pain of watching our team lose due to a great play by the opposition is palpable, we may be able to eventually concede the loss by accepting that the opposition was better positioned to win (or was just plain lucky). What perplexes me the most is when a team that seems to have a sure win, literally forfeits that win due to penalties that were perfectly preventable (sorry Cincinnati). That self-inflicted pain seems unlikely to ever go away, at least to diehard fans.
Likewise, as managers of in-plants, we have to focus on strategy and operational efficiency in order to be relevant to our parent organizations and to ensure our organization’s long-term survival. Strategy determines where we are now and where we want to be in the next five or 10 years; operational efficiency determines how well we are actually doing our jobs.
While coming up with strategy can be fun, exercises to address operational efficiency problems are often delayed or simply ignored because they are inherently un-fun. The unfortunate part is that we need to possess both robust strategy and operational efficiency in order to be sustainable; we cannot have one without the other. The world is littered with the corpses of failed businesses that had a great idea but could not deliver their product or service effectively or efficiently.
As in the football example above, let’s ask ourselves: are we forfeiting our profits due to preventable defects? My hope is that this blog will unpack quality management concepts that will address the issues that are plaguing our processes. I welcome and invite your interaction as we all actively pursue operational efficiency together in the upcoming months.
Related story: What Is Your In-plant's Culture of Quality?
Gordon Rivera is a graphic communication lecturer at California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo and is the supervisor of Campus Graphics, an in-plant provider of traditional and digital media for Allan Hancock College, a community college in Santa Maria, Calif. He is a certified G7 Print Professional and has successfully completed both Lean/Six Sigma training and a Black Belt level project. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org regarding your print experiences in the pursuit of quality.