by A. Blanton Godfrey
Not Invented Here
An international company with more than 100 locations had an outstanding
opportunity. In one of its processing plants, they reduced reblends from
12 percent to 0.5 percent. This 24-to-1 improvement was worth nearly $2
million in increased capacity and reduced rework. Because this company had
more than 70 similar plants around the world, it was easy to calculate the
reblends in each and estimate the savings if all achieved similar results.
The bottom-line results would be more than $100 million. And yet, several
years later, this well-managed, world-leading company still hadn't been
able to accomplish this.
In another example, a leading service company had made improvements in one
of its locations, resulting in $300,000 savings annually. Almost all of
its 240 sites had similar problems with similar improvement opportunities.
Yet this company struggled with getting anywhere close to the more than
$70 million possible savings.
These companies struggled with one of the most difficult tasks: the problem
of replication. They had no system to assure that outstanding results in
one part of the organization, or from an outside organization, would be
understood and copied in all similar parts of the organization. The dreaded
not-invented-here syndrome was alive and well. Progress was slow, results
were modest, and everyone reinvented the solution or created new solutions
if the problems were solved at all.
There are many reasons why replication is so difficult. People have a natural
resistance to change. It is too easy to just say: "That's not my problem.
We're different." Too often, we strongly feel that solutions to problems
"not invented here" just won't work. Rather than exploring ways
we could modify the solutions to fit our situations, we start over and reinvent.
Often this tendency to reinvent is supported by organizational structures
that reward creativity and new ideas far more than results. One development
lab went so far in trying to break this paradigm that they created a "thief-of-the-month
award" for the individual or team that "stole" the best idea
and implemented it.
These days many organizations have quite effective systems for nominating
new projects and forming cross-functional quality improvement teams. But
no similar structure exists for replicating solutions.
There is often no accountability or responsibility for attaining similar
results. Many CEOs set aggressive, detailed revenue and profit goals each
year, but somehow they feel that quality should be managed by the local
presidents or business unit heads.
We can take several steps to stimulate replication. The first step is to
publicize results. Sometimes this will stimulate others to attempt to attain
the same results.
Even better is communicating how the results were attained. How was the
problem defined? What data were collected? What were the root causes of
the problem? How were those causes determined? What were the alternative
solutions considered? How was the best solution determined? How was it implemented?
What controls were put in place?
Some leading companies create documented case studies in standard formats.
These case studies are shared widely throughout the company either in written
or electronic form. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses of original team
members are listed for further help and explanation. One leading international
manufacturing company holds an annual conference attended by more than 3,000
quality team leaders. Each must present one detailed case study. They must
also select four examples of major improvements from the other 3,000 that
they will take back to their own location and implement quickly.
Some companies make replication part of the job. Before a team can close
out a project, they must explore other parts of the organization with similar
opportunities. They may offer to work with management or similar teams in
other locations to accelerate the transfer of knowledge. They become a type
of strike force driving bottom line results through multiple replications
of the same solution.
Some companies mandate replication. Known solutions must be implemented.
People are expected to use the best quality management procedures exactly
as they are expected to use the best technology available.
Some companies have been disappointed with their bottom-line results from
quality management. Accelerating replication of results is one of the best
ways to accelerate profits.
About the author . . .
A. Blanton Godfrey, Ph.D., is chairman and CEO of Juran Institute
Inc. in Wilton, Connecticut. Send comments, suggestions or questions about
this column either to the editor or directly to Godfrey at Juran Institute,
11 River Road, Wilton, CT 06897, by fax (203) 834-9891 or on the Internet
at http://www. juran.com.