PEOPLE-CENTRIC LEAN LEADERSHIP
Day-to-day actions such as acknowledging associates’ improvement suggestions, communicating clearly with employees, respecting and celebrating employee achievements and empowering team members to develop solutions when they encounter challenges reflect a strong commitment to people-centric lean leadership. At TC Industries (TCI), headquartered in Crystal Lake, IL, communication as well as effective training and development of people with openness to new ideas also reflect this philosophy. TCI is committed to creating value for customers, shareholders and employees through continuous improvements and eliminating waste, said George Berry IV, president. Involvement and development of all TCI employees’ understanding and capabilities support the company’s mission to serve TCI customers through day-by-day improvements, he added. The company employs approximately 500 people in Crystal Lake. TCI employees manufacture ground-engaging tools, cutting edges, end bits and bucket edges for OEM construction equipment markets and heat-treated steel bars and plates. TCI operates one facility in the United States, two in Canada and one in the UK.
Lean, ISO certification and Six Sigma initiatives power TCI’s continuous improvements. Critical success factors targeted in the TCI Production System/TPS initiatives include safety, taking care of the customer (TCC) culture, quality, total cycle time, delivery performance, environmental, profit and revenue. “These factors reflect who we want to be,” said Bill Daniel, production system manager and Master Black Belt. “To achieve cultural change, we need to give people a compelling reason or need.” When employees understand how performance on key customer service factors such as cycle time and quality affect the company’s competitive strength and customer perceptions, they’re willing to tackle problem-solving projects, eliminating root causes rather than just getting parts out the door, he said.
“When you’re accepting and creating new technologies, while meeting your customers’ changing requirements, you need a management style that is open and respectful of others,” added Berry. He cited all-hands meetings about operational and financial performance, stand-up meetings at shift start-up, safety training and updates, newsletters and other communications as essentials in two-way communications.
TCI employees understand that doing their best contributes to customer satisfaction and the company’s competitive strength, Daniel said. Through continuing give-and-take with leadership and within their own teams, employees develop confidence in fulfilling commitments to meet internal and external customer needs. Leadership supports their cooperative efforts to reach challenging goals by nurturing a culture of “getting quality right the first time,” standardized work as the foundation of continuous improvement and employee empowerment, effective use of visual controls, improved flow and respect encompassing the entire value chain.
TCI is committed to growing leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the TCI philosophy and teach it to others. “It all starts with people,” Berry said. “Companies can have the finest facilities, customers, and suppliers, yet you must still have employees, as we do, who demonstrate strong character and a sense of pride in doing their work. The courage to make difficult decisions with uncertain outcomes is essential.” He said leadership at all levels in the organization will continue to focus on eliminating waste in all forms, basing day-to-day decisions on long-term goals. In this shared quest, TCI eliminating waste in all forms, basing day to day decisions on long term goals. In this shared quest, TCI will become a learning organization through relentless reflection and continuous improvement. Lea Tonkin, editor, AME regional newsletters, is the president of Lea Tonkin Communications. Southeast Region | October 2012