"Our approach is investigate, don't speculate," Shainin says, and he explains that the company has developed a series of technologies, or methodologies, that can be applied by people for superior problem solving. He says that there are some common responses that he sees occurring in companies that are far from efficient when problems arise. On the one hand, there's what he sees many engineers do when faced with a problem: coming up with a design fix rather than understanding the real problem and simply fixing it. He says that in one case there was a starter motor problem, a failure at a rate of one in 3,000. So the engineer made a design change. Shainin suggests that it would have probably have been better to simply figure out what the problem was and then resolve it rather than making such a massive change.
On the other hand, there's the case where there is a problem and then there are plenty of people assigned to solving it. This all-hands-on-deck approach typically includes a daily conference call with top execs to explain what's going on; "The people spend most of their time getting ready for the next conference call, not solving the problem."
"Although we're engineers and are comfortable working with parts and engineers," he says, "we have to work with senior management." They're the ones who can provide the resources and the support. The firm has had people including Tom LaSorda of Chrysler and Rodney O'Neal of Delphi put through training such that they have been certified as a "Rolling Top 5 Executive," which essentially means that they have an understanding of the problem-solving methodologies such that they are able to identify the top five problems that a corporation has so they are able to serve as a champion for getting them resolved. (It's "rolling" because as one goes off the list, another rolls on.) Shainin quips that he sometimes talks to executives who say they believe in the Pareto Principle as related to problems, yet that their "single issues list" contains hundreds of items.
"One of the things my father taught me that I've never forgotten is that nothing in the real world ever happens by chance. There's some set of physics that make it so."
Shainin and his colleagues are dedicated to discovering just what those things are, case by case.--GSV
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|Title Annotation:||NOTABLE; Shainin LLC|
|Publication:||Automotive Design & Production|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2006|
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