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More about the acronyms.

There was a pretty strong reaction to August's column, The Acronym Conundrum. Part of that came from a colleague of mine who chided me for criticizing those who don't take these programs seriously without offering practical help to those who are struggling to make a program work. Another part of the reaction came from a number of reader questions. This column is my response to all of those voices.

Believing in the Program

It is indeed true that all of the acronym programs have essentially the same aim--to radically improve business performance by eliminating waste (scrap, inventory, non-value added time, unnecessary spending, etc.), improving productivity and enhancing organizational effectiveness. For this reason, it truly doesn't matter which program is selected. The only things that really matter is that the CEO and management team believes in the program completely, invests in it appropriately and sticks with it for as long as it takes. It also helps if the foundry chooses the program that its most important customers use. This can be vital to keeping their business and getting more of it in the future.

While it's tempting to be aware of the steady stream of new books and acronym programs and conclude that these are "just a string of fads," it is more useful to consider that each is the creator's attempt at improving the art and science of management. Each of these programs is potentially the best-practice approach to managing, and may be the right one for you, your management team and your foundry. The point here is that it's vitally important to select and implement the right acronym programs, not necessarily the latest one.

Each management team has a choice about its path to improved business performance. Acronym programs can be used to nurture continuous, incremental improvements to existing organizations and systems or to drive radical, systemic and organizational change and equally radical business performance improvements. As my colleague points out, many who embrace these programs go into it hoping for the latter but end up with the former. This happens because most in our industry simply don't know how to do it.

Those who wish to drive radical change must keep in mind that the goal here is nothing less than to change the way everyone in your company (especially the CEO) thanks and works. The acronym program of choice is a full time way of life. It is only by profoundly changing minds and work habits in this way that such dramatic improvements become possible.

Practical Advice

As to the practical side, I offer five bits of advice:

1. Read the book Prophets in the Dark, the story of how Xerox reinvented itself and beat back the Japanese in the 1980s. It was written by David Keams (Xerox's former chairman) and David Nadler, the consultant he retained to help him transform his company. This book tells compelling stories on many levels, but mostly of how a CEO and the right acronym program (in Xerox's case, it was TQM) can drive radical change and achieve equally radical business performance improvements. This book is an easy read, and the lessons learned and shared by its authors will be greatly appreciated by any CEO who is truly serious about guaranteeing his of her company's place in the foundry industry of the future.

2. Work with a consultant. It's amazing to me how many foundry CEOs have only worked in one foundry and only know one way of running a company. CEOs need the experience and perspective of a consultant that has been in lots of foundries, has seen many different ways of running a metalcasting business and has knowledge of and experience with the kind of organizational change I am writing about here. CEOs also need someone to talk with, as many of his of her problems, hopes and fears cannot be discussed with employees as they cut too close to the bone.

3. Hire or appoint one or more of your company's best people to champion the program full-time. Keep them in this position forever.

4. Invest over time in the key elements of organizational change--training, communication, new standards and measures, and new reward (compensation) and recognition systems.

5. Remember that appropriate top management behavior is among the biggest factors in determining how successful any program will be. The more the CEO talks about it, insists on and measures progress, enforces standards, rewards positive behavior and invests in training, the more everyone else will be "Unto it" too, and the greater the probability that the desired quantum leaps in business performance will come.

Dan Marcus

TDC Consulting, Inc., Amherst, Wisconsin
COPYRIGHT 2003 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:CEO Journal; management models
Comment:More about the acronyms.(CEO Journal; management models)
Author:Marcus, Dan
Publication:Modern Casting
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2003
Previous Article:Q Can we use existing gating and casting methods to cast lead-free copper alloys?
Next Article:Be on the same page.

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