I mentioned the “predict and control” factory paradigm last week. Predict how long it should take to drive screw #32 into a product enclosure, and control that worker by pacing the unassembled product coming down the line while keeping their station stocked.
I have met some amazing factory planners and analysts – if they told you that they have devised a way for nine women to produce a newborn in one month, you would almost believe them.
Control is usually taken to an extreme in the factory, since shipping product is critical to staying solvent. Problems must be addressed immediately. Quality management systems have a dedicated acronym for this: CAPA.
What is Wrong With Control?
Control and feedback are necessary for processes. Control is damaging when mixed with people, but it remains a mainstay of the common factory. Recall that I described your daily injustice previously – your box on the corporate pyramid is increasingly governed by rules meant for a machine.
The mixing of control and people is one stark difference between work and home.
How does a proud manager get their spouse to do something at home? Is there barking of orders? That type of behavior turns a spouse into an ex-spouse. Yet this is precisely the human-to-human interaction that happens in a typical workplace. (And we wonder why turnover happens. Or divorce.)
The point is this – the more that we try to control, the less trust that we embody. This is a downward spiral since managers rarely want to release that control. Control is addictive because it provides an illusion of security. Humans are insecure creatures – this is the human aspect of my big data post.
Trust is Greater Than Control
The root problem here is that humans (and, by extension, factories) cannot measure or quantify trust. Trust is not data. It cannot be replaced by a machine. It does not fit into any continuous improvement process. Nor can we bake trust into a corporate policy.
Acknowledging the importance of trust, Shift Sight's approach is based upon successful and well-studied Teal factories:
There is more, but I’ll stop here. This is not a pipe dream. It needs an environment that is carefully prepared for human happiness. In places that the above arrangement has failed, it is usually because either: a) the environment was wrong, or b) someone tried to control instead of lead. Regarding a), if you empower people but place them in a dark room with no flashlight, they will simply trip over each other.
Leadership requires active engagement, empathy, wholeness, and a willingness to trust.
Here is a bizarre story about the power of true leadership. A foundry transitioning to a flavor of Teal threw away their planning and scheduling department. Timecards went in the trash. You might think that the CEO lost his mind.
With “control” removed from the human element, factory throughput went up. Workers were happy. They came early and stayed late on their own. Their job had purpose now. People felt valued. Long-term, turnover almost disappeared.
QMS and best practices are critical, but they are increasingly damaging without trust and leadership baked-in.
Build for the Earth
The post title can be applied to many situations. In this post, I meant for it to convey that we lose the people we try to control. Employee turnover is a symptom of unhappiness and not a problem to be resolved with more control. Valued people are happy people.
Shift Sight is planning to pursue a manufacturing partnership with a local factory that can deliver durable products. As a cash-strapped startup, it is the most pragmatic choice. We will work with that factory for human rights, environmental controls, and data on our product footprint.
However, our long-term strategy brings manufacturing in-house. This will allow us to minimize environmental damage and maximize worker happiness, regardless of the political climate. Our factory will be transparent. We will give you a product label that explains the environmental footprint. And we will listen to your suggestions for ways that we can improve.
On top of the durability, Jade will be manufactured in a way that minimizes its environmental footprint as well.
Ty is a Founder of Shift Sight, LLC.