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by Tom Gordon, CFPIM, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager

Focusing upon the “House of Toyota” as the paradigm for future development and sustainability is rather like American Airlines replacing the 777 with a dirigible – it is yesterday’s thinking, anchoring industry firmly in “Mediocristan!"1

The Missouri Enterprise House of Effective Business Continuity looks ahead to the future to address the real and coming needs of every manufacturing business.

The bedrock upon which the “House” is constructed is the understanding that manufacturing is a continuous process, starting with the customer requirements, following through to actually getting the green stuff in the bank.  Eli Goldratt demonstrated that anything interfering with that process is counter-productive, anything helping the process is good.  By getting fascinated with technique we forget this basic truth.

The concrete foundation of the “House” has four elements:

  • Self- discipline.  The phrase, “a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay” has gone out of fashion.  People must have the discipline to understand that their presence and contributions are essential to everyone’s benefit.  Otherwise why are they there? Understanding the difference between a ‘job’ and ‘work’ is essential to good discipline.  The job approach causes the cavalier attitude – “it doesn’t matter if I am late or don’t follow the work instructions etc.”  The idea of meaningful work is uplifting, as the Benedictines put it, “Laborare orare est.”

  • Organizational Knowledge. Without “knowledge” self-discipline is impossible. If you do not know what to do, you cannot do it.

  • Extrinsic motivation.  Self-discipline and organizational knowledge generate intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is the organization creating respect for its mission and purpose.  It also helps, of course, if pay and benefits are realistic – having workers die in the streets because of the inability pay medical bills is self-defeating, from both the social and business viewpoint.

  • Systems under control.  Deming’s idea is that if the system is understood and under control then it can be improved, using the “Plan Do Check Act” process without causing total chaos.

The “pillars” supporting the “roof” are fourfold:

  • Ethical behavior.  Ethical behavior is the realization that we did not inherit the earth from our parents but rather are custodians for our grandchildren.  Ethical behavior is not simply local, but extends across the supply process from raw materials to the customer receiving their products.

  • Metrics.  The physicist Lord Kevin postulated that what cannot be measured is not real.  In “Mediocristan” they measure everything and use all manner of techniques to foretell the future; fascination with technique again.  If Captain Smith had focused upon the metric that was really important – the number of icebergs in his path - then the Titanic would be around today and Lead Belly would have been denied a great song.  In the Missouri Enterprise House of Effective Business Continuity, we focus upon the icebergs, thus avoiding the crippling surprises.

  • Customer focus.  How often, in a restaurant or store, are we tempted to take a waiter or shop assistant by the throat and hiss, “I am profit, you are overhead”!  Without the customer, the lights do not stay on.  Period.

  • Innovation.  This is coupled with Customer focus.  The temptation to innovate for the sake of innovation – how many of us use the full capabilities of WINDOWS 10? It’s better to listen to the customer base and drive innovation by what will make the customer’s life easier or more fulfilling.

By applying the Missouri Enterprise House of Effective Business Continuity organizations will be profitable, socially responsible and sustainable.  Remember that you are now immersed in the current organizational and operational structures of your company…you are essentially living in a “House” that has already been built, which can make it difficult to see and understand the components of the foundation, the pillars and the roof, the parts that make up the whole.  

Listen to your team members at all levels to “hear things you cannot see”, or leverage the outside help of a professional strategic planning and operational expert who can view things without the inherent biases and blindness that innately comes from those living within the structure.

[1] Nassim Taleb, “The Black Swan”.