May 11, 2018
The recent Continuous Improvement Conference, presented by Printing Industries of America and SGIA, was an amazing demonstration of the power of forethought, process and discipline. Throughout the event, speakers presented thought-provoking strategies and case studies demonstrating how continuous improvement initiatives make businesses more efficient and more profitable.
As a member of the conference’s Advisory Committee, I’ve had the pleasure of attending most of the shows in the past seven years, and it is always an inspiring event. As concepts are presented and successful approaches are reported upon, I’m struck by the universality of what I learn. I don’t work at a printing company. I work in an office. That said, the quest for efficiency should be of concern to everyone.
If there is an overarching takeaway from this year’s conference, it is that culture is everything, because all the good intentions in the world, and all the careful creation of spreadsheets and logbooks mean nothing if our players are not engaged.
SGIA member Brian Adam of Olympus Group (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) presented 10 ways his company works to engage its employees, and how Olympus views its success as being contingent on employee engagement. If they like what they do, and if they feel the company believes in them, then improved productivity, quality, customer satisfaction and results-based profit sharing will result.
Numerous other sessions, regardless of their core focus, touched back to culture. Why do soldiers fight? What compels a football team to “give their all” in a big game? What is the certain something that gives a work team the inspiration it needs to take on a new initiative? Based on what I’ve observed at this year’s conference, I believe that while the processes of continuous improvement or lean manufacturing are the linkages within the machine of your manufacturing business, the culture of your business is the power that makes it move.
But culture isn’t easy. It’s not a thing you buy, or a machine you can install. It is something that must be built by you and your management team using trust, accountability and consistency. And if culture is so very important, why doesn’t every business have a culture that complements its goals? That answer goes deeper, into psychology, belief and motivation.