The traditional management style of the early 1900s is only producing
results in a handful of organizations today. It is being replaced by a
contemporary management style that increases employee contributions
in remarkable ways. The contemporary management techniques were
developed by professors at the
University of Michigan then perfected
overseas by companies such as
Toyota and Sony.

It was not until the late 1990s that companies such as,
Google, Southwest Airlines and others took the concept seriously. These
American companies proved the style adaptable to American workers as
an alternative to the worn-out traditional practices.

The Symptoms
An automobile assembly plant was struggling to meet the productivity
and profit requirements of the 21st century. Despite dabbling in
contemporary management nothing in proven to be successful.
Employees initially thought that empowerment and
teamwork would
improve results that optimism had long faded due to several failed
attempts at transforming the workplace.

Both union and management believe strongly that change was needed
and that the global management model used by Toyota and others would
provide for advantageous results at their facility. The question would be
how to roll out a program that will get broad support even after the prior
failed attempts.

The Diagnosis
Through a combined effort it was determined that both white and blue
collar workers would attend mandatory training sessions. It was believed
that by having staff from multiple departments and all levels of
employment from new hire to plant manager attend sessions together it
would be seen as a global effort.

With union and management officials agreeing to take part in
introductory workshops alongside rank and file it would be clear that
this would not be another failed start at reinventing the way this plant did
business. Anything short of full participation would send a clear message
that this program was nothing better than prior attempts.

The Prescription
All employees were scheduled in groups of 15 to 30 participants in week
long classes covering change, teamwork, communication, conflict
resolution, and quality controls. At the same time plant signage
supported the program by providing new communication vehicles to
report inefficiencies, impediments and other areas of lost opportunity.

The schedule was developed to promote as much cross pollination as
possible so that plan employees with fully understand the diversity of
positions in the importance each played. It was quickly learned that
participants needed to be completely relieved of their regular
responsibilities during their week of training as early participants would
sometimes attempt to get out of classes by creating a need on the shop

The curriculum was further enhanced by showing the value of certain
elements, such as interpersonal relationships, beyond just the workplace.

Future Prognosis
Corporate executives had made it clear that this plant would not be
receiving additional work unless it successfully adopted contemporary
management as would be evidenced by the plant’s output. The same
executives were pleased with the initial results and stated they would not
make a determination until completion of the program plus an
appropriate period for the program to take effect.

The clock ran out six months after the program was completed. The
turmoil the automotive industry in early 2009 forced management make
a decision on the future the plant. Taking a hard look at the results from
the program it was determined the plan had become so competitive that
it was taken from a one shift operation to a full three-shift operation.

Use this case study during workshops, coaching sessions, self-
development, or team meetings about:

"Dr. Max" shares his success stories by looking at the symptoms of a
business problem or opportunity, his diagnosis of same, his prescription
for success, and the prognosis for the future. For more case studies,
click here.

©2016 Max Impact, Rochester Hills, Michigan, USA
From traditional to
contemporary culture