A Better Way to Embrace Change Management in Manufacturing

May 17, 2021
Amanda Del Buono speaks with Donald James, a leader in business process improvement and business excellence and founder of Business Enterprise Mapping.

Welcome back to Manufacturing Tomorrow's Workforce, the podcast that helps manufacturers with day-to-day workforce challenges.

With the changes that 2020 brought, it might be time for us to get used to change. Business Enterprise Mapping's Donald James speaks with Amanda Del Buono on the Manufacturing Tomorrow's Workforce podcast to help us understand how manufacturers can manage that change in their organizations going forward. 


Amanda Del Buono: Welcome back to Manufacturing Tomorrow's Workforce. I'm Amanda Del Buono. Today, I'm joined by Donald James, a leader in business process improvement and business excellence and founder of Business Enterprise Mapping. With the change that 2020 brought, it might be time for us to get used to change. So, Don's here to help us understand how manufacturers can manage that change in their organizations going forward. And we're going to touch a little bit on how they managed that change during the pandemic. Thanks for joining me today, Donald.

Donald James: Yep. I'm very glad you invited me.

Amanda: So, I know you have some experience in the manufacturing industry. Can you tell us a little bit about that and what led you to create the Paragon method and found BEM?

Donald: Yeah. My background started out in manufacturing engineering and test engineering many years ago now. I was invited to America—that's the strange accent that I have—in 1980 to help IBM manufacture the first IBM PC that was in Huntsville, Alabama. And I was also sent back to Europe in 1989 to open up a manufacturing facility in Dublin, Ireland. At the time when we were starting a manufacturing line, a lot of our European customers were asking for us to be compliant to international standards, ISO 9000, and I had to sort of do a very quick research into that to get the plant compliant. What I saw was a lot of documentation.

However, what I did see in the standard was the first time I'd actually ever seen a quality management system well-defined, but the downside of it was that a lot of written narrative procedures, SOPs, were the methodology to define the quality management system. And I think “Dilbert” had a whole range of ISO 9000 comic strips, and he referred to this documentation as the honking great binders. So, being an engineer, I looked at the methodology and I was used to basically defining diagrams either in schematics or flow diagrams, and I thought there had to be a better way than writing endless procedures that quite honestly, people wrote them and they stayed on the shelf.

So, I developed a methodology, which was certainly a lot simpler than SOPs, but also when you look at standard documentation in the form of maps, swim lane method was the adapted method of diagramming processes, and I thought those were too simple to be useful. That sort of led me to developing process maps using the Paragon method.

That was with that company. When I came back to the United States, I started the company back in Boston. This is the time when reengineering the corporation was the forefront of process development. That was about '93. Mike Hammer wrote the book, reengineering the company. So, what I did was use the program that we developed to define processes, and at the time, ISO 9000 in America was fairly new, typically taking anywhere from 18 months to 24 months. Mainly, in the form of documenting, it took that long. So, we developed something that basically was implemented … our first client, a small subcontracting manufacturer up in New Hampshire achieved ISO compliance in record time. And they did it in less than five months. But what was interesting, the auditor, the third-party audit could not find a defect. And so they were one of the first to actually have zero non-conformances.

And so, it sort of springboarded from there, and I was also fortunate enough that that client wanted to document more than the quality management system, and they wondered why finance was not included, and HR was not included. So, we extended it beyond just the quality function and focus to more of a business management system. And since then, we've just added to it, improved upon it, looked at various initiatives, taken the goodness from those initiatives, and added to the program. So, a lot of our innovation now comes about by seeing and working with some very good clients. And when we see best practice, we try to integrate it into our program.

Amanda: Interesting. So, it's kind of one problem you saw broke out to become a much bigger solution.

Donald: Yes. Yeah. In manufacturing, you know, we've always had good quality programs in manufacturing, very much focused around the production line. And a lot of the quality practices going back to Deming was focused around just the manufacturing. And when you look at the Paragon model, they're actually 12 business systems and manufacturing is only one of those. So, we're seeing a migration now to a lot of those programs and initiatives really migrating to the back office work within the production entity.

Amanda: So, I think that change is always something that as humans is looked at with apprehension. I'm curious with the amount of change that was forced on people and organizations in such a quick time during the pandemic, how did you notice manufacturers that you work with handling it? Maybe what were some of the best tactics that you noticed for keeping processes and projects moving along in the past year as they have to adjust how business and operations are run?

Donald: Yeah. In fact, it affected us drastically also because a lot of our work was done on-site and we had to rapidly migrate away. We've always had remote access to some of our international clients. They always log on when we're doing our workshops, but we migrated very rapidly within months, weeks to a remote operation.

So, what we've seen in industry, of course, and also in government is this very rapid had to move away from being on-site. So, the manufacturing entities themselves obviously have to be there. The robots, the automation on the factory line is still there, but what we saw a lot of the back office work migrate to home very quickly, HR, for instance, payroll, procurement, IT. So, a lot of the back office work was migrated rapidly offsite. This forced a lot of burden on IT, for instance. IT was really key to this migration effort. You know, a lot of companies that had very strict security rules, all of a sudden, they didn't apply when people were working from home. But what happened is people became more reliant on information platforms, data platforms, encouraged the various groups to work closer together finding better ways to interface with the production entities, and so forth.

We're also seeing workflow programs more utilized, artificial intelligence. We're seeing a lot of non-value-added work coming to the surface and rapidly doing away with that. Even simple things like DocuSign, for instance, where companies, in fact, government was demanding things should be done in wet-signature had to very quickly take that rule away and start using some of the tools that have been around for years. So, we've seen some of those things change rapidly. A lot of non-value-added, things like reviews and approvals. Meetings were more effective using things like Zoom that we're using today. Silos, sort of the operational organizational silos were broken down. So, we've seen some very rapid change and, as I said, you know, it's been a very tough year for many businesses, but there are a lot of good things that have come out of this utilizing technology. Even in our day-to-day, I always think, you know, when you go to the doctor, for instance, most of it is consultation and there were rules in place that you couldn't have remote consultation, and those came down. And so, you know, that's kind of the things that we've seen, very rapid change, more automation, removing non-value barriers going down, and of course, trust. You know, trusting people in doing their work. They're working from home. You have to trust people. They're not doing other things, they're doing work. And so, I think a lot more trust in the employees took place.

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