This was a super shocker … especially since I have known Jay Meyers for a multitude of years. But here he was in the February 2020 Issue of Plant Magazine devoting a whole column to … “A case for collaboration
https://www.plant.ca/digital-archive/plant-january-february-2020/ … turn to page 30 !!
Yes, I know it is an older article, but the content is still relevant today if not more so. Since Covid I have seen a constant deterioration of Collaboration. I have no explanation for why, most people when asked for help seem willing to share, of course some helpers are looking for funding in return but only if you decide to leverage their skill, expertise and experience. But collaboration is a powerful tool and can be a massive accelerate for many of your Lean Initiatives.
I learned about the power of collaboration and leveraged networks over 30 years ago. While in Automotive our engineers worked regularly with our suppliers and their engineers to improve product and process without discussing price … but only to enhance the customer experience. Know what … the price automatically settled that was beneficial to all stakeholders.
Ian Stuart actually published an article about our own Leveraged Learning Network at Allen-Bradley back in 1998. Good for a quick read https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/a-leveraged-learning-network/
As for Leveraged Networks, I personally saw this in action where a loose but close-knit group of companies were able to compete against a single source supplier to win major contracts … more impressive was how quickly they were able to respond to customer needs.
But collaboration is an allergy that exists in nearly every organization.
I cannot explain why … but it exists internally and externally … maybe it is a pride thing.
I have always acknowledged that ‘’’ Suppliers are your Hidden factory” and can provide a wealth of innovation but you need to speak to them or better yet collaborate. If you bring your idea or concept to them then together you can create a game changer.
Or as Jay points out in his recent article organizations fail to bring in expertise to rapidly advance progress … why I have no idea. I am facing situations where clients are being forced to develop proven concepts which already exist within our toolbox internally ready for implementation, but they rather explore and develop an already proven methodology … what a waste of resources. Another common comment we have heard is … I don’t think I will need you for 2 years … which will ultimately become a slow burn towards obsolescence or loss of a competitive edge unless they operate in a niche market making a sinful amount of money … It is still a perfect scenario for a foreign competitor to enter the market and then it will be too late.
I agree that much Innovation happens as a result of a Burning Platform. It just depends on how high the fire is raging to determine the urgency of the innovation. For many it appears like a slow burn so they think they have a lot of time so little to no need for collaboration … let us beat down our resources to learn mistakes again that others have resolved.
Now … not all innovation is immediately ground-breaking and or becomes a game changer. 25-30 years ago my father and uncle bought a company called ” PEAPOD”. They offered home delivery of fresh food and other necessary household items. But it was way ahead of the times … a great concept but was waiting until culture evolved to adopt inter-net technology … they still exist and are successful primarily due to the cultural changes spurred by Covid, but ultimately the final solution is for a long game.
In other cases innovation may not be transferrable just yet … For example growing up as a kid McDonalds was becoming a NA powerhouse so my father and uncle decided to replicate the model in Europe … not wanting to collaborate and being arrogant they created their own model called “Whimpey's” when that failed they decided to partner with McDonalds in exchange to have the entire Europe franchise rights … but culturally Europe was not ready so after 5 years of building a brand they abandoned the venture for only the following year for the model to become profitable … so don’t fail on innovation too early either.
Whether you or your organization have either too much pride or an allergy to collaboration it is definitely still worth the investigation and investment. But the again how hot is your burning platform burning?
A great frontier for collaboration is within the area of Material Movement. Starting with part presentation coming from your supplier, internal conveyance and presentation within work areas there are a lot of quick and easy wins. With the identification and acknowledgement that Material Movement is the backbone of your processes and most likely you biggest cash drain it only makes sense to innovate and collaborate to create that Perfect Process … of Continuous Flow ….
Don’t just focus on your value creation processes … explore the process within each step required and just how long does it really take to process and pay a supplier invoice?
Guaranteed you will find a whole new galaxy of opportunity and accelerate the harvest with meaningful collaboration.
If you need some help getting started with establishing some collaborative newtworks we have the skill, experince and expertise to help.