NUMMI (again)

Toyota to end Calif. joint venture with GM – Yahoo! News.

The joint venture was developed to have American workers learn Toyota’s production methods, which were much leaner and more efficient. [emphasis added]

Maybe that was GM’s intention – to “fix” the workforce. This fits in with the judgment I developed about GM’s leadership over the last decade, and especially the last year – that they see their problems as something other than them.

Toyota’s intention in the plant was to determine the best way to teach Toyota’s methods to the leadership. The test is to see how well the leadership teaches the line workers. To that end, Toyota pretty much succeeded. They learned how to open a plant outside of Japan.

Who didn’t learn as much as this opportunity presented them?

Aside from GM’s top leadership (a topic which has been pretty well dissected here and elsewhere on the web and in print), I think the other big missed opportunity here was for the UAW.  What if their stewards and business managers were experts in coaching and continuous improvement? Think about the possibilities for them.

2 Replies to “NUMMI (again)”

  1. Great point. In principle I have nothing against the UAW. I can understanding organizing to protect yourself for horrible management. The problem is the UAW seems to be managed the same way GM is. Extremely short term focus. Disregard for customers. Focused not on the long term best conditions for employees (jobs, pride in work, respect for everyone, well being of supervisors [in union and GM management] seemed to be the focus not continual improvement of the system… It was a huge missed opportunity for both.

  2. Fixing the workforce was almost the exact same words used by PECo Energy executives in 1987. PECo Energy, now Exelon, had the dubious honor of having their Peach Bottom Atomic Power Stations shut down by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The reason; arrogant leadership. My orders from executives, go FIX those operators (workers).

    The more I work in process improvement and change the more I recognize that many executives make short term decisions based on faulty numbers. Moreover, typical executive management has almost no clue what motivates, inspires or drives worker behavior.

    I could predict the responses at GM both from top management and the UAW. Resistance to change is powerful and supported by those that used the status quo to get to the top. glen

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