The case that happened at Segal Electric deserves too much attention and examination. Of course, the events cannot be changed, and the losses turn out to be rather considerable for the company. But still, this situation may help to prevent possible troubles in future and improve the organization of work somehow. The situation was the following: Pete, the general manager of Segal Electric, had to visit a quality seminar and entrusted the control the work of the team to Gene Davis.
However, in the result, the team faced certain troubles with 5051 fans, and a terrible “mix-up in the plant” took place. The general manager tried to clear up the situation, talk to George Mansfield, and find out who was guilty and what could be done in order not to repeat the same situation in the future. The point is that not only one person tried to solve the problem that happened to the fans and the absence of professional assemblers. There was another person, who decided to be involved into that process, Sharon Morse.
It is necessary to admit that George Mansfield has always one and the same thought in his head “if operations were running as they should, the company wouldn’t have to worry about warranty costs because there wouldn’t be any.” (Leonard, 1998) Such confidence has to be proved by some actions or, at least, words, and, in this case, the actions cannot be noticed.
First of all, it is always necessary to have a certain number of extra assemblers in order to be ready for some emergencies. When the general manager was absent, some specs were just forgotten, that lead to the already known problems. This is why poor readiness for work is one of the first mistakes, made by all the members of the work team.
Another mistake that deserves attention is inability to solve problems, when they appear, and weight all pros and cons at the same time. Gene Davis had to analyze the situation and tried to predict the results, when lots of thrust washers were load up on the shaft. The last but not the least mistake that has to be mentioned is loyal behavior of the workers. In the story, it was mentioned that people at the plant tried to be rather loyal to Sharon.
In order to help her somehow and make quotas, the workers could “patch up rejected products and rush them onto the shipping dock.” (Leonard, 1998) Such information is spread among the workers and may even badly influence the further position at this job. However, it is not the main point. George Mansfield, with all his respect and a bit of annoyance to Sharon, tried to clear up the details of the case. And one of the major reasons of that accident still remains the absence of professional assemblers.
If I were hired as another management consultant to Segal Electric, the firth thing I would like to do is testing the workers and checking their abilities to cope with emergencies. It is quite possible that the skills of the workers need to be improved, and it is crucially important to find the time and make the necessary improvements.
In order to achieve high results, it is necessary to start inside of the company. To my mind, this step should help to avoid the situation, described above. One more idea that comes to my mind is the necessity of strict division of the workers according to their duties. If one person should control the situation, he/she has the only right to make the final decisions and be responsible for them.
William Edwards Deming was one of the most famous American statisticians and consultants, who emphasized that management is the only thing that may improve the quality. “In Dr. Deming’s 14 points, quality is the driving force at which all is focused.” (Blache, 1988) Deming presents 14 major principles in order to manage the effectiveness in transforming business. He articulates that the vast majority of problems appeared because of the mistakes in the system itself, but not in employees. To my mind, the idea to “institute training on the job” may be considered as one of the most significant points offered by Deming. (Manuele, 2003)
With the help of training at working places, employees get a wonderful opportunity to improve their skills and their work in general. Driving out fear is another significant factor for effective work. Workers should not be afraid to go for their works day by day. Only in such case, the results of the company will hardly frustrate. Self-improvement is one more factor that, to my mind, plays a very important role.
Training is good indeed, but if the workers want to learn something, they should have such an opportunity, and the system, where they work, should provide them with it. If all above-mentioned points could be applied at all companies, the accidents, like the one that happened at Segal Electric, would never disturb people.
Blache, Klaus, M. Success Factors for Implementing Change: A Manufacturing Viewpoint. SME, 1988.
Leonard, Frank. The Case of the Quality Crusader. Harvard Business School Reprint, 1988.
Manuele, Fred, A. On the Practice of Safety. Wiley-IEEE, 2003.