Saturday, February 24, 2007

Business Week on Work Design

Last week's Business Week had a great article on Danaher Corp. Much of the article promotes the business side, discussing the great way that Danaher has built a conglomerate of industrial companies that has outperformed GE, Berkshire Hathaway, and 3M. But they also have a pretty strong argument that the reason for this outperformance is the Danaher Business System, which is modeling on the Toyota Production System. According to the article, Danaher was among the first companies to promote lean process design. Key points include: "every employee, from the janitor to the president, to find ways every day to improve the way work gets done" and "a Danaher manager clutching a clipboard, a tape measure, and a stopwatch, in search of wasted motion, to tick off how many steps a data analyst has to take to get to the copier." They even use 5S: "floors are covered with strips of tape indicating where everything should be" . . . "managers determine the most efficient place for everything so a worker won't have to walk a few extra yards to pick up a tool."

But why haven't we heard of Danaher before? Because they "worried others would notice their results and copy the strategy" and "they didn't want to be raided for talent."

But that's Ok - because we are creating the talent and promoting the strategy in the Florida International University Industrial and Systems Engineering Department. For those readers in my class, prepare to read this article next week :-D.