It really does seem that the UK is coming out of recession. Today’s PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) figures show a robust January for the manufacturing sector with the strongest figures since 1994. Since manufacturing forms a significant part of GDP, this implies that business conditions generally are improving. That is very welcome news but concerns of a double-dip recession have not gone away entirely.
The big challenge facing manufacturers and service industries is being flexible enough to mirror demand. Too much capacity eats away at profit, while insufficient capacity gives market share to competitors.
I like the notion of lean manufacturing and see this as a valuable way of achieving flexibility. Lean manufacturing is based around the principles of value creation and the elimination of waste. A recent addition to the types of waste is “unused human talent”.
Tapping into that rich vein of unused human talent may not be as easy as it sounds – particularly if the culture does not actively and explicitly encourage this. For example, cultures where managers stifle initiative by controlling everything or where people “get hung out to dry” for the slightest mistake will not result in the realisation of latent talent.
In my experience most organisations have huge pools of talent which they fail to capitalise upon. Just imagine how many processes could be improved, how efficiency could be driven up and how costs could be reduced.
Realising these benefits does not happen of its own accord, it needs a different culture – one in which achievement, initiative and teamwork are nurtured.
Changing culture means changing individuals’ behaviours, which is never an easy thing to do. A good starting point is to understand the organisation’s culture by measuring it, then putting a plan together to change it
It’s not rocket science; it’s just common sense really.