Chudleigh's Limited in Milton is a company well-positioned in its marketplace - at capacity and growing - and successful on many levels from engagement through continuous improvement and product development initiatives, to customer service. They thought they had all the right tools, processes and methodologies in place. However, they came to realize "the trouble with success is that once you are successful it is pretty hard to stay on top." When the need to change was realized, the Chudleigh's Team determined they needed to get "Back to Basics" so they could build a company that would last in future years to come.
Back to Basics and Built to Last
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When Chudleigh's Limited began their lean journey five years ago, the company recognized they would need major plant floor involvement to reach the next stage of efficiency, product development and innovation. Employees had little or limited knowledge regarding "lean" and the potential outcomes of a lean journey, so the Management Team endeavoured to develop a culture of engagement that would help them achieve their goals. They started by utilizing VSM, 5-S, spaghetti diagrams, identification of current state conditions, developing pit-stop mentalities, installation of andon lights and encouraging employee engagement through suggestions and creative ideas every step of the way - the Team at Chudleigh's was making great headway!
And then, as happens to so many of us - life at Chudleigh's got busy...and things changed...
The company was so excited about their programs they didn't realize they might have taken on too much at once; they couldn't sustain their journey under duress and growth. When organizations get busy and projects begin to slip, "Flavour of the Month" or "Let's Get a Team Together" syndromes develop and credibility and enthusiasm for projects at hand quietly begin to erode. In Chudleigh's case, the low hanging "apples" (if you will) were all picked and everything became harder to accomplish, particularly with the business growing at an exponential rate and time and capacity at issue. Leadership gave up fighting for the next evolution of their lean journey in order to concentrate on growth and those potential opportunities for efficiency, product development and innovation fell behind.
A quotation by George Cukor comes to mind: "You can't have successes unless you can accept failure". Understanding where they failed would be key. Getting "back to the basics" that enabled the Chudleigh's Team to be successful in the first place became the primary focus: aligning core values, strategy and vision, while building collaboration, teamwork, engagement, trust and commitment from all levels of the organization.
Recognizing the necessity to regroup, rethink and re-strategize is a big first step. It was an opportunity to consider what had worked well and where they could learn from their mistakes. The second step was understanding that no matter what initiative is underway, culture needs to be put in place first and employee engagement has to be driven from the top down. Our host shared a video clip from the movie Rocky - demonstrating when things get tough, you need to get back up and get at it.
Feeling buried in complexity, leadership saw "simplification" as an area of opportunity and one that they could start working on immediately. To that end, the team decided to take a "what if" approach - a mantra of sorts - and used that as their road map back - "What if you could change the world?" Staff were provided with T-shirts and encouraged to participate in conjunction with Management support and commitment, in the journey back to innovative idea generation, engagement and ongoing training to drive process improvement.
Earning trust started by listening to the people through "step-over meetings", and providing time, autonomy and decision-making abilities for team involvement and, of course, celebrating successes along the way. The majority of the workforce at this plant is comprised of temporary labourers from a variety of different cultures, ethnic backgrounds and a broad age range. After Management committed to supporting Team participation, they were surprised and delighted to see some very strong staff capabilities that they had not recognized previously. Subsequently, through direct employee involvement and team participation, Chudleigh's has seen huge savings in sanitation activities, health and safety, and process improvement.
Chudleigh's then formed an Executive Counsel which is made up of Owners/Executive Team Representatives and Employees. Our host quoted Bruce Lee who said: "Simplicity is the key to brilliance". The Counsel keeps that statement in mind and identifies only three key projects key each year. As one is completed, another is added. Decisions to act on and implement opportunities now directly falls onto the Executive Team and Owners as the facilitators.
Like many businesses, there are any number of variables that can affect the day-to-day processing of our product. For Chudleigh's, those items include:
- Raw Material - which can affect scrap rates, deposits on filling lines, baking differences, cooling requirements, etc.
- Varying ingredient sources
- Temporary workers
- Equipment reliability
- Manual and semi-manual operations and stations
So with those variables in mind, what are some of the "Chudleigh-izing" tools they are implementing to help identify opportunities and build engagement?
Energy Huddle - Every Wednesday morning they have a 15-minute energy huddle where they review KPI's, Safety, Quality, Service, Cost and they hold up paddles signifying "Win" or "Learn" - "Win" means everything is good and "Learn" indicates that they need to have a more in-depth look at the issue. They chose Wednesday's because it is the middle of the week - it's a highly charged session that gets the employees motivating themselves in a team-like atmosphere and gets them back on track and trying their best.
FLIP - This was a best practice visual leadership tool adopted from Bombardier where flip charts are located in specific areas and, through colour coding, opportunities for action are defined. Management challenged the plant to come up with 30 ideas in 30 days and were very surprised when that challenge was superseded with 42 ideas that led to distinct tangible results to safety, quality and cost!
|GREEN - A project that could be done today|
|YELLOW - Something that might be tackled in a month|
|RED - Capital expenditures or large expense item |
(If red, the Operations Manager must explain why a particular project may take some time to implement or was not possible to implement)
Kazani's - By making the Kaizan process shorter and more effective, they could do a "mini-kaizen" event in one or two days instead of four.
Waste Chaser - This became a full time position with one focus: to help find and stop immediate waste. In the first year, this role alone saved the company $200,000.
MOST Optimization - To drive data based improvement. Document with key speeds and sometimes reasoning to make sure that everyone is running at the same speed to maintain "even flow". There is a pre-determined time for every motion - time study - and cycle time is the anchor.
5S Implementation - What tools are needed? Getting rid of extraneous clutter. Utilizing pictures, shadow boards and photocopied pieces to get right sizing. Installed racking and labelling and locked areas where required. Implemented a rolling rack for HR forms. Doing things slowly, methodically and disciplined. General customization of standard tools and practices.
Visual Management - Implementation of performance boards and andon notifications.
Some final thoughts: Keep Rocky's stamina in mind: never stay down - it's a 12-round fight. Remember, a true journey has peaks and valleys...**you cannot drive forward looking into the rear view mirror**. And most importantly, teach your organization to be resilient.
The Chudleigh's Team are on track again as far as looking for the next stage in efficiency, product development and innovation - but it came because they recognized the need to regroup, rethink and re-strategize - and above all, to appreciate and engage the people in all levels of their organization. They took stock of what had been successful and why and they went back to basics so that they could build a company that would last for many years to come.
On behalf of our Member companies, Community Partners and EMC Canada, very special thanks to our host, Chudleigh's Limited in Milton, Ontario for sharing their learning experiences! We wish them the very best!