Canplas     |   Supervisory and Team Problem-Solving Skills

Barrie, Ontario

This case study examines the business value and return on investment of problem solving training acquired by participants in the course of a supervisory training program. The participants were "high potential" employees recently promoted to supervisory roles in Canplas, a Barrie, Ontario based manufacturer of thermoplastic products. Canplas was chosen as a case study examining the bottom line returns from investing in Literacy and Essential Skills (LES) in manufacturing settings. Canplas manufactures injection molded, thermoplastic products for the construction industry which is distributed from the Barrie facilities and five other locations in Canada and the United States.

Researchers implemented an evaluation strategy using the Gillis and Bailey High Impact Evaluation methodology to examine the key impact questions: How successfully did the training program develop new capabilities in participants and how effectively were those new capabilities transferred to the job? To what extent did the new skills impact business outcomes and deliver a positive return on investment? 

A Supervisory Certificate Program was implemented in part to help new supervisors enhance their problem solving skills. The program, delivered in an online format, was also intended to help the organization enhance its capability to continuously improve safety, quality, and customer satisfaction. In particular, the firm hoped to use problem-solving analysis to improve workplace safety by finding ways to eliminate or reduce the use of compressed air for cleaning. A second key problem-solving objective was to implement a customer approval rating (CAR) system to better monitor and improve the key metrics that determine the success of Canplas customer —fill rate, accuracy, on-time delivery, and quality. Canplas considers customer satisfaction as a key strategic success driver. During training, problem-solving teams were formed to address one of the two objectives.

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