Kendall knew the process wouldn’t get off the ground unless the general managers of the plants thought it was a good idea.
Undertaking a project as large as defining best practices starts with getting management’s buy-in. When speaking to managers, try to link your idea to the possible benefits of the program.
For example, Kendall’s general managers are compensated based on the performance of their plant, so they’re interested in finding ways to make their plants run better.
“You have to be upfront with them,” Kendall says. “You have to tell them it’s important, why it’s important and how we’re going to do it. Get some input from them. They may want to do it a different way, but you still achieve the same end result. Lay out where you’re heading and why you want to go there. As long as it’s a good idea, they’re usually on board.”
Before starting the process, Kendall put his vice president of operations, Peter Ellis, in charge of the initiative.
Large projects need a leader. You need someone who can focus on the process and is familiar with the day-to-day work you’re examining, someone who can track the project’s many details and someone who can clearly communicate with you.
If lean manufacturing or defining best practices is new to you, you might consider bringing in a consultant. The team of about a half-dozen people who traveled from plant to plant partaking in the exercises was made up of Liberty Tire Recycling staff and members of an outside consulting firm with expertise in the topic.