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What to Consider When Implementing Change on the Shop Floor

Posted by Steven Brand

What to Consider When Implementing Change on the Shop Floor.jpg

Answering the question of what kind of changes your manufacturing operation could best benefit by is a bit like asking to know the future.

That’s because the best answer to the question would take into account a number of future factors, including:

  1. What could happen in your target market
  2. What’s going on in your industry
  3. How your manufacturing business best works to achieve net profit 

The first consideration is the magic answer you and all of your competitors would love to know. Will your market continue in the same patterns? Will something radical happen to alter the buying habits of your demographic? Do you need to ramp up production? Should you scale back and focus on something else?

How you answer these questions – and estimate considerations for future factors – will help you determine which changes suit your operation’s needs.

Trying to answer just one question easily leads to more questions. But when it comes to determining whether to go big or incremental with changes on your shop floor, asking several questions may yield to a better overall answer.

Let’s try to address these questions for possible insights into the direction of your operation.

You can do more than you may realize to deduce preferences among your target market.

The internet has a wealth of information if you know where and how to look. You can see what kind of web presence your competitors have, for example, and how consumers are responding. What comments are being made on websites and other forums?

Social media can offer insights, too. Twitter hashtags, for example, are a great place to search. Keyword trends may also provide red flags for a new direction in an industry. Google’s trends are a great place to look.

And, the direct approach with surveys may seem uninspired, but many of your clients may be eager to provide feedback.

Maintain your due diligence within your industry.

It will be very difficult to make intelligent investments in your business without understanding what’s going on in the industry. If it’s going through paradigm-shifting change, then you may want to respond in kind. The same goes for incremental changes.

While these deductions may come across as rather obvious, it’s important to not misread the signals. Companies misinterpret changes in industries all the time: either reading too much or too little into what’s actually happening.

Companies misinterpret industry changes all the time: either reading too much or too little into what’s actually happening

For example, more people are making purchase decisions online, but your current buyers may not be acclimated to online orders, which may be a good time for incremental changes.

What change is best for your people and overall operation?

Just as it may be easy to misread industry trends, it can be easy to misjudge your people. In fact, they may tell you that they’re ready for major changes because that’s what they think you want to hear. Whatever level of changes you’re considering be sure that your people will be capable of staying productive.

We continue to live in a time of increasing change. Obsolescence of traditional industry conventions may have business owners prepared to dive into drastic change, but all changes should be in context to what’s feasible for production.

So, if industry trends all indicate that it’s time for a major change, and you think your people can maintain profitability throughout the duration of the change, then a paradigm-shifting change may be right for you.

If you know you need change, but major changes would probably prove too disruptive of a transition, then explore incremental options.

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Topics: Change Management, Business Management

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