10Nov2013

Manufacturing Competetiveness

Last week on Friday, 7th November 2013, during the national quality summit organized by the CII, lot of discussions were held about the manufacturing competitiveness in India.

I thought of writing this blog to record my thoughts of the enormous HIDDEN potential we have in our country that can be harnessed to reach great heights.

I would like to start by stating our JUGAD ability as a huge strength to improvise, that we learn from a very early age due to a huge uncertainty in the daily routine. This surely is not the case with the countries dominated by manufacturing industry. Are we using this huge JUGAD potential???

Let me share my views about the competence and qualification. We all know that we need to have exceptional merit or connections, good resources,.... to get qualified. On the other hand, ones landing in Industrial Training Institutes not necessarily are incapable. Thus it is really not uncommon, especially to have the fresh graduates as front line managers with significantly less competence that the workmen. Thus the FRONT LINE MANAGERS normally have a role of leading senior and more intelligent subordinates. Even with a good lot of leadership experience this kind of a team to lead is quite challenging. Just imagining their condition and their effectiveness. It is quite interestingly different in the advanced manufacturing economies, where education in based on merit and generally the less capable ones end up as workers, making the life of Front Line Managers easier. Do our workmen need FRONT LINE MANAGERS???

In all the advanced manufacturing countries the basic livelihood is not endangered, since arbitrary firing is not easy and even if a worker were to be fired, the social security system supports in some way. Whereas in India, unfortunately, many companies, the big ones, pride themselves in flexible manpower - outsourced CONTRACT workmen who can be "Hired and Fired" at will. Some companies come up with similar models but with different terminology of "On Job Trainees", Temporaries, etc. Just imagine what would be going through a worker who is either a temporary or a contract workmen for years - sometimes > 10 Y. Will these CONTRACT workmen be engaged with the company???

Imagine how it would be when we get the workmen fully engaged by first ensuring PEOPLE QUALITY and DIGNITY before product/service quality.
Imagine how it would be if we get our workmen to take on some coordinating roles on rotation to become a SELF MANAGING TEAM without the front line manager.
Imagine a system of remuneration based on CONTINUOUS LEARNING and TEACHING using the Jugad abilities.

The enormous hidden potential can in my opinion only be released provided we relook at some conventional wisdom, like our payment systems, hierarchical structure, accountability for down stream performance, etc. You may want to check out the functional value stream, BITS and Timeout in the following L2L system presentation.