How to Be the Best Plant You Can Be

20130131 Camcraft-495Four years ago, Camcraft committed to developing a world class culture for continuous improvement. So when the official word came that Camcraft was a 2015 IndustryWeek Best Plants winner, it was welcome validation that our hard work was paying off.

When we started this journey we sought best practices from around the globe, but just as importantly, we were intentional about molding them to fit our culture.

READ: Steve Olsen, executive vice president at Camcraft, and his 10 easy steps to creating a continuous improvement culture

Lesson 1: At first, it probably won’t work.
As humans, we don’t like change. At work, we value our routines and our way of doing things, so working differently doesn’t happen overnight. It took years for us to see exemplary E2B2 participation numbers (E2B2 stands for Everybody, Every day, getting Better and Better).

Initially, you will get lots of questions and little participation. Your staff might not be able to identify a single thing to improve. Don’t be discouraged. Be patient, be helpful, and be open with your team.

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Lesson 2: Don’t train everyone yourself. Train a small group and empower them to teach their teams.
Our continuous improvement program truly took off when we trained roughly 15 specific leaders. They learned program essentials like how to identify waste in a process, how to spot the root cause of a problem, and how to develop the “I’m going to make an improvement today” mindset.

Once this initial group saw the benefits of E2B2, they acted as continuous improvement ambassadors for the entire company. They carried much more influence with their individual teams than our leadership could have.

Lesson 3: When the light bulb switches on, it’s an amazing moment.
Greg Carrico, manager of operational excellence at Camcraft, loves overhearing people say, “Hey! That could be your E2B2!” in everyday conversation. They don’t need to be million dollar ideas—simply ideas that help make us more efficient in everything we do.

Lesson 4: Never stop improving.
True continuous improvement requires consistent leadership, communication and energy. Find ways to motivate your people day in and day out. At Camcraft, we have regular meetings where our manufacturing departments can share ideas their teams came up with. We share E2B2s on our bulletin boards. Mainly, we just keep talking about it.

Lesson 5: The award is never the best part.
Once you develop a successful E2B2 culture, it’s almost tangible. Staff is excited to come to work and eager to grow. Customers talk about your efficiency and consistency. Plants you have the utmost respect for come to your plant to learn a few things.

So even if official recognition never comes, you’ll have evidence—satisfied staff, happy customers and curious peers—that you’re doing something special.

READ: Turning Camcraft Into a 2015 IndustryWeek Best Plant Winner