Operational Excellence Teams by Walter McIntyre
In Operational Excellence, Innovation teams and production teams have different functions and purpose. They also have an area of overlapping responsibly. Both play a critical role in improvement efforts.
Production teams are typically made up of the production line employees, the doers, and have the responsibility to optimize the existing production process within existing SOP’s. They see the production process at the ground level, in fact, they experience it. It is this closeness to the work that makes their engagement so critical on a daily basis. Their’s is the domain of continuous improvement in small, but critical steps.
Innovation Teams operate outside the lines of the production environment. They are the dreamers, looking for stepwise improvements in performance by way of completely rewriting SOP’s, re-engineering existing processes, or creating new production processes. Their composition is more focused on engineering and financial metrics, and less on the actual nut and bolts that line employees must focus on.
Innovation and production teams need each other to succeed. Innovation teams need the production team’s product, customer and process domain knowledge to succeed. Without the doers there is no way to see if an innovation really works.
Production teams need innovation teams for more complex and cross functional problem-solving, and larger scale changes to the production environment. Innovation teams typically have technical and monetary resources beyond the capability of a production team.
Working together, production and innovation teams make up the continuous improvement effort that make operational excellence a reality. Bringing these two groups together is one of the Operational Excellence Manager’s more important duties. Building synergy, cooperation and engagement has the effect of lubricating the entire continuous improvement process.