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(Section C)
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1.3 Strategic Plan Buy-In: The process of gaining a sense of ownership for, and a commitment to, pursue an organization's vision and strategies by the members of the organization. This is a stronger and more desired form of dissemination. Generally applicable Agility issues include the depth as well as the breadth of commitment and understanding throughout the organization, the accommodation of substantive changes in the implications of commitment when appropriate, and the ability to bring new membership in the organization to an equal sense of ownership quickly.

The foundation of the buy-in process at Remmele is the corporate ideology and its emphasis on accountable empowerment, open communication and trust, and the strong sense of family/team that pervades the organization. Within this framework the employees, their personal rewards, and the implications of strategic concepts determine local and personal operating modes. Highly mature practices freely reinterpret the relationships between strategic concepts and local and personal implications when appropriate opportunities arise.

Creating a sense of ownership and commitment to the vision
  • The employees display a great sense of pride in the company and an expectation to function as accountable contributors, exhibiting a strong family identity and common team spirit. This ideological commitment appears rooted in the corporate Guiding Principles (see Appendix) and touches everyone with the increasing emphasis on involving all people in the decisions that affect them. It is clear that management has not abdicated the responsibility for certain key decisions—like how much will be allocated for capital—but these decisions are only reached after a great deal of serious employee input is formally obtained. For instance, periodically a database of competitive pay scales is developed by looking at other companies and various national sources. Until the late '80s a management committee would analyze this data and make general increase recommendations to the president. Now, all employees are given this data along with a form letter to the president that allows them to make a thoughtful and knowledgeable recommendation. Experience shows that the majority of people deliver a well-reasoned number that is considered carefully by the management group. In recent years the approved increase has been consistently within half a point off the averaged employee recommendation.
  • One manager offered that psychological ownership is powerful and apparent here and the essence of Remmele's success: "People here are so much in charge of what they are doing that they can hardly help but feel ownership. People are employed with the expectation that they will probably be here forever if things work out, and that imposes on Remmele the need to provide tools that will help them be more valuable to the organization. This is the management mind-set".
  • Commitment and buy-in are also supported by the tools of open information and rewards tied to company success, discussed in detail elsewhere. "Companies in which everyone helps make money will outperform companies in which only a few people at the top see that as their job. In the new economy, creating a company of business people is the ticket to survival—and prosperity…Open-book management doesn't make everybody equal. It just assumes that everybody on the payroll has a stake in the business's success—and that companies work better when people understand that stake."1

Improving the ability of people to understand and implement the vision and strategy

  • Exemplifying the involvement-in-decisions-that-affect-you point, as well as showing how the company supports personal knowledge development that enables ownership and deeper understanding: One division manager recently took four machinists on a world search for the best high-velocity machining equipment. They shopped heavily in Germany and France where they spent time talking to customers and users. This involved
  • considerable time for each person away from revenue-generating work and required them to sort through the data and develop a recommendation, which they justified to other employees as well as to management. These people are now the resident experts on high-velocity machining and are responsible for integrating the capability into Remmele, and they own the decision.

Encouraging innovative self-directed vision and strategy fulfillment

  • Trust-based relationships are actually alive and well at Remmele and quite solid because they are practiced universally in all relationships—not just for the inner circle of management or employees, but also for community, suppliers, and customers. When asked what was unique about working at Remmele, one shop worker offered: "We take pride in our work, look at the T-shirt slogans (Pride in Quality displayed on a few chests), and that’s what we take to heart. We don't like anything going out the door less than perfect, and we'll talk to the customer about it honestly if he wants us to ship before we have it the way we want it."

Helping employees that have difficulty with accepting responsibility and commitment

  • When asked what would happen if a new employee gets through the recruitment screening and turns out to be on the less-engaged or less-prideful side, one shop worker said: "It wouldn’t happen." Another offered: "We’d talk to them and help them get up to speed." A third finished with: "Eventually they’d see that they didn’t fit and leave voluntarily, and if all else failed the supervisor would invite them to leave."

Encouraging different manifestations at different plants when situations warrant

  • Though the core ideology and corporate strategy establish a foundation, separate divisions are expected to interpret and implement strategic plans in a context that suits achievement best in their markets. The Production Machining Division, for instance, is organized around "focused-factory" cells dedicated to a single customer's requirement and has evolved a strong cross-functional–team work mode that accepts responsibility for maintenance, purchasing, recruitment, and other typical support functions among the cell's operators. Whereas station operation in a cell does not require the same capabilities that a machinist employs in another plant, it allows time for active responsibility in a broader set of business support functions. By dispatching these functions within the cell team, support overhead is minimized and employees gain a broader set of skills and an understanding of business operation.

Gaining ownership among new employees quickly

  • Highly effective information dissemination practices, recruitment screening for self-motivated people, and an active help-your-fellow-employee-learn-the-ropes environment bring new employees up to speed quickly. All employees help the new people learn and practice the company way. Cell teams in the Production Machining Division, for instance, decide which new team members they will accept. They help each other come up to speed and take pride in saying that nobody has failed to fit in as yet.

Moving people freely without impediment from different operating modes and incentive programs

  • Though there are some uncomfortable differences for veteran employees between the operating modes and skill sets used in the Automation Division (Plant 50), the Production Machining Division (Plant 30), and the three other machining plants, enough employees exhibit a willingness to go where the company needs them to satisfy the mobilization flexibility the company sometimes needs. Even at the apprentice level: one of the stated differences about Remmele apprentices was their willingness to go where the company needed them. On the incentive front, everybody participates in corporate profit sharing, based on total corporate results, with a floor that guarantees 3% of pay minimum will be contributed to the retirement plan. Anything available above that can be taken as cash or put into the retirement fund at the employee's discretion. Higher paid top management has a cap on the amount of profit sharing from this plan. The plan's focus on corporate results facilitates moving people among plants when appropriate.
1 Case, pp. 38 and 44.

View Next Part: Section C-2.1

View Executive Overview: Abstract, Preface, Table of Contents

View Section A: Intro to Model | Change Proficiency Maturity Model | 24 Business Practices | Summary

View Section B: Intro to Remmele Case Study

View Section C: Integrated Model & Case Study | C-1.3: Strategic Plan Buy-In | C-2.1: Capital Investment Justification | C-3.1: Business Unit Relationships | C-6.2: Operating Metrics

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Order Hardcopy Bound Report: An Agile Enterprise Reference Model and Case Study of Remmele Engineering

Features: Home | Library | Corp Info
Major Concepts: Realsearch ||| Enterprise Model ||| Maturity Model
                        Knowledge & Agility ||| Agile System Principles
Book: Response Ability - The Language, Structure and Culture of the Agile Enterprise
Book: Value Propositioning - Perception and Misperception in Decision Making

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