Why do workers do what they do? Because it is their job to do what they were hired to do and what their supervisor says they should do, and they are rewarded for doing so. That reward might take the form of a raise or promotion, or simply continued employment, a “well done” from the supervisor, or the satisfaction of meeting expectations or a quota of some sort. These are all types of measurements. These measurements are often built into the employee’s job description and compensation plan.
For example let’s look at Joe, a 10-year employee who runs a machining center on the production floor. Joe’s compensation package includes incentive pay for meeting production quotas expressed as units produced per shift worked. This plant is a three-shift operation and a new worklist is produced early each morning with a list of open jobs scheduled for that day and maybe the next. Joe, as the first shift operator, is handed the new worklist as he arrives at 8 am and his first task is to select a job from the list and get started. He is motivated to pick the job that gives him the best chance of meeting his primary objective of producing a certain number of units on his shift which, incidentally, generates the best throughput, efficiency, and utilization numbers and that pleases the managers and accountants on up the line.
Joe’s company embarks on a process improvement program that includes a switch to a new planning and scheduling system. Joe still gets a daily work list but the new list includes a priority code assigned to each job on the list and Joe is instructed to work the jobs in a priority sequence. Doing so will improve on-time completion and timely shipments to customers. Joe has been trained on how the new system works and what the priorities mean.
The next day, however, the first (highest priority) job on Joe’s worklist is one that is particularly difficult to run; it will not generate good numbers for Joe’s daily production report. The third job on the list, however, is a dream. It always runs smoothly and produces good numbers. Joe will run the third priority job and let the second shift operator worry about the tough one. Who can blame him? That’s how it is being judged (measured and rewarded).
At the end of the month when all the reports are distributed, the management team wonders why the new system has not delivered the gains in on-time completions and improved shipment performance that they expected. Investigations reveal that the production team, in general, is not following the priorities that the system has developed causing late completion of the important work while less important work is often completed early increasing on-hand inventory.