Phase 1: For more than 40 years, the Harnswell Sewing Machine Company has manufactured industrial sewing machines. The company specializes in automated machines called pattern tackers that sew repetitive patterns on such mass-produced products as shoes, garments, and seat belts. Aside from the sales of machines, the company sells machine parts. Because the company’s products have a reputation for being superior, Harnswell is able to command a price premium for its product line.
Recently, the operations manager, Natalie York, purchased several books related to quality. After reading them, she considered the feasibility of beginning a quality program at the company. At the current time, the company has no formal quality program. Parts are 100% inspected at the time of shipping to a customer or installation in a machine, yet Natalie has always wondered why inventory of certain parts (in particular, the half-inch cam rollers) invariably falls short before a full year lapses, even though 7,000 pieces have been produced for a demand of 5,000 pieces per year.
After a great deal of reflection and with some apprehension, Natalie has decided that she will approach John Harnswell, the owner of the company, about the possibility of beginning a program to improve quality in the company, starting with a trial project in the machine parts area. As she is walking to Mr. Harnswell’s office for the meeting, she has second thoughts about whether this is such a good idea. After all, just last month, Mr. Harnswell told her, “Why do you need to go to graduate school for your master’s degree in business? That is a waste of your time and will not be of any value to the Harnswell Company. All those professors are just up in their ivory towers and don’t know a thing about running a business, like I do.”
As she enters his office, Mr. Harnswell invites Natalie to sit down across from him. “Well, what do you have on your mind this morning?” Mr. Harnswell asks her in an inquisitive tone. She begins by starting to talk about the books that she has just completed reading and about how she has some interesting ideas for making production even better than it is now and improving profits. Before she can finish, Mr. Harnswell has started to answer: “Look, everything has been fine since I started this company in 1968. I have built this company up from nothing to one that employs more than 100 people. Why do you want to make waves? Remember, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” With that, he ushers her from his office with the admonishment of, “What am I going to do with you if you keep coming up with these ridiculous ideas?”
a. Based on what you have read, which of Deming’s 14 points of management are most lacking at the Harnswell Sewing Machine Company? Explain.
b. What changes, if any, do you think that Natalie York might be able to institute in the company? Explain.
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