Lean manufacturing practices that facilitate worker-management dialogue

Task Force 3 is Race to the Top’s primary proof of concept. This Task Force was devised to showcase that a producer’s focus on lean manufacturing requires worker-management dialogue, which will improve overall working conditions and worker satisfaction.

The business case for lean manufacturing

Lean manufacturing practices require a deep understanding of a factory’s processes. By virtue of jointly investigating and discussing manufacturing processes in Continuous Improvement Teams, a factory’s management gains insights from its workforce about these processes. When exposed to worker challenges, managers increase their awareness of the obstacles faced by workers, and will be more naturally inclined to take worker perspectives into consideration in their decision-making.

The worker-management dialogue prerequisite to lean manufacturing will lead to improved productivity. By extension, increased interaction among staff will help a factory to retain its staff. When workers feel included and can voice their concerns, worker satisfaction will improve. This will decrease rework rates, and drive cost savings. The financial benefits obtained from lean manufacturing should convince more producers to step up efforts in this area.

Continuous Improvement Teams

Task Force 3 will help manufacturers focus on workers’ issues by setting up in-factory Continuous Improvement Teams. In these teams, workers and their management discuss challenges that workers face and envision first steps that can be taken to improve working conditions. Areas discussed in Continuous Improvement Teams range from practical concerns such as dorm cleanliness and the quality of cafeteria food, to more comprehensive subjects like labor contracts and wages.