Monday, February 3, 2014

An Earthquake to shake Boeing's Culture

Vice President - General Manager, Airplane Production at Boeing wanted to create change in Boeing's culture where engineers are separated engineers from office workers and mechanics from manufacturing employees. This vision would have been much more difficult to establish thanks to an earthquake. Yes, an earthquake.

Boeing 737 manufacturing site was hit by an earthquake in Renton, Washington. A building that houses 1400 engineers was flattened by 6.8 magnitude earthquake. The Vice President was able to make a case for relocating employees and establishing her new vision for Boeing. She promised the same quality and standards to the executives.

The "Move to the Lake" program was a pilot program with 35 Boeing Engineers moved to the mezzanine level of a plant, a "no-go zone" for engineers, for 90 days. Engineers enjoyed the improved efficency on the plant becasue they were able to solve problems with mechanics as they arise. As a result, all employees rethought about their processes and redesigned them for improved efficiency. In the end of the pilot, Boeing decided to move 2500 employees to work into a more finished work space in the same plant.

The "Move to the lake" initiative:
  1. Increased productivity by 50%: Allowed executives at the plant now can see a 737 Boeing exit the plant every 11 days instead of 22.
  2. Reduced space occupied by 40%
  3. Reduced barriers between white- vs. blue-collar jobs
The Vice President's next initiative is "living at the lake." How would "living at the lake" improve Boeing's manufacturing process? How would this initiative contribute to Boeing's lean manufacturing?

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