(1.) The article states that the lack of trust between management and workers at the GM plant most significantly contributed to the loss of GM’s competitive edge. NUMMI’s philosophy was to treat workers like partners and empower them with decision making capability and control over certain aspects of production. How workers should be treated was according to the article, directly responsible for the quality problems that lessened GM’s competitive advantage. The attitude of GM’s management and GM’s labor’s mistrust of management created an adversarial relationship that hampered production and reduced quality and efficiency of the facility. NUMMI’s attitude and culture with respect to workers created an environment where problems could get solved, workers were free to provide input into production and were free to stop the line ...view middle of the document...
NUMMI built an organization based on mutual trust, stressed team performance and treated every employee as a manager. Communication and team work was strongly encouraged.
(b.) NUMMI effectively reduced GM’s prevailing culture of mutual mistrust of management and labor. As a result according to the article “The Japanese system itself, with its constant follow-up on details, and ongoing improvements, helped create an environment where problems could get solved without confrontations.”
(c.) NUMMI effectively did this across various fronts. One example is workers were shown the ramifications of their mistakes on the line. When shown how much time and effort was required to correct an error, the workers significantly improved their effectiveness. Quality was improved.
(3.) I would have implemented several alternative actions designed to effect a change in the prevailing GM culture. Ideally the changes would include: team structure, product, manufacturing system, plant layout, training and company philosophy. The article correctly notes that Japanese management techniques couldn’t be simply overlaid on an existing plant however, certain changes could have potentially been made. I would have tried to work with other executives and union leaders to help foster a non-confrontational environment. This could have been accomplished by providing increased transparency into the decision making processes and by allowing union leaders to participate in those decisions. I would also strive to improve inter-company communication and program coordination. Finally, I would have tried sending top managers to NUMMI to learn for extended periods as opposed to quick tours. I would have had those NUMMI- trained managers placed into positions where they could have most effectively transferred and implemented their knowledge. Their recommendations would be considered and debated at the highest levels. Proper incentive would be provided for improving quality and efficiency.