Question 1. Are there any justifiable reasons for this response by NUMMI/Toyota people? Or was it just nit-picking?
Yes, there are justifiable reasons. In the Japanese culture, quality is the one of the most important determinates in choosing a supplier. They had specific standards that they developed and applied throughout their entire organization, they expected the same from their supplier (Garbage in – Garbage out premise). They saw promise in Rio Bravo IV’s willingness to adapt to these changes and they rose to meet the challenge because they soon realized the benefit of this strong TQM could have in the plant. In fact some concepts spread to Rio Bravo IV’s suppliers, such as kanban (JIT?) having just enough products for the order to be shipped that day, thus eliminating works in progress and holding inventory.
Question 2. This practice (restricting the reject holders) is an application of what concept from this chapter?
This is an example of undercapacity planning. Packard had the exceptional ability of organization through all levels of it’s production. Everything had order, a specific place, specific time plan. Packard originally had a large rack to place defective/undesirable products during which a certain period of time would be allotted for reviewing these problems and determining a solution (kaizen). By reducing the size of the rack, fewer defective/undesirable products could be placed on the rack, this forced people to develop solutions as they worked on the product. Also in the back of their head they realized that this left fewer room for error and variation in products. They even applied this process to the drinking water, if water is not in the rack, it is destroyed, there is no room for excess capacity (inventory).
Question 3. In what Rio Bravo IV operations would this diagramming method be effective? Discuss.
It should be effective in all levels of their organization. Former CEO Jack Welch was a huge emphasis on eliminating non-value added functions. By eliminating non-value added functions and streamlining value added functions a organization is able to focus on what it needs to do to get a product to a customer, able to save costs through elimination of non-value added functions, and most importantly it saves time for more focus on the value added steps. This elimination of non-value added can be applied to manufacturing (as shown in Ex. A) and the office (eliminate papers and bureaucracy of signing off/getting recommendation).
Question 4. What benefits in addition to protection do the box dividers offer? Discuss.
The divider also offers support from crushing the middle of the box. More importantly, the divider allows more than one product to be placed in a package, thus saving on shipping, this can help shorten the time devoted to labeling products (Ex. A). It can also allow for the expansion of multiple products being shipped.
Question 5. What does this case suggest about management of the global company? What does it suggest about the influence of culture?
Even if one does not manage an international company the environment of outside cultures should have an impact on its operations management. We have learned through our class that we studied the Japanese concept of kaizen (continuous improvement) and applied those to our own organizations, even if we did not directly do business with the Japanese. This is a concept of applying “best practices” to gain competitive advantage in a market.
The concept of considering culture becomes even more important when directly dealing with a foreign culture. We must take into account their expectations in their culture in order to provide them with a high quality product. The ability for an organization to adapt to a foreign culture’s demand gives a firm a marketable competitive advantage. Many times these firms that have such “high” demands only want the best possible product. By learning their “best practices” and adapting to a customer’s needs a firm gains needed information on the changing global environment.