Talking to the shipping department the other week about the “Hi-Tec Brand,” I was told a little story. A product was finished, set to ship by our shipping and receiving department. Everything was perfect, except one thing. One of the cuts on a small side didn’t match up to the other pieces. The fellow in charge of shipping at the time almost instinctually took the shipment and rushed it through so they could recut the part and send out a “perfect” shipment.
I was floored! It wasn’t their job to recut the product, it wasn’t technically their job to be quality control that afternoon, but that’s the neat thing about Hi-Tec Profiles – everyone makes it their job to watch the quality of what’s being shipped to our customers.
When asked about it, the employee shrugged it off like anyone on the shop floor would have done the same in that moment. That’s a team buying into a system of everyone working together to create better outcomes for the company.
When we asked management about this moment, their response was an obvious “we encourage our employees to ‘stop the line’ if something seems wrong or out of place”. This reminded me of “Kaizen”, the philosophy of continuous improvement made famous by the Toyota manufacturing plants in Japan.
“Kaizen (改善) is the Sino-Japanese word for “improvement”. In business, kaizen refers to activities that continuously improve all functions and involve all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers.
Without each employee buying into the system of continuous improvement, it doesn’t work. At Hi-Tec, we think we’re doing a pretty good job of ensuring that quality control is in everyone’s job description. From the shop floor to the CEO, we all are improving continuously.