Self Directed Work Teams - Anyone using SDWT in their company?

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RoxaneB

Change Agent and Data Storyteller
Super Moderator
#2
We use the term self-directed, but I'm sure the overall intent is the same as self-managed.

We are in the beginning phases of implementing such a philosophy at our site, while our sister plants in South America already have such a philosophy implemented and successful.

Unfortunately, I have no links to list as our methods are taught internally.
 
B

Bill Pflanz

#3
Wow, self directed work teams, that is a blast from the past. I have not heard anyone ask questions about it in probably 10 years. I would describe it as one of the quality fads that companies went through in search of the holy grail of quality.

I still have a book on the subject and may be able to provide some summary on the concepts. The ASQ bookstore might still have some books on the subject. They might even be in the discount section. Don't get me wrong, the concept had some merit but like many other management fads it never got implemented fully for it to be successful.

Let me dig out the book, dust it off and I will add some more comments.

Bill Pflanz
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
#4
Bill Pflanz said:
Wow, self directed work teams, that is a blast from the past. I have not heard anyone ask questions about it in probably 10 years. I would describe it as one of the quality fads that companies went through in search of the holy grail of quality.

I still have a book on the subject and may be able to provide some summary on the concepts. The ASQ bookstore might still have some books on the subject. They might even be in the discount section. Don't get me wrong, the concept had some merit but like many other management fads it never got implemented fully for it to be successful.

Let me dig out the book, dust it off and I will add some more comments.

Bill Pflanz
Actually, the concept had some merit. Google the entire phrase in quotes for about 4,000 hits ("self directed work team")

If you'd like to start a thread about the pitfalls of SDWT after you've familiarized yourself with the concept, I'd be interested in seeing what pops up. As I recall, executives couldn't stop "meddling." Think "funnel experiment." Often, teams were required to rotate team leaders every few months - the lack of hierarchy just is impossible for some folks to accept.

I've never been a part of an organization that tried the concept. I know for certain I never had a customer that used the concept. None of my suppliers who made custom goods to our design or specifications used the concept. Some of the suppliers from whom we purchased "commodities" may have had it, but we didn't inspect that kind of supplier closely enough to know.
 
B

Bill Pflanz

#5
Wes Bucey said:
Actually, the concept had some merit. Google the entire phrase in quotes for about 4,000 hits ("self directed work team")

If you'd like to start a thread about the pitfalls of SDWT after you've familiarized yourself with the concept, I'd be interested in seeing what pops up. As I recall, executives couldn't stop "meddling." Think "funnel experiment." Often, teams were required to rotate team leaders every few months - the lack of hierarchy just is impossible for some folks to accept.

I've never been a part of an organization that tried the concept. I know for certain I never had a customer that used the concept. None of my suppliers who made custom goods to our design or specifications used the concept. Some of the suppliers from whom we purchased "commodities" may have had it, but we didn't inspect that kind of supplier closely enough to know.
I familiarized myself and actually attempted the concept in the mid-90's. I went through my library and found the book that I referenced called Leading Self-Directed Work Teams by Kimball Fisher, McGraw Hill, 1993.

I scanned through the book again and found some interesting comments,

* SDWTs were started since the classic hierarchical work culture of the 60's and 70's would not work in the global world of the 80's and 90's and the need to use the workforce to regain the edge.

* Teams would be value/principles based rather than policy/procedures, with shared goals, information shared widely, emphasis on purpose not problem solving achievement.

* They are not successful without managment committment. Business Week and Fortune called them the wave of the future. It was an idea whose time had come.

* Much of the book talked about team leadership vs. bosses, team roles, facilitation, and empowerment.

I should read the entire book again for its idealism alone. We tried the concept with our customer service staff after comments about how they felt out of the loop with management. They were not prepared to take responsibility for hiring their co-workers, solving their own problems etc. There was also the realization that they were taking management roles without the corresponding pay or recognition and found out how hard it was to work out the people problems associated with being a team. It slowly and quietly ended as the realities of the negatives clashed with the positives for empowerment.

Maybe the future is here now and the idea should be tried again.

Bill Pflanz
 

lindal

Involved In Discussions
#6
been there, done that

As someone who worked for a year or so in a self-directed work team, I can tell you they work very well until someone is hired that no one can get along with (domineering, unpleasant, ignorant, biased). When that happens the team devolves into a popularity contest with everyone choosing sides, or the "difficult" employee gets moved into a standard supervisory model. Most people prefer to be polite, so the team will end up doing what the most domineering personality wants in order to avoid conflict until the employee is removed.

(just my experience)
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
#7
lindal said:
As someone who worked for a year or so in a self-directed work team, I can tell you they work very well until someone is hired that no one can get along with (domineering, unpleasant, ignorant, biased). When that happens the team devolves into a popularity contest with everyone choosing sides, or the "difficult" employee gets moved into a standard supervisory model. Most people prefer to be polite, so the team will end up doing what the most domineering personality wants in order to avoid conflict until the employee is removed.

(just my experience)
I may be too cynical, but your experience is one of the thoughts which kept us from ever implementing the concept even as a trial - too "Pollyannaish" for our taste. (We had REAL folks who sometimes cursed and frequently had bad days.)
 
S

sulkinsf

#8
We are using a mixed model. Many functions delegated to work centers
-scheduling
-quality discussions
-suggestions
-improvement projects

but there is still a supervisor who handles reviews.

Let me know if you want details.
 
A

Angus

#9
My boss leaded the project of SDWT before I joined the company, but the project failed.

Having successful records in Lean Six Sigma projects, I was asked to take the lead. However, I have no idea of how to make it work with LSS. Any expert here can help?
 
S

sulkinsf

#10
Angus - can you be more specific in your question? Otherwise people like me will blab on an on about off-topics.

Is your question about: change management, best practices, etc?

As I said earlier - we implemented a hybrid - so supervisors still conducted performance reviews. Specifically, attendance, training, 5S, improvement projects, safety, nonconformance correction action, and daily output per plan.

Let me know if you want details.

Perhaps you could use this model as a first step before going directly into SDWT?

Steve.
 
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