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People Productivity

People Productivity (6)

People Productivity is one big issue in The Indian Manufacturing! Blue collar and White collar, both need a lot of improvement! A change in mindset is needed in the The Indian Manufacturing and you can Double your Productivities! 

Monday, 12 February 2018 00:00

Cost Reduction

Written by
Alexander Kutappan is a seasoned HR professional. He is an MSW and an MBA. During his 15 years plus experience in the Industry, Alex specialised on Self Managed Work Teams. He dealt with this subject and contributed to its’ success in Elgi Equipments Limited and Dr.Reddy’s Laboratories.  In this series of articles on the Self Managed Work Teams, Alex is presenting the fundamentals about the SMWTs and sharing his experience about making these teams a success.



SELF MANAGED WORK TEAM (SMWT)– Implementation and Reflection (Part-3)




Phased implementation


After designing Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) pillars, these pillars need to be implemented in a phased manner depending on the maturity of the teams and readiness of the organization. Broadly implementation of Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) can be divided into Preparatory, Implementation and Sustenance phases.


Preparatory Phase:

·         Designing Self-Managed Work Teams’ (SMWTs’) Pillars is the most important stage, wherein Top management team needs to be involved in finalizing them.


·         Designing the Teams, Defining Members / STAR selection process, Shift Assembly Meeting process, Designing of Team Score card, Review mechanism, Rewards and recognition process, Training etc. will be worked out by the middle management that needs to be duly approved by the Top Management.

Implementation Phase:

It is advisable to implement it in a pilot area and to horizontally deploy it across the organization, because the learning from each organization is unique. Top management needs to motivate Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) constantly and objectively by way of reviewing them periodically.

Sustenance Phase:

Once implemented across the organization the link should be made in such a way that Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) way of working sustains by itself through Reviews, Rewards, Performance pay, Career growth etc.


Pros and Cons of Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs)



·         Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) facilitates motivated, flexible, learning, participative work force who contribute not only to Productivity, Quality, Delivery of products but also in solving day to day problems and making improvements in Products and Processes.



·         Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) implementation often leads to high expectation from the management that every problem in the organization would be solved only by these teams. Top management needs to be realistic.

·         Work force often has high expectation as they are promised and pampered by the management as though they are the only one who contributes to the organization. This leads unending dissatisfaction. These teams need to be treated respectfully and when required sternly, but fairly.



Challenges in implementation


At times top management decides to implement Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) as it looks ‘attractive’ and ‘novel’ but often expect instant results and lose sight of focus after a year or two.

For Middle management Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) implementation becomes one more initiative to be implemented. They miss human element involved in the process. Implementation happens whether they are convinced of benefits from Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) or not as it is pushed by the Top management.

Supervisory cadre need to have paradigm shift in their role, Supervisors to Mentors. They need to work hard in preparatory phase and act as mentors in implementation phase and need to give way for the team leaders to take up their role. Often ego massage is required.

In green field it is relatively easy to implement than in brown field, where they are accustomed to work in a traditional manner. Convincing unions takes time but works.

Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) are not the solution for all problems in an organization.


Stories to Cherish


“I used to spend my entire time in shop floor, but today Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) are taking care of daily production, I’m called only if there is a problem. I spend hardly 10% of my time focusing on routine activities; I’m able to focus on improvement activities”. Supervisor from ATS – ELGI, Coimbatore

“With the help of Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs), last 18 months we have made products without Safety or Quality incidents” – Area Head – CTO VI, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., Vizag

“Daily operations are entirely taken care by these teams. Seniors have grown into managerial levels in other functions. Organization structure is lean with only three layers in the Operations.” – Plant Head – FTO 6, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., Himachal.


Stories to Learn

In an organization, where Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) are implemented for more than 5 years, today literally there is no focus on Team way of working but everybody focuses on it for Performance pay and Career growth, as it was promised to the workforce. I’m not sure, whether these teams serve the real purpose for which they were created.

In another process industry, top management wanted to implement Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) to address their on-going struggle with unions. Though they never mentioned about it, everybody in the organization knew about it, including new team members. Even after couple of years of implementation, forming unions is always on the minds of team members and middle management is always thinking of ways and means to avoid forming of unions by workmen. Struggle goes on without understanding the root-cause of their problems.


Some of the lessons I have learned in implementing Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) are summarized below:

Not every organization needs or is ready to implement Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs). When we force fit, it leaves bad taste in the mouth for everyone. Hence, considerable time needs to be spent before deciding to implement.

If it is decided to implement, entire organization needs to participate in Preparatory phase. Everyone’s buy in is critical to the entire process. Often HR department initiates the process with the help of consultants and it is always considered as a HR Baby. It is bound to fail! Production team should own up the implementation and HR team should support dedicatedly in all phases, if you want it to succeed.

If Preparatory phase is adequate, implementation phase needs to be taken one step at a time. Need to restrain from seeking immediate results, that too by speedingup the process of implementation. Before implementing it across the organization, it needs to be implemented in a pilot area to learn the lesson and do course correction as needed. Instead of spending more time in making reports about Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs), HR team and Supervisors / mentors should spend more time with employees who go through group dynamics to help them overcome their struggle.

To ensure Sustenance of the initiative, carefully devised Rewards Program, On-going Learning, Performance Pay, Career Growth, Management Reviews and it should be part of Performance measures of all concerned.


Monday, 06 October 2014 00:00


Written by

Alexander Kutappan is a seasoned HR professional. He is an MSW and an MBA. During his 15 years plus experience in the Industry, Alex specialised on Self Managed Work Teams. He dealt with this subject and contributed to its’ success in Elgi Equipments Limited and Dr.Reddy’s Laboratories.  In this series of articles on the Self Managed Work Teams, Alex is presenting the fundamentals about the SMWTs and sharing his experience about making these teams a success.







Top management needs to be committed to implementation of Self-Managed Work Team way of working and understand that it takes minimum 2 years to experience it as a way of life. And it is a cultural change. Top management needs to focus on it very closely at initial stages and to watch over it for its sustenance.

It is always advisable that prior to implementing  Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT), to implement those systems that would help in improving production like  TPM, 5 S, Lean, TQM etc. so that maintaining those systems will be the responsibility of these teams.

It goes without saying,stable work force is needed to make them work as Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs).

Organizational Values need to be in sync with Self-Managed Work Team culture. If an organization has the autocratic culture, it is difficult to implement Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) concept. Unless the team culture is prevalent among executives and senior team, it will be an uphill task. Similarly Transparency and Credibility of the organization plays critical role. In Self-Managed Work Team culture, one can expect ALL types of questions about the business, practices, values etc. from the Empowered Teams.


Process of implementation


Diagnostic study

Detailed diagnostic study is required to decide need and possibility of implementing Self-Managed Work Teams in an organization. If the company is not in competitive business, it is not required, as it involves investment and focus. Sometimes, it may happen that organization may not be ready for Self-Managed Work Team implementation as mentioned above.


Self-Managed Work Team Pillars Design

Though broad principles and philosophy is common in implementing Self-Managed Work Teamsbut this needs to be tailor made to suit the organizational need.


      Team Design:

o   Normally a team is consist of 8-12 members

o   Team is responsible for end-to-end process

o   Team functioning will start from preparing their Team Charter 

o   There will be rotational STARs (leaders) like Production STAR, Quality STAR, Safety STAR, Maintenance STAR, Stores STAR, HR STAR etc.


·         Selection:

o   To bring in SELF MANAGED WORK TEAM (SMWT)(SMWT)(SMWT) culture, in the context of green field projects, even before they are hired, they should be screened at various level to suit the requirement to assess their Attitude, Skills and Knowledge

o   Aptitude tests, Psychometric tests, Competency based interview etc. are some of them.

o   In the context of brown field, where employees have been working in a traditional way, it is more difficult but it is possible.


·         On-going Learning:

o   Learning is the best way to motivate, especially if they are young.

o   This would include Class room trainings on required Engineering knowledge, On-the Job Training for skill improvement, Behavioral Training to improve their Attitude and Team work


·         Home Away Home:

o   This pillar is applicable, only if employees are young and if they have to stay in hostels.

o   Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) culture is instilled in their community living hostels also by way of empowering them to manage their hostel with required committees, helping them to cross learn from each other too.


·         Discipline Committee:

o   To make them responsible for their behavior, Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) are facilitated to form a Discipline Committee.

o   This Committee will get input from the members and form Guidelines for motivating good behaviors and punishing inappropriate behaviors.


·         Continuous Communication:

o   Communication is the life-line of Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs)

o   There is Daily Communication through Shift Assembly Meetings

o   Weekly Communication through Weekly Review by the Head of the Department

o   Monthly Review by the Head of the Organization

o   Monthly Open House Meeting will be conducted to update organization’s performance, Department performance, facilitate Good performers and to address their grievances.



·         Performance Score card:

o   Though everything can’t be measured in life, at least in performance what can’t be measured, can’t be improved. Each Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) will have a Performance Score card with Parameters, Targets and Weightages aligning to organizational business goal.

o   Each month they will have their Scores out of 100 based on their performance. This can be a tool for Rewards, Recognition, Differentiation, Performance pay and partially for Career growth.


·         Rewards and Recognition:

o   To motivate Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) there will be Rewards and Recognition based on their Performance like The Best Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) of the Month, The Best STAR of the Month etc.


·         Skill Based Progression:

o   Acquiring new skills is the motivator in itself. Nobody likes to do routine jobs.

o   There will be road map for skill definitions, acquiring skills, skill assessments and skill progression.

o   Based on skill acquisition, suitability and availability, team members can grow horizontally and vertically.


·         Business Improvements:

o   The purpose of Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) is the business improvements.

o   Productivity Improvements, Quality Improvements, Cost Reduction, Delivery Improvements, 5 S, Zero Accidents etc. will be monitored team wise and individual wise and rewarded suitably.


·         Organizational Design:

o   If Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) are performing well then Organization can be re-structured so that there are only minimum layers to speed up the decision making process and to empower the Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs).

o   If it is a green field project, organizational design will be the first step to start with.


Implementation of Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) is not EASY, especially in our culture. And it has its own design, processes, challenges and risks. The biggest challenge comes to its sustenance. These points will be discussed in forth-coming articles.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014 00:00

Self Managed Work Team (SMWT)

Written by

Alexander Kutappan is a seasoned HR professional. He is an MSW and an MBA. During his 15 years plus experience in the Industry, Alex specialised on Self Managed Work Teams. He dealt with this subject and contributed to its’ success in Elgi Equipments Limited and Dr.Reddy’s Laboratories.  In this series of articles on the Self Managed Work Teams, Alex is presenting the fundamentals about the SMWTs and sharing his experience about making these teams a success.



“Not finance. Not technology. Not strategy. It is team work that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare”(p. vii) This is the way Patrick Lencioni opened his best- selling book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (2002)

The increase in global competition has created situation for firms to become more innovative and incorporate ideas that increase employee motivation and productivity while decreasing costs. One method that has had great success is the use of Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT). William Passmore reports in his article, "Developing Self-Managing Work Teams: An Approach to Successful Integration.", that Self-Managed Work Teams (SMWTs) are increasing in their popularity and many U.S. firms are using different forms of these teams to help increase production, streamline the organizational process, and maintain a higher level of commitment and motivation among employees.

Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT)is “a group of employees who are accountable for their deliverables as a team and managing end to end process by themselves with no / minimum supervision”


In traditional setting, for every 10-15 shop floor employees there is a supervisor who ensures that day to day activities are carried out by them. For every 3-4 supervisors there is a manager who manages supervisors directly and shop floor employees indirectly. These managers are in turn managed by Department Head. Probably assumption is that all the shop floor employees have no brain to use towards contributing to the organization, will have to be supervised very closely to make them work, will not take responsibility, will not contribute to improvements, will not learn new skills etc. Often shop floor employees will not disappoint them and will reflect these assumptions in their behavior.Result is wastage of human resources.


‘Self-Managed Work Teams’ (SMWTs’) way of working assumes that every shop floor employee can contribute not only by their hands but also by their brains to implement improvements, can learn new skills, does not require supervision to carry out their routine activities, can take higher responsibility of Production, Quality, Cost, Delivery, Safety and Morale.Good news is that ‘it WORKS’. Though initially it started in Western world as a concept and developed outside India successfully, it works in India too. For example in Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Limited, an Indian multi-national pharmaceutical company implemented Self-Managed Work Teams concepts almost a decade ago. It was the first pharmaceutical company to implement it in the world. These team members have grown to the status of Managers!


In 2008 I started implementing the same in the name of Self-Managed Team (SELF MANAGED WORK TEAM (SMWT)) in ELGI Equipments Ltd, an Indian multinational manufacturing Compressors. I have seen operators sitting and chatting during their shift time. When enquired, they said that materials for production had not come and their supervisor was following with different departments to get it at the earliest. The same employees after implementing Self-Managed Team (SELF MANAGED WORK TEAM (SMWT)) philosophy, would ensure  availability of materials the previous day. If material is not available at the line, they would follow it up with stores through their ‘Thaeni( Meaning ‘Honey bee’ in Tamil. Material Coordinator from their team) STAR’ and if material was not available in stores, sometimes the ‘Thaeni’ used to follow it up with Purchase department and in some instances, their follow up trail went up to Supplier himself. Whether they need to follow up it with Stores, Purchase and Suppliers is debatable, but the point is that they had taken the responsibility for the on-time production and took pride in achieving it.


Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) implementation mainly focuses on shop floor employees. However, the changes affect every function that interacts directly with the shop floor and at every level. At a broad level, it brings changes in every function.


Implementation of Self-Managed Work Team (SMWT) is not EASY, especially in our culture. It has its own challenges and risks. The biggest challenge is about its’ sustenance. These points will be discussed in forth-coming articles.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014 00:00

Wellness of Employees

Written by

 How to contribute to the wellness of employees and therefore to the performance of the Company?

Wellness of employees is believed to contribute to the wellness of the Company. The Indian spoke to Ms.Mahalakshmi, Director of Ru Education Private Limited who is an experienced trainer and is pioneering the wellness concept in many Indian and foreign companies. Following is the transcript of the interview.

TIM (The Indian :How do you define wellness of an employee or rather that of a human being?

Mahalakshmi:Wellness is holistic wellbeing which includes, good health of the body, mind and soul.

TIM:How can wellness of an Employee contribute to the progress of a Company?

Mahalakshmi:A healthy employee is a happy employee and a happy employee is a productive employee. He is much more anchored in the self and starts contributing with passion.  And when people’s actions are backed-up with passion it takes the organisation to the next level effortlessly.

TIM: What are the Indian ways in which we can contribute to the wellness of employees?

Mahalakshmi:India always has had a holistic approach to wellness. For example  take the Panchashudhhi model. It talks about purification of the body (Sharirashudhhi), Purification of the speech (Vaakshudhhi), Purification of the emotions (BhaavaShudhhi), Purification of the thoughts (VichaaraShudhhi) and Purification of the self (AathmaShudhhi).  Even the Ashtaanga Yoga model talks of the holistic approach to wellness which leads to enlightenment.

TIM:What role can the leader of the organization play in promoting the wellness of employees?

Mahalakshmi: The leader of an organisation should have a far-sighted approach towards the wellness of the employees. I am reminded of the old tamil poem which says “When the ridge to contain the water in the fields goes up the water level goes up; when the water level goes up the paddy crop produce goes up; when the produce goes up the citizens’ well-being is heightened & when the citizens’ well-being is heightened, the king becomes supreme”.

The leader’s role is to provide a conducive environment in the systems, hierarchical practices and organisational procedures of the organisation to promote wellness of the constituents. Alongside awareness training should be conducted by competent facilitators to raise the awareness levels.

TIM:Can you give some examples of companies where this concept is championed and how they would have got benefited ?

Mahalakshmi:  ELGI Equipments ltd is a pioneer in this region. They have conducted a series of training programs to bring-in overall awareness of well-being at the body, mind & soul level. Various initiatives like yogasanas, deep-breathing techniques, meditation, etc are taught to them and also 15 minutes time is given to all where-in a daily energiser routine is followed by them. In this 15 minutes, 5 minutes is allocated for physical exercise (physical well-being),  5 minutes for deep-breathing exercises (for high energy levels)  and 5 minutes for meditation (mental well-being). They have also spent over 50 lakhs in a wellness centre, where series of initiatives like lectures and programs are organised with the help of competent faculty to raise the awareness levels.

ITC, Thekkampatti is also one more organisation who has instilled this awareness by including yoga as a part of their training. Also Pricol has taken special interest in this aspect.

I have just mentioned a few Coimbatore-based companies here.

The result is a generation of employees who have heightened awareness towards wellness. This results in better industrial relations and general value-addition to quality of life all around. This will also go a long way in fulfilling the Corporate Social Responsibility..

TIM: Is this concept only for big companies ? Is it expensive to really focus on wellness of employees?

Mahalakshmi:Not at all. It should be and can be followed by all irrespective the size of the company. Its not expensive and all it needs is “Value for wellness”.

The ROI in terms of the effectiveness and efficiency of the employees is so high that the amount spent is just a fraction of the benefits derived.

TIM:If the relationship between Management and Workmen is not good right now, is it a good time to start focus on wellness?

Mahalakshmi: In such cases, this in fact is the best time to focus on wellness. When the employees see the selfless contribution of the employer towards his wellness the environment becomes much more conducive for a better relationship.

As  thegenuineness  of this effort is seen by the employees,  it results into immediate diffusion of animosity and hostility and results into better IR.

TIM:How do you energize the employees on a daily basis using some simple concepts?

Mahalakshmi:A minimum 15 minutes focus should be given for this aspect. Simple exercises, pranayams and meditation should be the routine.

TIM: How can Yoga help in improving the Business of a Company?

Mahalakshmi:The root word of yoga in Sanskrit is “Yuj”, which means “to join”. When you have a work-force who are joined or anchored in the self, who are much more centred& emotionally balanced, time is not wasted in negative activities. The energy can be positively channelized towards growing of the business.

TIM:How can your organization help in improving the Wellness of employees in a company?

Mahalakshmi:Ru Education has developed unique training programs under the name “The complete Secret of Personal Effectiveness Programs”. These programs focus on training and equipping the employees to handle all the levels of their existence which includes their body, communication, Emotions, mind and spiritual. Also Asanas, Pranaayams& Meditation are taught as a part of our programs as we believe in self-management leading to external work-place management. We have taken the best of Spiritual techniques from the eastern world and the management techniques from the western world. When transformation happens at the core level, attitudes will change and there will be a longer-lasting behavioural change. We have a very strong expertise in this field, with proven track-record of having conducted over 800 programs for leading companies in India and overseas.

More details can be had by clicking on this link

Wednesday, 04 June 2014 00:00

Double your Productivity!

Written by

Ram is not having a good feeling looking at the P&L for 2013-14. The Profits are down to lower single digits! Infact, in the last quarter the company went in to the negative! With some panic stricken cost cuttings (Or Postponements?) , further damage is avoided to the P&L. Ram’s company experienced CAGR of about 25% continuously for about  5 years till 2011. During the growth period, the purse strings were loosened and the goal was to capture as much growth as it was possible. The slowdown forced Ram to slam down on the brakes! This is leaving scars on the organization in terms of sudden clamp down on all big expenses! Recruitment ban is one of the bigger steps that Ram initiated.  The Manpower costs have gone up from around 8% of the turnover to 14% in a matter of about 3 years! ‘During the growth years, the recruitment was perhaps too liberal?’ , Ram is not sure. He always focused on capturing the growth and did not really focus on the Manpower costs so much.

This sudden ban on recruitments has caught most of the functional heads by surprise. They do not seem to have the tools to improve the Productivity in their functions! There is a lot of bad feeling among the employees. They appreciate that the Business has gone down. But, they do not know how to manage their work. A few of the team members have invented a few ways to save time and cost! But with their ideas, they may be sacrificing medium term interests of the Company!  The Business  Systems team had been dismantled and they have been transferred to Production, Planning and other places where some existing people left.  Similar things have happened in Marketing team in the interests of Sales team vacancies!  Are they are becoming too focused on the ‘here and now’?

The thought whether he and the organization is over reacting and harming the medium term interests of the company is bothering Ram! He wants to look at the Productivity improvement opportunities in his company!

The Slow down

The Economic Slowdown in the last two years had been painful to many companies! But, may be it is making these companies focus on some fundamental issues regarding their cost structure and their efficiencies!  As Ram in the above example, there are many CEOs in the Indian Manufacturing who started looking at their efficiencies!

The lower Productivity of Indian Manufacturing is not a new phenomenon. It had been on the tables of the CEOs of this industry for a long time!

The Productivities of Indian Labour is about 15% of that of Labour in USA.  May be we are not looking at it as our costs are lower? Is this advantage going to last forever? Many companies who are witnessing increase in Labour costs do not agree with this. While there is a big difference between the Labour Cost of India and USA to the advantage of India, the profitability of Indian Companies is fast receding!

Cumulative effect of unproductive People

The People Productivity is not just related to the Salary & Wages bill! When Employees are not productive and their work methods are not smart, it will affect every aspect of the business. A Sales person who is not Productive would lose many opportunities in the field! A Stores Manager who is not Productive and not working using a good System will have much higher inventories than necessary! A Production Manager who does not know Lean principles and not using Lean Systems would be inefficient in the Production process! It would consume higher resources to deliver the same! Hence, a Company which is not having skilled employee force and not having a good Work System would have a very low profitability as it grows! When the company size is small, the owner would sometimes be able to control everything in the Company very well and would manage the profitability well. But, the growth years of 2004-2012 have catapulted many Indian Companies beyond this ‘small’ size. Many companies are going beyond the control of the owner. In this situation, the lack of Skills on the part of employees and lack of proper Work Systems is having a huge effect on the company’s profitability!

Why are we less Productive?

The productivity of Indian Labour is an old problem! Why is Indian Manufacturing not focusing on this? Why are we not efficient like Japanese / Americans?  Probably the lack of work discipline is one of the big issues. In our society there is inefficiency in many places. Our government lays roads, then digs them up, then lays road again and again they are dug up. I am sure many of the readers would have seen this phenomenon many times in their cities! We see a situation where a road laying or Bridge construction is taken up and the work goes on for years together! Due to this delay a huge traffic would be travelling for longer distance to bypass the construction area resulting in a colossal loss to the Nation as a whole in terms of more petrol and diesel! We see inefficiencies on a regular basis and hence we have come to tolerate them as a normal happening!  Are we carrying this attitude to work? Quite possible!

On the part of Managements, there is not enough time spent on designing a good factory, designing a good work system which would help us work with high productivity! We are in perennial hurry to run after the Production or Sales of today! While we can’t get away from the daily realities, are we spending enough time in designing a good work method / a good factory? This is much similar to the way our cities grow! The Town planning does not control the unauthorised construction, they do not lay the Ring roads early enough allowing a disorganized growth of a city. Then, there are struggles on a daily basis in the city in terms of traffic snarls, overcrowding and so on. The Management in many Indian Companies is guilty of this same behaviour in their Companies! While we blame the Government of inefficiency, we do exactly the same in our factories and companies! The shop lay out design is not proper and hence the Raw material travels several times more distance than it should. A lot of material handling also results due to this. The Production does not happen on the basis of Customer need and hence Overproduction happens regularly resulting in too much of Inventories! There can be many examples!

The Office environment is no better! The work is divided in to functions which may not help the cause of continuous flow of work! While functional expertise is needed, how to ensure the work flows between functions in a seamless manner? The finance department does not get the Bills in a smooth manner and hence most of the work happens towards the end of the month. The Dispatches do not happen evenly and hence a lot of work pile up happens toward the end of the month. So, the manpower is always available to do this last minute push!  The recruitment methodologies in HR department may not be designed correctly. This results in recruiting misfits or delayed recruitment!

Few bright examples

While this is the situation today, does this mean we as Indians are not capable of working in a productive manner? The truth is far from this.

There are few examples of Indian manufacturing Companies who have improved manifolds in their Productivities. The TVS group, Rane group, Elgi Equipments in the South and many Automotive Companies in all parts of the country have improved their productivities in the last few years. They have implemented Lean manufacturing and improved productivities manifolds.

Productivity improvement is essential

Indian Companies are realizing this importance of improving their work methods and their productivities. The realization is coming fast helped by the slowdown conditions in the past two years! I wish this realization would continue even if the economy starts improving after a few months!  An improving Economy may give higher turnover. But, it may not take care of the profitability as much as the Management would like.

Productivity Improvements need to touch every Employee in the organization

The Productivity improvement is needed in every aspect of an Organization. A Manufacturing Organization can be viewed as follows in terms of its’ work:

If we look at it from the point of view of number of people, the centre core is big. But, if you look at it from the point of view of Cost then it can be the reverse.. The majority of the cost is in the Staff category.

The Productivity improvement efforts of many Indian Companies has centred around the shop floor practices. The shop floor aspect is very important and needs to be addressed. But, it is not enough. One needs to address ALL other areas of the organization.

The work in a shop floor is visible and it can be reorganized in to an efficient way in a relatively easier manner. But, the work in the other functions is not as visible. It requires a detailed study using the Industrial Engineering principles of Eliminate, Combine, Re-arrange, Simplify. The flow principle can be used in the Services too.  The Software like ERP etc can help in this area of helping to improve productivity of Staff.


It always helps to start with a very challenging target in Productivity improvement efforts. Whether the improvement is in Shop floor OR in Offices, the targets should be to at least double the Productivities. This would help in making the team think of bigger ideas to improve the Productivities!  In areas where the lean principles were never tried out, the improvement effort can definitely yield 100% improvements! There have been many occasions in the companies quoted elsewhere in this article when they achieved 300-400% Productivity improvements over a period of time.

What is essential to achieve this?

Full commitment from the top management to see the initiative thru.

Co-operation from the employees concerned.

Proper guidance in the Lean principles.

Very often the initiative has to be accompanied with a Behavioural training initiative. The team has to be addressed in a comprehensive manner. As discussed earlier, the problem of accepting less productivity and inefficiency is wide spread in our society and hence it requires a deeper effort if it has to sustain! Many times the people concerned can relapse to their old ways of working if the effort is not addressing the root cause of this behaviour.

It is possible to more than double the productivities of the labour and address the Cost issues of a Company beyond Productivities! Indian Companies have to take this up seriously to sustain their profitability!