I talked to a woman on a plane a few weeks ago; not unusual. She talked about how ineffective many of the HR training programs are in improving performance; again nothing unusual. Her post-doctorate work in this area revealed that people operate with self-imposed constraints limiting their performance and potential; very unusual. These constraints can be eliminated, increasing productivity and potential; very cool.
It’s unfortunate that when people work for companies, they bring these constraints to work. If the self-imposed constraint argument is true, then are we letting our offshore manufacturing friends have an easy win?
Many articles have been written about Western competitiveness against offshore manufacturing. The argument generally takes the form that low offshore costs are offset by disadvantages relating to cycle time, communications, logistics, etc., and that manufacturing may come back. It’s interesting how costs have won out over the other factors in the past and continue to do so.
Could it be true that we are really restricting our competitiveness, thereby letting this cost gap get bigger than it needs to be? I believe it is, because I see signs of it every day. Too often I find individuals limited by self-constraints, and too many of these are people in key positions. The constraint that bothers me most is confidence; either way too much or way too little.
I see too many managers at all levels within organizations who believe their material purchases are cost competitive but have never verified it. I don’t know how many times I have heard “we are getting the best pricing.” Is a supplier salesperson’s assertion valid proof?
I also see too many workers and lower-level managers fearful of benchmarking material pricing because they are afraid of what they will find or what their bosses will say. If you don’t have valid data, you cannot improve! If you are less competitive than you could be, you are letting those offshore win. It's as simple as that! By the way, bosses like improvement.
The phrase “Trust but verify” can serve you well. It never hurts to have things confirmed with data.