Total Participation of Management

Total Participation of Management —TPM— also known as Total Productive Maintenance. As with all aspects of Lean Thinking you cannot have the whole without looking after the parts. That is why TPM is not a solution but a methodology. Let me explain my understanding of TPM after years of traveling the globe observing different companies and industries.

At the most successful businesses I have witnessed, specifically, a high level of total commitment built into their education systems. Part of that education system is the commitment to TPM. As you would expected, the name implies TOTAL PM, therefore anything less than total commitment and the business will under perform over the long term. I have seen successful TPM programs without total management commitment, but the timeline or duration of success is limited and ultimately fails. Without total commitment most businesses will fall back from their gains within 2 years of implementing TPM.

Why is this? Businesses who do not commit 100% to the success of a program, like TPM, face a cross-roads of understanding TPM intellectually but not practically. They do not actually use the ideas, the philosophy, in practice, nor add utility to the philosophy to make a methodology. Methodologies are the true value as they are a derived process of creating more value or transforming materials into something useful. The USA is built upon this very concept of rewarding those who come up with a superior method by granting ‘intellectual property rights’.

The use and application of a successful corporate wide TPM program can be the strategic difference between winning the customer and losing them to the competition. The simple illustration provides a visual representation of the significance of TPM to the success of all businesses that are highly capitalized (meaning a very significant machinery investment).

The foundation of TPM is the dependability of processes, and the human perspective in this is to give people the tools to empower themselves to influence the output.

This is why you need total commitment—the impact or significance of changes made on the front line weighs most heavily on the ultimate success of the business. The use of a TPM system also unlocks the potential of the workforce —it engages their minds to strive to achieve what may seem, at the time, impossible. Seems like a quote from the movie The Matrix, but it is true. If you observe the working environment for a worker in a business with giant machines, the work is lonely and individual orientated. The practicality of implementing a TPM system is that workers are put on natural teams in more social environments, where they feel empowered as front line workers. Then they are able to work with others to make decisions regarding the management and improvement their own processes on a daily basis. TPM allows businesses to solve the un-told or hidden problems that no-one knew existed as a collective group because the application of superior work methods was never implemented. In a TPM environment leadership and management responsibility filters to the front line worker. And why not? They are usually highly technical employees, why can’t they also have a leadership role in the business?

If you allow for total participation, less managing and control will be needed from top management. This really is the definition of corporate empowerment — providing managers and leaders with the necessary time to discover new business and new opportunities, and allow your operations people to manage and improve the ongoing operation. I encourage you to re-discover TPM as it is one of the gems of Lean Manufacturing, and really is the key to high quality successes and the engagement of your workforce.

– Collin McLoughlin

President, Enna