Acme Mineral Extraction Company: Effort to Solve Morale and Productivity Problems

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Several years ago, Acme Mineral Extraction Company introduced teams in an effort to solve morale and productivity problems. Acme used highly sophisticated technology, employing geologists, geophysicists and engineers on what was referred to as the brains side of the business, as well as skilled and semi-skilled labor on the brawn side to run the company's underground extracting operations. The two sides regularly clashed, and when some engineers locked several operations workers out of the office in 38 heat, the local press had a field day. Suzanne Howard was hired to develop a program that would improve productivity and morale, with the idea that it would then be implemented at other Acme sites.

Howard had a stroke of luck in the form of Donald Peterson, a long-time Acme employee who was highly respected and was looking for one final, challenging project before he retired. Peterson had served in just about every possible line and staff position at workers faced on both the brains and the brawn sides of the business, Howard was pleased when Peterson agreed to serve as leader. There were three functional groups: operations, made up primarily of hourly workers who operated and maintained the extracting equipment; the below ground group, consisting of engineers, geologists and geophysicists who determined where and how to drill; and the above ground group of engineers in charge of cursory refinement and transportation of the minerals. Howard and Peterson declined the first step was to get these different groups talking to one another and sharing ideas, They instituted a monthly problem chat: an optional meeting to which all employees were invited to discuss unresovled problems. At the first meeting, Howard and Peterson were the only two people to show up. However, people gradually began to attend the meetings, and after about six months they had become lively problem-sovling discussions the led to many improvements.

Next, Howard and Peterson introduced teams...
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