Summary: Acme and Omega

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Acme and Omega often competed for the same contracts. In 1966, both firms were asked to produce one hundred units in two weeks.

The president of Acme, John Tyler, credited his firm’s greater effectiveness to his managers’ abilities to run a “tight ship”. He liked his structure because it was most efficient for high-volume manufacture of printed circuits and their subsequent assembly.

Omega’s president, Jim Rawls, did not believe in organization charts. He felt that his organization had departments similar to Acme’s, but he thought the plant was small enough that things such as organization charts just put artificial barriers between specialists who should be working together. Written memos were not allowed, since, as Jim expressed it, “the plant is small enough that if people want to communicate, they can just drop by and talk things over.”

Inside Acme

Monday - John Tyler received the blueprints and told the purchasing department to purchase all of the necessary materials. Wednesday - Purchasing discovered that a particular component could not be purchased for two weeks because the manufacturer had shut down temporarily. Tyler decided that Acme would build the memory unit except for the one component and then add that component in two weeks. Friday (week 1) - Industrial engineering told Tyler that the missing component would substantially increase the assembly time if it was not available from the start of assembly. Tyler wanted to get started and gave the “go-ahead” Monday - Tyler received word from the shipping department that most of the components had arrived. The production foreman ignored the normal procedure of contacting methods engineers and set up what he thought would be an efficient assembly process. The methods engineers were very upset to see assembly begin before they had a chance to do a proper layout. They told the foreman they had spent the entire weekend analyzing the motions...
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