RL Wolfe: Implementing Self-Directed Teams
Introduction and Background Analysis
This case was about the implementation of self-directed teams (SDTs) at the new pipe manufacturing plant of RL Wolfe located in Corpus Christi, Texas. The assessment took place in the second quarter of 2007, four years after the initial implementation of the SDT structure. The main change agents were John Amasi, RL Wolfe’s Director of Production and Engineering, and Jay Winslow, the Corpus Christi plant manager. Winslow was hired by Amasi to help in the planning and implementation of SDTs in the new Corpus Christi plant acquired by RL Wolfe in 2003. In contrast to Wolfe’s Austin and Columbus plants, the new plant was not unionized and was structured differently than the unionized plants in terms of job distinctions, work roles, and workers’ level of autonomy and involvement in decision-making. Amasi expected that after the implementation of SDTs, the Corpus Christi plant would achieve high productivity defined by him as 95% or more of design capacity. Meanwhile, the Wolfe’s Austin and Columbus plastic pipe manufacturing plants were running at 70% and 65% of design capacity respectively. Amasi’s Assessment
Amasi arrived in Corpus Christi in May of 2007 to evaluate the results of the implementation of STDs. He found that the productivity level was at 82%- extensively higher than at Austin or Columbus’ plants, but still well below Amasi’s initial target of 95%. Efficiency levels on the third shift were considerably lower than for the first and second shift. Absentee rates were notably below the average for the first and second shifts, although they remained equivalent for the third shift. Leadership style and the role of the coordinator had changed positively, with 80% of the decisions about work made on the factory grounds versus through direction by the coordinator. The assessment exposed some problems in performance evaluations, ongoing tensions between the technicians and the...
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